By FATIMA PATEL
She has just become the first Pakistani spokesperson for Loreal, is one of Pakistan’s most popular and highest-paid actresses with several awards and accolades to her credit.
Her last film was with none other than India’s biggest superstars Shahrukh Khan and now the actress is returning with Shoaib Mansoor’s hard-hitting, 'Verna'. Yes, we are talking about super talented and the ever so beautiful Mahira Khan.
The single mum has become a powerful and respected name within the Pakistani entertainment industry. Such is her following and support that despite her upcoming film being embroiled in controversy, the support Mahira has been receiving from all corners of the world has been overwhelming.
'Verna', which is a hard-hitting film directed by Shoaib Mansoor, who also gave Mahira her first break in films, has been denied a certificate by the Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) following its viewing.
The move to ban the film has left many fans on social media outraged. Film and television personalities have come out in support of the film which also includes support from across the border in the name of Deepika Padukone.
At a promotional event for 'Padmavati', Deepika Padukone backed 'Verna' and said that it was "sad" that it was banned. Deepika is quoted by media as saying, "Yes, it's sad that a small section of people don't understand the power of cinema and what it can do to the world. It brings people together, it spreads love, it's fascinating what cinema can do and it's sad that a certain group of people choose to not recognize that."
This controversy has just added interest and curiosity to the film and so expectations for the movie is rocketing.
Mahira, exclusively spoke with Asian Style Magazine, prior to the film had run into troubled waters.
The conversation started with an apology from the Bol actress for sounding groggy, as she had just had a power nap to help overcome a little cold and was settling her son, Azlaan to sleep. Behind all that glamour and bright lights came a simple single mum, who sounded deeply passionate about her work and just couldn’t wait to share everything about her intense and dramatic film 'Verna'.
Fatima: Verna is your next release after the mega-successful SRK film, Raees. So, expectations are sky high. Does that make you nervous and if so how are you managing to control your nerves?
Oh my God, Fatima I mean someone has to give me some remedy for the nerves haha. But the truth is it’s actually not really because of the Bollywood film that the expectations are so high. It’s that I have not done a film for the last two years in Pakistan and Raees didn’t come out in Pakistan either, so technically speaking they haven’t gone into cinemas or had me on their television screens in the last two years, so the wait is there. Secondly, the fact that I and Shoaib Mansoor are coming together that’s actually where the expectation lies and that’s scary because my first anything that was related to acting was Bol. So, six years ago I made a debut with Shoaib Mansoor, six years later he decides to make another film and here I am in this film and sort of spearheading it or the protagonist, whatever you would like to call it. So, that’s the reason why the expectations are so high and honestly, it’s very scary. Because while doing the film I didn’t realise that the expectations were going to be so high and now its just everywhere I go. Obviously, we’ve been promoting, and we speak to you guys. Actually, when the first poster came out, I was so surprised that people were talking about it in a way that ok let’s see what she does now and let’s see how they do this and I’m like I am not sure if I want the onus to lay on me. But it is what it is and I’m dealing with the nerves not so well.
Verna looks like a very interesting thriller based on a social cause. What else can you give away about the film?
You’re actually right. I agree with you, it is a thriller actually, so even though obviously you can tell it is about a woman seeking justice, but as a genre, if you’re asking me as a genre it is a thriller. Otherwise what I can tell you is that even though people will know it is a film about rape, it is about the kind of abuse that happens to women and men all around the world. You know when I was researching for it, I was like Oh my God, this is unreal stuff, I mean every two hours a woman is raped in Pakistan. These are just numbers that are reported. We don’t know what’s happening really, we don’t know what the numbers are in actuality. So, it is about rape. But more than anything if you were to ask me, this film is about power. How the power dynamics work in a society because rape at the end of the day is not a show of sexual frustration not at all. That’s not what it is. It’s not an act of sex for pleasure. Most of the time if you hear activists talk about it if you hear survivors speak about it, if you read about it, the one common thing that everybody talks about is that it is a show of power and so that is what Verna is about. It is about power dynamics within a society, country, in the world and how that power struggle affects people. So that’s what I would like to say, otherwise, if you would like me to elaborate on my character I could do that, but you know if I tell you a little more…
You'll be giving the storyline away.
But yeah you know I am already like half asleep and I know I am going to get better at this at the next interview and I hope I don’t give away too much (laughter).
So again, about this girl, which is an interesting character for me to play because I relate to her in many ways, but I also don’t relate to her in many ways. You know me, Mahira the person I have nervous energy, I have been told that I should be much more confident and that I should act like who I am, which is I don’t know for people I guess some hugely successful actor, but what people don’t understand is that I am not what I am in my head you know, or that there might be this nervous energy. This girl does not get nervous. Fear is not in her DNA. She doesn’t understand fear at all. So, she is a very interesting girl that I have played. I think we are all very strong, I think I am a very strong person and I am sure you are too as a woman, but it’s not about being strong, it’s just that there are certain things she just doesn’t have. She is fearless, she’s not nervous, she doesn’t get scared easily, right! So, she is almost like you could do anything to her and she’ll just be standing tall in front of you. I remember playing her I thought to myself that OK what are the things that I can add, little things you know. And I remember telling myself, just don’t bite your lips, because I do that all the time. If you notice in every single movie of mine I am biting my lips and I hate it, and I’m like why, why doesn’t someone tell me to stop. That’s me, right? And they just let it go and now people think it’s a style. It’s not a style it’s a very bad habit. I was then conscious of not having this girl bite her lips, she just doesn’t. It just doesn’t come to her.
In the film's trailer, we get to see you in a very fierce yet gruesome scene, where you are beating the daylights out of someone in a bathtub. Can you talk us through your preparation for this scene, how long did it take for you to get into the skin of the character and do that shot?
I was very excited for that scene. I was excited because I had never read anything like that. I don’t think I have ever seen that in mainstream Pakistani cinema. So, it was on paper and on paper what are you reading? You’re reading that this girl is angry and that she comes in and she goes into the bathroom and someone is lying in the bathtub and she has to beat him. So, you’re like how do I do this you know? It was December, it was minus some degrees in Islamabad there was no heating if I may say so and the water itself was very very cold and I knew that even if I do this in two to three takes, the truth is that I can’t do this in two or three takes because once I’ve entered and I start hitting inside the tub, the water splashes up and I am drenched, so I had to really get it right the first time and I remember standing waiting for Shoaib saab to call action and I just stood there and started getting angry and anger doesn’t come to me easily you know. When it does I see red for sure, but it doesn’t come easily. So, I just stood there, and I was like right OK let’s just do this and I kept thinking about the character and I had about two minutes before to go in there and do this, because you’re constantly shooting back to back. So, he (the Director) said action and I remember going in there and when I was beating whoever I was beating in that bathtub, I got hurt very badly, because I hit my wrist on the marble tub. I got bruised very badly, but the things that I was saying they were not written in the script, so he has retained all those things. But I went crazy, I mean it was because I knew this is all I have, this is it and my God, I had so much fun doing it. I went home thinking wow I know that this scene has gone well and then the next day I came on set and my AD came to me and said I have good news and bad news - By the way, this was every day. So, I was like, oh ok bring it on. So, he says the good news is that the scenes were fantastic last night, so I was like oh my God that’s amazing. Then he says, the bad news is we have to shoot it again. I was like WHAT! He’s like ya and I’m like why and he’s like it was because the camera’s shadow was coming in the glass and I am like no you can’t do that. Fatima, I cannot tell you there is no way we could replicate what we did. Trust me what we did in the first day and it’s a shoot that lasts all night because when we went into close-ups when we went into the bathtub and I was in the tub – we shot it all – it was insane. But yes it’s a very powerful scene and I do hope that people in the cinema will like it and love it the way we did it.
Thank you and we wish you all the best with the film. 'Verna' is expected to be in cinemas on 17th November.Read more
By FATIMA PATEL
Tumhari Sulu is probably one of Vidya Balan's most anticipated films after her last outing 'Begum Jaan'.
In the film Vidya plays a happy-go-lucky suburban Mumbai housewife called Sulochana (fondly known as Sulu) She lives with her husband, Ashok, a sales manager in a traditional company that sells uniforms, and their 11-year-old son, Pranav. Sulu keeps herself entertained through the day, which includes listening to her favourite radio station and taking part in every possible contest. Sulu breezes through life with a fun and candid never-say-never attitude. On a day like any other, Sulu ends up winning a pressure cooker through a radio contest that she has taken part in. Little does she know that her trip to the radio station is about to change her life. In an unexpected turn of events, she lands a job of an RJ (radio jockey). She is no ordinary RJ for she is made to anchor a night show, which involves chatting with peculiars, strangers and lonely souls. A husband in constant battle at a mid-level job, a precocious child who is up to something alarmingly strange in school, and a woman who unpredictably stumbles into the world of radio. Seasoned with music, humour and quirk, Tumhari Sulu witnesses the everyday grit of a housewife, a marriage put to test and a world that struggles to see the beauty of a so-called 'simple, ordinary life'. Sounds entertaining right, well our interview with the Dirt Picture star, was nothing short of fun and entertaining.
Here are our candid moments with the award-winning actress - Vidya Balan!
Tumhari Sulu - It’s another powerful woman centric role once again. The concept of a woman bound by traditional norms trying something new promises to be exciting. How did the role come about?
Honestly, when Suresh Triveni, the writer director, narrated the idea to me I said wow, that sounds like fun, a homemaker turned a late-night radio talk. So, I asked him to develop it. He brought it back to me and when he narrated it to me, it was one of the best narrations I have had in my career. He brought alive every character and I could just see the film literally play out in front of my eyes. I felt like this is going to be fun and that’s why I did it. I think I was ready for some fun, after all the serious stuff I have been doing (laughter). And it’s so close to who I am in real, because you know I smile a lot and I laugh a lot, so this is giving me the opportunity to do that. So that’s how the film came about.
Speaking of fun, you also got an opportunity to perform to the classic Sridevi song ‘Hawa Hawai’
What was it like moving to the hit number?
Thankfully, I am not doing a Sridevi in the song, because that is unmatchable. I couldn’t have done that. But I am just dancing to the song and having fun. It’s a lovely song and Mr India is one of my favouritist films and Sridevi in that film is like an encyclopaedia on acting. There is nothing she can’t do. So, it’s a song that I’ve loved from the first time I’ve heard it. It’s a song that I have danced to so often at parties and things like that, so I am glad I got an opportunity to pay her a little tribute in this film.
The last time you played an RJ was in Munnabhai considering you’ve played an RJ before, for the role of Sulu you went to extra lengths and did a voice modulation course to fit the character. Can you tell us more about your preparation for the role and why this RJ is different?
No, there was no voice modulation course. What we actually did was Suresh the Director sat with me and he said he wants my voice for it, but the slight tone had to be central throughout. Because if you hear the late-night radio jocks in India there is a certain sensuality to their voices and it’s like their whispering in your ears and that being the inspiration we decided that, that’s how she will speak on the radio. But there was no course or anything of the sort. But I worked with my co-actor Vijay Maurya on the diction to make it more local. Because we wanted the language to be very casual, very colloquial and that’s what we’ve tried to achieve through those sessions that I did with Vijay Maurya.
Your look in the film is traditional yet trendy. In the past you’ve been criticised for how your characters look in your films. Do you ever have a say in how your character will look in a film?
Oh yes, absolutely because I work in collaboration with the Director, the cinematographer, the costume designer, the make-up artist and my hairstylist to create a look. So, at the stage when I was criticised heavily, I didn’t know I had a say in costumes not to put the blame on anyone else, but at that time I didn’t take an interest in my costume. But for the past nine years or so I have been doing the kind of films that I want to be doing, where there is scope for you to, add that little bit and to flesh out the character through the costumes also. On this I worked with Rick Roy on the costumes, of course he is extremely creative. I have my inputs, but finally it’s he who is creating the costumes and I think he has done a very good job at it. We needed saris that are reflective of her personality. The colours the prints are all joyous looking.
Neha Dupia is working with you for the first time and is in complete awe of you. How does that make you feel?
I wonder if I have bribed them (laughter). Neha and I got along very well, very easily, because both of us are ‘gundies’. We got along very easily. She is wonderful. It was great working with her, it didn’t feel like work really. She is very very kind to have said all those wonderful things about me.
In the film you play the role of an RJ who addresses queries from lonely listeners during the night. What’s been the most memorable comment or moment you have had with a fan?
Yes, I have people reach out to me in various ways. There was this boy who was waiting outside my van for five days, when I was shooting for a certain film and when I heard that there was someone waiting for me, so I called him into my caravan and I said: “what’s up what are you doing waiting for five days.” He said: “I just wanted to tell you that you changed my life” I asked how is that and he said: “I watched Kahani and when I saw that man kick you in your stomach and there was a shot of you looking up at him and a tear drop falling out, there was a certain resolve in your eyes. I couldn’t stop myself from crying. I watched the film back to back thrice in a day and then I went and told my father I am gay.” And I said oh my God. I would have never thought that a scene like that would have such an impact on someone. I think I was humbled by what I heard. When people tell you things like that you’re just wondering what you did to…I feel I am so blessed in such a privileged position to be able touch people’s lives like that.
Finally, what do you think audiences will take back from your Sulu?
I think they will leave the theatre with a smile on their faces. I feel they have a lot of reason to smile through the film.
The film is directed by Suresh Triveni, produced by Ellipsis Entertainment and will be releasing worldwide on 17 November.Read more
When she went to Mumbai for the audition for Aamir Khan's 'Dangal' and saw hundreds of girls who had already done one or two ads or serials also auditioning for the same role, she thought there was no space for her. But luck was on her side, she bagged that role competing with a thousand girls.
However, bagging that one big opportunity wasn't easy for her as her parents were against her acting in Bollywood. Thanks to her school teacher and aunt who supported her decision and convinced her parents to follow the path she had always dreamed of since she was selected for a play based on female foeticide in school.
If you have a talent and you are passionate about that, no matter how much difficulties you face, you would surely reach there. And this is what Zaira Wasim's journey also proves. Born and brought up in Jammu and Kashmir, the 16-years old Zaira never thought that her portrayal of young Geeta Phogat in 'Dangal' will give her a standing in Bollywood and millions of fans across the world.
Zaira who completed her basic schooling this year is now returning onscreen with her second movie, 'Secret Superstar' that narrates the story of a Muslim girl named Insia, who aspires to become a singer. Aamir Khan who played Zaira's wrestling champion father in 'Dangal' also stars in a supporting character in this film that is directed by his long-time manager, Advait Chandan.
We caught up with Zaira Wasim prior to the release of 'Secret Superstar' to talk about the film, her celebrity status, Aamir Khan with whom she is working for the second time and much more. Excerpts:
Zaira: It was fun both the times, definitely. It has been a wonderful journey, a crazy roller-coaster in this one because there he was a father figure and here, I see a weird creepy man in the weirdest clothes and I have never seen him like this. So it was mentally a big jump for me. But it was fun.
2. Who are some of your biggest role models? Why?
Zaira: I don’t have role models, I don’t agree with the concept of role models.
3. Do the cast and crew help you out with your studies? What’s it like having a very different kind of education to your peers?
Zaira: Yes the definitely help me, that’s the only reason how I passed my 9th and 10th grade. They have been very corporative, that’s the only option they had. Otherwise, I would not have been a part of the film, my mother would have grounded me for the rest of my life. It’s fun. Initially, it’s fun because you think that you are going to miss school, but as soon as you step out of the set there are a lot of exams and tests, papers, everything waiting for you. It’s fun and difficult at the same time.
4. What’s been your favourite moment so far on the set of Secret Superstar?
Zaira: I enjoyed the shooting for the Nachdi Phira song, I really enjoyed the process.
5. How does it feel knowing that a lot of little girls in India and across the globe are watching your films?
Zaira: Lovely, it’s such an overwhelming and great feeling. I hope all of them like the film.
Arshad Warsi: “Tabu is a brilliant actor and a brilliant actor wants to do everything and she is capable of doing everything.”
By FATIMA PATEL
It’s the fourth installment and slated for a Diwali release. Expectations are sky high especially with the franchise returning after a gap of seven years since the last super hit.
The cast features the usual mischievous bunch of Ajay Devgn, Arshad Warsi, Shreyas Talpade, Tusshar Kapoor and Kunal Khemu who are will be joined by Parineeti Chopra and the versatile Tabu along with a twist which involves a ghost.
If the behind the scenes footage is anything to go by, the Rohit Shetty-directed movie was a laugh a riot during the making which assures audiences to expect nothing less on the big screen.
Yes, we are talking about Golmaal Again and to find out more we caught up with the ever so jolly and ludicrously entertaining Arshad Warsi in an exclusive chat about what went on during film-making and what can audiences expect from the franchise.
It’s the fourth installment, so expectations are high, but rumour has it that you believe Golmaal Again will rake in more than 200 Crore at the box office. What makes you so confident?
(laughs) I didn’t say or put any figures, but yes, I am extremely confident. It’s a franchise that people have been waiting for since, seven years. I know how the team is, how the production house, how Rohit Shetty and his team is. He does not take a step unless he is sure, so that’s what happens. The first Golmaal was a big hit, the second Golmaal, was not such a big hit, therefore the third he really worked hard on and the third one was a super duper hit and I know that he knows the magic now. The fourth I am pretty sure, with a little ghost angle it’s a whole new thing and it’s exciting.
Oooh Ghost angle, sounds exciting.
Yes, it will do well.
You’ve reunited with your colleagues after a gap of seven years, so I am just trying to imagine, especially how we always get to hear about all the pranks and such things that you guys play on set, what the first day of shoot was like. What was the reunion on set like?
You know it’s really amazing, but I think guys are like that. Because it’s like literally we met on the set and it’s just like we finished the last one and we are back on set after a small break. It was absolutely no different in people’s relations with each other or their behaviour or anything like that. The only thing we could all sense was a bit of maturity and that’s about it, which only lasted a day and then everyone was back to how they were about seven years back. So, I would say nothing has changed. As silly as ever. You know sometimes I feel like it’s kids in a candy store. There’s a whole bunch of grown up men who are mentally about 12 or 13 and who are having a great time on set and while doing this and having a good time, they are also making a film. So, no there was no different we just picked it from where we left it.
We’ve been watching the behind the scenes footage and there seems to have been a lot of fun and pranks happening on set. Was there ever a prank played on you and if so can you tell us what prank was played on you?
No there was no prank played on me. I tell you what, I think maybe being one of the senior one’s of the lot, there were very little pranks on me, Rohit, Ajay and Tusshar. It’s the others who get cornered and this time it was Parineeti who was the new one, so she got ragged a lot. So, I got saved.
You know every-time something happened, pretty much everyone is involved, but I think the two most mischievous guys on set were Ajay and Rohit. They are very mischievous the both of them.
There is no danger of people getting bored of the characters, that’s the whole trick. I don’t believe that when you make a sequel, a sequel is made because the characters work, not the film. You can have a great film, for example Dilwale Dulhaniya Le jayenge is a great film, but you can’t have a part two of the film you know what I mean. I can make a part two of Munna Bhai, I can make a part two of Ishqiya, I can make a part two of Superman and Batman, because you like those characters. Golmaal is that. You like these four characters, you like Gopal, Madhav and Lucky and Laqshman, you like them and that’s the reason why they work. I would not allow anyone to change the characters, I know what the audiences are coming to watch in the theatre, to see those same idiots doing those same things. So, you should not change that.
Your character Madhav is a brilliant character, how much of your own do you bring to the character.
Fatima, absolutely none (both laugh)
You know that’s the fun of it. Out of all the sequels I have done and out of all the characters I have played my favourite character is Babban from Ishqiya and Dedh Ishqiya. Why, because I am nothing like that character, and I had a lot of fun doing it. You have a regular chap but I don’t talk or behave like that. So, I guess a little bit of me is there, but not a lot.
We talked about one of the new additions to the cast Parineeti, earlier and how she got ragged, there is also another addition to the team with Tabu. Considering you guys are all very mischievous how has Tabu fit in with the team, considering she has this image of portraying serious roles and seems to be of a not so mischievous nature?
You know the first time I saw Tabu on the set I was kidding with her and I looked at her and said what are doing on this set. I told her you are on the wrong set. She was like oh God don’t say that. But you know she wants to do this. She is a brilliant actor and a brilliant actor wants to do everything and Tabu is capable of doing everything. It’s just that because she has the stamp of being a serious actor, she doesn’t get the opportunities to do the mad films that we do. So, she wanted to do this, she had the desire to do so and had mentioned it to Rohit. So, when this role came up, Rohit absolutely believed that Tabu fit the role and she is so good in the film, you have to see it. Her comedy is very subtle and natural.
So, what’s next for you?
I have two more of my past things that I have to complete, one is the next instalment of Dhamaal and part 3 of Munna Bhai, so next year I have to finish these two. I have another film that I am going to start after Golmaal is completely off my mind, maybe mid-November I will be starting a film called Veer Parera. So, a busy year ahead.
We wish you a fabulous year ahead and all the success with Golmaal Again.
Golmaal Again is out in cinemas worldwide on 19 October.
Interview: Filmmaker explores religion, homosexuality, migration and his intensely complicated relationship with his father in ‘Abu’
By FATIMA PATEL
Canadian filmmaker is delighted that his documentary ABU (Father) has been screened at the Toronto Film Festival and at this year’s BFI London Film Festival to a crowded audience. The documentary was 'loved' and received an 'unprecedented' welcome at the Toronto film Festival has now also left it's mark with UK audiences too. The documentary shares his intensely personal journey of being gay, an unwelcome immigrant and a Pakistani Muslim, with the rest of the world.
ABU explores the emotional journey of a fragmented family who are grappling with religion, sexuality, colonialism and migration. Through a tapestry of narratives composed of family footage, observation and classic Bollywood films, gay-identifying Pakistani-Muslim filmmaker Arshad Khan takes viewers through the tense relationships between family and fate, conservatism and liberalism and modernity and familiarity.
The documentary is brought to life with home video footage, animation and clips of classic Bollywood movies and came about as a result of Khan making a video for his father’s memorial when he realised exactly how much footage they as a family had created over the years.
In an exclusive with Asian Style, our interview with Khan begins by expanding on the question as to why he chose to make this documentary.
Fatima: What was the turning point for you to make this documentary?
Arshad Khan: In 2011 my father got very sick and he died. I was making a video for his memorial and for a five-minute video I realised I had a huge wealth of information and a lot of video archives and like an obscene amount of video archives and photos, that I could possibly use to make a much bigger story. So, I thought you know what, while I am waiting to work on my fiction projects I could work on possibly a documentary about my relationship with my father. My very difficult relationship with my father, because I like hated my father for so long. But when he passed away I was extremely affected by it and I just didn’t understand why this reaction happened. It was such a strong reaction for me, so I wanted to examine that. So, I made a three-minute teaser for a festival that invited me for a talent lab and they gave me a lot of great feedback.
I then did a crowd funding campaign and I got a lot of support for this project and then led me on the journey to make this film.
My objective was to make a film, that was really really moving, really sincere and that captures the essence of who we are as people. It took me a long time to figure out what I was making, it took me nearly 5 years.
Is it true Indian filmmaker Deepa Mehta has mentored you for your documentary?
Well what happened was that after I made the film, the narration is the backbone of the film, so when Deepa watched it she was like oh my God take your Directors hat off and put your actors hat on and come meet me in Toronto and I went there and she directed the narration for my film and made a huge difference. Because she is an actors Director and narration is such an important part of my film, so that’s how she helped me, she helped me with the narration and gave me a lot of love and support for the project.
I brought on board a really amazing sound designer, who worked on the project for next to nothing and he ended up winning an Oscar this year for his film Arrival - Sylvain Bellemare and I had a great Editor Etienne Gagnon and so I had really good collaborative partners working on the project because film is a really collaborative art.
How does it make it feel that you had some really established names and creative talent supporting you on your first project and for a project that’s so personal to you, for it all to come together like this?
You know I have been through such a gamut of emotions with this project. I was very very scared at first and then I was very questioning of everything. Am I doing the right thing? Am I doing justice to my family, because I am using shared memories, this is a shared heritage. So am I doing justice to my families shared heritage? How are they going to react? I was very very scared, like I had a lot of fear making this project.
I wasn’t making a sensationalist film, I wasn’t making a manipulative film, I was making a sincere film. So finally, we got through that point. You know, I wrote rewrote, wrote rewrote and re-edited many times, until I got to a place where I felt like OK yeah, this is a good place for where I want the film to be.
You mentioned you were really worried and scared about how your family would react.
How have they reacted?
So, in the beginning my mother refused to see the film, when we had the Canadian premiere in July. She didn’t even go in, so I got very very upset with her and my solicitors kinda talked to her. My family is a very divided family. Half of them are very conservative and half of them are very liberal. There is like no in between. So, my sisters had a chat with my mum and eventually my mum came to the screening yesterday (11 October) in Toronto and that was extremely successful. We had a fantastic reception in Toronto, they loved it. You know my mum really liked it and I didn’t really get a chance to really talk to her about it, because it just happened yesterday and of course I jumped on the plane and came to London, like literally right away. So, her reaction was a positive reaction, it wasn’t negative.
It must’ve been doubly special for you firstly the audience reaction last night and then your mum’s reaction…
Oh my God the audience’s reaction I have to tell you – unprecedented! We never imagined that the film would be so appealing to young people first of all. They loved the film and the elderly loved the film. It’s like incredible how they are really getting the film and I never thought that was my demographic. So that was really wonderful to see that the film we have made is having a really universal appeal in a way.
What do you hope to achieve from telling your story? Do you hope you can help other families who are may be going through similar issues, similar emotions by telling your family story?
Look I became a filmmaker because I was sick after 9/11. I was sick of the association of Muslim with terror. This identity this false and completely racist and prejudice label of terror. I was really angry about it and that’s why I became a film maker and with this film. I wanted to show the world that we have our issues we maybe messed up or whatever, but we are not terrorists. We are coming from somewhere and we deserve dignity, that was my whole reason of making the film. That’s for the western audience. For the desi audience – the South Asians and so on – I want to remind them of who we are. I don’t want this to become a self-fulfilling prophecy for these westerners. I want us to remember that we are poets, lovers, musicians, lovers of life, appreciators of art and creators of art. And because I felt there was a lack of representation and no voice for us that’s why I made this film and it’s really doing its job. It’s literally touching people beyond culture religion and race.
So, I really feel my objective has been met.
There is a line in the documentary where you narrate your parents saying that ‘you can either bring great fame or great shame to the family’. If your father was a live today and he saw the documentary which part of that saying do you think he would relate with the film?
What do you think my father would say? That’s a really good question, excellent question.
The fact of the matter is, I did not make a sensationalist film! Nowhere in the film do I say Muslims are bad Pakistani’s are bad, South Asians are bad and these people are horrible feel sorry for me. Right? I said that this is the condition and situations that exist. There are conservative people and there are liberal people, but everyone is trying to live and survive and everyone deserves dignity and respect. So that’s why I had very conservative people come to my screening and still they were just broken. They loved it. Everyone can relate to it and so that question came up in the screening and I said my father loved his children and really loved their success and so he would be very happy that the film is getting some recognition. The second thing that I said was that he loved attention (laughs) so he would love that even more that I made a film in his honour. My mother really liked it, she laughed and cried and went through all the emotions that the audience went through, so I think I have been successful in that sense. So, it’s OK you know!
Within the Asian community there tends to be this culture or taboos rather, of izzat and family honour…
Yeah, exactly and log kiya kahenge (what will people say). It was so hard for me, I tell you. I was so fearful of that, but as you can see from the film it’s very difficult because people will agree with my mother and be like, she is totally right, but they will still see what I am going through, right! They will be able to see both sides.Read more
When Roach Killa released his debut album “The Revolution”, it peaked at No.6 on the iTunes World Charts. His first single Yaara Dildara reached No1 on the BBC Asian Network charts. Possessing immense versatility, Roach sings Hip Hop, Reggae, RNB and Punjabi Music. He firmly believes in the element of originality.
When it comes to Indian MC’s, one name that always stood above the rest is Blitzkrieg aka Blitz. With an appeal that is global, his lyrics lean more on the emotional side and completely draw people in. His tracks are inspired by people or events in his life that reflect reality and meaning of life.
Together, Roach Killa and Blitz have returned to give their fans the YYZ Project with a monologue and three music videos that evoke, inspire and entertain. Fans will recognise their signature sound and style on what aims to become the summer anthems
Asian Style caught up the entertaining talent Roach Killa last month, during his stay in the UK. In a no holds barred conversation Roach talks talent and music.
Fatima: You are collaborating with Blitz again for your new project YYZ would you be able to tell us a little more about that, how it came about and what’s the idea behind it all?
Roach Killa: Okay for starters YYZ is the airport called Toronto International Airport. Like LHR is London Heathrow. So YYZ is Toronto Pearson International Airport, the significant naming was to let the people know that in order for me to gain success in the music business we have had to travel out of Canada to come in to the UK and abroad hence YYZ, as we have taken the city with us when we flew out. In terms of Blitz and me we have been working together for a very long time. There are a lot of songs we have done, and it’s not just about the music with me and Blitz. We are from the same city so it’s more like a brotherly love situation. He is more like my brother. He has taken a step back from the music, he was doing more of the live festivals, live shows and stuff, so it’s been a long time since we have released a track together, so we thought why not. We always say people go download it legally from this digital platform and that and so it’s only fair to give our fans something freely. The reason why we released our project on the 30th of June was because July 1st was Canada day. So kinda like a free gift from Canadians to say Happy Canada day and this is what we are representing.
How has the journey been in terms of introducing new music to British fans over the last few years?
I think everything depends on how hard you work and how badly you want it. I could have sat in Toronto and dreamed about making it in to UK scenes, coming once every year and going back, but we all know that if we inspire to be a Bollywood actor you have to travel and be in Mumbai you can’t do it from anywhere else because that’s where the work is. So therefore, I had to leave a lot of things you know. Pack my bags come here on my own, not with my family, I believed so much within my heart that this is what I am made out to do and nothing was going to stop me. Therefore, I just decided to put all my eggs in one basket.
You mentioned Bollywood.
Yeah, I had a chance to go to Mumbai like a year and half ago and I met with the Meet Brothers who have done Babydoll and Chittiya Kalaiyan with Kanika Kapoor etcetera and they kinda like understood, it wasn’t about me, it’s about connecting with the right kind of people for the music you want to create. So, Meet Brothers were the ones who I felt connected to, during the music and so from there we ended up doing the track from the film Baaghi with Shradda Kapoor and Tiger Shroff. The song was called ‘Girl I need you’ and it was me and Arijit Singh and Kushboo Grewal singing it. Then follow up to that we just released a song for the film Raabta the song is called ‘Mein tera Boyfriend’ and that’s by me and Arijit Singh again and this time Neha Kakkar is singing it and I just actually got a call two days ago and we have another film that’s coming out. I don’t want to give too much information for it, but you know how it is they are shooting for it right now I can’t be there to be in the video unfortunately right now (laughs) but Bollywood usually has playback singers. But you know I am very humbled at this whole situation. If you think about it a young man from Toronto/ Canada inspiring to do music and not just doing music from Canada eventually going from Toronto to UK and worldwide, to all the way to a Bollywood film. I think it’s more of a personal victory for me to show me that you know God has blessed me with talent and I believe I am taking it the right way because things are looking better and better by the day. So, I have to say all praise to the mighty high!
You mention that it all happened about a year and half ago. I watched a video where you performed back in 2010 for the Indian music awards
Yeah GIMA Awards.
And you got introduced by none other than Saif Ali Khan.
Yeah, I know (laughs)
How was that experience?
What happened was in 2012, I teamed up with Wiz Management and they are a subsidiary of Wizcraft Entertainment from India, who do the IIFA awards. I was invited to perform at the awards show and I got to perform, its just the hospitality of Bollywood is beyond your expectations you know people say it’s a five-star circle, but to be honest if you go to Mumbai they refer to it as the seven-star circle, because it is beyond the five-star treatment right. So, imagine me coming to perform which I am feeling very humbled about, however I opened my door and my dressing room was directly opposite to Shahrukh Khan and on the right, was Sonu Nigamji and to the left of me was Sonakshi Sinha. Imagine me walking to the stage to perform and I see this beautiful lady just nonchalant walking by. It was Priyanka Chopra!! It was such an experience it’s like I said it’s all about the laws of attraction. You want something bad enough you work hard enough and you believe in it, you can make it happen and I’m living proof of that, because remember I’m coming from North America side of the world, to the opposite side of the world and achieved the goals.
For somebody who is normally singing Hip Hop, Reggae, RNB to then be……
What is the misconception of the artist Roach Killa is that yes, my first love is hip hop and reggae music but that does not take away the fact that I am born and raised Punjabi. I speak Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu. I can read and write Hindi, Punjabi. I can speak Arabic, a bit of Persian there is a lot of multiculturalism in me which influences my music. So, a lot of the time when I’m creating melodies and stuff it’s a direct descendant of the eastern influence. There’s Arabic in me, I was born in Libya which honestly it helps me so much around the world. So, there’s a lot in me that’s going on. So, I guess you can just call me a box of smarties (laughs)
So, it’s true what they say that music especially where you’re concerned, speaks all languages!
Going back to your early days you were quite heavily influenced by Apache Indian and that’s what sort of got you into creating. Are there any plans for any collaborations with Apache in the future?
If you do have a chance go on my YouTube. In 2008 on my first album I do have Apache on the track and it’s called ‘Hey Girl’ and that wasn’t just made for the public, it was more of a personal thing, because he’s like m biggest inspiration growing up. So being able to share the same studio, same stage and to be able to perform the song with him and ironically my first album release party was in Apache’s restaurant bar in Birmingham. So, again like I was saying about the laws of attraction me growing up as a kid I was so inspired by Apache you know 20 years down the road being able to work with him sit with him, have a laugh with him, that is not normal. Not everyone can say that they did that with their idols.
I’d love to collaborate with him again it’s just a matter of what works out and of course Apaches busy doing his tours and his stuff, so it would be an honour to work with him again.
Your new single coming out with Blitz what are your expectations from this project?
In general, we were just sat down having a chat about the world being so fast and what we meant by that was they say the internet connects you to the world but it disconnects you from your surroundings. So, what I mean by that is if me you and a couple of mates are sitting in the room, more are the chances that we’re not conversing, but all on our phones. And it will be quicker responses to WhatsApp than to actually ask you a question to your face. Do you get what I am saying?
So, the whole point was to say nowadays a song comes and the lifeline of the song is literally a week and then the next song comes, then the next so the world has got in to this concept of views and likes and shares and has become very statistic. What happened to the fact of just making music and making it for the pace, for the sake of just listening rather than stats? We’re not actually expecting to achieve anything, this is something that we felt okay why not give something out to the public. We don’t care how many Instagram views or likes it has. We took it back before the internet phenomena, when it was just a record that was out people liked it. They watched it, when they wanted, listened to it when they wanted. It wasn’t about I got to get it to a million views overnight and pay for it. That’s what most of the people are doing. What is good in paying for something when you’re lying to yourself. How do you know what your fan base is when you are lying to yourself, so this whole project was about giving it for free just for the people who appreciate what we do and how much they have supported us over the last ten years? Watch it at your own convenience, I am not putting on a timeline to see how much stats I want to go up.
What message would you like to give to your fans?
I will give you a quote. It’s one of those memes and it says: ‘I am 95% sure that you don’t like me but I am a 100% sure I don’t care’. What I am trying to say is be yourself. Don’t worry about making other people happy because you can never make everyone happy. It is just impossible. So, my advice is be yourself, experiment on who you are and go for it. Hard work, dedication is the only way you will achieve success there is no way of overnight celebrities. And be true to yourself because one thing is that originality stands above everything else and don’t be afraid to be yourself because the only way to success is through failure. Everyone fails but as long as you don’t quit.Read more
The youngest son of Dharmendra, started his career over twenty years ago,with the film Barsaat and made an immediate impact with his long locks and dashing good looks with acting skills to match. He continued his success with a spate of good films such as Soldier, Gupt and Ajnabee. Sadly, lady luck didn't last for long as a spate of unsuccessful films followed.
Despite the ups and many downs of his career, Bobby Deol has always remained optimistic, with an added aura of calmness surrounding him. It's been four years since we last saw him on the big screen but it seems Bobby is ready to re-join the rat race, with his new film Poster Boys, which also stars brother Sunny Deol, and see Shreyas Talpade make his debut as a Director.
The film is a inspired by a real life incident of three men who are shocked to find their photos being used as part of a vasectomy campaign. The film explores how the three start getting ridiculed in their village due to this error and how this error changes their lives around. After getting humiliated from their family members and people around them they go on a mission to prove that they are the victims of the system.
In an exclusive conversation with Asian Style, Bobby Deol told us why he waited four years to sign his next film and what it was like being Directed by Shreyas Talpade
We haven’t seen you on the big screen in four years, we’ve missed you. What have you been up to?
Nothing, just waiting for some great roles to come my way. I wasn’t getting any interesting offers and finally I got this offer and I was totally excited and happy to do it and here I am talking to you about it (laughing) after 4 years.
I was also missing myself on the screen, so I am really excited and nervous for the film’s release as it’s been very long. But very excited!
How does it feel to now be back promoting your upcoming film – Poster Boy after so long?
There is a lot of excitement, anxiety and anxiousness actually. Because when you’re excited and anxious it’s a big cocktail of a lot of things that come together. But I am just happy that I am a part of a film that I enjoyed doing. I am really really, positive about it and I am sure people are going to enjoy it.
What attracted you to the script, as you said earlier you were waiting for something exciting, so what was exciting about this film?
It was a challenging role, because I am playing a small town school teacher who lives with his two daughters and a wife who totally bullies him - he is hen pecked. For my image, the kind of roles I have done in my life have always been thrillers and action films and romantic. So, it’s different from all that. So, you know when you haven’t got something great happening, I was looking for something which has characters that are nice and strong to play, so the character was really interesting for me to play and a challenge because it’s something I have never done or portrayed before.
You see, I am a family orientated person, I love being with my family I love my family, I love my kids. So, in that sense I was portraying a man who loves his family, but the only thing is he is bull dozed into a situation that he doesn’t know what it is and his wife is upset because she wants to have a third child, she wants to have a boy and I keep arguing with her, why do you want to have a boy, when you have two lovely girls. Every child is important doesn’t matter what sex they are and that’s what the fight is. Then suddenly out of the blue this poster gets published which says I have had a nasbandi (vasectomy) done. So, his life changes and he is like why, who has done this. Because of this the three people who are on the picture who are, my brothers character, who is playing an ex-army officer and Shreyas character who is playing a money collector. So, the three different people from the small town get together, (they don’t even know each other) and how they fight against the government. It was fun, because I get to speak a lot of shud hindi and we’ve worked really hard together.
Well, for me I think a film is important and for me I am coming back in a film after four years, so it definitely is a come back film (laughs)
Shreyas Talpade makes his debut as a Director with this film and he is also acting in the movie. Do you think he has managed to extract the best from you for the character you play?
Shreyas is definitely an actor’s director, because he is an actor himself. So, he understands while directing what the actor is going through, so it really helps because he understands that. It was a really smooth ride. The whole shoot was done in less than 14 days and we shot in a small town. I used to get up every day at 4 in the morning and start shoot by 630am and it wasn’t just work work work. I enjoyed the lovely cold weather. It was lovely and nice.
By FATIMA PATEL
She first appeared on our screens showing her histrionics in Heropanti and has never looked back. This model turned actor is now ready with her fourth Hindi film release Bareilly Ki Barfi, where she will take on the character of rebellious Bitti.
Bareilly Ki Barfi is a quirky love triangle set in a small town which also stars Ayushmann Khurrana and Rajkumar Rao and is directed by Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari who is joined by Bitti or as we know her Kriti Sanon.
Kriti spoke exclusively with Asian Style about her character and the Hindi film industry.
What attracted you to the script of Bareilly Ki Barfi?
This script in itself you know the way it’s written Mukesh Tiwari and Sherry have written the script, I think it is very well written in terms of the dialogue in terms of the UP flavour and the whole screenplay of it. The whole of it and of course Bitti’s character, which is introduced in the first 5/10 minutes of the film, so I was almost sold out on that because it’s such a unique character, such a different quirky character. I have never played a small-town girl before. I’ve never played a UP girl before. She’s not just a regular girl. She has a really quirky character streak. She is someone who is very outspoken. She is very bindaas. She is the only girl in Bareilly who does break dance, but it’s Bareilly kind of break dance. She hides and she smokes and watches English movies so she is a little different and tom boyish also. So, I think it was both the script and the character that took me to the film.
Yes, as you say you’re playing a very quirky character, she smokes, and claims not to be a virgin. It’s a very well-defined character, very different to say an Ishita from Dilwale. Do you feel lucky to be given an opportunity to play a role like Bitti, who seems to be a lot more real and perhaps better defined?
Well Ishita was more of a girl next door, more of a simple girl. Her traits were not that unusual or that uncommon. Raabta’s roles for me was very different from what I have done before. They were well etched, but more on the contemporary zone compared to what I have done before. Here yes, it’s a small-town character. It’s more of a real-world kind of cinema. When you watch the film, you will see that not only Bitti but every character in the film is very relatable. You will watch them and you will feel you know someone who does these things and who was like that. Small towns are very relatable for India audiences at least, because that small town middle class kind of things that one does, you know you watch the film and you think, oh even my mum reacts like this, even my dad does things like that, so the relatability factor is definitely there. The fact that she is not a normal simple girl, but has traits of her own that etch out her character really well. Obviously, when you get a role that’s well etched out, it’s more exciting as an actor, because you know what you’re doing.
How was it working with a female director, Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari? Does it help when a director is female, especially when you are doing sensitive scenes?
A lot of people have asked me this question, but I really feel that a director is a director it doesn’t matter what the gender is. You need to know the scenes really well, you need to be able to extract emotions, the correct emotions in every scene if you’re directing. I think Ashwini also for that matter knows her scenes really well. She knows the world really well. She herself is someone who is very simple, very rooted and very culturally aware, so some how she does connect with the small-town world and the characters really well and she is able to get that relatability factor in every scene. She knows what she wants out of a scene She knows the zone that she wants to play in. But she also gives you the freedom to do it your own way and then she will sort of direct you and tell you, where she doesn’t want you to go and what works for her. So, it’s been great. She herself is someone who is very sensitive in fact. I used to realise whether I had done a scene well or not by her reactions. When it was an emotional scene, she would get tears in her eyes while watching it. Sometimes if it was a funny scene she couldn’t say cut because she was laughing so hard. So, I think she was a true reflection of the emotions that were actually there in the scene.
Would you say you’re a director’s actor?
Yes, I guess. I am a Directors actor completely. I am someone who puts in a lot of thought into my character and my scenes and I do have a lot of questions. Because as an actor one should be curious. You should know what you’re doing and why you are doing it that way. There has to be a reason to it. I think Shahrukh sir once told me there is no right way of doing a scene and I completely agree with that because a scene can be approached in many different ways. So, I think for me I obviously come prepared on set and I do have my thoughts of the way I look at a scene, but eventually a film is a director’s vision and I usually like collaborating with a director and discussing scenes. In terms of what I want to do and if a director wants it differently I completely go with that.
You’ve been in the industry a few years now, are you content with how your career is shaping up?
Yes, absolutely I think not being from a film background. Having reached where I have, getting the kind of opportunities that I am I feel really blessed. I think for me it is important to be getting different kinds of roles and to be able to experiment and sort of discover myself and to keep working. That’s exactly what is happening. I think all the films I have done so far have been way different from each other and I have gotten an opportunity to work with a lot of really talented people.
Less than a day from release are you nervous at all.
Yes (laughs) Of course I am nervous. I am really excited I think once you finish shooting a film you know you have done your bit. But after that it’s up to the public. It’s like you’ve given an exam and the results are pending. So, of course there is an increase in the heartbeats. But I am happy that at least the trailer has got a great response and they are liking the songs. I think Bareilly Ki Barfi’s trailer is very true to the film, so it’s a true reflection of the world that you will see in the film. So, if someone has liked the trailer, I am kind of sure that they will like the film.Read more
By ANAND PILLAI
Although difficult to describe him in a few words, his is a story where you can say with great authority that if he can make it, then in life “Kuchh Bhi Ho Sakta Hai” (anything is possible).
He is someone who made it big in Bollywood on his own – by sheer merit, grit, and never-say-die attitude. The last trait, in fact, has stood him in good stead, especially during the bad times – be it the initial rejections or for that matter, overcoming the petrifying facial paralysis episode. This small-town Shimla lad, full of dreams, had to be famous given what he accomplished against the odds. Neither he had any filmy connections nor had the conventional good looks to get a break in Bollywood. But he persisted. And his day came with Mahesh Bhatt’s classic Saaransh in the early 1980s and the rest, as they say, is history. Yes, you guessed it right. We are talking about the bald and beautiful Anupam Kher. Well, he may be bald, but he also brought beauty to baldness. His boldness and his body of work is what makes him beautiful. A veteran of more than 500 films, including Daddy, Karma, Bend It Like Beckham, and Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahi, to name a few, today the 62-year-old thespian is regarded as a walking dictionary on acting, the craft that he nurtured over the years which helped him to carve a niche for himself in the industry.
Not only that, this multi-faceted personality is a past master at reinventing himself – be it hosting talk shows on TV or running acting schools or giving motivational speeches, you name it, he is there and everywhere.
In a crowd Anupam Kher stands out – because he is out-standing. In an exclusive one-on-one, as part of the promotions for his latest film Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, the Padma Bhushan awardee opened up to Asian Style at The Bentley, London.
The film has superstar Akshay Kumar and the inspiring Bhumi Pednekar in the lead.
Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, co-produced by Akshay Kumar and the talented Neeraj Pandey, is a satirical and light-hearted take on open defecation in India, and the fundamental need to provide households across the nation with a functioning toilet. The movie, based on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, is presented by Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, KriArj Entertainment and Neeraj Pandey, in association with Plan C Studios and Cape of Good Films LLP. The film, directed by Shree Narayan Singh, is set for release on August 11, 2017.
Anand: We last saw you in the film Naam Shabana in 2015, also a Neeraj Pandey-produced film and featuring Akshay, of whom it’s your 20th film. Now your winning team is back with Toilet: Ek Prem Katha. Tell us more about your relationship with Akshay and Neeraj.
Anupam Kher: I did Neeraj’s film A Wednesday. I have done all his films – Special 26, MS Dhoni: The Untold Story, Baby. I am also part of Aiyaary now. It’s a great relationship. I have great respect for him for the kind of films he makes, for the kind of writer that he is, for the kind of director he is. With Akshay this is my 21st film. We have grown together. Even though he is younger to me, I am so proud of his growth as a person and as an actor. It is very very rare in today’s time to see such a transformation.
The film tackles the issue of defecation in India. Do you think the film can make a difference on this issue?
Oh yes, absolutely. I think it does make a difference. When the prime minister (Narendra Modi) spoke about cleanliness, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, it had yielded results, sometimes not necessarily in statistics as much as in awareness. Today you throw a trash can on the road, you will see five people giving you a dirty look – so that makes a difference. Also, this film will make a difference because it’s done by Akshay Kumar and is being made on a popular format with all the comedy and love story in it. When Akshay does a film on such a subject it reaches millions of people. Already 20 million people have seen the trailer of this film.
What more can you tell us about your role in Toilet: Ek Prem Katha?
I play Bhumi Pednekar’s grandfather. He is the only person who is a little educated in the village. There’s a contrast between my character and Akshay Kumar’s father’s character. Akshay’s father’s character is very very conservative and religious.
That dialogue was not in the original script. I told the writers that since my character is that of an educated guy, he should speak English also. Every scene of mine has an English dialogue. And those English dialogues are basically proverbs and quotations. I always quote quotations. This is a quotation which is very relevant, not only to the country or to the society but to your own self. That is if you don’t change, if you change nothing, nothing will change about yourself also.
Do you feel more movies should be made to tackle social issues?
It’s happening. Recently there was Pink. Khosla Ka Ghosla too was one such film. But that was on a different level – land grabbing, etc. Real India lives in smaller towns. I have co-produced a film called Ranchi Diaries. And that’s about small town place, the problems over there and the dreams of this younger generation. And there is one girl played by Soundarya Sharma and four boys Taaha, Himansh and other people. So today you can think of these subjects. You can make them commercially viable also. I am very happy about it.
There is some controversy doing rounds about a producer duo from Rajasthan dragging the Toilet: Ek Prem Katha producers to court over copyright infringement. What’s your take on it?
Well, I don’t want to say that that person is not right. That he or she has to deal with the producers, etc. Today it’s important to know that, although I am not talking in this context or any context, people become known by bringing up something like this and the moment that happens the media also pick
up because for them that is news.
But I am sure the producer and director will have their own fight or battle with this person. As far as I am concerned I was given the script and I became part of this film based on that script.
Do you think such controversies help in the success of the film, especially just before the release?
I think a film like Toilet: Ek Prem Katha with Akshay Kumar being part of this film does not need a controversy to become popular. And maybe controversy helps the first day first show, but afterwards it’s the film that speaks. And it’s not a love story where you are releasing quietly a sort of MMS clip of the heroine, of a deleted scene, the heroine in a bikini or something like that – leading people to think that there must be something more than that in the film. This film is about women’s privacy being invaded because they have to go in the open to defecate and to relieve themselves. It’s so sad that for so many years we did not notice this. I am glad that this film has come now and it will reach a lot of people. I think people will go and watch it because a cause like “toilet” is related to it, not because there is a controversy.
They say a good artiste is always a good human being. Do you endorse that?
Well, it helps if you are a good human being. Because at the end of it you are first a human being then an artiste, then a journalist, then a dentist, then a carpenter. It’s always good to be a good human being. You see the good side of characters also. Even if it’s a bad character, you have to be a good person to understand how well to play that. So I believe in the goodness. I believe in being a good human being. But at the end of the day it’s a craft. How well you use that craft has nothing to do with what kind of person are you. So you can be a third-rate person, yet play a good man very easily. So it’s not necessary, but I believe in the theory of goodness.
There are many films like Toilet: Ek Prem Katha that delivers a message. Do you not think some audiences may not want to be preached and just entertained?
This is an entertaining film. The message is inherent. The message has already reached the audiences in the form of its title Toilet: Ek Prem Katha. And it’s a love story. In a love story usually there is a boy and a girl. They love each other. The villain walks in or the father is rich, or the other parents are not rich. In this film the problem is, after the love affair and after the couple get married, the boy’s home does not have a toilet. And the story is about how the boy wins over the girl. Why Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge became a cult film because the boy says to the girl that “No, I will only take you with me if your father agrees.” And in this film the girl says, “I will come back to your house only if there’s a toilet.” It’s a very very genuine demand.
There is lot of talk about nepotism in the film world. What’s your take on it? I know you are an exception who made it big without any support.
No, there are a lot of people who are an exception. And nepotism is there. Let’s just face that. And it should be there. Why not people whose parents are in films or in this profession help them? But that does not mean those who don’t have such relatives don’t make it. From Shah Rukh Khan to Akshay Kumar to Anupam Kher to Madhuri Dixit to Sridevi – they didn’t have any godfathers. They made it on their own. I think this debate should end. I think Kangana Ranaut is a fabulous actress. She has come from a small town and she has made it very big on her own and I salute her courage.
You have done more than 500 films till date. Any dream role that you want to do?
You can ask this question after 30 years. It’s too early to ask that question.
Interview: Uncle-nephew duo Anil and Arjun Kapoor’s real-life role get reel in British Punjabi family entertainer Mubarakan
By ANAND PILLAI
The first thing that catches your eye when you look at him is his big eyes and the size of the man. He is a big guy. The size perhaps may belie the vision he has set for himself. Apparently, he has set his sights on success with such tremendous focus that he sees only the eye of the bird, just like Arjun (of Mahabharata). It’s a sheer coincidence that we are talking about a person having the same name as the ace archer of the great Indian epic. Yes, you got that right. We are talking about Bollywood actor Arjun Kapoor.
He may have the best surname in Bollywood, his father Boney Kapoor may be a big producer, Arjun might have had initially the advantage of being a star kid, but that was long ago. Since his debut in Ishaqzaade in 2012, this well-read actor has come a long way, carving a niche for himself in the industry with hits like 2 States, Gunday and Ki & Ka. Undeterred by a few flops in between, he pulled himself up by his bootstraps to make a mark for himself in the industry. His “never give up” and “bounce-back” attitude has made him one of the most saleable actors in Bollywood today. He is looking forward to his next release – the much-talked about romantic comedy Mubarakan (Congratulations).
The movie, directed by the No Entry and Singh is King fame Anees Bazmee, also stars Arjun’s uncle Anil Kapoor, Ileana D’Cruz, Athiya Shetty and Neha Sharma. For the first-time superstar Anil Kapoor is teaming up with his nephew Arjun Kapoor. Produced by Sony Pictures Networks Productions, Ashwin Varde and Murad Khetani’s Cine1 Studios, the film will hit theatres on July 28.
Mubarakan, shot mainly in London, centres around a Punjabi migrant family living in the UK. Both Anil and Arjun will be seen sporting turbans in the movie. Arjun plays a double role in it. For the promotion of the film, the soft and gentle, yet articulate actor got candid in an exclusive telephonic interview to Asian Style Magazine on July 11.
Anand: More than 80% of the film is shot in London. What was the experience like shooting in London?
Arjun Kapoor: Well, it’s the first time I have shot in London as an actor. We shot in the winter. It was amazing. I think it helped the film – the way it looks. The whole beauty of shooting in London in that atmosphere has really enhanced the prospects. The enthusiastic crew and the local people there and the location – everything was great. I think anybody who shoots in England, it’s beautiful. I think we got very very lucky that it turned out to be an outstanding experience.
What is it that attracts Indian filmmakers to London?
I think it’s the relatability and diversity. Even though you have so many cosmopolitan cities across the world, London is one place where the Asian foothold remains very predominant even with the western influence. Somehow the story is relatable even though it is based abroad. For an Indian audience, I think the way London is looked at is almost like a home away from home. I think that’s the one connect London has always created. It never feels like foreign land even though it is a foreign land. It has all the elements of being a foreign country, but when you dive in a bit closer you realise the connection with the Asian community is very huge.
What message are you trying to convey through the film?
Well, it is about joint family, immigration, egos, fights and other issues. But eventually love is what is more important and having the humility to connect with family comes above everything else. That’s the most important message.
How was it working with your uncle Anil Kapoor? Were there any inhibitions?
Oh, that was absolutely fantastic. The excitement was there. There were no inhibitions. I somewhere knew that I had earned the chance to stand in the same frame as him, so I was quite excited about sharing screen space with him. Also, incidentally, in the film we are playing the role of Chacha (uncle) and Bhatija (nephew) that obviously created more excitement than apprehension.
You are playing a double role in Mubarakan. This is not the first time you are doing such a role. You have already played a double role in Aurangzeb. How different is this one?
Aurangzeb role was more about swapping one from the other and one pretending to be the other and there was a mistaken identity and trying to create that dynamic of two brothers who are kept apart. The Mubarakan one is about two brothers who are constantly together in the entire film. And it’s not about mistaken identity but two different characters who share screen space together at all times. In that sense, it is very very different.
How easy or difficult is it for you to play double role?
It’s definitely not easy. I can tell you that. It is difficult because of the complexity technology brings in as well as your performance and having a co-actor. Doing it for comedy is even tougher.
Speaking of comedy, how challenging was it to make people laugh?
Well, it was exciting and challenging. I have never done an out-and-out comedy. So, for me it was very exciting. I was like a child trying to do more and more and get better and better. I really enjoyed myself.
Tell me one funny side of yours which your fans are not aware of?
I am actually a party person. It’s difficult to pinpoint one incident.
Are there any British cast in the film?
Yes, of course. We have British cast in the film. They are through the film. That’s because we wanted to make sure everything looks real and authentic.
How was it working with them?
See the thing is with actors eventually you find a common ground and you end up connecting and affiliating with them because of the work you are doing and so it doesn’t feel very different. They just happened to be from England and that’s the only separation. When you are on set everybody becomes the same.
Most of the new generation Indian kids (be it Punjabis, Gujaratis, Malayalees, etc.) in Britain don’t know their mother tongue. They speak English fluently but not their own language. How important is for an individual to remain culturally rooted and stay connected with his original identity?
Well, I think if you are born and brought up outside India then it becomes difficult to hold on to Hindi if it is your mother tongue. In your growing stage English becomes your mother tongue. But, of course, it comes from what the parents feel is important, the parents may feel it’s not about the language but understanding the culture. I know a lot of people who struggle to speak Hindi but still understand the cultural importance of where they hail from. But any child that is born and brought up in an environment that is not Indian might not be able to pick up the language because Hindi is not an easy language. Even if you can understand and communicate just the basic of it – I think it’s enough. I don’t think your cultural rootedness is only about speaking Hindi. It comes from a wholesome 360-degree perspective. Obviously, it is appreciated if you can speak more than one language because that allows you to communicate with lot more people but I don’t think that is the only way of knowing how culturally rooted a person is. Eventually tolerance is very very important. Knowing the parents feel a certain way, appreciating and understanding the grandparents, the festivals, being part of the bigger picture for the family and not just for yourself, I think that is what creates a culturally rooted environment. You may be born and brought up in England, but if you can be open enough to adapt to the fact Diwali is important, so you must take out time for it and spend time at home with parents, then even if you don’t speak Hindi all the time, your parents and colleagues who are Indian will appreciate you regardless. Believe in the culture first. It’s not about speaking the language alone.
Do you speak Punjabi well?
I manage but not so much. I understand Punjabi but unfortunately, I am not very very fluent.
How was it working with director Anees Bazmee? What have you learned from him?
Firstly, he is a fantastic writer. He has been around for the last 40 years in the industry. He is truly a genius when it comes to the genre – entertaining people, making them smile and laugh is no joke. He does it so well. It’s been a big learning curve for me. He is so sorted as a director. He is fully charged, comfortable and excited. He was always ready to lend a helping hand.
I heard the music of RD Burman in the trailer. Why is it that RD Burman still sells today even after almost 25 years of his passing away?
Well, we used a bit of the Yamma Yamma… tune (from the yesteryear multi-starrer Shaan). It was our tribute to Pancham da (RD Burman). His music is evergreen and everlasting and will always survive the test of time.
What’s your message to our readers? Why should they go and watch Mubarakan?
This film is a family entertainment. From age 8 to 80 you can take all your family members to theatres. It’s a clean and simple film. It deals with all your emotions that you feel deeply in your core. If you have grown up watching all those Hindi entertainers, you will definitely enjoy this as well.Read more