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OTT Specials For Christmas Carnival

Digital platforms have provided relief and joy in a year engulfed by pandemic and lockdown. The mood continues into the last month of 2020 as much-awaited shows await to be dropped on your devices this month.

IANS has listed some of the best Indian and international series and specials that OTT fans can look out for.

Euphoria: Trouble Don’t Last Always
Starring Zendaya, who won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her role, the show will pick up after the season one finale, following Rue as she celebrates Christmas after being left by Jules at the train station. It also stars Jacob Elordi of “The Kissing Booth” fame. It will arrive on December 7 on Disney+ Hotstar Premium.

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series
Set for a December 11 release, the holiday music special will see the cast of “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” spreading a feel-good holiday cheer. The cast features Joshua Bassett, Olivia Rodrigo, Sofia Wylie, Matt Cornett, Kate Reinders, Julia Lester, Larry Saperstein, Dara Renee and Frankie Rodriguez. It will be available on Disney+ Hotstar Premium.

LA’s Finest
It shows how detective Syd Burnett (Gabrielle Union) and her partner Nancy McKenna (Jessica Alba), take on dangerous criminals in Los Angeles. Season 2 will be available on December 4 on SonyLIV.

Shameless S11
Shameless has lined up its last season for a December 11 release on Amazon Prime Video. The final season will follow the Gallagher family as they deal with the pandemic, while Ian (Cameron Monaghan) and Mickey (Noel Fisher) adjust to married life. The comedy drama also stars William H. Macy and Ethan Cutkosky.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
The supernatural horror series will conclude with season four. Starring Kiernan Shipka as the teen witch, the upcoming season drops on December 31 on Netflix.

Black Widows
Actors Mona Singh, Swastika Mukherjee, Shamita Shetty and Raima Sen will be seen in the Indian web series that revolves around how three best friends, who thought they got away with the perfect crime of killing their abusive husbands, find all has not ended yet. It will be the eighth international remake following adaptations in Ukraine, Estonia, Lithuania, the Middle East, Mexico, Scandinavia and the Czech Republic. The series is slated to premiere on December 18 on Zee5.

Paurashpur
A period drama, the makers claim the show belongs to a genre never seen before on the Indian OTT space. Starring Annu Kapoor, Milind Soman, Shilpa Shinde, Poulomi Das, Sahil Salathia, Shaheer Sheikh and Flora Saini, it will launch on December 29 on ALTBalaji and Zee5.

Bhaag Beanie Bhaag
Actress Swara Bhasker will essay the role of a stand-up comic in the upcoming series, which she describes as a story of a girl finding a place for herself amidst chaos. It will start streaming on Netflix from December 4.

Outside In
It is a comedy special by stand-up star Vir Das, who has dedicated it to each one of us who has survived this year. The comedy special is created out of 30 virtual shows that he did during lockdown. It will premiere on Netflix on December 16.

Sandwich
Fate brings love in Naina and Sameer’s life and later love brings marriage. What happens next in their married life is what the show is all about. Directed by Rohan Sippy, Sandwich features Aahana Kumra and Kunaal Roy Kapur. The show will arrive on SonyLIV on December 25.

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Boman shares childhood picture on b’day

Actor Boman Irani shared a black-and-white photograph of himself from his childhood days on social media on the occasion of his birthday on Wednesday.

In the photo, the actor can be seen sitting on a scooter wearing a cap and a smile on his face.

“Riding into my 60’s with the same joy as I did in the 60’s. Thank you ALL for your love, good wishes and blessings. Bo-boy to Bo-man,” Irani, who was born in 1959, captioned the photo on his verified Instagram account.

Commenting on his post, actress Mouni Roy wrote: “Happy happy birthday my favouritest human. Love light and more love always.”

Wishing the actor on his birthday, actress Anushka Sharma shared on Instagram Story: “Happy Birthday Boman sir. Wish you all the happiness joy and beautiful things in life.”

The actor will next be seen in Kabir Khan’s “83”, where he plays the role of India’s legendary wicketkeeper-batsman Farokh Engineer. He also features in Yash Raj Films’ upcoming social comedy “Jayeshbhai Jordaar”.

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Jubin tries to express admiration in ‘recreated songs’

New-age singer Jubin Nautiyal has recorded quite a few recreated numbers such as The Humma Song, Raat baaki, Pehla Nasha Once Again, and his latest, Bewafa tera masoom chehra. The singer claims when he approaches an old hit or classic number for recreation, he does so as a fan of the original song.

“I am lucky that so far all the recreated versions I have been a part of have never got any negativity or hatred from listeners. It started with ‘The Humma Song’ followed by many, but every time it worked. At least people did not criticise or say that I have tampered with the original song. The reason is, I approach every recreation as the fan of the song,” Jubin claimed while speaking to IANS.

“In all the recreations, including my latest ‘Bewafa tera masoom chehra’, I look at the song as an opportunity in which I can express how all my life I loved and admired that song. For me, it is not about singing this many numbers of songs, but about a new genre that I am trying. In ‘Bewafa tera masoom chehra’, I tried my hand in qawwali for the first time, and it was about how Jubin Nautiyal would sound in a qawwali,” he declared.

‘Bewafa tera masoom chehra’ is an original number sung by the late Mohammed Aziz in 1997. The recreation has been done by Rochak Kohli. The video of the song is directed by Navjit Buttar and it features Karan Mehra and Ihana Dhillon.

Jubin, of course, has crafted a huge fan base for himself with his original numbers. His hits include “Tum hi aana”, “Humnava mere”, “Ek mulakat”, “Meherbani”, “Bandeyaa”, “Tere liye”, and “Kaabil hoon” among numerous others.

Jubin says mixing his credible originals with recreations is part of his “intelligent” career choices.

“I am making some intelligent choices in my career. I sing a song, if I feel it is right. I do not even look at whether it is a recreation, a song for a film, TV show or a jingle. When I listen to a composition, I try to see if I can bring something on the table as a vocalist. If I can, I will sing it,” he said.

“As far as original songs are concerned, I think so far I must have done 150 songs, and 100 of them are original. I must have touched 30 recreations, but my original songs also worked, including songs like ‘Humnava mere’ which was an independent song, ‘Tum hi aana’ from the film ‘Marjaavaan’ and many others. The common thread in all these songs is nothing but my voice. Listeners loved them, so I thank them!” Jubin signed off.

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Prabhas Ready For Next Action Film

Prabhas. (File Photo: IANS)

Telugu superstar Prabhas and KGF director Prashanth Neel are set to collaborate on an action film titled Salaar.

Sharing his look from the film on Instagram on Wednesday, Prabhas wrote: “Today I take a leap into the world of #SALAAR. Shoot commences from Jan 2021. An Indian Film by @hombalefilms @vkiragandur @prashanthneel.”

Giving an intense look, Prabhas is dressed in black and is seen sitting with one hand resting on a rifle.

The poster also says: “THE MOST VIOLENT MEN.. CALLED ONE MAN.. THE MOST VIOLENT!!”

Prabhas’s other projects include the romantic drama Radhe Shyam with Pooja Hedge and Om Raut’s period drama Adipurush. He recently also announced an untitled project that will co-star Amitabh Bachchan and Deepika Padukone.

Salaar director Prashanth Neel is currently busy with KGF Chapter 2 starring Kannada superstar Yash.

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Mrunal Likes To Pick Roles Based On Story

Actress Mrunal Thakur says she likes to pick her roles based on stories and emotions, and not on the star quotient associated with the projects.

“Every co-star offers you a unique perspective. From some it’s experience, from some it’s the craft and from some it’s their raw energy,” Mrunal said.

“I worked with Abhimanyu (Dassani) in ‘Aankh Micholi’ and he was such a hoot in ‘Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota’. There’s so much raw energy in him that he is capable of holding the scene all by himself. In ‘Pippa’, I will work with Ishaan Khatter and Priyanshu Painyuli, both of whom are just exemplary at what they do. In the end, I choose a film based on how brilliant the story is and how it will help me further my acting and better my craft. We live in times when content is king,” she added.

In Pippa, she plays Ishaan’s reel sibling. Soni Razdan plays their mother. The war drama casts Ishaan as Brigadier Balram Singh Mehta. The film is directed by Raja Krishna Menon, who earlier made Airlift.

Brigadier Balram Singh Mehta of the 45th Cavalry tank squadron, along with his siblings, fought on the eastern front during the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971, and the film recounts his story. It is based on his book The Burning Chaffees.

Mrunal will also be seen in sports drama, Jersey, alongside Shahid Kapoor.

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Shekhar Suman Awaits A Miracle

Shekhar Suman says he is just left with hope and prayers for a miracle to happen, in the Sushant Singh Rajput death investigation.

“A lot of ppl I meet keep asking me wat’s happening to Sushant’s case and I say, I wish I had the answer. Apart from hoping and praying that a miracle will happen one day, there is nothing else you can do,” the actor tweeted from his unverified account on Wednesday using the hashtag #CBIArrestSSRKillersNow.

Just a few days ago, the actor had accused the print and electronic media of not giving the Suhant case adequate coverage anymore.

Sushant Singh Rajput.

“There is absolutely no update in the newspapers. TV channels have all vanished. There is no discussion anywhere by anyone. 6 months down the line we r fighting a desolate battle. I go off the radar now and then bcoz I’m angry that nothing is happening,” Shekhar Suman tweeted on Sunday.

“If the agencies keep quiet and not react what do we do? We can raise our voices louder n louder, ev day ev minute, but then we have to have concerned ppl reacting to it and taking some concrete action. Otherwise it is so frustrating #FightUntilSSRJustice,” the actor wrote in a separate tweet earlier this week.

Also Read-Exclusive Snaps Of Aditya Narayan’s Wedding

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Exclusive Snaps Of Aditya Narayan’s Wedding

Singer Aditya Narayan and his long term girlfriend Shweta Agarwal got married on Tuesday amid the pandemic in an exclusive function allowed for close relatives and friends.

Last month Aditya Narayan took to social media and wrote, “We are getting married! I am the luckiest man alive to have found Shweta, my soulmate, 11 years ago and we are finally tying the knot in December”.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CISSJ4TjSOW/

He also shared that he is taking a break from social media because he has to get busy with the marriage preparations.

“We are both extremely private people and believe that it’s best to keep one’s private life, well, private. Taking a break from social media for shaadi prep. See you in December,” Aditya added.

Along with it, he posted a picture of him hugging Shweta.

Aditya and Shweta met on the sets of the 2010 horror film, “Shaapit”.

Watch: Peep into Aditya Narayan’s wedding day. Pics Credits @ Pallav/

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Sara Yearns For Performance Oriented Roles

Sara Ali Khan, is undoubtedly the GenNext star of Bollywood. She made a promising debut in 2018 opposite Sushant Singh Rajput in the Abhishek Kapoor film Kedarnath. Since then, she has chosen her projects carefully, mixing roles in the commercial entertainer Simmba. Opposite Ranveer Singh, with the Imtiaz Ali romantic drama Love Aaj Kal co-starring Kartik Aaryan.

With her next, Coolie No. 1, Sara enters the mad, mad world of David Dhawan, in which very few stars have confidently impressed. The remake of 1995 hit of the same name stars Varun Dhawan in the title role and, going by the trailer, aims at reloading the all-out Govinda-style slapstick therapy for entertainment.

“When I started off, my only dream and desire was to be able to do all kinds of genres of films with all kinds of directors. So, I truly consider myself extremely lucky that I have been given this opportunity because I am of course a die-hard David sir fan. But the truth is, not one particular genre of cinema I like,” Sara told IANS in a tete-a-tete.

Like every newcomer, she has her dream role. She yearns for performance-oriented roles, mixing the serious with the lighthearted acts.

“I want to be able to do serious drama as much as I want to do lighthearted romantic comedies as much as I want to do performance-oriented biopics,” she said.

Sara, daughter of actors Saif Ali Khan and Amrita Singh, added: “So, I am very very lucky and privileged to have been given the opportunity to do that with so many different directors,” added the granddaughter of veteran actress Sharmila Tagore and former skipper Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi.

The 25-year-old actress is currently looking forward to the release of Coolie No 1, a remake of the Govinda-Karisma Kapoor original. In the remake, Sara will reprise Karisma’s role while Varun essays the role essayed by Govinda.

Sara says stepping into the shoes of Karisma Kapoor is “not possible”.

“She is an iconic star. She redefines the nineties for most audiences. So I don’t think I have even attempted to step into her shoes. Of course, it is a remake and comparisons are inevitable. Up until now I was so much more focussed bringing something new to the table. Everything is kind of tweaked to make it more today,” she said.

The actress was “zero-years-old” when the original hit the theatres in 1995.

“It’s been some years since then. Things have changed. I think instead of aping or trying to copy Karisma, which is impossible to do, we have tried to bring a freshness to the role. I enjoyed working with Varun, so it is that chemistry for me that’s in the film at opposed to trying to copy Karisma Kapoor because that wouldn’t be fun and wouldn’t be possible.”

This was Sara’s first time working with Varun and she had a lot of fun.

“Honestly, it was like a mela. Especially shooting for Ganesh (Acharya) sir’s songs with David (Dhawan) sir’s direction. It looked like a mela! It was really fun and I had a super blast. It really felt outstanding and all of us had a really good time. I really hope that kind of fun and energy got translated on screen because that would be amazing,” added Sara.

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Indian Vibes On Grammys

Amid all the noise about snubs and transparency, there are a few Indian tunes that have struck the right note at the Grammy Award nominations this year.

This is not the first time that Indian classical music has got recognition by the Recording Academy. A peek into the past would highlight that music rooted deep in Indian culture and ethos did win accolades in the oast — Zakir Hussain, Ricky Kej and Ravi Shankar being shining examples.

This year, sitar player Anoushka Shankar’s album “Love Letters” has been nominated in the Best Global Music Album category. Singer Shilpa Rao has collaborated with Anoushka for the musical chapter.

“Anoushka Shankar, what should I say, thank you for all the love and hard work you have put into this album and thank you so much for this beautiful collaboration. Big love to everyone who is part of this album. This is one step closer to the dream,” said Shilpa, who has teamed up with Anoushka on the track “Those words” that featured on the album “Love Letters”.

Another Indian link is sitarist-actor Neha Mahajan, who has been credited for the song “Mi sangre”, one of the tracks in Ricky Martin’s album “Pausa”, which has been nominated in the Best Latin Pop category.

On the other hand, Mumbai-born and US-bred singer-songwriter Priya Darshini bagged her first ever Grammy nomination in the Best New Age Album category. She has been nominated for her debut album, “Periphery”.

“Periphery” has nine songs. The album, manufactured by Chesky Records, is a blend of American pop and traditional Carnatic music with songs like “Jahaan”, “The Banyan Tree” and “Sanware sanware”.

“A live album, recorded entirely on one mic getting a nod from the Academy is quite surreal. I have dreamt of this day since I was little, but I never really thought dreams like this could come true for someone like me — a tamizh ponnu (tamil girl) from Goregaon! I thank the universe for proving me wrong,” Priya wrote in an Instagram post.

According to Chesky Records, Periphery “explores the various connotations of what ‘home’ means to Priya Darshini, as she introspects on her cultural identity as a South Indian growing up in Mumbai and transplanted to New York City”.

“Taking her roots from Indian Classical music, Priya’s knowledge of music from all over the world has resulted in a fresh, imaginative and fascinating new sound. She displays an exciting combination of range, technique, unconventional compositions, a feminist perspective and a prodigious voice that truly sets her apart from other vocalists,” the record stated in the brief of the album.

Indian American producer Vivek J. Tiwary has been nominated in the Best Musical Theater Album category for the Broadway hit, “Little Jagged Pill”. Tiwary is one of the producers of the musical, which is based on Alanis Morissette’s classic work.

From Priyanka Chopra to Sunidhi Chauhan, several Indian stars in the past have made their international singing debuts but they failed to get acknowledgement at the Grammys. Is it because they tried to win over a western audience singing the West’s songs in a western style, or is it because Indian classical music resonates globally more only now? The answer, perhaps, lies in a mix of both reasons..

Meanwhile, the 2021 Grammy Awards nominations are all about women power with Beyonce, Taylor Swift and Dua Lipa leading the way. Beyonce is leading the contender at the 2021 Grammy Awards with nine nods. She is followed by Taylor Swift, Roddy Ricch and Dua Lipa, who earned six nominations each.

The 63rd Grammy Awards will be held on January 31, 2021 and will be showcased live in India on Vh1 India.

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Target Number One: Unveils A shocking true story

Target Number One (Canadian film on Zeeplex); Cast: Antoine Olivier Pilon, Josh Hartnett, Jim Gaffigan, Stephen McHattie, Don McKellar, JC MacKenzie, Amanda Crew; Direction: Daniel Roby; Rating: * * and 1/2 (two and a half stars)

It starts off on a quiet, lazy note but by the time the film has reached its halfway mark, you realise Target Number One is trying to be gritty, slowburn fare, based on a shocking true story.

Daniel Roby’s Canadian crime drama draws inspiration from the real-life story of Alain Olivier, a drug addict in Quebec who ended up in a Thailand jail for years after a sad twist of events. Alain had become a pawn in a top secret operation of the Canadian law enforcers that went wrong.

Olivier is reimagined here as Daniel Leger, played by Antoine Olivier Pilon. Leger’s arrest becomes the focus of an obsessive probe by Victor Malarek (Josh Hartnett), an investigative journalist who wants to crack the case of the drug addict.

Maintaining a parallel narrative structure, the story unfolds through two sub plots. The first is about Leger, who gets involved in a drug sting of the Canadian police in Thailand. The sting operation bombs and Leger lands in a Thai jail.

The other storyline follows Malarek, high-profile television journalist who ends up probing the Leger case only to become obsessed about it.

Roby sets out to balance the contrasting characters of the two sub plots — Leger’s life in the Thai prison bears struggles that are vastly different from Malarek’s as he goes about trying to crack the case. The parallel narratives are woven seamlessly, but in doing so Roby does not give due focus on Leger. Somewhere, the pace of the film falter too, simply failing to pick up.

There is an element of pathos about Leger’s life despite his criminality, and writer-director Roby brings it alive on screen without resorting to melodrama. Roby’s credibility lies in making his characters humane. Malarek, for instance, may be top star in his field of work, but his frenzied and undivided attention towards work creates room for discord at the home front. His marriage lurches on the brink of failure.

Yet, you get a feeling Roby wasted too much time training his camera on Malarek’s family woes. The track only serves to act as distraction from what should have been the film’s focal point — a story of the Canadian man who was forsaken by his own government to cover up an elaborate gaffe.

The setting of the storyline is the nineties and Ronald Plante’s cinematography is suitably rendered in a way that it imparts a feel of the era and also gives the narrative an impact of realism, without getting too loud about it. Hartnett and Pilon topline a cast that exudes their roles effectively, in a film that harks back to the way thrillers used to be made once upon a time.

Target Number One is slightly off target owing to inadequate storytelling treatment.

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