Esha Gupta entered Bollywood a few years after she was crowned Miss India International in 2007. After appearing in Bollywood films like Total Dhaamal and Rustom, Gupta has become a household name in India.
The 33-year-old actress and self-confessed Arsenal fan was recently at the centre of a controversy, when she shared racist remarks about Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi on her Instagram account. She apologised for the remark but the story was already picked up by every British tabloid.
Moving on from the incident, she has been focusing on her upcoming web series and during a tête-à-tête with BollyNewsUK she opened up about her work and more.
You’re selective with the projects you do in Bollywood. What do you look for in films? It has to be either a full on commercial film or a great story. If actors start considering films as a ‘business’ then the passion vanishes.
Web series have become a hit in India – is that something that interests you especially since you can reach a global audience with the content? We need to change with time. I believe web will take over India in a few years as it has more to offer and diverse content for everyone. Personally, all of the shows I watch are online and I’m going to be working on a web series soon too.
You have portrayed various roles: what kind of characters excite you the most? I absolutely love era films. Rustom was set in the 60s and Badshaho was 70s. I’d love to do more era films as love the feel of such film.
There is still a huge gender pay gap worldwide in every field, although it has been improving for women in some sectors. Bollywood still has to catch up. What’s your take on this issue? The fact that we are still discussing it, means it still exists. In my own case, I see how actors who’ve done lesser work and fewer films than me, getting paid more. In our industry, men have been given an image of being powerful like everything is riding on their shoulders. This mind set in Bollywood needs to stop now.
India is often in the news for some the crimes that people commit. You are playing a crime branch officer in your next film. How did you prepare for the role? Was it difficult to get in/out of character? I had to learn a Haryanvi accent for my role. I’ve had extensive training for so that it seems natural. The body language was one thing I had to work on as well.
What else can we expect from you now? I’m really excited about my web series now.
Zaheer Iqbal is set to debut in Bollywood with Notebook this Friday. The film is aromantic drama film produced by Salman Khan under Salman Khan Films and directed by Nitin Kakkar. It also stars debutant Pranutan Bahl and is a remake of the 2014 film Teacher’s Diary .
You don’t come from a film background but have been “trained” by Salman Khan. How much of the success of a film is from it being associated with certain famous names and how much is from the actor’s own talent? I truly believe that the success of the film depends on the script and the acceptance of the actors is only through their performances. I do agree that there will be a large amount of people that will come because it is an SKF film and because Salman Khan is associated with the film. We’ve been told by Salman sir himself, we will have a bunch of people coming to the film on the first day to see who I have launched and stuff like that, but word of mouth will spread and every show post the 3 o’clock show will be completely on you and your talent.
What was the hardest part about working to become an actor? There’s a lot of hard work that goes into becoming an actor, but I wouldn’t say there is a hardest part. If you genuinely enjoy what you are doing, and you enjoy the process it won’t be that hard. My friends and family always praise me saying that I work so hard, but I always tell them that I enjoy it, so it isn’t that hard for me. There’s a lot that goes into becoming an actor physically and mentally, there’s a lot of workshops we had to do. And not just in acting too, also in dance, gymnastic and martial arts. Salman sir always said I’m not just training you for one film I’m training you to sustain yourself in the industry so you need to be prepared a nd there should not be anything you can’t do.
Other than Salman Khan and your family, who is your biggest supporter in your journey to becoming an actor? I think my friends, other than my family and Salman sir, would be biggest support and my strength. Be it my friends from childhood or my friends that have helped me learn, like my friends who were assistant directors on Jai Ho and the team on Jai Ho. They have taught me so much about what happens behind the camera so everything I know about filmmaking from before I went on set was all thanks to them. And obviously my fans who I love so dearly who have supported me and sent me love on Instagram and Twitter.
Did any of the kids on set play pranks on you? I don’t think the kids played a prank on me I was always on their team so we played prank on everyone together. I remember there was this one guy that whenever you poked him he would have a certain reaction, he couldn’t control himself from reacting that way. We would always work together, poke him and record him reacting in that way. I think we put it on Instagram, there are lots of videos of us poking him. It was usually the kids, Pranutan and me pranking everyone.
Do you think it’s possible to fall in love with someone you’ve never met? I absolutely believe it is possible to fall in love with someone you’ve never met. During promotions we’ve met lots of people who have told us that they’ve fallen in love without meeting someone first. I genuinely believe you can, and I think its beautiful when you can fall in love with someone for who they are and not the way they look.
What made you want to be part of this unique/unconventional love story? I think the fact that it’s a unique love story is what made me want to be a part of it. Also, when I read the script it was the kids that attracted me to the story. I’m good with kids and we get along instantly, maybe we are on the same wavelength. I also like doing different kind of work, I hope that someday the audience will say “lets go see Zaheer’s film, I’m sure it will be different” so I want to continue to do films that are different.
What was it like to work with Salman Khan as a producer? How did you feel seeing him in a role as producer rather than his usual acting role? Honestly, we never looked at him like he was the producer of the film, we looked at him as a friend and he was always like an elder brother to us. His advice was always about passing down the wisdom and his experiences in life. He never spoke to us as if he was launching us and we were his talent, he was always casual with us. It was always about more than work, how it’ll be in the future, how to treat people and genuine stuff. For us, he was like a friend and mentor that always had our back.
What was it like filming in the beautiful but isolated parts of Kashmir? Shooting in Kashmir has been one of the best experiences of my life and I will never forget this experience. Even if this was my 100th film, filming this would’ve always been special to me because of all of the love and support we got in Kashmir. And it’s beautiful all over.
As this is your debut role into Bollywood, what sort of roles would you like to take up/who would you like to work with in the future? I want to continue to do unconventional work and unconventional stories, which are real. By this I don’t mean something that is farfetched. Films like notebook that are unconventional but not farfetched. I want to always do different kinds of films that will intrigue people. Actors who I want to work with, I just want to work with everyone. With great performers, be it a guy or be it a girl. Working with a great performer in front of you inspires you and I think it enhances your performance in a way. I also want to do roles that will be a challenge for me, I want to do something that will require hard work. I also want to work with all of my friends in the industry because I think it will be fun to go on a set where everybody gets along really well and have a great time.
Why should the British Asian audience watch this film? I wouldn’t say just the British Asian audience even the British audience should watch this film. It’s got a good message but its not preachy. When you come out you’ll understand that we’ve told you something sweet and very relevant to this day and age, which is basically education and how important it is. So for this reason, I think everyone should watch it.
Notebook releases in UK cinemas on 29th March 2019 via Yash Raj Films and is produced by Salman Khan Films.
Bollywood beauty Kriti Sanon made quite a mark since her first UK theatrical release ‘Dilwale’, the sixth highest-grossing Hindi film here, released. Her Bollywood debut film ‘Heropanti’ didn’t get a UK release, but its availability on Netflix definitely helped Kriti’s popularity in the UK among Bollywood fans.
Hailing from a middle-class family out of India’s capital Delhi, Sanon moved to Mumbai to make it big in Bollywood. With over 18 Million followers on Instagram, the 28-year-old actress has amassed a pretty good fan following since she rose to fame in 2014.
Her new film ‘Lukka Chuppi’ also starring Bollywood’s new heartthrob Kartik Aryan, is a comedy of errors. In the film, the two fall in love while working on a news report and move in together to test whether their relationship would last. They decide to get married but in a comical twist their conservative neighbors and families believe they’re married in secret already.
Kriti spoke to BollyNewsUK about her new film, her social media presence and her experience of recently filming for ‘Housefull 4’ in London.
Talking about the reaction to the trailer which has been viewed almost 50 Million times on YouTube, she said: ‘The trailer is a true glimpse of the film. I felt that everyone who saw it, liked the world we presented. There is much more in the film that is funnier and better than what we’ve already put out there. I’m excited about the funny scenes in the film which we couldn’t include in the trailer as it would have given away too much.’
Discussing live-in relationships as shown in the film, Kriti said: ‘Live-in relationships are such a big taboo in Indian urban cities anyway and the film takes that concept into a small town, where you will be judged openly’
She further added about her character in the film, saying: ‘I don’t need to relate to the characters I portray. The character needs to intrigue me and I need to find it interesting. There must be layer to it and something quirky about it for me to notice it. It needs to be believable to audiences as well. I feel, its interesting to play a character that is nothing like yourself. I end up finding a few things that resemble me in most characters that I have played eventually anyways. I relate a little bit more Rashmi, the character I play in ‘Lukka Chuppi’. She is modern, educated in Delhi and chooses a life partner for herself.’
Kriti also opened up on how much she has changed since ‘Dilwale’, which released in 2015 and how she is more confident now having a string of successes behind her: ‘I was still trying to figure out things and finding my way in the industry. I’ve tried to grow and become better with each film. After ‘Dilwale’, a lot has changed in how I approach performing a scene. I’ve also opened up a lot more as a person. When I came to Mumbai from Delhi, I didn’t have to make independent decisions. I lived at home with my family. I also had a very strong sense of right and wrong, it was very black and white. I’ve met a lot more people and have had lot of conversations over the years. I’ve opened up much more as a result of that and started seeing things from a different point of view. My performances in my recent films have also been appreciated and that gave me confidence to go out of my comfort zone. I feel very comfortable now – so yes, a lot has changed.’
Lukka Chuppi’s popularity can also be attributed to how the soundtrack of the film primarily features remakes of popular Bollywood and Indian pop songs. This has however, also drawn some criticism from fans calling the songs unoriginal.
Kriti clarified why they chose to only feature remakes in the soundtrack and how she likes them more than original songs: ‘It doesn’t bother me that people complain about the songs being remakes. I love listening to remakes and there is a recall value to them. The original Coca-Cola song has been on my playlist for ages and the new version is very cool. Remakes also tend to get more popular than original songs. That’s why the producer felt that it’s not fair to include one remake in an original soundtrack album as the remake would overshadow it. It upsets the composer of the original music album. He decided to only create remakes for the entire soundtrack. Coca-Cola has already reached over 94 million views and the view count is rising. The artists also like that being on a Bollywood soundtrack gives their songs a wider medium.’
With Bollywood stars now primarily only posting professionally taken photographs on their social media pages, Kriti still prefers to be true to the platforms.
‘I also share professional photographs on and off on my Instagram, as well as cover shoots and posters etc. That is work and professional. Social Media for me is a way to interact with audiences and my fans. I want to share a part of my real life. I share family photos and a lot of content with my pet as well. I randomly make videos from my bed as I just want to show that I’m normal like other people. I’m a simple middle-class girl who doesn’t really like dressing up normally. I want them to know that side of me too. I love hosting live chats and in those you can’t use photoshop (laughs), so that’s great.’
The actress was in London last year to film the highly-anticipated ‘Housefull 4’ releasing in the summer later this year. Speaking about her first time filming in the British capital she said: ‘It was amazing filming in London. It was almost like a paid holiday. We had a blast and I didn’t mind the crowd watching us filming. The weather was lovely, and we got some great shots and also had time shop (laughs). I wish our schedule was a bit longer though. The Housefull movies are always set in London and they’ve always filmed for a month or so but this time we only had nine days, which was a bit disappointing. You will know, when you see the film why it was so short.’
‘Lukka Chuppi’ is out in UK cinemas nationwide with English subtitles on 1st March 2019.
Ahead of the release of action-comedy, Teefa in Trouble, lead star Ali Zafar made a grand appearance in the UK after two exhilarating days in Dubai, interacting with fans and well wishers during several public appearances as part of the Teefa UK Takeover.
Ali sat down with BollyNewsUK Editor Sunny Malik to talk about his Pakistani film debut, setting up his production house and how he didn’t start working in Pakistan just because of the ban in India…
How has the transition from Indian cinema to Pakistani films been for you and how did the film happen?
Well, I would say it was almost like magic. When a film has to come about, it makes room for itself and everything just falls in place at the right time. I wanted to play a part in rebuilding Pakistani cinema and the industry. While I was working in India for all those years, I was always hoping and wishing for our industry in Pakistan tom attain a similar level and standard. I wanted to see content coming out of Pakistan of international caliber. Unfortunately, mostly we fell short of it over the years. This is an attempt to get there, break barriers and set benchmarks. I want to play a part in rebuilding the industry. With this, I want to give the industry and everyone around the globe a film that they would be proud of.
We’ve seen you in a lot of rom-com films in Bollywood. Teefa in Trouble has a lot of action too. Was that something you’ve always wanted to do?
I’ve always been an athlete and sportsman in addition to a huge action buff. I’ve always wanted to do action in the past but never got the chance to do it. My director, Ahsan Rahim, loves action too and we’d often discuss comic books and action films. We both wanted do action sequences in the film that have never been seen before in Pakistani cinema. I trained for about two-three months in mixed martial arts.
You’ve co-written the story with your younger brother and director. What kind of input did you bring to the script?
It was a very interesting and cosy process. We locked ourselves in my basement studio for seven days. I had already written the first draft by then but in those seven days we came up with the first draft of screenplay and dialogues. Our wavelength was very similar as Ahsan directed my first music video ‘Channo’. We’ve always wanted to do our first film together. My younger brother Daniyal studied film making in New York. We took his input as well, which was a fun process altogether.
You’ve not just written the film and acted in it but are also producing it under your home production studio that you’ve set up. How did that happen?
If you want to do something but can’t get it through someone else, then you have to do it yourself. The dream was to have my own production house to make films and music. This is the most expensive film to come out of Pakistan. I’ve received immense love from my fans I believe that you have to pay back somehow. This is my way of giving back. The idea was never to make money but make that one film that is avant-garde in many ways.
Is it not risky putting your own money behind the most expensive Pakistani film ever?
I did not want any creative interference, which is why I didn’t just get someone else to produce the film. My first music video was also made from my own money. There is a word in Urdu “barkat” (blessing). The money earned by “barkat”, which is hard-earned, has something else to it. I also didn’t want to be dependent on anyone. I also felt that no one else would’ve been willing to take such a big risk financially. However, I believe you can only achieve great success by taking great risks. If you play it big, hopefully, you are rewarded big too.
Some people may accuse you of using Pakistani cinema simply because of the blanket ban of Pakistani actors in Bollywood as you’ve previously never worked in Pakistani films before…
My studio was set up about two years ago and the process of writing the film started approximately five ears ago. The idea first came to me while I was filming for Chashme Badoor in Goa around 2013. It all into fell into place much later. It’s not like I started thinking about doing something in Pakistan only after what happened in India.
Although you aren’t working in Bollywood anymore, their biggest studio is releasing your film internationally…
My film is very entertaining with comedy, action, romance etc. but it also has a very important message in it. I feel my work should also engage people to think about certain things in life since the world has become very materialistic. I believe a mutual admiration and trust was earned after I worked with Yash Raj Films on a few projects. I had actually discussed my ideas with Aditya Chopra quite a few times. YRF’s reaction was very flattering once they saw the content. Then it just happened and we partnered up. I had envisioned my film with the same people that are now involved in it and Yash Raj Films were one of them. When magic is meant to happen, it just happens.
Directed by Ahsan Rahim and starring, written and produced by Ali Zafar himself, Teefa in Trouble will be released in cinemas globally on 20th July 2018, distributed in UK cinemas by Yash Raj Films.
Abhiraj Minawala is a former assistant director who is now helming Salman Khan Films ambitious production Loveratri, starring Aayush Sharma and Warina Hussain. Minawala has previously assisted on films like Band Baaja Baraat, Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, Jab Tak Hai Jaan, FAN and Sultan.
His directorial debut Loveratri is set against the backdrop of Gujarat and the onscreen couple’s love story unfolds over the span of the festival of Navratri.Filmed extensively in the British capital, the film is set to release in UK cinemas on 5th October 2018.
Abhiraj spoke to Sunny Malik during the recent London schedule of the film and opened up about how his directorial debut film came about…
You’ve had press on set in London and are interacting with the UK Media even before the film has wrapped up. That is very unusual for Hindi films… Yes, that’s true and I’ve worked with plenty of directors and never seen them simultaneously shoot the film and promote it too. It’s something different and new. I’m actually enjoying this process. Normally, we talk about the filming aspect just before the release of the film. Right now, the memories are fresh and I’m able to share the experience as I go along.
You’ve assisted on films like Jab Tak Hai Jaan and FAN, which were filmed in London. Is that why you chose London as a filming location for Loveratri? More than me choosing the location, the script demanded it. It required us to be in London. When I read the script and London came up, the first thing that came to my mind was filming for Jab Tak Hai Jaan with Yash Chopra in London and then FAN with Shah Rukh Khan. It became a lot more special for me to be filming here.
The most striking difference would’ve been that you were previously assisting on films which starred experienced actors. Did you feel that difference while directing Loveratri? Not at all actually. I was very happy to start off my directorial debut with a new team and new actors. It has its own set of challenges and brings a certain level of freshness to the process. Everyone who is new, is creating a platform for themselves and all together make a solid base for that. It works for the better of the film.
What sort of challenging situations did you face so far during the making? I would say working with multiple actors for one scene is always a bit challenging. Having four to five different actors in one scene is a task as you need to bring them all on the same page. But not just the actors, but also the crew behind the camera. That is a challenge but one that we have met with very well. I’ve come to a stage now where everyone who is on my set, knows what is required of them and what I want them to deliver.
Do you feel being an assistant director in the past gives you a better insight into doing that more efficiently? Definitely. While I was assisting on films, I would often contemplate whether to take a sabbatical and go to film school. I wasn’t sure whether I should or not. For me, Yash Raj Films was my film school. It’s a place extremely close to me and everything I know about movies is from there. From working with different actors, technicians and directors, I believe it was all preparing me for this day.
Till the late 2000’s most Hindi films were in plain Hindi catering to a pan India audience. We then saw movies bring in regional characters and dialects. Your film has a lot of Gujarati elements. Why is that so important now? The perception audiences had, for example of Delhi or Delhites, was very cliched and that’s what we saw in Hindi films. Then films like Band Baaja Baraat came in and brought out the true characters of what people in Delhi are like. We then saw that with Uttar Pradesh and other places as well. According to me, someone watching a Hindi film in the UK will really enjoy watching a film where characters are portrayed in the right way. Even audiences in Mumbai get intrigued watching characters on screen from other states. They like to see how they talk and interact. It just adds to a complete cinema experience. I think the more real the characters are, the better, as audiences are more likely to connect with them.
Your leading actor Aayush Sharma bonded with you on the sets of Sultan. Did that bond help you directing him more productively? I first met Aayush on the sets of Sultan where I was the first assistant director and he was assisting me. Salman Khan had brought him on to get him a complete understanding of the movie making experience. We hit it off really well and just bonded. He is like a brother to me. The best thing about directing him is, if I have something on my mind about how a scene needs to be performed, he will understand it right away. Similarly, at times when he is not comfortable, I can just sense it as well. He doesn’t have to say it or show it, but I’ll just know.
How involved were you with the script as the production house Salman Khan Films was already developing the story before you came on board? At the end of the Sultan schedule, I met with Naren Bhatt, the writer of Loveratri who had the script already. At that time, Salman Khan had spoken to me a few times about directing a film. I told him that I’m meeting this writer who has a script. We then approached Aayush. Simultaneously, Salman Khan Films was attempting to secure a good script to launch Aayush but Salman Khan liked our script and so did Aayush. My mother’s family hails from Ahmedabad which is why I know a lot about Gujarat. I was able to contribute a lot to the script in that aspect.
You then cast Warina Hussain, also a newcomer, for the film. Why not an established face to have a bigger impact? Once you see the film, you’ll know why we needed a fresh face. Also, we didn’t want audiences to have any preconceived notions about the female actor in the film.
Loveratri is produced by Salman Khan Films and releases in UK cinemas on 5th October 2018.
Saif Ali Khan is returning to our screens this summer, albeit this time through the first Hindi Netflix Original drama; Sacred Games. The series is based on the critically-acclaimed best-selling novel of the same name by author Vikram Chandra.
The series focuses on Sartaj Singh (Saif Ali Khan), a seasoned and cynical Bombay police officer, summoned by an anonymous tip one morning, a voice which promises him an opportunity to capture the powerful Ganesh Gaitonde (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), criminal overlord of the G-Company. As the stakes mount and Sartaj seeks knowledge of his prey, it becomes clear that the game the two players thought they were engaged in is in fact part of a much larger scenario, one that expands beyond their city.
On his recent holiday to the British capital, Saif Ali Khan spoke to Sunny Malik for BollyNewsUK where he opened up about the project and much more…
You’ve mixed business and pleasure whilst being in London … It’s quite ideal actually. I like working in London. I shot an advertisement with Kareena and now I’m promoting my Netflix series too.
The first pisode of Sacred Games has some very graphic scenes. How did you feel being a part of such a project? I don’t think it’s perditious in any way. The story telling is quite responsible.The series is a graphic platform, where you can be a part of edgy stories. It’s different to TV and movies, a bit how a graphic novel is different from a comic book. There is something unique about it. Sacred Games lends itself perfectly to an eight hour series. Everything in India is interconnected such as politics, cops, underworld and Bollywood. The nexus between these things is quite interesting. Sacred Games really etched out the characters and explained them with a backstory, just like the book, but in a way it feels like an eight-hour long movie.
How was it like doing a TV series after being a part of so many feature films? It was exhausting. We had very long working hours. We didn’t use a lot of lights and filmed at a lot of live locations. The plus side is that the scenes look amazing. You can’t set up that environment and replicate it otherwise. In films, you usually require a lot of set up to create a shot e.g. lighting and external equipment. For us, we were much more mobile with Sacred Games. We really explored Mumbai and the new technology in film making really helped us in doing so.
Realistic content is thriving now. Do you enjoy that space? Things do need to be realistic but Sacred Games is quite extraordinary really. Everything is kind of larger than life and there is a lot of drama. The idea is to make the drama believable. It’s not a reality show. It’s quite dull actually.
How was your experience of working with Nawazudin Siddique? He brings a lot of dignity to the roles he plays, almost a regal bearing. It’s fascinating to watch him perform and he is one of the best actors we have. I can’t even put my finger on what exactly makes him so great but I suspect, it’s the grace and composure. But there are also so many other actors I’ve come in contact with throughout this series who have improved my own acting skills. I’m really happy to have seen all that talent as there is so much of it. What we see on screen in Bollywood is really the tip of the iceberg in that sense.
The character is very different to what you’ve portrayed in the past or how you are as a person. How did you prepare for the role? Absolutely, but the character has nothing to do with how I am personally. It was a little bit harder to get into the character but that’s the fun of being an actor. We have to try and understand someone else and create a reality out of it. It helps when the characters are strong and well-written. My director, Vikramaditya Motwane, also directed me very well. I really enjoyed being directed by him actually.
Netflix is becoming bigger by the day and some consider it as the platform which will kill cinemas. What’s your take? I think, audiences will regardless of Netflix like to go to cinemas. I think, in an ideal universe you would do certain films for the big screen and certain type of content knowing that its best served on a streaming service. I’m just happy that as an actor I’m able to be a part of this world. I have noticed that people, in India, like going to the cinema. I think, directors need to be aware for what medium they are making their product. If you know that your movie or show is most likely going to be watched on a mobile phone, that would govern your directing style. If something is made for the big screen, directors need to film it for that purpose. We used to hear back in the days that close up shots are really important for TV. We just need to be aware of what is the best way to make content and for which medium.
Bollywood superstar Salman Khan is celebrating Eid worldwide with fans through his newest blockbuster, Race 3, in cinemas from today. Although the film is part of the Race franchise, it has been completely overhauled, courtesy Khan. Like the last two films, the film is high on action, stunts and twists & turns along with a huge cast. Anil Kapoor, Jacqueline Fernandez are back too, but playing new characters. The newest addition to the franchise include Saqib Salim, Freddy Daruwala, Daisy Shah and Bobby Deol. Another notable change, besides Saif Ali Khan not being in the film, is that directorial duo Abbas-Mustan have been replaced by Remo D’Souza, who has directed the hit ABCD franchise.
Speaking to Sunny Malik, the 52-year-old actor opened up about why the script needed to change, why a soundtrack of the film is so important and much more…
The Race franchise was associated with Saif Ali Khan and Abbas-Mustan. Since you’ve come on board, it has all changed. How did all come about? I don’t think Abbas-Mustan were a part of the film by the time I came on board to play the lead character. Remo D’Souza was already supposed to direct the third film in the franchise when I was approached. I really liked the script and the genre but I wasn’t sure of it. I was just not convinced whether I can fit into the character. I’ve been a part of films like Hum Aapke Hain Kaun and Race is a completely different genre for me. We had several discussions and we changed it into a family film. Once, we made the necessary changes, we got our cast together.
Why make the changes at all when the franchise was quite successful? It’s a completely new film with new characters. I basically want children to come and watch the film. Anil Kapoor and Jacqueline were a part of the previous films but they are not playing the same characters anymore. The original movies were meant for an older audience. I wanted the film to appeal to all audiences including families.
How was your experience filming for Race 3? I had a great time and really enjoyed being a part of it. I also got a chance to work with my friends Anil Kapoor and Bobby Deol. We filmed in Abu Dhabi and the local government was extremely supportive and helpful throughout our schedule. The most important part for me was that I liked the script. It’s basically become a Hum Aapke Hain Kaun where the family don’t get along for reasons that are correct in their head. The film has really funny moments but keeps you engrossed as well. It has action, drama, comedy, a lot of style and a big budget which is visible. We needed to make Race 3 bigger because Race and Race 2 were made on a large scale and we just had to make a product that is loved up by the audience. Jacqueline and Daisy worked really hard on the movie too and performed some incredible stunts.
Each song released is composed by a different music director. That is very similar as to how soundtracks are made in Hollywood. I’ve used multiple music directors in the past too. Sometimes one music director manages to provide you with a complete soundtrack like Himesh Reshammiya did for Tere Naam. There have been instances with my films where Sajid-Wajid directed the music but we got Himesh to do one song, which went on to become a super hit. There are so many great music directors who’ve made some great songs. I like to keep them aside and use them in films where they best fit into. This way I have a couple of options. I believe that there should be about six songs in a film and all of them should be blockbuster tracks. It doesn’t make sense to me for example, if you have three mediocre songs in a film, that would mean 15 minutes where the audience is getting bored. The film starts dipping too. It’s bad for the final product which is why we have to be really careful with songs these days. Another example is Agneepath, starring Hrithik Roshan and Priyanka Chopra and the hit song Chikni Chameli in the film. The song featuring Katrina Kaif comes in towards the end of the film but it created more excitement for the audience at the cinema, building up to the climax. Even our promotional strategy is based on our soundtrack. We want people to like the songs and audiences tend to come and watch movies with good songs in it.
Race 3 is also the first in the franchise to be co-produced by the lead actor. Why is that important for you? If you truly believe in a film, then why not produce it and work towards creating the best out of it? We are producing Loveratri with Ayyush Sharma and Warina Hussain, which was extensively filmed in London. We’ve also just announced a film with Zaheer Iqbal, the son of my childhood friend with a really nice script that we’ve finalised.
Race 3, a Yash Raj Films release, is out in UK cinemas from today.
Bobby Deol is back on UK cinema screens after Poster Boyz (2017) with Salman Khan starrer Race 3. He was missing in action for a couple of years and seems like he is back in the game, as he returns in the biggest blockbuster of the year and is gearing up for a few exciting projects ahead such as Housefull 4.
Speaking to Sunny Malik, the 49-year-old actor opened up about the film, his character and much more…
You’ve been a part of many Abbas-Mustan films but not with the Race franchise. With Remo now helming the latest installment, how did the film come about for you? Well I’ve been working really hard and trying to get work. I’ve been going out to get work. I remember I met Salman, Salman said “You know everybody goes through ups and downs. You know like I climbed onto your brothers back to move forward”. So, I said “Mammu let me climb onto your back” and he just laughed, and he said, “Yes definitely I will think about something”. We tried to do something together, but it didn’t work out. Suddenly one day Salman called and says “Mammu shirt utharega?” and I said “Mammu mein kuch bi kharega”, and that’s how I got to go and hear the script of Race 3.
You’ve recently spoken about reinventing yourself. What changes did you make for the role in Race 3 specifically? More than re-inventing I did restart my life, and restarting was just being basic. What is a basic necessity for an actor is to be fit, healthy and look sharp and positive. I started looking after my health, I started working out, eating right kind of food and believing that things are going to happen. A positive attitude has really helped me to change and look the way I do.
The Race franchise was known for twist and turns, car chases and a lot of action. We’ve a bigger cast now as well as a different theme; family. Why do you think will this new theme and story setting appeal to audiences? Race 3 is 3 times better than the first 2. There’s 3 times of everything in it. Action, family drama, songs. I’m sure people are going to enjoy it because a lot of effort has gone in. It has everything in it like a proper commercial film with songs and drama and action.
Salman Khan praised you a few times in interviews and on social media. How was your working relationship with him on-set? It was awesome. Salman is such a big superstar but, yet he is so down to earth and so selfless. Salman is just somebody who likes to do good for other and when we were working he made everyone so comfortable, so it was great fun working with him.
There were mixed reactions to the trailer. What feedback have you been getting? How do you deal with negative feedback? Well, there’s always good and there’s always bad. Good is very less and bad is always more but reviews always come, and everybody has a free will to say what they feel. It doesn’t really matter because at the end of the day the work and the product speaks for itself.
How was your experience of working in such a huge ensemble cast? Do you find performing easier when so many other actors are sharing screen space or is it more difficult? There’s nothing like easy or difficult. When I’m working with others I just look at myself as a character and I just become a part of what I’m doing. It’s fun working with a lot of actors because everybody has their own styles and it just motivates you to do better.
The music is quite appealing. What is your take on the soundtrack? I think it’s a really great soundtrack. It has all kinds of styles of music and I really enjoyed Heeriye and I really liked Selfish, so these are two of my favourite tracks.
Since every Salman Khan film has some comedy, was there a lot of improvisation for such scenes? There’s improvisation in every film when we shoot, there’s always certain elements that get added on set and definitely this is a Salman Khan film. it has to have that kind of humour. It has all those things which all the Salman Khan fans would love to see.
Tell us a little bit more about the character you are playing and how you prepared for the role… I’m a school teacher in the movie. I’m joking, I can’t reveal anything about my character. I can only say that he is a very cool, suave and stylish character that I play in this film. That’s all I can say.
The Race franchise so far has fared well at the UK Box Office. What are your hopes for the film here? Well I hope it rocks and becomes bigger than the other 2. But then I always wish that all my films become big hits.
Eros International, Reliance Entertainment and Phantom Films’ Bhavesh JoshiSuperhero starring Harshvardhan Kapoor directed by Vikramaditya Motwane will release in UK cinemas today on 1st June 2018.
Harshvardhan Kapoor’s second outing, a vigilante drama, is high on action designed by an international crew and is shot at some never seen locations in and around Mumbai. The movie traces the journey of a young man’s personal crusade against the system and his quest for revenge leading to the emergence of a common man’s superhero in the form of Bhavesh JoshiSuperhero.
Bhavesh Joshi is an action film about a young man who decides to avenge the death of his closest friend by taking on the very system that killed him. While doing so, he discovers that he’s destined for something much bigger.
In this interview with BollyNewsUK, Kapoor opens up about the film, his film choices and preparing for the role.
It’s been some time since your first film Mirzya released. Are you selective when it comes to what films you want to do? Actually, Bhavesh Joshi would’ve released much earlier but we faced a delay in production around January 2017. While that was sorted out, three months passed. Then we had another delay in the post-production process because Vikramaditya Motwane, the director, and writer Anurag Kashyap, where occupied with the Netflix Original ‘The Sacred Games’. The post-production process was pushed back another three-to-four months. Sometimes that’s how it happens in the movie business. It’s been approximately two-years since Mirzya released but I have to be patient.
Was that long period between first and second film feature film making you anxious considering some of your contemporaries have had multiple releases after their debut films? I’ve a different way of seeing things. I believe, it all depends on the kind of choices you are making. If you want to have two releases a year, you will have to do all kind of films as some are easier to put into production than others. Films like Mirzya and Bhavesh Joshi take additional time as they’re not your stereotypical Bollywood movies. They have a certain big budget and are experimental. It’s a tricky combination and needs everyone from financers, production, directorial team and actors to be on the same page. I believe in submitting myself to my directors, it’s the path I’ve chosen. It has its ups and downs but for me, the ups outweigh the downs.
Why did you decide to be launched in an unconventional film? Why not be a part of a mainstream masala Hindi film that would make you a ‘star’? I don’t really look at it like that. I’m just trying to be a better actor and grow with every film. I’ve only done two movies, but they’ve been very demanding and consuming films. I feel that doing films like Bhavesh Joshi better my craft in a shorter amount of time. The experiences I’ve had with these two films at the age of 28-years-old feels overwhelming and the best possible experience. I’m not trying to be a star right now, but become a better actor. I signed up to be an actor and if stardom organically comes along out of being an actor eventually, that will be amazing. Even if it doesn’t, I’ve some really interesting filmography to look back on.
Is there a process you are following then for picking the right project? I’ve only made three choices so far in my career. Mirzya and Bhavesh Joshi are the first two and the third is the Abhinav Bindra biopic that is going into pre-production in June/July. Rakesh and Vikram fall under the best directors in India and it was a dream come true to work with them and play a central character in their vision. It’s a phenomenal feeling. When it comes to co-stars, it’s the director’s call on who should be starring opposite me. I’m too new and inexperienced to care about that aspect. I’ve got my hands full with focusing on my job. You’ve to trust your directors and they need to trust you. Everything else like production and distribution, there are people who know it better and are hired for it. I take it as it comes.
Your first film premiered in London at the BFI London Film Festival… That must be special…. I didn’t look at the Mirzya premiere in London as an event due to which we’ll break box office records in the UK and overseas. For me, it was important to showcase the film at film festivals around the world. I’ve grown up visiting film festival in my spare time or go to them on a holiday for fun. I’ve been at Toronto Film Festival thrice in the last four years. I go there just to watch films. To have Mirzya as the opening film of the Love Gala at the London Film Festival was a dream come true. We were approached by Venice Film Festival later. They wished we had sent them the film, as they would’ve closed the festival with it. Audiences and critics loved it at the London premiere. We had a four-star review from The Guardian and from the NYT. Festival audiences also come in with a different perspective. They want to have a different experience and Mirzya was actually more of an art-house film rather than a mainstream Hindi film. Bhavesh Joshi is more mainstream as it has songs, action, comedy, drama but all executed in Vikram’s unique style.
What reactions have you been getting to the trailer?
I can feel the excitement coming my way through social media. People in India have responded really well to the trailer as it features romance, comedy and action. It also gives you a glimpse into the story and in India, people look out for that. They don’t necessarily need to see cool shots and abstractions. They need to know what the experience will be like when they go into cinemas. The reaction has been phenomenal.
The character in the film falls under the ‘superhero’ category but without supernatural powers. Did you have any reference points for that? It might be the craziest thing to say but I’m not a big superhero fan. I really don’t enjoy big superhero films. Bhavesh Joshi is exactly the opposite of a Marvel film. It’s an indie film about a guy who is in extraordinary circumstances. This film is like a graphic novel and in a way, a vigilante action drama. It’s a very different genre than Deadpool and Black Panther. The main backdrop of the film is Mumbai City, which has great potential to become one of the best metropolitan cities in the world, but is always dragged back by corruption. We just become immune to it because we are all comfortable in our own lives. Bhavesh Joshi stands up and fights back.
How was the experience of working with Vikramaditya Motwane?
I did a lot of workshops for about six weeks from 9am to 6pm on a daily basis. I felt, I needed more time to adjust to the character so Vikram suggested I should move in with the actors playing my friends in the film and we literally lived together for weeks. I didn’t go home at all and we just became really good friends and that translated on screen. Vikram definitely knew that it would help me and I just generally too, really enjoyed the experience of working with him.
Bollywood actor Kartik Aaryan will be seen on British cinema screens once again with his new bromance film Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety.
The 27-year-old actor made his acting debut with the iconic buddy film Pyaar Ka Punchnama in 2011 and is becoming the undisputed king of bromance comedies in Hindi cinema.
Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety also stars Nushrat Bharucha & Sunny Singh and is directed & written by Luv Ranjan Story – Luv Ranjan. The film is produced by Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar, Luv Ranjan, Ankur Garg under T-Series and LUV Films.
In this chat, Kartik Aaryan opens up to BollyNewsUK about the his new film, social media, the UK market, his future film choices and much more…
Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety is your third theatrical UK release. How important is the overseas market for you? I would personally love to get good numbers in from the overseas territories. I’ve always wanted to be an actor with a worldwide reach. It’s always been an ambition to reach a worldwide audience through my movies. It’s become the trend among a few people, that the domestic box office is the only important one as of now. I feel the opposite. I believe all markets are equally important, whether domestic or overseas. The worldwide box office is important for an actor and the producer to recover costs and to make the film profitable. Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety is my biggest release till date, be it in India or overseas in terms of number of screens in the UK, US and other countries. The UK audience has always been important to us and they love our films. I want to capture it all. I’ve been promoting the film so much that I’ve forgotten where I was two days ago. We are also doing promotions for the UK out of India to create awareness for the film.
Social Media has changed the game to create awareness for movies. Do you only use social media for promotional uses or is it a personal medium for you to connect to fans around the globe? I personally love Twitter, Instagram and interacting with fans from all over the world. It’s a booming phenomenon everywhere. It’s become much easier to connect with everyone. I don’t use Twitter or Instagram just because I’ve got to promote a film. I just love to connect with people. It’s helping me out perfectly as I don’t need any other portal to convey what I feel or what I want to say.
It hasn’t been measurable if Social Media trends translate into box office success though… I believe social media is only used to create awareness of the film coming out. You need to have relatable and good content in the film to make it work. I believe, however much you promote the film, it won’t work if the content isn’t good enough for your target audience.
The Bollywood UK market is still dominated by family films or films starring superstars. With Sonu Ki Titu Ki Sweety, you have abusive slang language in Hindi even in the trailer. Do you not feel that may alienate a large chunk of the audience? The unique selling point for my previous films has always been the relatability factor of the characters and story. Pyaar Ka Punchanama & Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 only worked because the audience related to the content. Even the tremendous response to the trailer of Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety is due to the connect that the audience feels to the content. We’re also sure about our target audience which is the youth, whether at home or abroad. I’ve always been able to connect with them through my movies. The main reason behind using those words in the film is not because we feel we must use them, but because of the characters we portray. It is the language young people use in India. It’s not done for effect. I guess, we can’t cheat our young audiences either to appeal to another audience if we don’t use those words. It would not fit right as everyone know that these words are used by the younger generation and quite casually to be honest. It’s considered normal. Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety is also very different from my previous films as it doesn’t just revolve around boyfriend/girlfriend relationships but a is step ahead with the focus being on marriage. There is an important part played by the family in the film. Alok Nath, who played memorable father characters in multiple Hindi films, is a part of the film along with many other talented actors portraying the roles of aunts and uncles. Since the story revolves around marriage and family, the abusive language is most likely not going to affect anything. We’ve never played it safe and dint want to do it with this one either.
You have British singers Zack Knight and Jasmin Walia’s track Bom Diggy in the soundtrack as well. The song was released last year and is now a part of your film too. How did that come about? The song is used in the introduction of our characters, right in the beginning of the film. I’ve always loved Zack Knight’s music. I really liked the song when it came out and used to listen to it all the time. I actually suggested the track for the introduction to my producer and he found it to be the perfect song too.
What kind of movies do you want to be a part of moving forward? My basic criteria is to be reletable to the audience. Some choices will work and some wont but I will always stand by them. I want to do movies that cater to the youth, that’s a conscious decision. I need something young and fresh. If Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety works, further doors will open for similar roles and for the work I want to do. People call me the first bromance hero and I love that. It gives me a universal acceptance as these scenarios are not limited to Indians. I would love to try certain anti-hero roles somewhere down to line but not right now.
Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety opens in UK cinemas nationwide on 23rd February 2018.
Telegu actress Rakul Preet is making her foray into Hindi Cinema with Neeraj Pandey’s Aiyaary, also starring Sidharth Malhotra and Manoj Bajpayee.
The 27-year-old actress has been part of a string of successful Indian films since 2013 and will also be seen opposite Ajay Devgn in his next home production.
Speaking to BollyNewsUK, Preet discussed working in films across various Indian languages, filming in London and much more…
How did the transition from Telegu to Hindi films come about? I guess it was destined for me to work with Neeraj Pandey. I’d like to believe that because the first ever audition I did, was for him prior to my debut Telegu film. Unfortunately, it didn’t materialise and I was subsequently supposed to play a part in M.S. Dhoni. That didn’t happen either due to date issues. When Aiyaary came to me, I thought to myself that I need to make it happen. I come from an Army background, which also attracted me to the story of the film. I couldn’t have asked for a better team.
Tell us about your character in the film… I play a Software Expert and also the love interest of Sidharth Malhotra in the film. She is someone who is brilliant at what she does and a strong woman. I can’t say too much about the role without giving away the story.
Since you’re known by Telegu audiences already, was it difficult to shoot at tourist locations in London with fans around? Aiyaary is the second film I’ve shot in London. I had previously filmed a Telegu film here. London has good diaspora population and it’s always good to shoot here. It was special for the entire team as it was our first schedule and we would go out and enjoy the great places in the city together. We went to the cinema as a team and also for dinners, which I really enjoyed. We bonded really well and that’s when I realised that Sidharth is from the same neighbourhood in Delhi as I am. Neither of us knew about this prior to the London schedule. We did get a lot of attention due to the Indian and South Indian population that resides in London but it was a lot of fun.
How will you be deciding on further Hindi films as offers will likely come your way after Aiyaary is released? I will just see what is offered to me. I am currently working with Ajay Devgn for my second Hindi film. There are also two Tamil films I will be filming for simultaneously and another Telegu film. I don’t plan too much and I will just see what happens next, in whatever language. I just want to work every day.
Why should audiences go and watch Aiyaary? There have been a lot of films about the Army but Aiyaary is not. It’s a film about the system and how things operate. It doesn’t fall under the patriotic film genre. The Army doesn’t only come into play during war. There are a lot of other aspects and we have shown some of those aspects in the film. That different insight will be a good ride for movie goers.
Presented by Reliance Entertainment and Plan C Studios, Aiyaary is a Friday Filmworks Productions and releases in UK cinemas on 16th February 2018.
Actor Manoj Bajpayee will be seen in UK cinemas again this Friday. His latest outing Aiyaary revolves around two army officers, portrayed by Sidharth Malhotra as an army officer sharing a mentor-protégé bond with Bajpayee.
Directed by Neeraj Pandey, the film also stars Anupam Kher, Naseeruddin Shah, Rakul Preet Singh and Pooja Chopra in lead roles.
The award-winning actor spoke to BollyNewsUK about his role in film, co-star Sidharth Malhotra and being on location in London.
What is Aiyaary all about? It deals with the conflict of two generations. The ideas of patriotism between the two protagonists in the film keep on clashing. That takes the shape of a bigger conflict and a cat & mouse game of sorts. At the core of it, audiences will also experience how military personnel protect the country and national interest as well as the challenges they face. That makes quite a thrilling story.
It’s quite relevant as we see millennials clashing with the older generation worldwide when it comes to ideologies. Is that an aspect of the film which may have a broader appeal internationally? A lot has changed in the last decade. The younger generation is much more exposed to the outside world. They have a spectrum of information on their fingertips. They also look at their country in a very different way and believe that certain actions are enough to bring about change. The older generation, perhaps, realises that a lot of efforts and sacrifices are needed to achieve something for one’s nation. The ideologies are bound to clash as experience and information will have a never-ending battle.
How was it like filming for Aiyaary in London? We shot a major portion of the film London. My family was with me during the schedule and we all love London. My 7-year-old daughter loved being in the city and thoroughly enjoyed her stay. I was busy filming in various locations but was happy that my family was enjoying visiting historical places.
Was the experience of working with Neeraj Pandey in Aiyaary easier for you after Special 26? We met many times much before ‘Special 26’ was made. I’ve always had great regard for him as a director after I saw ‘A Wednesday’. He has a remarkable gift of presenting a story to audiences. His storytelling resonates with all kind of audiences, and that makes him very unique. I’m grateful that he shows a lot of faith and belief in me as an actor.
Opposite to the friction seen on-screen, you connected well with Sidharth off-screen. How did you find working with him? Sidharth is a lovely guy. He comes from a middle-class family in Delhi, where I’ve spent a lot of time. Our values are very much the same and we both relate to each other’s journey. He is a competitive guy and has made a mark in the industry whilst being an outsider. I have a lot of admiration for him.
Studios and distributors are focusing on the Indian Box Office more than ever, whereas the international market has taken a backseat. Do you believe international territories still hold value, especially for smaller films? It’s still an important market. We all want our films to break even or make profit, so that we can continue to work and all markets that help us reach that goal are important. We are not looking to hit a certain number at the Indian Box Office with this film but audiences coming to see Aiyaary should love the film. That is more important to us. Throughout the film, Neeraj Pandey was not well but we carried on. We believed in the film and were passionate about it and hopefully, audiences will be able to see it on-screen.
Presented by Reliance Entertainment and Plan C Studios, Aiyaary is a Friday Filmworks Productions and releases in UK cinemas on 16th February 2018.
Sidharth Malhotra is the newest Bollywood heartthrob on the scene. The 33-year-old actor made his debut in 2012 with Karan Johar’s ‘Student Of The Year‘ and has built up quite a fan following through his performances with UK hits such as Kapoor & Sons and Brothers.
Hailing from an Indian Armed Forces family, Sidharth entered the film industry after working as a junior assistant director on the award-winning My Name Is Khan. He caught director Karan Johar’s eye, who then decided to launch Sidharth along with Varun Dhawan, son of director David Dhawan, and Alia Bhatt, daughter of renowned producer Mahesh Bhatt in Student Of The Year. The three actors shot to stardom in India even before their highly-anticipated debut film released.
Malhotra has since starred in hits such as Ek Villain, Ittefaq and A Gentleman. He is gearing up for his newest release, Aiyaary, also starring Manoj Bajpayee and Rakul Preet.
Speaking to BollyNewsUK, the actor discusses his new movie and filming in the British capital…
You must be very excited starting the new year with Aiyaary… Yes, every Friday brings in new excitement. The script and content of Aiyaary is very powerful and director Neeraj Pandey always showcases intelligent content in his films. Audiences will understand the reason why we’ve made the film, as it’s very relevant now. It’s a packaged spy thriller, which I’ve never done before, so it’s something new for the audience.
The title of Aiyaary is unusal. Was that intentional to make the film mysterious? I believe that Neeraj Pandey has a knack for finding these words when it comes to naming his films. It was also very apt for the characters as we are playing intelligence agents in the film. Aiyaary means the art of trickery, and these guys definitely have that skill. It’s also a very intriguing title, which helps us.
Neeraj Pandey films usually share critical acclaim and box office success. Are you worried about the trend of 2017 where most movies didn’t perform well though? No, I don’t worry about that. Every film has its own audience at the end of the day. When you sign up to do a film, you know the extent of the business it is likely to make. This is a thriller first of all, which doesn’t have the trappings of a commercial love story. It has a good subject which is relevant to the country and its youth. Also, looking at Neeraj Pandey’s track record, he has never had a film under-performing at the box office. Its more relaxing because of his past track record.
You disappeared from social media with the hashtag #SidsOffTheGrid leading up to first promotions of Aiyaary. What was that about? (Laughs) We were just preparing audiences for what is going to happen when Aiyaary releases, as my character in the film goes off the grid. In my head, I wanted to see if people will miss me online. I was very happy to see that people were concerned, including you who messaged and called. It was very nice actually. I was back in two days, it was a fun activity.
Your last film Ittefaq was only promoted on social and digital media. However, some film studios are going back to the traditional marketing style. What do you feel works best? The trend has really changed. It has more become about what happens on the Friday of release. Audiences want to know what the reports are, what their friends and family thought of the film, as it is an expensive experience to go to the cinema. The taxes aren’t helping either. I believe more than marketing or public relations, it has become all about what the first day is like. Social Media has a massive reach. You can disseminate authentic information from your official accounts. There is no middle man and hence, misunderstandings are avoided. I feel, in a country like India, social media is still a new phenomenon and doesn’t have the same numbers as the US or UK. We must cater to the traditional formats of information as well. Audiences are shifting from TV and newspapers to online, albeit slowly. Although, Facebook has a great reach in India, which is great. Twitter and Instagram are fairly new, and you can’t only depend on these medium to create awareness.
Was it distracting for you as an actor to shoot at popular tourist attractions such as Leicester Square in London? We were filming on Oxford Street and London is always beaming with people. We were filming at 17:00, during high rush hour time. We didn’t want to lock down the area for the shoot as it was supposed to look authentic. That was a bit of an issue.
I was wearing a hood and was sweaty, as it was supposed to portray the middle of an action sequence. I was coming out of the Underground station and a steady cam was filming me walking out. During almost all of the takes, someone passing by would react to me being there. It took a lot of retakes and was a tricky situation as to whether we should announce that we are filming or just keep going as we were. We continued filming Guerrilla style and some of the fans were sweet enough to not stare into the camera during takes. It was interesting to shoot at an actual location with people around you not knowing about it.
Since the film was moved forward, do you believe the extra time you have to promote the film is a positive to take out of the situation? We were always prepared to create good awareness for the film but, yes it does give us a bigger window now. We have been to Chandigarh, Amritsar and the Wagah border. It’s interesting as no one has spent so much time with the Armed Forces before for a film. It’s great to give them memories and I’m enjoying spending time with them.
Reliance Entertainment releases Aiyaary in UK cinemas on 16th February 2017.
He is known as the biggest movie star in the world, yet not everyone in the UK knows him. Meet Shah Rukh Khan; Bollywood superstar who has appeared in over 80 Bollywood films and won 14 Filmfare Awards, India’s equivalent of the Oscars.
The Bollywood star boasts of 23 million followers on Twitter and 22 million likes on Facebook. Even over a decade ago, his movie Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998) was the highest-grossing film of the year, ahead of James Cameron’s Titanic at Cineworld Feltham, west-London, which testaments his popularity among south-Asians living here.
Besides owning a plush house on Park Lane in London, Khan has filmed numerous movies here. He was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in Arts and Culture by the University of Bedfordshire in 2009. In 2015, he was conferred with a 2nd UK honorary doctorate degree by the University of Edinburgh, given in recognition of his success as an actor with a global reach and his outstanding record of philanthropy, altruism and humanitarianism.
However, Khan’s stardom often sees him involved in controversies. His latest release RAEES was dragged into the political tensions that erupted last year between India and Pakistan, as the leading actress of the film, Mahira Khan, is Pakistani. Political parties had threatened to attack cinemas that would screen the flick. The actor had to go and meet the head of the political party MNS in Mumbai to negotiate a safe and smooth release. Apparently, the politician demanded that the actress shall not promote the film in India in any which way and apparently, Khan agreed.
Speaking about the controversy to BollyNewsUK, he said, “There was a time controversies bothered and disturbed me. I just couldn’t understand why some of the things were happening. Then l realised, that is what I do for a living. I make and release films. A Shah Rukh Khan film is an occasion for many people. I have realised that it’s more important that families across the globe have the option to watch my movies. I now know that it’s my responsibility to make the experience of watching the film for the viewer as comfortable as possible.”
Even in 2015, his film Dilwale faced bans in India after Khan commented about “intolerance” in India and was branded “anti-National” by many. “I have realised with my film “Dilwale” (2015) that I am putting viewers at discomfort. They want to see the film but there are situations due to controversies, which make the experience awkward. In the past, I have not understood why, but people have attacked my stand on certain things. I am clear that my stand now is for the viewer to be able to go and watch my film without fear.”
“After working in the industry for twenty-five years, I think its now my job that a film reaches everyone. I’m okay with going to meet people to explain to them what the film is about and hear their opinion to make it a smooth release. I have realised that I need to do this and well in-time, not two days before the film is out. I have started the process much earlier. If people have issues, I will address them,” said Khan.
SRK, as he is often called by friends and fans, also worked with ex-porn star Sunny Leone for a special song in his new film. While Sunny has enjoyed stardom in India, this is the first time a mainstream superstar has worked with the porn star-turned-actress.
Talking about the special song, a recreated version of Bollywood hit ‘Laila Main Laila’, he said “We wanted to capture the time period, the costumes and the feel. That is why we did not go for a popular Hindi film actress. Sunny Leone is marvellous. We did not want to take a famous actress for it as it’s not meant to be an item number. In the film, the song is one of the most crucial moments.”
Khan, who owns Red Chillies Entertainment with wife Gauri Khan, has is eyes set to get into international distribution as well, after producing movies and ads in India. “I am very clear that at Red Chillies Entertainment we want to start slowly distributing films ourselves. We have done that in India. To begin with, we have to partner with studios and ZEE is a good partner for the UK and USA for Raees. It’s easier now to get into overseas distribution. We have regular distributors and the business model has become easier. Its not for any other reason. All other distributors like Yash Raj Films, Eros International and UTV etc. are fantastic. But the main concern is that filmmaking has become more expensive. We want to market them a certain way and control how they released. We are making more than one film a year now and we know them better than studios. Dear Zindagi was only released in multiplex cinemas. We felt that this model will work for the film. If we had a distribution partner, they may have assumed that it’s a Shah Rukh Khan film and needs that kind of a release. But Dear Zindagi was not a Shah Rukh Khan film of a commercial calibre. The overseas release is very important, more so for me. My films sometimes do better overseas than domestically. That keeps us going. The overseas markets are perhaps bigger for me than for any other actor, ” said the actor.
SRK has often played negative characters throughout his career and those have often stayed the most memorable for his fans such as his portrayals in Baazigar, Darr and Don. Talking about revisiting a negative character he said, “I have a simple take on these negative characters; you can either like them or dislike them. As a character, I never try to justify them. If he is bad, he is bad. I don’t make any excuses for the character as an actor. Inherently, this character is a bit of a tragic hero. He makes some mistakes, which turn out more than what he had bargained for. He has a choice to get away with it and never be paying for his mistake, but he takes responsibility for his actions. This makes his somehow heroic, or the protagonist. I think, what people will take away from the film is that you need to take responsibility of your actions, whatever the outcome may be.”
Shah Rukh Khan was named the 2nd richest actor in the world but does not have his eyes set on Hollywood like other Bollywood exports Priyanka Chopra (Quantico, Baywatch) and Deepika Padukone (xXx – The Return of Xander Cage).
“Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone as well as others like Irrfan Khan, Om Puri and Anupam Kher have done a great job. They are opening doors for Indians in the western film industry. I am too old to take advantage of it. I’ll make films in India. But we should start a campaign in the UK to make me the next Indian James Bond. I’ll be a third generation Indian living in London, who joins the MI6,” says Khan laughing.
In xXx: Return of Xander Cage, Bollywood beauty Deepika Padukone stars as Serena Unger, deadly rival turned xXx partner-in-crime in Vin Diesel’s merry band of lethal misfits. Tasked by the NSA’s Jane Marke (Toni Colette) with retrieving ‘Pandora’s Box’ – a nifty little gadget capable of hijacking and weaponizing satellites – the third installment in the franchise sees Padukone and Diesel (joined by Donnie Yen, Ruby Rose, Nina Dobrev, and Rory McCann) in a race against time to save the day.
Listed by Forbes as one of the highest paid actresses working today, 31-year-old Deepika Padukone is one of the movie’s most beloved stars in her native India. Her collaboration with co-star Vin Diesel and director DJ Caruso (I Am Number Four) in xXx marks her Hollywood debut.
What’s it like making your Hollywood debut It’s been so exciting and so much fun. I think this was the most perfect launch of a new film that anyone could have asked for, period, especially considering what a big franchise movie it is and that Serena, my character, has such a strong part – so different from the way we’ve seen women in action films before. I think all of these things made this experience, for me, truly special.
Tell us about your character, Serena Unger, and how you approached her? I think my approach was pretty organic. For me, Serena is someone who’s very today, very contemporary. And she’s also very relatable. I remember watching action films when I was a little girl and thinking ‘Why am I watching this movie?’ Because there was nothing to relate to. When I read the script of xXx and saw what an important role Serena plays in the story, first as an individual – strong, confident and intelligent – and then how she works with others to form a team and even lead the group when she needs to… Well, I was hooked. She has a lot of fun moments as well and a lot of romantic moments too… I think all of these things make it so, so relatable, especially for women. I think every woman has that strong, heroic voice inside them. I think Serena is the representation of that voice.
It seems like the part was written specifically for you. In a way, yes… Vin and I had begun working together on another project that didn’t work for logistical reasons. But I had such a great experience when I met him and he remembered me from that when he decided to revive XxX. And so I didn’t have to audition for the role. It just landed in my lap because I was right for the part. Everyone now, of course, is asking me “How does it feel to represent your country with this film?” I think all of those things are amazing, but as an actor the most important thing is just to fit the part… And so I think that it’s very, very flattering. Especially that when they decided to write the film, they thought of me first.
What kind of training did you do to prepare for it? The physical part of it was what I needed to focus on most. The character herself was very relatable, as I said. It was something that was very organic. But the gun training, the weapons, the knives – those are the things that I needed to work on. I had done an action film in India before. But it didn’t involve any weapons. The minute you have weapons involved, the kind of focus and concentration that’s required is much more intense. And so to get there, we would rehearse every weekend. We’d film Monday to Friday, and then train over the weekend to make sure we’d get it right.
What was it like working with Vin? I felt very comfortable. I think it helped that I’d met him before and that we had that connection. So when I walked onto the set, I felt like I already knew him. It was not a new relationship that I had to discover. But also there was DJ Caruso. You know, it’s so important to have a director who believes in you and who keeps feeding you that energy and making you believe that whatever you’re doing is beautiful and amazing. At least, I’m that kind of actor. I need my director to keep telling me that I’m doing well, because that gives me the confidence to do even more. So my sense of confidence and comfort came from Vin, but a lot of it came from DJ as well. It really came from both of them.
What was the vibe on set like? From what I’ve heard, it sounds like the cast formed a special bond making the movie? Absolutely, films will come and go but it’s the experience that stays with you forever. We became a real family making this film. And I think everyone really gave their best effort to make the best film possible.
What was it like to be finally filming the action sequences? Is there a particular scene that stands out for you? There are a couple. First, there’s the one after the grenade sequence where I take down those Russian guys in hand-to-hand combat… I was in so much pain after that day! You know, almost a week after that I still couldn’t move (laughs)… The other fun sequence for me was the one with Ruby Rose, where we’re both firing weapons. We had to train constantly to get all the elements right for that, because we had to be perfectly in synch with each other. That was another really great one for me… In the film it takes place in slow motion. It’s an action sequence, but it almost looks like a beautifully choreographed dance scene.
How does your Hollywood experience compare with your Bollywood one? How are the two different and how are they similar? And how will it affect your career? They’re exactly the same. The same energy, the same love, the same work, the same enthusiasm, the same ups and downs that any film would go through. I don’t know how my life is going to change after this movie releases. I honestly don’t know if any of that is going to be different. But the filming experience for me was exactly the same as it was back home.
We’ve talked about how the part was written with you in mind. Did you have any additional input as to her development before the cameras rolled? I actually went in a couple of weeks before they needed me to start filming and I remember doing this brainstorming session with the writer and with my director. We sat locked up in my room for an entire day, just going through it, scene by scene. She was already a well written character. But there were certain things that I thought I could add, certain things I could remove, certain feelings or emotions to highlight, which only an actor can do when you step into it and you ask certain questions. So I went through that entire process with the writer and director and I think that for me was the most fruitful experience. Because once we had that out of the way, when I actually started filming, I had no questions. I had no doubts. I knew what I was doing with Serena. I knew where her journey started and where it was going to end.
What was it like watching the finished film for the first time? My first reaction was that we made such a beautiful movie that’s also entertaining and fun. Obviously, it’s got the adrenaline. But there’s also a socially relevant message there. It’s very difficult, I think, to come across scripts that have both. Sometimes you have films that really have a very strong message, but they’re not very entertaining. And then you have the entertaining films that just leave you feeling nothing. For me, xXx is unique. It has all the action and adventure, and it’s fun. But at the same time, it makes you think. Best of all is how DJ Caruso has blended it all together so seamlessly.
Will there be more films in the franchise? And if so, will you be back for more? Will the franchise continue? I don’t know. I think it’s too soon to tell. I think we first need to share this film with the world before we can think of anything else… Right now we’re just focusing on sharing this with the world.
The gorgeous Sonam Kapoor can be seen in the much-awaited and already critically acclaimed Neerja in UK cinemas now.
Neerja is a biopic and a cinematic representation of the dramatic events that unfolded on September 5th, 1986 when Pan Am Flight 73 from Bombay to New York was hijacked in transit at Jinnah International Airport in Karachi by Palestinian extremists from Abu Nidal’s terrorist outfit. This is the story of Neerja Bhanot, a 22-year-old part time model, who was the head purser on the flight. Neerja had escaped an abusive marriage and, as a life change, decided to become an airhostess, subsequently impressing everyone so much that they made her a purser.
Throughout the horrifying ordeal, Neerja didn’t succumb to her fears and instead fought her personal demons from the past and, from the minute the plane was hijacked through the terrifying 17 hours to the grueling end, used her courage, wits and compassion to make sure the passengers were protected, going so far as to hide the passports of the American passengers. Through her swift thinking and brave actions, she managed to save the lives of 359 passengers and crew on board out of 379, all at the cost of her own life.
Neerja was hailed internationally as ‘the heroine of the hijack’ and posthumously became the youngest recipient of India’s highest civilian honour for bravery, the Ashoka Chakra; was bestowed the Flight Safety Foundation Heroism award by USA; Tamgha-e-Insaaniyat ( awarded for showing incredible human kindness) by Pakistan; Justice for Crimes Award by United States Attorney’s Office for the district of Columbia; Special Courage Award by the US government; and theIndian Civil Aviation Ministry’s Award.
Speaking to BollyNewsUK, Sonam Kapoor spoke about playing the title character in the film and much more…
You’ve had a great last year and are starting off 2016 with Neerja. How are you feeling? I am super kicked about Neerja. I really believe in the film. I also really believe in what Neerja stood for. I am really excited for people to now watch the movie and take something away from it.
Audiences would not expect to see you in a film like Neerja. How did it come about? I don’t like to give audiences what they expect. I like to mix it up. I like to do something different with every film. My agent was working on making this film. Everything just feel into place organically as it’s such a beautiful story and very well-written script. We just wanted to make it badly. We wanted everyone to know her story since it’s so inspiring and everything became really easy because everyone has the same mind-set about it. Neerja is an unsung hero and we wanted her to become heroic again.
Bling!, who manage your career, are producing the film. Was that a comfortable aspect of being a part of such a sensitive film? It wasn’t just Bling! but also Fox Star and the creative producer, Rucha Pathak. I have worked with her on many occasions previously. She was the one who put Khoobsurat together with my sister Rhea at Disney. She moved to Fox Star after Khoobsurat. I have worked with the people at Fox Star before too and I just knew that I was in good hands with all these people. Everyone just really believed in the film. I am really grateful to all these people who have shown immense commitment to the film.
20th Century Fox is releasing the film in UK cinemas. Do you feel the subject and the wide reach of the international studio can make the film go mainstream in the UK? We are releasing the film in UK cinemas with English subtitles. I am not aware of how wide the release is. It can definitely attract a mainstream audience and I hope it does well abroad. I’m sure if it catches on, Fox will increase the cinema screens.
Composer Shekhar Ravjiani is part of the film as well, which is surprising. How did that happen? Vishal plays a cameo in the film. You need to watch the film to explore what he is doing in the film. Honestly, all credit goes to Atul Kasbekar and my director Ram Madhvani to get him on board. He is a musician but he is a lovely human being and I have known him for many years. It’s great to have him a part of Neerja.
How much has the story of Neerja been changed for cinematic adaptation? We have not amended anything of the original story. We have to be really sensitive as there are survivors who are alive and we did not want to change anything just for the sake of it. It’s best for people to watch the film and judge for themselves.
What’s next for you after Neerja? I don’t want to reveal it because all my energy is dedicated towards Neerja at the moment. A week after the release, there will an announcement.
Neerja is produced by Fox Star Studios and co-produced by Bling Unplugged and has been directed by celebrated ad film director, Ram Madhvani. Actress Sonam Kapoor is playing the role of the young brave heart and adding to the cast is veteran and internationally renowned actress, Shabana Azmi, playing the role of Neerja’s mother.
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.
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.
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.
Bollywood 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.
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.
There 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).
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.
Tena 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.
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.
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.
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.
Bollywood 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.
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 alsoresonated with people overseas and hence, I was invited to London.
Mardaani 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.
You 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 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.