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BOLLYWOOD | Guftugu | JANUARY 2012

Kareena: Kickstarts 2012 as Numero Uno Heroine
Priyanka: Gung-Ho After Returning from Break
Agneepath: ‘Monumental’ Film
Players: Twisted Take
Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu: Inspired by Woody Allen

Kareena: Kickstarts 2012 as Numero Uno Heroine


(Above): Kareena Kapoor in “Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu.”

Kareena Kapoor has done it again. Though the crown of being numero uno in the business has been on her head for years now, a terrific run at the box office with quite a few back to back centuries are announcing loud and clear that she is indeed the queen of Bollywood. With Bodyguard, 3 Idiots and Golmaal 3 already raking in over 100 crores at the box office and Ra.One joining the fray, she has ended 2011 as the topmost heroine in Bollywood with as many as four centuries to her name.

Says a trade expert, “Though for detractors she could well be termed as manipulative, calculative, scheming and what not, the fact remains that she is the first name that comes in mind of the biggest of filmmakers when they announce their mega budget films. She may or may not be central or an integral part of the whole affair but in an industry where a leading lady is known by the strength that she can lend to a project, Kareena is obviously ruling the roost.”

Tell Kareena this and she starts walking the diplomatic path before opening up like never before.

“Honestly speaking there was no game-plan as such; everything has just happened with things falling in place,” smiles Kareena even as it is quite obvious that the conversation would pretty much heat up as it takes a non-diplomatic route sooner or later, “I don’t think I have ever made a statement that I want to be in this film or that film. It’s just that based on what has come my way, I have selected the best.”

By best, she could well be referring to the series of films she did with the top three Khans (Aamir, Salman, Shah Rukh) and would now be continuing with Saif Ali Khan (Agent Vinod) and Imran Khan (Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu).

“If all Khans offer me their films at the same time, it just shows that God has been kind to me,” she smiles, “I can’t plan that Salman, Shah Rukh, Aamir, Saif and Imran make movies at the same time. Now if that has indeed happened in a matter of two years, it is pretty much a coincidence. Having said that I must add that I am loving every moment that is coming my way.”

We too love that lady. Keep rocking and bring on many more successes to Bollywood.

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Priyanka: Gung Ho After Returning from Break


(Above): Priyanka Chopra

It was a terrible beginning for Priyanka Chopra when her 7 Khoon Maaf was not just a commercial failure but also panned in a major way by audience as well as critics alike. For the young lady who was once the sole competition for Kareena Kapoor before Katrina Kaif overtook her with a flurry of hits, there was nothing to really back her up soon enough since her next film, Don 2 was over 10 months away. Moreover from a central protagonist, she was basically enacting the role of an almost supporting character in the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer, something which further warranted that she keep a low profile.

However Priyanka isn’t disappointed with the way 2011 went and feels that this break worked for her on the contrary. “I actually wanted my year to go this way where I had such a long break in between two releases. Also, if people perceived that there was a lot of silence at my end, then I don’t really have any issues with that. I would rather get talked about for my work instead of some other reasons,” reasons Priyanka, “Also, if I was doing less work then that didn’t bother me either because I would rather not do anything mediocre. I was happy to go underground after seeing so many releases in last 2-3 years.”

Today she can still be seen smiling as Don 2 turns out to be a very good success, especially overseas which is anyways considered to be the Mecca of Shah Rukh Khan starrers. However Priyanka can not yet forget the pain she had to go through when 7 Khoon Maaf failed at the box office.

“Frankly, the film’s non-performance really broke my heart,” she says with a sigh, “I had worked very hard in the film but then as you know, an actress can only do her best. I got amazing reviews and I cherish that since doing a film like that at this stage of my career was a very brave step. I did 7 Khoon Maaf because I believed in it. But then ultimately, every film has its own destiny.”

Well, destiny seems to be playing a major role in her career, what with Priyanka now staring at as many as three back to back releases in 2012 after a rather quiet year gone by. With Agneepath (Hrithik Roshan), Barfii (Ranbir Kapoor) and (tentatively titled) Teri Meri Kahani (Shahid Kapoor) in the pipeline with at least the last two allowing her to play a key protagonist, Priyanka would certainly have a lot to talk about in coming few months.

“As I said, every film has it’s own destiny and somehow God takes care of my film releases,” she smiles, “I never plan it but as you can see, after a break I now have four back to back films of mine arriving if I also count Don 2.”

When asked about the film that she is looking forward to most, Priyanka says “I am always excited about all the projects and by God’s grace, these are indeed the kind of projects that can’t go wrong. Also, I would have my own music album releasing soon so it’s all really exciting and super fun.”

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Agneepath: ‘Monumental’ Film


(Above): Hrithik Roshan in “Agneepath.”

More than 20 years ago when Agneepath was made with Amitabh Bachchan, it was the biggest ever film coming from the house of Dharma Productions. Yash Johar was at the helm of affairs and Karan Johar was still trying to find a career for himself. Circa 2012 and Agneepath is all set to arrive in it’s new avtar with Hrithik Roshan leading from the front. While the film is being most keenly awaited for the sheer reason of watching Hrithik take on Sanjay Dutt (replacing Danny Denzongpa as ‘Kaancha’), for Karan Johar Agneepath is also special since it is the biggest action film that his production company has ever made.

“Leave aside the ‘biggest action movie’ tag, it is in fact the only action movie that we have made since Big B’s Agneepath,” smiles Karan who was neck deep down involved in the making of this film with first time director Karan Malhotra, “We have made big movies like Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna and My Name Is Khan before but most of them were family entertainers or dramas. There was a Gumraah or a Kaal but even these were not hardcore action films.”

“On the other hand Agneepath is an action movie centred on revenge. We are revisiting the genre that we had left behind. It is a monumental film by all means and also very big in scale. Everyone at Dharma Productions is very excited to see it take shape the way we had envisaged,” he continues.

However there was a point in time when he and his team had almost contemplated changing the name of the film from Agneepath to something else.

“When the final draft of the new Agneepath came out, we realized that just the characters and the core conflict had remained as-is while the overall narrative, situations and treatment had changed,” says Karan, “The entire experience is so different from Mukul S. Anand’s version that it seems like a totally new movie. We could have almost changed the title of the movie from Agneepath to something else but then since the core is intact; we decided to continue with it.”

Meanwhile he is looking at some hectic times ahead, what with Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu closely following Agneepath while being separated by only a fortnight.

“Yes, 2011 was a gap year for our production house since there was no release but 2012 would be packed year,” says Karan, “I am not worried though since these two movies are demographically very different. Right from content, texture and tonality there is nothing common between Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu and Agneepath. While one is a slice of life love story, another is an angry revenge saga. I am sure these won’t eat other each other’s business.”

We hope so too Karan.

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Players: Twisted Take


(Above): 
Bipasha Basu in “Players.”


It is a known fact that The Italian Job is the film which has been officially adapted by Abbas-Mustan for Players. However if Neil Nitin Mukesh, one of the key players in the heist saga is to be believed, the film director duo has covered the maximum possible distance to twist the film beyond recognition. So much so that those who have had a dekko at The Italian Job would be in for quite some surprise when the thrills begin and action unfolds.

“Well, that’s the expertise of an Abbas-Mustan product, isn’t it? They have further twisted each and every twist which was there in the The Italian Job and for me too the core inclination to work in Players was to see their directorial style, up close and personal. I have personally been a die hard fan of their cinema as well as The Italian Job so, doing Players was pretty much a double whammy affair for me,” says Neil.

His last release was quite some time back when he had done Lafangey Parindey. The film had done reasonably well though Players is in true terms a real biggie for him in a very long time.

“Well, you can say that,” he says, “New York was a very big film too though Players is inarguably even bigger. Of course at the end of it all as an actor your job is to act regardless of the scale and setting. Still, the characterization here is larger than life while action is big as well. That is something that Abbas-Mustan kept in mind right through the making of Players and I am glad that they made Spider (the character played by me) so big as well.”

Talking about the film being big, ever since Players went on floors, it was presumed that Neil was stepping into the character which was originally played by Ed Norton in The Italian Job. So how much of that is indeed true? Can we expect some real surprises in store here?

“As I said, even the twists have been twisted here so I am sworn to secrecy,” winks Neil, “When you see the film, you would realize how similar or different I am here. Having said that, it is fun to be portraying someone negative in a movie which is anyways made of inherently negative characters. If we all are in a middle of a heist here, who can really be trusted?”

No wonder, all these negative characters had quite some off-screen banter during the making of the film. “Yes, with Abhishek Bachchan, Bobby Deol and Sikandar Kher for company, it was really good fun, more so because we traveled the world together,” agrees Neil.

Now he is hoping that the film turns out to be a worldwide success as well. “The film has shaped up really well, it has been marketed correctly too. There is a positive all around buzz and deserves to reach out to the larger audience,” concludes Neil in a positive tone.

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Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu: Inspired by Woody Allen


(Above): 
Kareena Kapoor and Imran Khan in “Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu.”


Pick up any lover of Hollywood/British romcoms and he is bound to state that Woody Allen is one of his favorite filmmakers. The maker of You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Everyone Says I Love You and many more films has influenced and inspired quite a few story tellers across the globe and first timer Shakun Batra hasn’t been left untouched either. Though for his debut directorial affair Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu he hasn’t copied Woody Allen’s style as-is, Shakun does acknowledge that deep inside, he aspires to tell stories in the same manner.

“I am a big fan of Woody Allen and personally I enjoy movies which are about characters, conversations and the inherent humor that comes with it,” says Shakun, “We have tried to keep a similar kind of humor in Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu as well which is not meant to be an intellectual take on affairs. It is about how people talk in real life and bring that on screen. Kareena and Imran too were mighty kicked about this approach since this would be a new narrative.”

However he refuses to call his film a Bollywood take on Woody Allen’s films. “He is way too talented and senior for me to start imitating him in my very first film. He is a genius and I would never be able to match up to him,” says Shakun.

Since the film is designed as a romcom (read romantic comedy), it is obvious that as an audience you expect a template affair where fun begins the proceedings, then there is drama and emotional moments and eventually it is all a happy ending. We have seen that in quite a few young romcoms in the recent past, most of them being Imran Khan-starrers like Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, Break Ke Baad and I Hate Luv Storys as well as Ranbir Kapoor’s Anjaana Anjaani. What’s so different about Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu?

“See, every genre has certain conventions to be followed, whether it is a thriller, drama, action or romcom affair,” defends Shakun, “A genre comes with its own grammar and it is on you to play around with the script and tweak the conventions while not allowing the genre to go haywire. Of course in a romcom you would have a boy and girl falling in love followed by banter. It is my job as a story teller to play with the narrative of the characters.”

This was exactly what Kareena and Imran too went through when Shakun explained the graph of the film to them.

“I had to make my actors feel like being a part of a new setup instead of presenting them something which is a mishmash of drama and suspense in big romantic affair. Now this is a movie about lighter moments in life and we didn’t to go astray. It is about being able to share your feelings with someone without turning melodramatic or going over the top,” assures Shakun.

No wonder, he is kicked about the film arriving in the weekend leading to Valentines Day. “This is a perfect film for Valentines,” he smiles, “If you are planning to take someone out on a date, pick this one up. You won’t be disappointed.”


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Joginder Tuteja is a Bollywood writer based in Mumbai, India.

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COVER STORY
Prelude to 2014:
2012 U.P. Assembly Polls

A decisive electoral round on the plains of Ganges may set the course for Congress in 2014 federal elections, writes Priyanka Bhardwaj.


OPINION
Four Reasons: Why Time Magazine Dissed Anna
While mentioning protests from all over the world, the editors at Time downplayed Anna Hazare’s movement against corruption. Sandip Roy and Lakshmi Chaudhry present a commentary.


TECHNOLOGY
Digitized Mapping:
Protecting India’s Forests

An information management system to analyze geographic information could improve environmental regulations in India, writes Shashank Srinivasan.


OTHER STORIES
EDITORIAL: Decisive Polls
SUBCONTINENT: Power Shortage in India
COMMUNITY: Ambassador Rao’s Talk
ENVIRONMENT: Salvaging Kyoto Protocol
SUBCONTINENT: Nuclear Fuel for India
TRAVEL: Road Trip to Seattle
AUTO REVIEW: 2012 Audi A6 3.0
BOLLYWOOD: Film Review: Don 2
BOLLYWOOD: Guftugu
RECIPE: Bruschetta
HOROSCOPE: 2012 Yearly Forecast

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