Lite Blogs

Depp back to direction after 25 years

‘Jeanne du Barry’ will be Depp’s first major acting role since the 2020 independent film ‘Minamata’, in which he played war photographer W. Eugene Smith…reports Asian Lite News

Fresh off his victory in the Amber Heard defamation suit, Johnny Depp is all set to direct a movie 25 years after he made his first, a neo-Western in which he co-starred with Marlon Brando, reports Variety. Depp’s directorial debut film, ‘The Brave’ (1997), was panned by critics and it also tanked commercially.

The actor will now return behind the camera, with Al Pacino acting as producer, for ‘Modigliani’, a biographical drama about Italian artist and sculptor Amedeo Modigliani, who lived between 1884 and 1920.

It is being viewed as an attempt by Depp to restart his life after having seen Hollywood steer clear of him and being left with only European projects, notably French filmmaker Maiwenn’s upcoming film ‘Jeanne du Barry’, a historical romance drama about a royal’s concubine, in which he plays the controversial King Louis XV, notes ‘Variety’.

‘Jeanne du Barry’ will be Depp’s first major acting role since the 2020 independent film ‘Minamata’, in which he played war photographer W. Eugene Smith.

The same year, Depp was forced by Warner Bros. to exit the ‘Harry Potter’ spinoff series ‘Fantastic Beasts’ after he lost his libel case against the British tabloid ‘The Sun’, which had characterized Depp as a “wife beater”. Madds Mikkelson replaced Depp as the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald in ‘Fantastic Beast: The Secrets of Dumbledore’.

‘Modigliani’, based on American playwright Dennis ‘National Anthems’ McIntyre’s play of the same name, takes place in 1916 Paris. McIntyre, who died at the age of 47 in 1990. was famous in his lifetime for highlighting the ills of American society in his plays. The original play has been adapted for screen by Jerzy and Mary Kromolowski.

The film’s publicity release says Modigliani, “long considered by himself a critical and commercial failure, navigates a turbulent and eventful 48 hours that will become a turning point in his life, ultimately solidifying his reputation as an artistic legend.”

In another statement, also quoted by ‘Variety’, Depp said: “The saga of Mr Modigliani’s life is one that I’m incredibly honoured, and truly humbled, to bring to the screen. It was a life of great hardship, but eventual triumph — a universally human story all viewers can identify with.

ALSO READ-Johnny Depp wins defamation case against ex-wife

Film Review Films

My Dear Bhootham : Neat, enjoyable fantasy entertainer for kids

Karkimuki is overjoyed and spends time playing with his son. One day, he takes his son to another world to play and it so happens that the son disturbs the penance of a seer who has been meditating for thousands of years…reviewed by Manigandan K R

Duration: 122 minutes (Releasing in theatres). Director: N. Ragavan. Cast: Prabhu Deva, Master Aswanth, Ramya Nambeesan, Samyuktha, Suresh Menon, Imman Annachi and Param Gukanesh. (Rating: ***)

Director N. Ragavan, who made the highly enjoyable ‘Manja Pai’, returns this time with a fantasy film for kids. Not only is the film enjoyable, it also has a couple of significant points to make.

‘My Dear Bhootham’ begins with the story of Karkimuki (Prabhu Deva), the king of spirits who rules the spirit world in a just and fair manner.

The spirits are happy and satisfied with Karkimuki’s just rule, but the king himself has an unfulfilled wish. He longs for a child. After a point, his prayers are answered and he is blessed with a son who loves him unconditionally.

Karkimuki is overjoyed and spends time playing with his son. One day, he takes his son to another world to play and it so happens that the son disturbs the penance of a seer who has been meditating for thousands of years.

The seer, angry that the effort of thousands of years had gone waste, is about to curse the boy when Karkimuki pleads on his son’s behalf for the seer’s forgiveness.

When the seer is unfilling to forgive, Karkimuki pleads that he be cursed instead of his son. The seer agrees and curses Karkimuki to turn into a statue and be buried in the earth for thousands of years.

The only way Karkimuki can return to the spirit realm and meet his son again is when the person who finds the toy on earth and sets him free, also finds the secret chant hidden in the toy and utters it within a time period of 48 days. Otherwise, he will perish for good.

It is under these circumstances that the toy is found by a young boy called Thirunavukkarasar( Master Ashwanth).

Thirunavukkarasar, the son of a single parent, has a stammering problem and is hated by schoolmates and loathed by teachers. What happens when Karkimuki enters Thirunavukkarasar’s life is what the film is all about.

The film gets off to a crisp start with Karkimuki’s story being narrated through animation. However, when the focus shifts to Thirunavukkarasar’s life, the story begins to lose steam a little.

But it soon picks up pace with the entry of Karkimuki into Thirunavukkarasar’s life. By the time the second half begins, the film has you interested. From that point on to right till the end, the film has your undivided attention.

The credit for keeping the film engaging must go to two people. One, the director for narrating a good, interesting story with a number of valuable takeaways for kids and two, to actor Prabhu Deva, who does a great job as the king of spirits.

Prabhu Deva’s antics and his dance moves perfectly fit the role and comes up with a sterling performance to steal the limelight. Young Ashwanth impresses with his brilliant depiction of a child with a stammering problem.

Imman’s background score and Senthil Kumar’s visuals are added pluses for the film.

Full marks to director Ragavan for making a clean, neat, enjoyable fantasy entertainer that parents can enjoy with their kids.

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Films News Sharjah

Khorfakkan to debut on international streaming platforms

The film documents the epic resistance of the people of Khorfakkan against colonial invasion and will stream on Amazon, Google Play, Apple Store, and Sky Store…reports Asian Lite News

The Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) has partnered with a major international film distributor to stream ‘Khorfakkan’, a film based on the historical book, Khorfakkan’s Resistance Against the Portuguese Invasion of September 1507, authored by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, on major streaming platforms worldwide. The SBA production will be screened on Microsoft, Amazon, Google Play, Apple Store, Sky Store, and Chile to international audiences outside the Middle East region.

The two-hour movie highlights the epic resistance put up by Khorfakkan’s residents during a colonial invasion over 500 years ago. The cast includes distinguished Emirati and Arab actors and an international team specialising in producing historical films. The film amassed significant viewership in local and Arab theatres since its debut in 2020 and was translated to English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Khorfakkan to debut on international streaming platforms

Through the partnership, SBA is looking towards showcasing its productions on international platforms to spotlight the emirate’s film industry that produces high-quality blockbusters, including Khorfakkan, which is the outcome of precise documentation techniques including scientific, historical research followed by the Sharjah Ruler while authoring the book, and outstanding audiovisual effects using the latest technologies.

A model for the Arab Cinema sector

HE Mohammed Hassan Khalaf, Director General of SBA, emphasised that the lavish production should be a model for Emirati and Arab cinema industries. The historical drama is based on studies of documented history by His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and the detailed attention to the authenticity of the historical period when the courageous people of the coastal city successfully resisted the invasion has been a significant contributing factor to the success of the movie.

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He added: “Screening the movie on international platforms reflects the vision of the Sharjah Ruler in portraying the authentic image of Arab culture and history, and its contribution towards the creative industries. SBA aims to utilise  the latest technologies in its productions and showcase its portfolio of distinguished TV and film creations to the rest of the world, especially those that highlight the rich Emirati history and culture.”

The SBA production highlights the heroic defence of Khorfakkan’s people during the invasion in 1507 led by naval commander General Afonso de Albuquerque. The film was directed by Maurice Sweeney and British Ben Mole, and the cast includes Syrian actor Rasheed Assaf, Emirati actors Ahmed Al Jasmi, Mohammed Al Ameri, and Dr. Habib Ghloum; Syrian Qais Shaikh Najeeb; and other prominent actors.

India News

MODHERA TEMPLE ROW: Rajputs Turn Heat on Gujarat Govt

Earlier, the Gujjars had declared erstwhile emperor Prithviraj Chauhan as the hero from their lineage and had even warned that the film’s release will be stalled if he is referred to as Rajput in the movie…reports Archana Sharma

The controversy that started surrounding the upcoming Bollywood movie ‘Prithviraj’ starring Akshay Kumar refuses to die in Rajasthan.

Taking forward the row over the lineage and caste of Prithviraj Chauhan, Rajput leaders have now targeted the Gujarat government for giving credit to Gujjar leaders for building the Modhera Sun Temple, which as per them, was built by Rajput royals.

Earlier, the Gujjars had declared erstwhile emperor Prithviraj Chauhan as the hero from their lineage and had even warned that the film’s release will be stalled if he is referred to as Rajput in the movie.

Meanwhile, the Rajputs rejected the claims and declared that Gujjars are trying to twist history.

At a press conference organised in Jaipur on Sunday, Mahavir Singh Sarwadi, the convener of Shri Pratap Foundation and the patron of Shri Kshatra Purusharth Foundation, said that a conspiracy is going on to declare national heroes like Mihirbhoj, Prithviraj Chauhan, Maharaja Anangpal etc. as Gujjars by connecting the Gurjar region with the Gujjar caste.

“The Gujarat government’s tourism department, which earlier said that the Modhera Temple was built by Solanki Rajputs two years ago, today tweets saying it was built by Gujjars and then deletes it.

“In Gujarat, the state government on its website has declared the state as the land of Gujjars and termed Kshatriya clans like Parmar, Pratihar, Solanki, Chauhan etc as Gujjars, whereas the fact is that even today the population of Gujjars in Gujarat is negligible and the Gujjar caste is not even mentioned among the notified castes. We have written a letter to the Chief Minister of Gujarat in this regard,” he added.

“Before Independence, the British tried to distort our history to prove their superiority and after Independence, the then political leadership also tried to distort our history. Myths were fabricated and they were proved and propagated with the help of power.

“The entire society has been suffering for decades. Over the years, this communal appeasement has turned into caste appeasement and our history is being targeted by the present political leadership to nurture it. Rajputs have made inconceivable sacrifices for this nation and since time immemorial, they have fought with the terrorists. History is our most valuable asset and every Rajput is susceptible to it. Those who encourage attempts to dispute the identities of our ancestors for their petty political ambitions, society considers this act as not only unfortunate, but a conspiracy against our society as a whole. We oppose every such conspiracy,” Sarwadi said.

Meanwhile, Mihir Army chief Himmat Singh Gurjar, replying to Sarwadi’s claims, said, “Whenever the society has been educated, it has seen its history getting rectified wherever it has gone wrong. This is also a reformation. Mihir Bhoj and Prithviraj Chauhan belonged to the Gujjar community. Rana Poonja was and will remain Bhil. People who came into existence after 13th century should not give history information.

The term Rajput, according to him, gained credence after the 13th century. Earlier, they were called as Kshatriyas, he said.

ALSO READ-Why Kashi and Mathura are not Ayodhya

Dubai Events UAE News

House of Gucci set to on the UAE National Day

Inspired by the shocking true story of the family behind the Italian fashion empire, “House Of Gucci” is set to launch in cinemas in the UAE and across the Middle East during the UAE National Day holidays on December 2, 2021…reports Asian Lite News

Directed by Ridley Scott, the highly anticipated real-life adaptation of the Gucci family also stars Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Jeremy Irons, Jack Huston, with Salma Hayek and Al Pacino.

House of Gucci set to on the UAE National Day

The visually stylish film, which spans three turbulent decades in the Gucci family empire boasts a star-studded ensemble cast headed by Academy Award®winner Lady Gaga (A Star is Born) and Academy Award®nominee Adam Driver (Marriage Story), Academy Award®winners Al Pacino (The Godfather, Scent of a Woman), Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) and Jeremy Irons (Reversal of Fortune). The story beings in the late 1970s, with the Gucci Business being overseen by Guccio Gucci’s two sons, the colorful and wily Aldo (Academy Award®winner  Al Pacino) and his more conservative and detached sibling Rodolfo (Academy Award®winner Jeremy Irons). Watch as this historic family is torn between a reckless spiral of betrayal, decadence, revenge, and ultimately…murder.

ALSO READ: No Time to Die: A grand send off to Daniel Craig as secret agent

The movie is rated PG 15 in UAE, and advance bookings are now open in cinemas across the Middle East.

Lite Blogs

Keerthy’s ‘Good Luck Sakhi’ to be released on Nov 26

Directed by Nagesh Kukunoor, ‘Good Luck Sakhi’ is a multi-lingual film made simultaneously in Telugu, Tamil, and Malayalam…reports Asian Lite News.

National Award-winning actress Keerthy Suresh, who had given her career-best performance in late actress Savitri’s biopic – ‘Mahanati’ – is set to woo the audience again with her upcoming movie titled ‘Good Luck Sakhi’.

The makers of the movie have come up with an interesting update regarding the release date. ‘Good Luck Sakhi’ will be released on November 26 across the southern states of India. The makers also released a poster featuring the lead actors. Keerthy Suresh appears as a village belle, trying to aim with a gun, while Aadi Pinisetty and Jagapathi Babu are also in the poster released Monday.

Touted as an emotional, woman-centric sports drama, Keerthy Suresh is to be seen as a shooter in the film. Actor Aadhi Pinisetty, who made his mark as an actor in movies like ‘Sarrainodu’, and ‘Rangasthalam’ is to be seen as the male lead in the movie. Senior actor Jagapathi Babu will be seen in a crucial role as Keerthy Suresh’s coach.

Directed by Nagesh Kukunoor, ‘Good Luck Sakhi’ is a multi-lingual film made simultaneously in Telugu, Tamil, and Malayalam.

On the other hand, Keerthy Suresh also stars in Telugu biggie ‘Sarkaru Vaari Paata’, in which she is to share the screen with Mahesh Babu.

ALSO READ-Soha Ali Khan: Lockdown has brought the family closer

-Top News Films Sharjah

SIFF presents 48 films curated for young audiences

Patrons will watch 48 exciting films across seven categories that will premiere exclusively at the eighth edition, unveiling on 10th October, reports Asian Lite News

Young movie buffs in the region and beyond are in for a true cinematic treat this year at the Sharjah International Film Festival for Children and Youth (SIFF).

Patrons will watch 48 exciting films across seven categories that will premiere exclusively at the eighth edition, unveiling on 10th October, 2021.

SIFF presents 48 films curated for young audiences

SIFF 2021 will be screening six films making their world premieres and four being screened for the first time for the UAE audiences. The festival will also be the launch pad for 34 films in the Middle East and four in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) circuit.

Organised by FUNN, Sharjah Media Arts for Youth and Children, in a fully online format this year, SIFF will be streaming more than 80 diverse films across six days. The films are free to watch and can be accessed by registering at:

 Two homegrown films, “Childhood Trauma” by the UAE-based Safa Azarayesh that compels us to connect the dots of childhood trauma with adulthood and is competing in the GCC Short Films category, and Sarah Al Ali’s “Don’t Give Up” that reinforces the need to persevere even when things seem difficult – headline the six films that will have their world premieres at SIFF 2021.

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The other four include “The First Line”, in Russian by Kate Bugrova; the Arabic film “Opportunity” by Saudi Arabian Fahad Alotaibi, which narrates a game of life and death; the emotionally resonant Persian film, “Sweet Taste of Darkness” by Mitra Raeesmohammadi, and Kazakh film “Shoqan” that explores the reality of truth, and directed by Kuka.

SIFF presents 48 films curated for young audiences

 “Last Round”, an animated short that has been gaining fame and popularity for its universal story of sibling love, is among the 34 films that will have their Middle East premiere.

A graduation project of Anatole Bournique, Maeva Chaulvet, Katia Hochstetter, Nicolas Jaffre, and Thais Mercier, students of the Goerges Melies School of Animation, France, the film narrates the story of a promising young boxer who is willing to do anything to finance the future of his little sister, a piano prodigy.

SIFF presents 48 films curated for young audiences

For the first time, the four films being shown in the GCC include the Russian animated film directed by Ekaterina Filippova, “The Little Boat that Wanted to Fly”. Winner of the Best Children’s Film Award at the 2020 World Festival of Animated Film (WFAF), it narrates a touching story about inclusion – a boat that does not fit in with others because it wants to fly.

The other films include “The Orphanage”, a captivating drama about an Afghan teen in trouble by Shahrbanoo Sadat; “In My Dream”, a Turkish tale of chasing dreams by Murat Ceri; and the Arabic film “Barcode” where commercialism and innocence intersect by Saudi Arabia’s Muhammad Alghamdi.

SIFF presents 48 films curated for young audiences

Award winner at Cannes Independent Film Festival among UAE premieres Kazakh director Alina Mustafina’s film “Ander” which won the special jury prize at the Cannes Independent Film Festival as well as the Best Documentary Film Award at Qatar’s Ajyal Film Festival in 2020, will be among the four films to open for the first time in the UAE.

Journalist, writer, and filmmaker Mustafina’s short documentary shares the story of her five-year-old boy Ander, who suffers from a very rare dairy allergy. He is an active and joyful kid but he has to eat separately from his classmates at school and brings his own cake to parties due to his allergic conditions.

The other films include “Comfortable Position”, a film centred on the theme of dreams and sleep and made by a group of 8 to 12-year-old children from Uzbekistan, and “Al-Sit” by Suzannah Mirghani; and Saudi Arabian director Mohammed Atabani’s Block.

Bollywood Films Lite Blogs

Parineeti twinning with Saina Nehwal

She added: “‘Mein maar dungi’ has become my motto, not literally of course but being Full-On with whatever I do.”…reports Asian Lite News.

Actress Parineeti Chopra says she didn’t just want to act like Saina Nehwal as she wanted to be her in the film based on the star badminton player’s life titled ‘Saina’.

Talking about her experience, Parineeti said: “‘Saina’ is the most challenging and exciting film of my career so far. Saina’s simplicity and determination encouraged me to be more meticulous and rigorous towards my goals.”

She added: “‘Mein maar dungi’ has become my motto, not literally of course but being Full-On with whatever I do.”

Parineeti feels that she shared a lot of similarities with Saina in the way they think.

The actress added: “While preparing for the role, I didn’t want to act like Saina, I wanted to be Saina, and I am glad it translated on screen. Join me for the &pictures premiere of Saina and have a smashing weekend.”

‘Saina’ is all set to premiere on October 9 on &pictures.

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READ MORE-‘Saina’ was a challenge for Parineeti

Bollywood Films Hollywood

REVIEW: As Black As Night, Amazon Prime

The film tackles poverty, homelessness, drugs, crime and colour issues seamlessly. But the plot, as a whole, feels rushed, with character-development shortcuts. And the scares are faintly effective…reports Troy Ribeiro

Film: As Black As Night (Streaming on Amazon Prime). Duration: 87minutes.

Director: Maritte Lee Go. Cast: Asjha Cooper, Fabrizio Zacharee Guido, Mason Beauchamp, Abbie Gayle, Craig Tate, Keith David and Frankie Smith. Rating: ***

‘As Black As Night’ is like any other small-budget vampire horror film which begins on a strong note and then gradually slides down the rung carelessly. The film is similar to, but not as good as ‘Vampires vs. The Bronx’.

It uses a teenager horror trope to discuss the heavier topic of marginalisation. It highlights issues in the black community through an amusing story that falls flat in some parts.

Set in New Orleans, post cyclone Katrina, ‘As Black As Night’ is the story of Shawna (Asjha Cooper), a dark-skinned teen girl learning to love herself and finding her power, which is still in short supply.

Saddled with confidence issues, Shawna teams up with her best friend Pedro (Fabrizio Guido), a Mexican immigrant with the opportunity to attend an elite boarding school, for a party where her crush Chris (Mason Beauchamp) would be present.

But being shy, she messes up the situation and is left humiliated. She leaves the party in a huff and walks home alone. She is attacked in an isolated and dimly lit stretch by a group of homeless vampires.

Worried that she too would be turned into a vampire, she joins hands with Pedro, Chris, and her friend Granya (Abbie Gayle), a girl who is obsessed with vampires and vampire literature, to seek out the main vampire to destroy him.

He turns out to be Babineaux (Keith David), a former slave who became a vampire four hundred years ago and had eventually killed his master. Babineaux has been preying on the homeless and extremely poor for misguided reasons.

When he ticks off a list of dates throughout history in which it looks as if the tide of injustice might be shifting, he says, “All bright flames that got suddenly snuffed out.” It is a perspective not typically seen in a generic horror film.

The film tackles poverty, homelessness, drugs, crime and colour issues seamlessly. But the plot, as a whole, feels rushed, with character-development shortcuts. And the scares are faintly effective.

On the performance front, the acting falters at times, varying from overly dramatic to rigid. But Guido and Cooper give a moderately consistent and authentic delivery. Overall, this comic horror story with issues scheming below the surface is still a fun watch.

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Events News World

Jaguar XF debuts in No Time To Die

Renowned for its unrivalled blend of ride, handling and refinement, the XF was put through its paces in pursuit of James Bond on the streets of southern Italy in the twenty-fifth 007 film..reports Asian Lite News

The Jaguar XF will demonstrate its exceptional performance and exhilarating driving dynamics in a thrilling chase sequence in the new James Bond film No Time To Die in cinemas 07 October in the region.

Filmed in Matera, Southern Italy, two XF saloons weave through the narrow, twisting city streets, driving across piazzas and down cobbled steps in pursuit of James Bond.

Jaguar XF debuts in No Time To Die

Both XFs feature Jaguar’s all-wheel drive system with Intelligent Driveline Dynamics, which delivered incredible levels of traction on the low-grip surfaces as No Time To Die’s henchmen demonstrate that no street is too small and no corner too tight. The saloon’s lightweight aluminium-intensive architecture and advanced suspension design enable exceptional handling and agility together outstanding ride, comfort and refinement.

ALSO READ: Jaguar XF debuts in No Time To Die

Chris Corbould, No Time To Die’s special effects and action vehicle supervisor, said: “The Jaguar XF was an exciting choice for this high-intensity car sequence. We always look to push the boundaries to extreme limits in our stunts, and this extends to the capabilities of the vehicles too. There is no compromise with this particular scene. There were only inches to spare in the narrow alleyways and no margin for error, the XF shows its performance and driving dynamics.”

Anna Gallagher, Jaguar Brand Director, said: ““The Jaguar XF is a car designed to tackle any journey with an unrivalled balance of luxury, comfort and refinement.

Jaguar XF debuts in No Time To Die

“Whether it’s a high-speed pursuit through twisting streets and piazzas of Southern Italy, where the car filmed it’s No Time To Die chase sequences, or the bustling streets of London – the XF really is a car for every occasion.”

No Time To Die is directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga and stars Daniel Craig, who returns for the fifth and final time as Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007. The film will be released in cinemas 30 September in the region.

Watch the behind-the-scenes film from the set of No Time to Die here: