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BOLLYWOOD | Guftugu | APRIL 2012

Bollywood Goes 3D
BIPASHA BASU: Not Too ‘Friendly’
Bhatts Expand Empire, Eye Fresh Talent
ESHA GUPTA: Nice and Easy
KANGANA RANAUT: Happy to Switch Camps

Bollywood Goes 3D

(Above): Sonakshi Sinha (c) in “Joker.”

The year 2011 was a watershed year for 3D cinema as far as Bollywood films were concerned. Starting with Haunted, there were as many as three more 3D films that followed.

While the most notable of them all were Ra. One and Don 2, there was also Dam 999, which demanded some attention. Though four films in one year is hardly a remarkable number when compared to the West where 3D films come out in dozens, it is still a step taken in the right direction.

So what if only Haunted was originally shot in 3D while others were all a product of conversion from 2D to 3D, Bollywood is already gearing up for more such experiments.

Says Shirish Kunder, who has closely observed all major 3D movies released this year and is now neck deep into the post production for his 3D film Joker, “I shoot with wide angle lenses with full depth of field. This means that in every frame you can see full details for as far as your vision goes. Only if you capture full depth of field can you create various layers for 3D. In fact that's also due to my normal shooting style which happens to be very 3D friendly. I had shot Jaan-E-Mann also in wide angle which allowed me to capture the scale and grandeur. In case of Joker, the visuals have only grown bigger.”

On the other hand, Shahrukh Khan's superhero film Ra. One had faced major issues when it came to completion of 3D conversion work.

After all, the decision to convert the film into 3D was taken at the last minute. Since the film's director Anubhav Sinha had shot the film with a regular camera and there was no additional emphasis on framing the scenes in such a way that they could be 3D friendly, it was a mighty challenge once the film was put through the 3D conversion process. Not only did it add to the film's budget, it even threatened the release timing as the conversion was taking an eternity.

The filmmaker who is most comfortably placed though is Vikram Bhatt who could well be termed as a veteran in this field now.

After Haunted, he has already finished shooting Dangerous Ishq in 3D and is now filming the horror thriller Raaz 3 with the same technology. This is not all as he is also looking at picking up a couple of more assignments and get them rolling in 3D.

Says Vikram, “Haunted was an exercise where we were groping with technology and trying to figure out a lot of things on the job. If we did five things right, there were three things that did go wrong. Now having gone through the process of this whole thing and after understanding the workflow, it has been much easier to shoot Dangerous Ishq in 3D. I can confidently say that the effects here are 200% better than that of Haunted. We have understood the medium well now and the results would be seen in Raaz 3 as well.”

With Vikram taking the lead and Shirish being quite serious about the usage of new technology, one looks forward to other filmmakers taking a cue as well and doing something extraordinary and out of the box.


BIPASHA BASU: Not Too ‘Friendly’

(Above): Bipasha Basu in “Jodi Breakers.”

Bipasha Basu isn't hurting. She is just being practical when talking about her liaisons in Bollywood, now that she has completed a decade in the industry.

Acknowledging the fact that she has her own reservations when it comes to ‘approaching’ a filmmaker for a role, the self-made actress says that she is a friendly person but not quite close friends with anyone around.

“If I meet someone at a function, I do say hello and hi. I am nice and cordial with all. However I can't pick up the phone next morning and propose to plan a film together. A lot of this is also due to the fact that no one is my buddy in Bollywood. I know that for some out there this does count. Nothing wrong with that but then, that's just not me. On my speed dial, there is no one from the industry. When a role is offered and it is good enough then I do that. Otherwise, I wait for the next right opportunity,” says Bipasha.

However, in the cutthroat competition that prevails in Bollywood, doesn't she feel that she could well be losing out on many good assignments in the bargain?

“Possibly, but then as I said, it's a conscious call,” smiles Bipasha, “I haven't created such equations because I am not very comfortable doing that. Come on, I can't see myself saying ‘Hey, we are friends so give me a role in your film.’ Yes, I am friends with people around me but not friendly enough to start bargaining with them or emotionally blackmail them. Ultimately, it's a good film that counts and when that comes to me, I give it a go ahead. It is as simple as that.”

One wonders though whether this criterion has really paid off for her, now that her last couple of films haven't done as expected. After Players, her Jodi Breakers hasn't succeeded either, though it was carrying decent buzz before its release. In the hindsight, doesn't she feel it was a risk to work with director Ashwini Chaudhary, especially since he didn't quite have a box office success behind him?

“You can't really say that. If the film by itself would have been badly made, it wouldn't have garnered so many positive reviews,” Bipasha said, defending her director, “I trusted Ashwini's sensibilities when I met him. I could see that he was an extremely talented guy. As for his past record, well then, everyone is not so lucky to get success from the word ‘go.’ Regarding critical acclaim and commercial gains, it is futile to discuss that. Sometimes really bad films get a lot of critical acclaim while the really good ones are not watched by many. It is sheer bad luck that results in the downfall of certain films.”


Bhatts Expand Empire, Eye Fresh Talent

(Above): Kunal Khemu and Amrita Puri (r) in “Blood Money.”

For Bhatt brothers, family has always been on a forefront. However above it all, there is business that holds maximum prominence. Never the kind to get bogged down by star system, they have always maintained that fresh talent is what they are constantly looking out for. No wonder, after enjoying a healthy association with Emraan Hashmi, Mohit Suri and Kangana Ranaut, Mukesh and Mahesh Bhatt are now getting their alternate plans in place as well.

The new entrants?

Kunal Khemu, Vishal Mahadkar, Kunal Deshmukh and Esha Gupta.

“It is pretty much a Plan B in action here. The going is good with the likes of Emraan and Mohit. However, all of them can't be expected to work with each other, film after film. There has to be a succession plan as well. It is business after all. Bhatts have been thinking ahead of time and are now putting their bet on fresh blood. This is the reason why Kunal just got a re-launch with Blood Money, Vishal is being groomed, Kunal is being trusted to deliver goods all over again with Jannat 2 while Esha is already enjoying a three film contract. It is a 360 degree approach with newer actors, actresses and directors," informs an insider.

No wonder, the buck isn't stopping for these artists here. Buzz is that Kunal and Vishal have already been signed for their next film with Bhatts even though they have been instructed to keep mum about the development. It is unclear though whether they would be uniting for the same film. On the other hand Kunal is already committed to make another film for Bhatts. As for Esha, it is a known fact that after Jannat 2 and Raaz 3, she would be beginning her next film with Bhatts.

“This doesn't mean though that Emraan and Mohit have lost their standing,” a source from the production house adds, “Emraan is still their ‘ghar ka hero’ and a blue-eyed boy. After Raaz 3 he would start work on Murder 3. On the other hand, Mohit is already directing Aashique 2, though he is almost close to signing films with outside production houses as well. Yes, Kangana is no more in circulation since she isn't a part of Bhatts' scheme of things ever since Raaz - The Mystery Continues. Perhaps Esha would fill that slot though Bipasha has a good chance too as she has returned to Bhatt fold with Raaz 3.”

All this means that after Yash Raj Films, the only production house to build a mini empire of it's own with a set of loyal (or shall we say contracted?) actors happens to be that of Bhatts.

When contacted, Mukesh Bhatt didn't deny the developments. He said, “Yes, we like to work with people who show promise. Vishal and Kunal would be making more films with us while Esha and Kunal would be repeated as well.”


ESHA GUPTA: Nice and Easy

(Above): Esha Gupta and Emraan Hashmi in “Jannat 2.”

She will be soon launched by the very same production house that is responsible for giving a fresh lease of life to Bipasha Basu twice in her career.

However, Esha Gupta is sure that she doesn't wish to tread the same path. Content with how life is treating her and taking one step at a time, Esha is plain happy that she has wrapped up work on Bhatts’ Jannat 2 with Emraan Hashmi and is now eagerly awaiting the film’s release.

“I always thought that after winning the beauty pageant, I would go back to studies and also pick up some modeling assignments,” said Esha, who originally hails from Delhi, “I was in Mumbai for some time but then I wasn't really killing myself to be an actress. I am not someone who really plans her 10 years ahead. I am just enjoying every day of my life and happy with what life has to offer to me. It's not like I wake up in the morning and start thinking that 'Oh my God! I want to be the next Bipasha or Katrina.’ I want to take things as they come my way.”

Fortunately for her, things seem to be coming at her rather quickly with a three-film contract already signed with the Bhatts. Impressed by what she has done in her debut flick Jannat 2, she is already on board for Raaz 3 (where she would be incidentally sharing screen space with Bipasha) and is in line for another film as well that is expected to start next year.

“Honestly, offers were coming my way even before I had signed Jannat 2,” says Esha in a matter of fact tone, “However, I wanted to slow down a little and hence did an acting course as well. I don’t know how anyone can get good roles and end up impressing the makers with just good looks. You have to be able to show spark as an actor as well.”

In real life, Esha carries a spark of a different kind. She confesses that during her growing years, she was a widely acknowledged tomboy.

She laughs, “Yeah, really I was one tomboy during my teenage years. So if anyone stared at me, I wouldn't look away. Instead I would go to the guy, ask him what was he looking at and then challenge him to look at me closely. I have always believed in standing for myself instead of taking any nonsense. Now that's the personality of the girl I am playing in Jannat 2 as well so I could further relate to the character.”


KANGANA RANAUT: Happy to Switch Camps

(Above): Kangana Ranaut

She may have lost a friend in one Sanjay but she has gained another in a namesake. After losing out on favor with Sanjay Dutt, just when she seemed to have consolidated her place in his camp, Kangana Ranaut made a bold move of stepping into his ‘frenemy’ Sanjay Gupta's Shooutout At Wadala.

Result? So overwhelmed was the Kaante director with this development that he pronto promised to increase her role in the film.

“Kangana was on crossroads before signing Shootout At Wadala. She was advised by many that she was making a great mistake as this development would mean complete boycott from Dutt camp. However, she didn’t want any political reasons to stop her from taking this important decision. Once she confirmed to Gupta that she was on board, the writing was clear on the wall. She had moved on,” says a close associate of the actress.

For Gupta, it was a huge moment, as he needed an actress urgently after things didn't work out with Vidya Balan. The film's start date was fast approaching and for Kangana to step into the film without even listening to the entire script was pretty much God-sent for him.

“Gupta there and then promised Kangana that her part would now have much more meat to it than was originally written,” says a friend of the director, “He told her that if she could treat him blindly and bail him out in such tough times, it was also his responsibility to pay back. As a love interest of John Abraham in the film, she would now be seen as a much more fleshed out character.”

On her part, Kangana is looking at this film to be yet another high-octane dramatic outing after her debut film Gangster, which was also set in the underworld scene.

On the other hand, Sanjay Gupta confirmed that Kangana's part is being rewritten to make it all the more powerful in this otherwise all-male drama.


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


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