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‘Padmaavat’ protests continue in India, UK release unaffected

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bollywood epic Padmaavat, set to release in UK cinemas by Paramount Pictures UK on 25th Jan, is still facing protests in India.

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After death treats were issued to lead actress Deepika Padukone and Bhansali, followed by multiple Indian states banning the film and the local Certification Board in India refusing to classify the film, Padmaavat was postponed.

After five cuts and a name change from ‘Padmavati’ to ‘Padmaavat’ the film will finally get a general release this week.

Based on 16th century Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s epic poem Padmavat, the movie faced resistance from its early stages due to rumour-mongering.

The film that showcases the valor of Rani Padmavati, Maharawal Ratan Singh and the famed Rajput ethos of honour, bravery and sacrifice, has from early last year sparked a furor in India inciting violence against the makers and cinemas showing the film.

The Supreme Court in India earlier this week ruled that all states must show the film. The protestors disagree saying that Padukone’s portrayal in the film ‘disrespects’ Rani Padmavati. Multiple cinema chains have already been vandalised.

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Karni Sena, a Rajput caste extremist group, last year threatened UK citizens and encouraged their followers to burn down UK cinemas screening the film. By doing so, they incited violence and committed hate crime, an offense in Britain. Rajput groups in the UK also decided to protest the film, albeit without violence.

Also starring Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh, the film has been classified by the British Board of Film Classification twice, the original and edited version, both with a 12A rating.

The Mayor of London’s office informed BollyNewsUK that the Mayor‘s Office of Policing and Crime has been alerted following the threats.

The Home Office stated “The UK Government will not tolerate any groups who spread hate or deliberately raise community fears and tensions by bringing disorder and violence to our towns and cities and the police have comprehensive powers to deal with such activities.”

Cineworld Cinemas PLC, the second largest cinema operator in Europe, who also control the 60 percent of the UK Bollywood market stated, “At Cineworld we show a diverse range of films to cater to all tastes and preferences, so we look forward to releasing an edited version of Padmaavat on 25 January at our cinemas.

They added, “As always, we take security very seriously and have rigorous procedures in place to protect our customers.”

Paramount Pictures UK will release Padmaavat (Hindi) in UK cinemas from 25th January 2017 in 2D, 3D and at selected sites in IMAX 3D.

Interview: Saif Ali Khan talks about ‘Bullett Raja’

The Nawab of Bollywood Saif Ali Khan spends a lot of his time in the British capital for holidays and film shoots. Just recently, the 43-year-old actor was filming for Sajid Khan’s upcoming comedy flick Humshakals in London and Portsmouth.

Khan met up with Bollywood reporter Sunny Malik at the UK headquarters of 20th Century Fox after a long day of shooting with co-stars Riteish Deshmukh and Tamanna here in London.

Saif Ali Khan’s latest film Bullett Raja is distributed by 20th Century Fox in the UK and coproduced by its Indian arm Fox Star Studios. Directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia, Bullett Raja sees Saif Ali Khan essay the role of Raja Mishra, a commoner who gets transformed into Bullett Raja – a notorious, care-a-damn attitude gangster. The action comedy also stars Sonakshi Sinha, Jimmy Shergil, Vidyuth Jamwal, Chunkey Pandey, Gulshan Grover, Ravi Kishan and Raj Babbar. 

Congratulations on your first ₹  100 crore film Race 2. Has your perception of the ‘100 crore club’ changed now that you are a part of it?
Now it’s all about the ₹ 200 crore club right?

 

Saif Ali Khan in London at 20th Century Fox UK headquarters So it doesn’t matter to you?
It does matter. The idea is to make a lot of money. It makes you a ‘star’ when your films do really well at the box office and earn ₹ 150 crores or ₹ 200 crores. It sounds good. People invest in you and you make sure that the films make money. It’s the business of our films.

 

You are in London for Humshakals. How has the filming been so far?
I think Humshakals is the most commercial movie that I am doing. The kind of songs and comedy that we have in the film made me feel that I’m finally doing a film which has something for everybody, which is important. I mean, Cocktail was lovely but it wasn’t for everyone. Some people may find it a little highbrow and urban. India is a simple and poor country. Our people like happiness, comedy and dances in movies. It’s nice to play such a role in Humshakals.

 

Your next release is Bullett Raja. What is the film about?
It’s an action movie. It’s a story of two friends who inadvertently, of course, have to end into a life of crime. But not just crime, it’s more of a political hit man kind of crime. It is set in UP where it’s almost legally acceptable that a minister will go around beating people.

 

Saif Ali Khan in London at 20th Century Fox UK headquarters
Saif Ali Khan in London at 20th Century Fox UK headquarters

Bullett Raja is being distributed by 20th Century Fox in UK cinemas. Do you think that having such a renowned and well-known distributor will help the film in terms of reaching out to newer audiences or do you think that just depends on the content of your film?
No, I think distribution is extremely important. I think the fact that they are connected so well in that amazing way and have that reputation is a plus for them. A lot of people are trying to enter the Indian market without understanding it. But the films that Fox is acquiring for production and distribution have a high chance of being successful. Someone is choosing the films correctly. America and India have different cultures. There is no connection. There is also no possibility that an executive from ‘X’ company will really understand anything. The best offer they will give you is that ‘We have a library of so many movies. Why don’t you remake one for us?’ That’s not really useful.

 

You usually team up with Eros International for your own productions. They recently started the trend of Indian movies in Russia again with your production ‘Cocktail’. Do you get involved in the distribution aspect of films that you are not producing like Bullett Raja?
No I don’t. I also think that one should work with lots people. I just work on the philosophy of not putting all your eggs in one basket. Hopefully some other people know what they are doing.

 

How was your experience working with your director Tigmanshu Dhulia?
It was really good. He is a very sensible guy. Something about him reminds me of Sunny Deol, not as a person but because of the kind of films he makes and likes. I think he was even involved in his production house. He likes films like Gaddar but at the same time he has an artistic side and makes films like Paan Singh Tomar. Actually, instead of calling him artistic I should call him good as a he is a good filmmaker. But I would like to nudge him into making more of a commercial movie. He took a tough character in Bullett Raja and made him funny. I mean my character is scared of flying, is charming and naughty with the girl. He is a great friend, has tremendous heroic qualities like bravery and loyalty but is on the bad side of the law.

Saif Ali Khan in London at 20th Century Fox UK headquarters It’s also a fresh pairing with Sonakshi Sinha for you after a long time. Was that a conscious decision?
Variety is certainly the spice of life in terms of movies. It feels great. How stupid of me not to have worked with different actresses earlier. My pairing with Deepika is great and successful but dancing with Tamanna for Humshakals was fantastic and really cool. We were doing some really great steps and I really thought that it was brilliant. Even for Bullet Raja, Sonakshi has had very successful films but is very down to earth. When you speak to her, you feel like she is someone you have gone to school with, generations apart (laughs).

 

Does that bother you when people say that you are 40+?
No, because I feel that I’m looking better, at least on most days I don’t know about today, than ever. When you are on top of your game, it doesn’t bother you. But when you aren’t it, will probably start worrying you. When you look in the mirror and you see too many lines and if someone points that out to you, you will feel bad. I feel that forty is the new thirty.

 

_DSC5068 - Copy - CopyI still enjoy your movies from the 90’s.
I am better now, I think. I do watch them and I think that I did work hard on them. I was watching something the other day where I was hanging off a bridge or something. It was Yaar Gaddar and I was hanging off the Navashima Docks Bridge. Then I had a rat song where I had a rat in my pant. I had to pull it out and say ‘Dekho Mera Chuha’.

 

What sets your film apart from similar genre films like Dabangg and Rowdy Rathore?
Our film is actually not unlike Dabangg rather than Rowdy Rathore. That is a crazy take on a cop and this is a rather entertaining take on a Mafia guy. It’s not normal for a Mafia guy to behave like my character does. There is also a bit of a western vibe to it because it’s set in that environment. It’s much more entertaining than it should be in that sense.

 

Bullett Raja is released in UK cinemas this Friday, 29th November 2013.

Photos: Imran Khan and Kareena Kapoor at the BBC Asian Network

Kareena Kapoor and Imran Khan BBC Asian NetworkThe lead stars of new Bollywood film Gori Tere Pyaar Mein, Kareena Kapoor and Imran Khan, brought their own brand of rustic charm to the BBC’s Radio Theatre in central London recently when they took part in a unique ‘In Conversation With’ interview session.

The candid chat was presided over by BBC Asian Network’s Bollywood presenters Raj and Pablo, who quizzed the pair about their roles in the urban-rural ‘rom-com’ film, gleaned some tasty behind-the-scenes gossip, and discussed both stars successful acting careers.

A fun moment came when the pair were challenged to ‘blow the biggest chewing gum bubble’, a la Chewingam Chabaka style, in front of a full-capacity and clearly thrilled auditorium.

In Gori Tere Pyaar Mein the perfectly matched pair weave a delightful tale of love, loss and redemption in a feel-good story, which is set in the picturesque village of Jhumli in Gujarat, India. The film marks the second time that Kareena and Imran have come together on the big screen, with their first collaboration being Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu, which garnered well with fans and critics alike. Gori Tere Pyaar Mein is directed by one of Bollywood’s emerging, new-wave directorial talents, Punit Malhotra,

‘Gori Tere Pyaar Mein’ is a Dharma Productions film. The film is released by Reliance Entertainment in UK cinemas on 22nd November 2013.

 Kareena Kapoor and Imran Khan

Kareena Kapoor

Imran Khan

 

Interview: Sonakshi Sinha talks about ‘Bullett Raja’

Sonakshi Sinha talks about her latest film, Bullett Raja, also starring Saif Ali Khan and Jimmy Shergil. 

 

Saif and Sonakshi in Bullett Raja (1)This is your first time working with Saif Ali Khan. Were you excited for this opportunity?
I think we make a very fresh pairing, I have wanted to work with Saif for a while now and was very excited to get the chance in Bullett Raja. Saif is a great actor and is so committed to his roles, I am very happy with how we look together on-screen and I would love the opportunity to work with him again.

 

Your role in the film is of a struggling Bengali actress, what did you think of your characters look in the film?
This is the second time I am playing a Bengali girl. But my character in Lootera was drastically different; I was playing a girl from the ’50s, who is a Zamindar’s daughter. In Bullett Raja, I am playing a contemporary Bengali girl. I loved my look for this role; it has a very traditional feel and there was a certain grace to it. Once I was in the costume, everyone was shocked to see how Bengali I looked. I wish the sequence we shot in that costume was a little longer, because I did not want to get out of it.

 

After having so much success so early in your career with your films, do you feel under pressure with every new release?
 There’s no pressure actually. I really like what I do and if I think of it as pressure it would really bog me down. I feel I’m in the right place at the right time because there are a lot of films right now where, for me as an actor, there’s something I can give to them. So I truly believe I’m in the right place at the right time.

 

 

Do you feel overshadowed by your co-stars? Does less visibility bother you?
Never. I do my work to the best of my capacity. I don’t pick a role looking at its length. I take up a film because I would like to see it. People notice me, appreciate my work and dancing skills, so where’s the question of being overshadowed? No one has any complaints.

 

Sonakshi and SaifHow would you describe this phase of your life?
I’ve come in at the right time and I’m getting films with great roles. It’s fabulous.

 

No one has ever heard of any stories of you fighting over a role or anything of that sort.
I’ve never had to fight for a role. Call it my ego or my self-respect, but I won’t pick up the phone and call a producer and fight or ask for a role. That’s not me. I’ve always got the best and my work speaks for itself.

 

But you’re always the Indian girl. Don’t you want to break that image?
People see me like that. I may play an Indian girl, but each role is different. If I’m offered a film where I need to play an urban character, I will. But these roles work for me. I’m not stuck in a rut and neither do I feel the need to break the norm. When a female star plays western roles only, no one asks her these questions. At 25, I can proudly say that I’m successful.

 

 

Bullet Raja releases in UK cinemas through 20th Century Fox on 29th November 2013.