Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s next opus, Padmavati, seems jinxed. Or rather there are forces at work that are deliberately jinxing it. Some time back when he was shooting in the state of Rajasthan, a fringe Hindu political organisation came and vandalised his sets. He was also physically assaulted. As a result, Bhansali moved out of the region, cancelling the shoot.
Last week as he was shooting in the state of Maharashtra, a gang of people came and set the set on fire. These men were masked and came in after midnight so it was not caught on camera but another Hindu nationalist outfit was probably behind this too.
The problem these thugs have with the movie is that they claim it shows a romance between the queen Padmavati and the Muslim king Alauddin Khilji.
In the medieval poem on which the movie is based, the king becomes besotted by the fabled beauty of Padmavati and invades her husband’s kingdom but she sacrifices herself before he can capture her. The romantic angle between Khilji and Padmavati in the movie is something that has deliberately been cooked up because Bhansali has clarified that there is no such angle at all in his story. To spread such a canard gives them licence to vandalise which, in turn, gets them good publicity. And because the government finds it politically uncomfortable to take action against such rioters, other get encouragement to do likewise. In fact, the day Bhansali’s sets were set on fire, a minister in Rajasthan said that the movie would be sent to the organisation that had first attacked him before it was cleared for release. This is as good as rewarding people indulging in blackmail.
Some in Bollywood have come in support of Bhansali. Karan Johar said that he was hoping that steps would be taken so that no filmmaker would ever have to go through something like this again. Deepika Padukone in a television interview said that she was certain that Bhansali would use all this in his movie and bounce back. But almost certainly this won’t be the last time even for Bhansali.
The movie has not even finished shooting yet and once it does, there will be a line of nuisance mongers wanting to feed off its publicity. The movie itself will get a lot of publicity, which might make people watch it. But for that it needs to shot and then released first.
The nepotism debate
The spat that arose out of Kangana Ranaut calling Karan Johar a flag bearer of nepotism has got many in the industry to chip in with their comments, and unsurprisingly few are willing to toe Kangana’s line. Anushka Sharma, for instance, gave the example of her own career to show that nepotism does not rule Bollywood since she was launched by Yash Raj Films despite having no family connections.
On the other hand, Yash Raj is headed by Aditya Chopra, the son of Yash Chopra who founded the production house. Alia Bhatt seemed to side step the nepotism charge and commented that a star kid would only get a first movie but from then on it was up to their talent how their career shapes up.
That might be true but if one takes the case of Abhishek Bachchan, he got an enormous number of movies and his career spanned many years despite the movies flopping like clockwork at regular intervals. Plus, there is also the fact that the first break which Alia so casually mentions is what most of the aspirants in Bollywood desperately try for and don’t get. That a star kid gets it without almost any effort in fact bolsters Kangana’s argument.
Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan have been meeting each other often in recent times. Last week, they were at it again, which is surprising considering that Aamir and Salman are the ones known to be thick friends but with Shah Rukh he has never had much of a history to talk about.
The first inkling of last week’s camaraderie was when Shah Rukh put up on Twitter an image of them along with a few others with the tweet, ‘Netflixed & Chilled. Thx @reedhastings Ted Sarandos & team & my friend @aamir_khan for breaking his regimen for me.’
Turns out that Netflix, which is trying to capture the Indian market, might be interested in buying the movies of the two superstars to release on their platform after the box office launches.
And then a few days later, when Aamir was celebrating his birthday, Shah Rukh was seen landing up there well after midnight to be part of the celebrations. With such public displays of friendship, one wonders whether it is possible that the two might ever come together for a movie? Probably not. If in their entire career spanning across decades they haven’t made a movie together, then probably it is too late now.
End of the superstar era?
Varun Dhawan’s great run at the box office continues. Badrinath Ki Dulhania, which has Alia Bhatt opposite him, has turned out to be a big hit with collections inching to the Rs100 crore mark.
The movie is a sequel to their earlier hit, Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, but has already overshot its earnings. Varun has not had a flop so far in his career and that is extraordinary in a career spanning five years now. He is not reckoned as a 100 crore star even now, but that will slowly change, especially if Badrinath Ki Dulhania makes it to the mark. Is he then in contention to be the superstar of the new generation?
Varun himself doesn’t think so. In an interview to a newspaper he said that it is hard for any superstars of the Khan level to be there anymore in Bollywood and the reason he gave for it was social media, which puts the lives of actors all out there leaving no mystery for the audience. He also said that people lose interest in a star fast nowadays. Varun has certainly tried to beat that phenomenon by experimenting with different roles.
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