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Berlin Film Festival showcases Ukrainian history, calls for peace

The statement pointed out that the festival has, through its history, showcased films relating to Ukrainian history and culture…reports Asian Lite News

The Berlin Film Festival has called for peace over the situation in Ukraine, which is currently in a state of military conflict after Russian forces launched operations on Thursday morning.

“We — festival workers, artists, filmmakers — think fondly of our friends in Ukraine and we are by their side in a call for peace,” the festival said in a statement.

“One week ago, the Berlin International Film Festival was celebrating a complicated yet successful edition. Filmmakers, artists and journalists from all over the world gathered in Berlin to enjoy a collective and joyful experience. The feeling of being together again, with no distinctions of nationality, religion, or culture, transported us in a way that film festivals can accomplish,” the statement added.

“While these memories remain fresh, other images have broken into our lives, bringing a darker perspective. The world is on a verge of a huge crisis. As a showcase of the free world, the Berlinale has always put at its centre the notion of freedom and the will to bridge East and West.”

The statement pointed out that the festival has, through its history, showcased films relating to Ukrainian history and culture.

This included the 2022 selection, Maryna El Gorbach’s ‘Klondike’, set in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, where fighting is taking place on the nearby Russian-Ukrainian border in 2014.

The festival also showed ‘Terykony’ by Taras Tomenko, Oleg Sentsov’s “Numbers” in 2020, the films of Kira Muratova and the early short films of Myroslav Slaboshpytsky.

“Films cannot change the society and the course of history, but they can help in changing the minds of people. Films are telling us that the world is already in a too precarious condition to add even more suffering and destruction,” the statement concluded.

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Pooja Hedge awaits her busy 2022

All the love that ‘Most Eligible Bachelor’ got in theatres was overwhelming. It made me feel like a newcomer.”…reports Asian Lite News

Actress Pooja Hegde, who dabbles in different film industries, will have a busy 2022 as she has five films lined up for release.

Her upcoming films for this year include Vijay Thalapathy’s ‘Beast’, ‘Cirkus’ opposite Ranveer Singh, ‘Acharya’ with Chiranjeevi and Ram Charan, ‘Radhe Shyam’ opposite Prabhas and a yet-untitled film opposite Mahesh Babu.

Thrilled about launching into a happening year, Pooja shares, “Despite the challenges, last year has been so giving and inspiring for me. All the love that ‘Most Eligible Bachelor’ got in theatres was overwhelming. It made me feel like a newcomer.”

Her goal for 2022 is to work with people with a knack for brilliant storytelling, “As for 2022, I’m more determined to jam with brilliant minds and give the audience cinema that is worth remembering. I want to explore spaces of my craft that excite the audience, makers and me.”

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Rajesh Khanna: The natural legacy continues for generations

This was only to be expected from an actor showered with love by a generation of fans who had grown up on three immensely poignant songs from his movie ‘Anand’: “Zindagi Kaise Hai Paheli”, “Kahin Door Jab Din Dhal Jaaye” and “Maine Tere Liye Hi Saat Rang Ke Sapne Chune”….writes Vishnu Makhijani

Rajesh Khanna was a natural. His biographer Gautam Chintamani recalls the director-writer-actor Rumi Jaffery saying how he can “never forget how Rajesh Khanna prided himself on never using aids like glycerine to evoke tears while acting”.

Jaffery recalled in a conversation with Chintamani: “He would ask you, ‘How many tears do you need?’, and just turn around for a moment or two; and when he turned back, there would be tears in his eyes. You could wake him up in the middle of the night and he would just stand and deliver when it came to tears.”

Chintamani will be collaborating with director Farah Khan on the script, based on his book, ‘Dark Star: The Loneliness Of Being Rajesh Khanna’, for a biopic on India’s first superstar.

“Once, Jaffery and (cinematographer) Sameer Arya instructed Rajesh Khanna to randomly shed a few tears in a hotel’s lift lobby and Khanna readily dispelled a few before the lift emerged,” Chintamani writes in the book.

And, there was no end to his ire when aroused.

“There were times when rumours of his sudden death flooded the Internet and saw his fans paying rich tributes on social media sites. Once, an infuriated Khanna walked to the main gate of Aashirwad in his favourite silk lungi-kurta with a cigarette and drink in tow only to prove to a journalist that, contrary to rumours, he was still alive,” Chintamai writes.

It was this strength of character that prompted Rajesh Khanna to appear in his first TV commercial — perhaps to the horror of some, but to the immense delight of a legion of admirers — and boldly declaim: “Fans kya hote hain mujhse poochho. Pyaar ka woh toofan … mohabbat ki woh aandhi .. woh jazbaa … woh junoon. Hawaa badal sakti hai lekin fans hamesha mere rahenge. Babumoshai, mere fans mujhse koi nahin chheen sakta (I will tell you what fans are. That storm of love … that passion … that madness. The direction of the wind may change, but my fans will always stay with me. Babumoshai, no one can steal my fans from me).”

This was only to be expected from an actor showered with love by a generation of fans who had grown up on three immensely poignant songs from his movie ‘Anand’: “Zindagi Kaise Hai Paheli”, “Kahin Door Jab Din Dhal Jaaye” and “Maine Tere Liye Hi Saat Rang Ke Sapne Chune”.

Sure, there were a procession of hit songs from his 17 consecutive hit films as the lead hero from 1969 to 1971, which included 15 solo-hero films and two non-solo-hero films. “Zindagi Ek Safar Hai Suhana” and “Yeh Shaam Mastani” are just two, but listen carefully to the lyrics from ‘Anand’ and you will get a measure of what Rajesh Khanna’s guiding philosophy was all about.

Sharmila Tagore, his co-star in ‘Aradhana’, which began his journey to superstardom, sums this up the best in the foreword to Chintamani’s book: “If ever a life was meant to be a book, few could stake a stronger claim. Like a shooting star doomed to darkness after a glorious run, Rajesh Khanna spent the better half of his career in the shadow of his own stardom. Yet, 40 years after his last monstrous hit, Khanna continues to be the yardstick by which every single Bollywood star is measured.”

She recalls: “At a time when film stars were truly larger than life, Khanna was even more: the one for whom the term ‘superstar’ was coined. Born Jatin Khanna to middle-class parents, the actor was adopted by rich relatives who brought him up like a prince.

“By the time he won the Filmfare-United Producers Combine Talent Hunt, he was already famous for being the struggler who drove an imported sports car.

“With 17 blockbuster hits in succession and mass adulation rarely seen before or since, the world was at Khanna’s feet. Everything he touched turned to gold. The hysteria he generated — women writing him letters in blood, marrying his photograph and donning white when he married Dimple Kapadia, people bringing sick children for his ‘healing’ touch after ‘Haathi Mere Saathi’ — was unparalleled.

“Then, in a matter of months, it all changed. Khanna’s career hit a downward spiral, as spectacular as his meteoric rise just three years after ‘Aradhana’ (1969) and never really recovered.”

Adman-filmmaker R. Balki, who directed Rajesh Khanna in the TV commercial, roundly deprecates the criticism that the actor had been depicted in poor light in the 35-second spot, saying it only points to his strength of character.

“My response to it (the criticism) is simple,” he said in an interview after the commercial was aired. “If a man is great enough to laugh at himself, why should anyone have a problem? When he wasn’t doing anything on screen all these years, people were making all kinds of jokes about it. When a legend chooses to laugh at himself, then some people start getting uncomfortable. I don’t even think that they are Rajesh Khanna fans in the first place. … He’s the one who is cracking a joke at himself, he is sporting enough to say, ‘Yes, I am not what I used to be. But so what!'”

Legendary script-writer Salim Khan, who in tandem with Javed Akhtar, has penned some of Bollywood’s most memorable films, provides a balanced perspective in his foreword to an earlier biography, ‘Rajesh Khanna: The Untold Story of India’s First Superstar’, by journalist-author Yaseer Usman.

Salim Khan writes in the Foreword: “Today, my son Salman Khan is a big star. Crowds cluster daily in front of our house to catch a glimpse of him. People often come to me and say that they haven’t seen such a craze for any star before this.

“But I tell these people that just a small distance away from here, on Carter Road, I have witnessed many such sights in front of Aashirwad. And I have never seen that kind of mass adulation for any other star after Rajesh Khanna.”

Salim Khan concludes: “We often forget when we talk about film stars or public figures that they are also human beings who also make mistakes, face failure and are scared of losing their successful run professionally, like everyone else.”

One thing is for sure: It has been a decade since Rajesh Khanna departed from this world, but his legacy will continue to live for generations to come.

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Akshay wants to do films with simplicity

I don’t have any burden… I don’t think about it. There is no pressure. I don’t want think about it also… I just want to think about what kind of films I am doing in the future…says Akshay Kumar

In his over a three-decade-long journey in Hindi cinema, superstar Akshay Kumar has been a part of many blockbusters and has given several iconic characters.

However, the National-Award winning actor does not think about burdening himself with the thought of competing with himself and says that he wants to do films with simplicity and not in complications.

Akshay has given some unforgettable characters to cinema such as Raju from ‘Hera Pheri’, Raj Malhotra in ‘Aitraaz’, Makrand “Mac” Godbhole from ‘Garam Masala’, Happy Singh from ‘Singh is Kinng’, DCP Veer Sooryavanshi from ‘Sooryavanshi’ and Sajjad Ali Khan from his latest release ‘Atrangi Re’ to name a few from a bag full of blockbuster hits.

Does it get pressurising to taking up the game higher every time he comes on screen?

Akshay in a chat said: “No, I don’t have any kind of thing which… For me, I don’t have any burden… I don’t think about it. There is no pressure. I don’t want think about it also… I just want to think about what kind of films I am doing in the future, tomorrow what shooting I have to go for, what role am I doing. I just want to think that. I want to do films with simplicity and not in complications.”

Akshay has his diaries full or next year. The 54-year-old star has several back-to-back releases such as ‘Prithviraj’, ‘Bachchan Pandey’, ‘Raksha Bandhan’, ‘Ram Setu’ and ‘OMG 2: Oh My God! 2’.

“I feel good I have around 5-6 films next year and I don’t know how would I do it,” Akshay said.

‘Atrangi Re’ has released digitally on Disney+ Hostar.

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Regional contents transcend boundaries through OTT

Commenting on the same, Manish says, “With deeper and wider penetration of Internet and mobiles in India, consumption of OTT content is no longer a metro phenomenon.”…writes Akshay Acharya

The astronomical rise of OTT has triggered a paradigm shift in the content consumption pattern of the audience. The audience today is more open to a wide range of content given the ease of access at their disposal.

As the brim of consolidated content buckets from across platforms overflows with each passing day, the average consumer is spoilt for choices.

The democratisation of the content production, distribution and exhibition courtesy of the OTT, has enabled storytellers to find their audience, make brave choices and push the envelope for the stories in the pursuit of brilliance.

For instance, filmmakers from Marathi cinema, ably supported by the Planet Marathi OTT’s game changing innovations and content solutions, have been crafting ground-breaking stories that resonate with people not just in India but also globally.

Akshay Bardapurkar, Founder, Planet Marathi, says, “Regional content is demanded globally by viewers who speak Marathi, who are familiar with the language and even those who simply enjoy the content irrespective of the language. Language is no longer the barrier in the OTT age. Audiences seek meaningful entertainment. Marathi filmmakers have demonstrated the potential to make ground-breaking content in the past.”

A good story is something that connects with people on a subconscious level and brings them together under one roof from a wide spectrum of demographics, regions and cultural differences. As Netflix India spokesperson says, “All the best stories in the world are authentic to their local context and origins of their characters, yet evoke universal emotions. And this is why this is an exciting time for stories in any language to be successful anywhere.”

Manish Kalra, Chief Business Officer, ZEE5 India says, “On ZEE5, almost 50 per cent viewership comes from regional language content. We currently house regional original content in 6 languages i.e. Marathi, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Bengali and very recently Punjabi. For the rest, we have a series of dubbed content available on the platform. Overall, we have content and UI & UX in all 12 languages.”

With changes in the socio-economic sphere of the country, data and smartphones have become an integral part of modern life. Today, the Internet has spread to the most remote places in India which has naturally opened an oracle of new territories for storytellers.

Commenting on the same, Manish says, “With deeper and wider penetration of Internet and mobiles in India, consumption of OTT content is no longer a metro phenomenon.”

He adds, “At an industry level, as per E-marketer, Ericsson, BCG Research Report, Indian language Internet users are expected to grow to 536 million with 9 out of 10 new Internet users in the country likely to be Indian language users, paving way for rapid user growth on OTTs with strong language content offering.”

It’s not just the deepest corners of India that the regional content is reaching out to, it’s making inroads on the fertile grounds outside India as well.

Sharing an insight about how regional content on Netflix is transcending boundaries, Netflix India spokesperson states, “We are seeing tremendous success for films, across languages, on Netflix. Our Tamil anthology film ‘Navarasa’, helmed by Mani Ratnam and Jayendra Panchapakesan was in the Top 10 in 10 countries including India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka. In its first week on Netflix, more than 40 per cent of the viewers for the film were from outside India.”

Quoting another example, the spokesperson adds, “Likewise, in its first week alone, the Dhanush-starrer ‘Jagame Thandhiram’ drew an equal share of audience from outside India as it did within the country. The film was subtitled and dubbed in multiple Indian languages as well as English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese, enabling wider access for our members around the world. ‘Jagame Thandhiram’ has been in the Top 10 in 12 countries outside India and has been No. 1 in 7 countries, including India, Malaysia, and the UAE.”

Rounding up the content year 2021 for the platform, the Netflix spokesperson presents an assorted collection of content pieces available on the platform and also the upcoming release, “In the last one year, Martin Prakkat’s ‘Nayattu’ (Malayalam), V. Vignarajan’s ‘Andhaghaaram’ (Tamil), our local anthologies ‘Pitta Kathalu’ (Telugu) and ‘Paava Kadhaigal’ (Tamil), Praveen Kandregula’s ‘Cinema Bandi’ (Telugu) and Mandonne Ashwin’s ‘Mandela’ (Tamil) were also widely loved by our members and featured in the Top 10 in India. We can’t wait to bring ‘Minnal Murali’ (Malayalam) to our members on December 24.”

In the same vein, Manish Kalra outlines ZEE5’s 2021 content line-up, “We had a strong 2021 content line-up of 50+ theatricals and 40+ Originals across diverse languages, making our language play one of the strongest in the industry”.

With growing engagement and awareness towards regional content, the content industry is going through its golden period.

ZEE5’s Manish Kalra leads us into a glimpse of their content strategy to leverage the growing engagement, “With a concerted focus on ‘Deeper Regionalisation’, ZEE5 has always stood for empowering Indians to consume entertainment anytime and anywhere. Our primary objective is to drive ‘Entertainment Inclusion’, by onboarding millions of digital consumers and democratising access to bespoke Indian entertainment for all, especially for markets which are new/underserved”.

Akshay Bardapurkar of Planet Marathi shares the platform’s strategy to capitalise on the boom, as he says, “All we lacked as an industry was the financial backing to make this content larger than life. We at Planet Marathi have connected Marathi talent reservoir with an internationally funded platform. Vistas Media Capital has joined hands in making Marathi regional content global with Planet Marathi.”

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Bollywood always in love with Goa

A remake of the 1966 Tamil film, ‘Madras to Pondicherry’, it was shot in Goa and neighbouring Belgaum (Belgavi) in Karnataka, apart from studios in Chennai…writes Sourish Bhattacharyya and Akshay Acharya

In the popular imagination, ‘Bobby’ was the original ‘Goan’ film, but it was filmed everywhere but Goa — from Gulmarg to Raj Kapoor’s farmhouse on the Pune-Solapur highway.

India’s smallest state, and comedy-action director Rohit Shetty’s favourite shooting location, made its maiden appearance in a Bollywood film with Amitabh Bachchan’s 1969 debut movie, ‘Saat Hindustani’.

The low-budget film (Big B reportedly was paid a lordly sum of Rs 5,000 for it!) was about six Indians from different parts of the country who joined a Goan freedom fighter and roused nationalist sentiments in the colony by hoisting the Indian Tricolour on Portuguese forts and police stations. Loosely based on ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ (1943), the film was directed by the writer-auteur Khwaja Ahmed Abbas, who, incidentally, wrote ‘Bobby’ and a number of other Raj Kapoor movies.

Utpal Dutt, the Malayalam cinema veteran Madhu, A.K. Hangal and Jalal Agha played the lead roles in ‘Saat Hindustani’, but it didn’t quite set the box-office registers ringing. It did, however, pick up a couple of awards, including the National Awards for Most Promising Newcomer for the Big B, who, in the film, famously declares under a Portuguese soldier’s bayonet, “Hum Hindustani rengte nahin hain” (“We Indians don’t crawl”).

Goa’s liberation struggle forms the central narrative of the yet another Bollywood film (‘Pukar’, 1983), starring Bachchan in the lead role along with Randhir Kapoor, Zeenat Aman, Prem Chopra (who plays another Goan, Jack Braganza, in ‘Bobby’) and Tina Munim, but, again, it struggled in the box-office. And it was shot in Daman and Diu.

Now a no-brainer film shoot location, Goa made its first substantive appearance in a Bollywood movie in the superhit road film ‘Bombay to Goa’ (1972), another Bachchan-starrer, where the lead role was played by the comedian Mehmood.

A remake of the 1966 Tamil film, ‘Madras to Pondicherry’, it was shot in Goa and neighbouring Belgaum (Belgavi) in Karnataka, apart from studios in Chennai.

In a blog post, Bachchan said the fight scene in it with Shatrughan Sinha got him his iconic role in Prakash Mehra’s 1973 film ‘Zanjeer’. He also remembered how the film’s crew had to struggle to make him get his dance steps right, especially for his famous ‘Dekha Na Hai Re’ number with Aruna Irani.

Since then, Goa, which is now also the permanent venue of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), has featured regularly in Hindi cinema, from Shyam Benegal’s Trikal (1985), which was shot in the late cartoonist Mario Miranda’s ancestral home in Loutolim, to most famously Rohit Shetty’s laugh-a-minute ‘Golmaal’ series (2006-10), Singham (2011) and Drishyam (2015).

Here’s our pick of just some of the memorable Bollywood films which have been filmed in locations across Goa:

Ek Duje Ke Liye (1981): Scenes of South-North love story starring Kamal Haasan-Rati Agnihotri were shot at the old Patto bridge, Dona Paula jetty, Shantadurga temple and Hervalem waterfalls, according to a listing in Goa’s ‘Herald’ newspaper. Kamal Haasan was cast in yet another Goa-themed film, ‘Saagar’ (1985) by Ramesh Sippy, which also featured the older ‘Bobby’ duo, Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia, who was returning to films after marriage.

Kabhi Haan Kabhi Nahin (1994): One of Shah Rukh Khan’s most memorable movies directed by Kundan Shah, it was filmed at Colva beach, Fort Aguada and the ruins of St Augustine.

Khamoshi – The Musical (1996): Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s debut film with Nana Patekar, Seema Biswas and Manisha Koirala was shot in parts at Anjuna, Old Goa and the Saligao church. Bhansali’s 2011 film ‘Guzaarish’, where Hrithik Roshan plays a famous magician crippled by an accident, is also a visual ode to Goa.

Dil Chahta Hai (2001): Farhan Akhtar’s coming-of-age cult hit starring Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan and Akshaye Khanna put Goa on the map of a new generation of Indian travellers and made Chapora Fort a go-to destination.

Golmaal Series (2006-17): The four films of this series revolving around the comic capers of four friends infamously getting into trouble, played by Ajay Devgn, Tusshar Kapoor, Arshad Warsi and Shreyas Talpade (Sharman Joshi in the first film), have been shot mainly at Panjim, Dona Paula and Fort Aguada. And Goa, we’re told, will feature yet again (along with Devgn) in Shetty’s fifth ‘Golmaal’ film — ‘Phir Golmaal’ (scheduled for a December 2023 release).

Honeymoon Travel Pvt. Ltd. (2007): Reema Katgi’s critically acclaimed film, apart from being shot in popular locations such as Dona Paula and Fort Aguada, also showcases Our Lady of Mount Chapel and Corjuem fort.

Singham (2011): Rohit Shetty’s cop drama is another Goa-centric film, which is still remembered for the action sequence where Bajirao Singham (Ajay Devgn) beats up the villain Jaikant Shikre’s goons at Dona Paula Jetty. It turned the location into a major tourist attraction. Another Shetty-Devgn collaboration, the 2015 action film ‘Drishyam’, also had Goa as its backdrop, notably Panaji, the state capital.

Dum Maaro Dum (2011): Rohan Sippy’s crime drama may not have been commercial success, but it is remembered for its shots of the crowded Arpora market as it is.

Go Goa Gone (2013): The 2013 comedy, directed by the Family Man duo — Krishna D.K. and Raj Nidimoni — and starring Saif Ali Khan, Kunal Khemu, Vir Das, Puja Gupta and Anand Tiwari, narrates the story of three friends whose Goa vacation goes horribly wrong as a zombie apocalypse breaks loose.

Finding Fanny (2014): Directed by Homi Adjania, the film, starring Naseeruddin Shah, Dimple Kapadia, Deepika Padukone and Arjun Kapoor, moves away from popular locations and explores the lesser-known Parra, Cortalim, Aldona, Assagao, Saligao and Socorro as it follows five dysfunctional friends who set out on a road trip in search of Fanny, the love interest of the character played by Shah.

Dear Zindagi (2016): The film with a young Alia Bhatt and Shah Rukh Khan is set against stunning backdrops, such as the Parra road flanked on both sides by coconut trees, the village Salvador do Mundo in Bardez, which is much visited for its eponymous 16th-century church, whose Portuguese name means ‘Saviour of the World’) and Morjim beach.

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Mumbai Terror Attack on Silver Screens

The French-Belgian thriller-drama, directed by Nicolas Saada and released in 2015, presents the story as it unfolds from the perspective of a victim — a young girl who comes with her parents to Mumbai after her father gets posted to Maximum City…writes Akshay Acharya

As the nation remembers for the 13th time in as many years the unsuspecting civilians gunned down by Pakistani terrorists and the martyrs in uniform, here’s a summary of the films and web series that presented their sides of the story that shook India for three nightmarish days.


The Attacks of 26/11:
This Ram Gopal Varma directorial sequentially presents a comprehensive account of what happened on the fateful night. It’s in fact the only piece of Indian mainstream cinema to chronicle the attacks. From the planning, transit and execution of the attacks to the terrorists being neutralised and Ajmal Kasab, the only perpetrator to be caught alive, the movie presents a disturbing account of what went down and show how the administration eventually got the situation under control.

The 2013 film has Nana Patekar playing the former Police Commissioner of Mumbai, Rakesh Maria, and follows a non-linear approach to storytelling as the officer recounts the events during an official inquiry.

Varma had earlier told: “Never in the history of the world were there more terrifying attacks than those that happened on 9/11 in New York. But in the sheer audacity of their execution, I felt the attack on Mumbai was far more shocking.”

Taj Mahal:
The French-Belgian thriller-drama, directed by Nicolas Saada and released in 2015, presents the story as it unfolds from the perspective of a victim — a young girl who comes with her parents to Mumbai after her father gets posted to Maximum City. The family chooses to stay in the Taj Mahal Palace until their accommodation is set up. As destiny takes an unexpected turn, the girl gets trapped inside the hotel while her parents are out for dinner. Owing to its storytelling and narrative, the film was also screened at the Venice Film Festival.

One Less God: Lliam Worthington’s 2017 movie recasts the horror of the attacks on the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel from the points of view of the perpetrators and the hotel guests who were held hostage at gunpoint. Based though the film is on true events, the two perspectives are fictionalised.

Hotel Mumbai: The 2018 action thriller directed by the Australian filmmaker Anthony Maras narrates the story of courage of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel’s staff who pushed their line of duty of serving guests by helping with the rescue operations and stood with them through thick and thin. The film, which stars Dev Patel, Anupam Kher, Armie Hammer, Nazanin Boniadi and Jason Isaacs, is based on the documentary titled ‘Surviving Mumbai’.

Talking about the film, Maras told: “It all started when I saw ‘Surviving Mumbai’. We got very easy access to the transcripts and access to the people who have lived through it. We spent a great deal of time just listening to them and focusing on their stories. We met them in person or via video calls just to know what it was to live through such an experience.”

Maras and his co-writer John Collee had rock-solid source material at their disposal in the form of interviews, documents from Kasab’s trial, victim statements, and transcripts of satellite communications between the terrorists and their handlers provided by the police and the local authorities.


State of Siege – 26/11: The Zee5 eight-episode series is based on the authoritative book ‘Black Tornado: The Three Sieges of Mumbai 26/11’ by journalist Sandeep Unnithan. Directed by Matthew Leutwyler and Prashant Singh, the series stars Arjan Bajwa, Arjun Bijlani, Jyoti Gauba, Vivek Dahiya, Tara Alisha Berry and Mukul Dev.

What separates ‘State of Siege – 26/11’ from its counterparts is that it tells the story through the lens of NSG commandos, who took over control of the situation from Mumbai Police on November 27 and neutralised the terrorists by November 29, thereby restoring free civilian movement and bailing out the city from the clutches of the gunmen.

Mumbai Diaries 26/11: More recently, we had the Prime Video series ‘Mumbai Diaries 26/11’ directed by Nikkhil Advani. The eight-episode series features an ensemble of Mohit Raina, Konkona Sen Sharma, Prakash Belawadi, Sonali Kulkarni, Shreya Dhanwanthary and Satyajeet Dubey, and follows the story of medical professionals as they managed the huge influx of victims during the attack and provided them with treatment despite the crumbling healthcare infrastructure.

Explaining what made him tell their story, Advani told: “I have always been a huge fan of shows like ‘ER’, ‘Chicago Hope’ and ‘Code Black’. There’s inherent drama in the act of saving lives and then you get to explore the lives of the unsung heroes, namely, the doctors and nurses.”

Describing the strength and resilience of the medics, Advani said: “When I asked the doctors and nurses, we interviewed during our research about what they did differently on those three days, they looked at me incredulously and said, ‘We turned up for work.’ It made me think that actually these medical professionals and first responders, who work under incredible pressure in government hospitals, really do the most courageous work almost every single day.”


Terror in Mumbai:
This HBO documentary takes into account the multiple perspectives on the administrative shortcomings and security failures. Written by CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, ‘Terror in Mumbai’ is one of the best documentaries to piece together the story with eyewitness interviews, surveillance videos and intercepted call exchanges between the ten terrorists and their controllers in Pakistan.

Mumbai Massacre: An episode of the widely acclaimed docu-series ‘Seconds From Disaster’, a US-UK co-production directed by Stan Griffin, it uncovers the security failures that allowed the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists to kill at will. The episode features accounts of the survivors who narrate their experiences and recount what unfolded on one of those long, dark and horrific nights of Mumbai.


Surviving Mumbai:
A Victoria Midwinter Pitt directorial broadcast in 2009, ‘Surviving Mumbai’ is a television movie that follows the narrative style of documentary and tells the story from the perspective of the survivors, who recount how they battled the odds and controlled their nerves in a fiercely demanding situation just to be able to stay alive and make it to the other end of what seemed like an interminable rabbit hole.

Shahid: The 2012 biographical drama directed by Hansal Mehta is based on the life of lawyer and human rights activist Shahid Azmi. Starring Rajkummar Rao, the film takes into account the case of Faheem Ansari, who was accused for his involvement in the 26/11 attacks, but was later acquitted of all charges because of lack of evidence. Faheem was Azmi’s last case before he was gunned down by assailants.

Embrace: The 15-minute short film, made in 2014 by Los Angeles-based Ghalib Shiraz Dhalla, tells the story of an American couple who come to Mumbai for a vacation but are trapped in Taj Mahal Palace following the terrorist attacks. The couple holds the fort as they watch their friends being massacred. When all hope is lost and they realise that help won’t be coming their way, they make a life-altering decision in order to reunite with their son whom they left behind in their homeland.

Phantom: Kabir Khan 2015 movie follows the aftermath of the 26/11 attacks. It features Saif Ali Khan as an ex-serviceman, who is pressed into service by R&AW to seek vengeance on the men who planned, coordinated and executed the attacks.

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Bollywood welcomes season of ‘action packed’

“A good thriller is everybody’s cup of tea,” said Vaani who made her Bollywood debut with the romantic movie ‘Shuddh Desi Romance’…writes Durga Chakravarty

Pandemic couldn’t destroy the film industry as it is evolved into new forms of digital screening. India’s film industry is fully loaded as it promises to extend the action-packed season with new thrillers that have become a most-favoured genre of movie makers who find in it a shortcut to the box-office.

The showbiz industry has ferreted out plots and storylines swinging around acts of valour, mystery, vivid action, legal drama, whodunit crime and white-knuckled suspense — salted and peppered with cliff-hanging content and frontline technology.

Thrillers such as ‘Mirzapur’, ‘Raat Akeli Hai’ and British crime drama ‘The Serpent’ already released during the pandemic have sharpened the hunger for blood and guts streamed online to otherwise bored working-from-home Indians.

And now a fresh fusillade is expected with superstar Akshay Kumar’s ‘Bell Bottom’ set to titillate his theatre-going fans with the espionage thriller set in the 1980s.

The Bollywood actor, who will be playing the role of a spy in the film, said he believed espionage thrillers were gaining currency only because Hindi language cinema had not done enough with the genre.

“It’s not just an espionage thriller. Lots of comedy and other things are also very popular but yeah (we) make very little espionage kind of films so that is why people really want to see them,” Akshay told.

Vaani Kapoor will be seen as Akshay’s female opposite and she appeared thrilled with the prospect of the film’s imminent release.

“A good thriller is everybody’s cup of tea,” said Vaani who made her Bollywood debut with the romantic movie ‘Shuddh Desi Romance’.

“Thriller has a little bit of reality, mystery, suspense and drama. These are all the things we humans thrive on. Little bit of everything. Not knowing the unknown and discovering something,” the actor said.

“I think it has a lot of value in this genre. Everybody tends to connect to it,” she added.

Actress Huma Qureshi, who will share screen space with Akshay and Vaani, is a veteran of blood-and-gore thrillers such as ‘Badlapur’, ‘Gangs Of Wasseypur’ and ‘D-Day’ to name a few.

She too seemed certain ‘Bell Bottom’ will have universal acceptance once it is released in theatres.

“It has a little something for everybody,” Huma said.

“I think the whole fascination is with the spy genre itself …that always plays like a big hook with the younger audience. It is the kind of story that will appeal to both the younger demographic in terms of style and also in terms of the older generation,” she added.

John Abraham’s ‘Attack’ based on a hostage crisis is set for release in theatres and is also expected to grab eyeballs, industry observers say.

‘Dhamaka’ and ‘Major’ are works-in-progress and the two action thrillers will top five such films already produced on the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks that left 166 people dead and 300 injured in India’s financial capital that horrified the world in 2008.

Manoj Bajpayee’s ‘Dial 100’ and ‘Silence, Can You Hear It?’, Tamannaah Bhatia’s ‘November story’ and British actor Benedict Cumberbatch’s ‘The Courier’ released this year have spurred the appetite.

Manoj told : “‘Silence…’ was a suspense thriller, ‘Dial 100’, I would call it an emotional thriller more than anything. It has all elements of a thriller but at the same time it has a more social aspect to it and a more emotional aspect to it that makes it far more exciting and interesting,” the award-winning actor said.

‘Chehre’, a crime thriller starring Amitabh Bachchan and Emraan Hashmi is also set for release this month in Indian theatres.

South actor Tamannaah made her digital debut in April with the Telugu crime web series ’11th Hour’. In May, she returned to the OTT space again with ‘November Story’, a Tamil production revolving around an ailing crime writer who is father to a police hacker.

“When you choose a genre like the thriller… if it is done well… it has a high potential of reaching that goal of being a binge-watchable show,” Tamannaah said.

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Dilip Kumar, who passed away on Wednesday in Mumbai at the age of 98, still remains the benchmark for actors in Indian cinema, writes Vinayak Chakravorty

Few actors in Bollywood have had as many clones as Dilip Kumar. The assertion would seem like the greatest note of flattery in a film industry that survives and thrives on being ‘inspired’, more than superlatives such as star, superstar, megastar, thespian — even legend, for the word is often loosely used in Bollywood.

Dilip Kumar, who passed away on Wednesday in Mumbai at the age of 98, was always the benchmark. He had a direct impact on many actors who worked in his time, from the forties to the nineties. He continues to indirectly impact actors post nineties too, for those who fashioned their acting after him continue to influence many rank newcomers of today.

Perhaps that is the mark of a legend — when the trademark style of your art continues to outlive you, and find new ways to reinvent itself through budding talents who started out long after you quit.

For the record, Dilip Kumar quit acting in 1998. That was the year Yusuf saab — as he was widely known to friends and fans alike — last faced the camera for Umesh Mehra’s “Qila”. If the actor was never seen on screen over the past two decades since its release, the rest of the film’s primary cast including Rekha, Mukul Dev and Mamta Kulkarni have also all but vanished, and director Mehra stopped making films nearly two decades ago. “Qila”, an otherwise forgotten attempt, will continue to garner recall value because it was the last film of one of Bollywood’s greatest.

Flawed and over the top as the film was, “Qila” gave Dilip Kumar a dual role as protagonist and antagonist (or ‘hero’ and ‘villain’ as masala filmdom loves classifying). Somewhere in those portrayals lay the key to why he was hailed as the phenomenon back in the day, when they showered him with epithets as Tragedy King, and the Great Method Actor of Bollywood.

There are tales about Dilip Kumar’s method acting. The most widely-known pertains to the self-produced “Gunga-Jumna”, the Nitin Bose directorial of 1961 that, many whisper, was ghost-directed by the actor himself. Coming immediately after his 1961 superhit “Mughal-e-Azam”, Dilip Kumar is said to have run all around the studio premise, to the point of collapsing, in order to get the right look and feel for his death scene in the film. The performance is counted among one of the finest by any male actor in mainstream Bollywood, and plot of the film would find resonance in many subsequent Hindi hits, notably “Deewar”.

If the subject of method acting largely defines Dilip Kumar’s oeuvre, the actor himself tried to deconstruct it in his autobiography “Dilip Kumar: The Substance And The Shadow”, released in 2015.

“I am an actor who evolved a method, which stood me in good stead,” he says.

That alone explains the consummate acting we saw in all his films, right from his debut effort “Jwar Bhata” (1944), as well as other notable early roles in “Milan ” (1946) and “Jugnu” (1947).

By 1948, only four years into the industry, Dilip Kumar was a busy star. He had as many as five releases that year — “Ghar Ki Izzat”, “Shaheed”, “Mela”, “Anokha Pyar” and “Nadiya Ke Paar”. By the time the last film of the year released and went on to become the biggest hit of 1948, Dilip Kumar was one of Bollywood’s exciting new sensations along with two others — Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand.

The trio would go on to define Hindi cinema in the next decade, and be called Bollywood’s Triumvirate. Together, they continue to shine the brightest at the mention of the Golden Fifties of Hindi cinema. While each of them carved a niche to ensure greatness, somewhere their individual images as stars summed up the essence of an era that continues to be regarded as the classiest that Hindi cinema has seen.

Dilip Kumar would collaborate with Raj Kapoor, incidentally said to be his childhood friend from Peshawar, on Mehboob Khan’s 1949 love triangle “Andaz” that co-starred the inimitable Nargis. The film was a superhit upon release and, for the second consecutive year, Dilip Kumar would be part of the year’s highest-grossing film with “Andaz”.

That was just the start of a dream run. The fifties saw him deliver innumerable superhits including “Jogan” and Babul (1950), “Tarana” and “Deedar” (1951), “Aan” (1952), “Footpath” (1953), “Amar” and “Daag” (1954). “Devdas”, “Azaad” and Uran Khatola” followed in 1955, “Musafir” and “Naya Daur” released in 1957. The spate of memorable roles continued with “Yahudi” and “Madhumati” in 1958, and Dilip Kumar ended the decade with “Paigham” in 1959.

If the decade that ended established the method about Dilip Kumar’s stardom in its versatility, it also prepared fans for the one role that continues to draw automatic recall when you think Dilip Kumar. The decade started with K. Asif’ s epic “Mughal-e-Azam” for Dilip Kumar, after the successful “Kohinoor” the same year. The film became the highest grossing Hindi film of all time upon release.

After the success of “Gunga Jumna” in 1961, Dilip Kumar would again essay a dual role of a very different mood in “Ram Aur Shyam” (1967). His other memorable roles in the decade were “Aadmi” and “Sunghursh” (1968).

He started out in the seventies with “Gopi” (1970). The sixties and the seventies, however, saw the actor slowdown in terms of solo releases. The advent of Rajesh Khanna’s brand of romance in the late sixties, and Amitabh Bachchan’s Angry Young Man in the mid-seventies, changed Bollywood trends. The great socials of the fifties and the sixties seemed to be on the wane. Dilip Kumar decided to take a break in 1976, after “Bairag”.

He would come back, of course, in Manoj Kumar’s 1981 release “Kranti”. The film was a multi-starrer, Bollywood’ chosen genre of the eighties, and Dilip Kumar found ready takers in such lavishly-mounted productions that needed multiple heroes across age groups. He was notably seen in the Subhash Ghai multistarrers “Vidhaata” (1982) and “Karma” (1986) as well as “Saudagar” in 1991. Two-hero or multi-hero projects as “Shakti” (1982), “Mazdoor” (1983), “Mashaal” (1984) and “Duniya” (1984) mark his last phase as an actor, one that culminated with “Qila” in 1998.

The five decades of acting is balanced by the irony that Dilip Kumar never released a film as director. In his lifetime, he is said to have been involved with direction twice. He is said to have directed the 1966 drama “Dil Diya Dard Liya” along with the officially-mentioned helmer, Abdul Rashid Kardar, though he isn’t credited as a director for the project. Decades later, he would launch the self-starring “Kalinga”, with Jackie Shroff, Meenakshi Sheshadri and Amitoj Mann. Some say the film was shot, though it never saw light of day.

For a man known to take an active interest in all departments of some of the biggest projects of his heydays, it remains a mystery why Dilip Kumar lost interest in releasing “Kalinga”. Perhaps the phenomenon, one of 12 children born to a Peshawari fruit merchant, knew when to go cold on a bad business prospect.

ALSO READ-Cinematic legend Dilip Kumar passes away

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Wait For Exciting OTT Releases

The reality show follows the dangerous work of logger and sawmill owner Kevin Wenstob as he and his crew go to extremes to keep the family sawmill and their way of life alive…reports Asian Lite News.

OTT is the only relief for film lovers in the pandemic era. Here’s a look at highlight films, shows, and series that are scheduled to drop in the digital space this week.

PUNCCH BEAT, Season 2 (series on ALT Balaji, June 27)
Cast: Priyank Sharma, Siddharth Sharma, Harshita Gaur
Created by: Vikas Gupta

The all-new season of this high school drama is about new relationships, friendships, rivalries and more. The story revolves around Rosewood High. The school has only one rule that is to obey all rules. But as the new semester starts it unfolds a lot of dark secrets and eventually all rules are broken.

COLD CASE (film on Amazon Prime, June 30)

Cast: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Aditi Balan
Direction: Tanu Balak

The Malayalam horror thriller tells the story of a complex murder case, parallelly investigated by a police officer and an investigative journalist in their own way, who eventually cross paths to unravel secrets they never imagined.

HASEEN DILLRUBA (film on Netflix, July 2)

Cast: Taapsee Pannu, Vikrant Massey, Harshvardhan Rane
Direction: Vinil Mathew

Under investigation as a suspect in her husband’s murder, a wife reveals details of their thorny marriage that seem to only further blur the truth.

THE TOMORROW WAR (film on Amazon Prime, July 2)

Cast: Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski, JK Simmons, Betty Gilpin
Direction: Chris McKay

An American military science fiction action film, it focuses on humanity’s war against an alien invasion in the future, as humans use a new ability to draft soldiers from the past to help fight the aliens.

SAMANTAR season 2 (series on MX Player, July 2)

Cast: Tejaswini Pandit, Sai Tamhankar, Swwapnil Joshi
Direction: Satish Rajwade

The second season of the Marathi mystery thriller series resumes the story of Kumar Mahajan played by Joshi who searches for a man who has already lived Kumar’s life and could tell him about the events of the future.

FEAR STREET PART ONE: 1994 (film on Netflix, July 2)

Cast: Kiana Madeira, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr.
Direction: Leigh Jania

The horror film trilogy is based on the book series of the same name by novelist RL Stine. The events in the movies take place decades apart from each other but are connected with a curse. After a series of brutal slayings, a teen and her friends take on an evil force that is plagued their notorious town Shadyside, Ohio for centuries.

BIG TIMBER season 1 (reality show on Netflix, July 2)
Cast: Kevin Wenstob, Eric Wenstob, Sarah Fleming

The reality show follows the dangerous work of logger and sawmill owner Kevin Wenstob as he and his crew go to extremes to keep the family sawmill and their way of life alive.

GREY’S ANATOMY season 17 (series on Netflix, July 3)
Cast: Ellen Pompeo, Chandra Wilson, James Pickens Jr.
Showrunner: Krista Vernoff

In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the doctors at Grey Sloan find themselves in uncharted territory as they work to save lives without any end in sight. The latest season also features Meredith on the beach among other storylines.

CHUTZPAH (series on Sony Liv, July 3)
Cast: Varun Sharma, Manjot Singh, Elnaaz Norouzi
Created by: Mrighdeep Lamba

The thriller dark comedy series is based on cybercrime. It looks at issues of digital frauds, honey traps, and more. “Fukrey” stars Varun Sharma and Manjot Singh are back together again in the show.

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