Thursday, November 29, 2012

Arjun Kapoor

“I’ve not yet gotten used to all the attention coming my way”

By Ankita R Kanabar

(This article was published in the Diwali issue - November 10 issue of Super Cinema) 

He’s just one film old, but the kind of love been showered upon him and the film offers coming his way, belie the very fact. If you’d seen Arjun few years ago, you could never imagine him being an actor. But that is all history. His hard work and sheer dedication have got him where he is today. There is something about him. Something, that girls are finding extremely attractive. His raw sensuality and rugged look, as seen in his debut film might have led to women drooling over this newbie. But tell this to Arjun and he turns shy. He says that all the attention he’s getting, is still kind of unbelievable for him. Being an industry child, he definitely has a better understanding of the world of Hindi films, but he’s not taking it for granted. He wants to learn and get better. As I speak to him, I realise that stardom has still not gone to his head. There is some child-like quality even in his extremely masculine voice. He won over the audience and critics just with his debut film, and his upcoming line-up of films looks very interesting too. So, this new star on the block, Arjun Kapoor, gets candid about his upcoming projects, being an industry kid, chachu Anil Kapoor, competition and more 

This year has been really good for you so far. ‘’Ishaqzaade’ released, and proved to be a hit. Did you anticipate all this?
Yes, the year has been good. You know while shooting, we didn’t really anticipate that people will like the film, or it’ll be a hit. But I knew that we were making a good film. And all we could do is, put in our best. Obviously, we’d never thought that people would like the film, or it would appeal to the sensibilities of the young generation. I’m just so glad, that people have liked ‘Ishaqzaade’, our performance and my chemistry with Parineeti.

With just one film, things have changed for you. You have all the attention and love coming your way, especially from female fans. How are you dealing with that?
It’s just overwhelming. Honestly, that is not something I expected. I’ve never been someone who’s got a lot of attention from girls, since I was quite over-weight. It’s still quite unbelievable, and I’ve not gotten used to all the attention coming my way. But I think it’s one of the nicest feelings to be appreciated for your work, since that’s what you’re working hard for. It’s nice to meet people who’ve been patient enough to see your film, and who admire your work. Unfortunately, we keep extremely busy, so there’s not much time to meet people or interact with them, but when I do come across people who like me, it’s a great feeling. After all, the adulation that you get is the only reward for all the efforts you’ve put in.

You’ve already signed quite a few films, which is quite a big thing, considering you’ve just done one film…
I just feel that I’m blessed and fortunate enough that I’m getting the opportunity to work with such talented people in the business, at such an early stage in my career. The films I’ve signed, were the films I was offered after ‘Ishaqzaade’ released, so I’m just so glad that people from the industry, and filmmakers have liked my work. But at the end of the day, I’m just one film old, I’ve just been in the industry for 6months, so I’ve so much more to learn.

You’re shooting for ‘Aurangzeb’ at the moment…how’s the film turning out to be?All I can say is that it’s a very challenging film for me. Working with director Atul Sabharwal has been a great learning experience. And working with actors like Rishi Kapoor and Jackie Shroff is like a dream come true. Chintu uncle is somebody who we’ve all grown up watching, he’s such a legend. Then even Jackie Shroff, I call him Jackie uncle. I’ve seen their films, as a kid. For me to work with actors like these is a big thing. So, yes, ‘Aurangzeb’ is just a very emotional and exciting experience for me. Apart from that, I can’t really divulge much about the film for now, the official announcement shall be made later by YRF. But we’ve completed the major portions of the shoot, and the film can be expected to release next year.

Tell us something about your other projects – ‘2 States’, ‘Gunday’, and the film with you father.
‘2 States’ as you know is the adaptation of Chetan Bhagat’s book. When I read the script, I instantly loved it, and agreed to do the film. I could totally connect to the script while I read it. ‘Gunday’, of course, is another film that I’m really excited about. Ranveer Singh is such a fantastic actor and I’m so looking forward to working with Priyanka Chopra, because she’s someone who’s been around for quite some time, and I’ve always admired her as an actress.
So, I’m sure it’s just going to be a very exciting experience. About my father’s film, it’s a tad too early to talk about it (smiles).

You’re being open to a variety of genres, but is there any particular genre that you really wish to do soon?I’ve this thing for thrillers. So, I would love to do a thriller film. And yes, like you said, I am being open to doing different genres and characters. Even if you see, the films I’ve signed currently, they’re all unique in their own way, and completely different from each other. Moreover, you know what? It’s not really about the genre now. Like say, I could be doing a character that has shades of comedy. So, even though, I’m doing a thriller genre, my character is funny, and makes people laugh. It’s all about the mix and match now. And in fact, with the kind of films being made lately, you can’t really limit yourself to a particular genre.

When can we see you on-screen with your chachu, Anil Kapoor?I’m dying to do a film with Anil Kapoor. He someone who I’ve grown up watching. He’s so terrific. He is somehow who I aspire to become like. So, God willing, I hope I get to do a film with him real soon.

And any possibility of you doing a film with Sonam?
There are hardly any writers who pen a brother-sister story. So, the possibility is quite less. But if we do get a good script like that, we would for sure do a film together. I look forward to that also.

Before you joined films, or even now, did you get any advice or tips from your family? Specially, acting tips from Anil Kapoor?
Since I belong to this filmy family, films have always been a part of our discussion at home. So, I’ve not really got specific advice from anyone, since I’m kind of aware about how things work. And from Anil chachu, he’s never really given me any one particular suggestion or acting tip, but just the way he is, you can learn so much from him. The way he is, speaks about his passion for cinema and his craft. He’s always been a motivation for me. The kind of dedication he has towards his work is something I would want to imbibe. Even today, the way he gets excited about every single film of his, is something that can really inspire you.

A notion exists that it gets easy to make into the industry, if you’re a star son, or a producer’s son. This could be a stereotype. What’s your take on this?I think it is a stereotypical thought process, but people have a right to form their own opinion and I completely respect that. The only upper hand of being a star son or producer’s son, would be that you would have a better understanding of the industry and how things work here. That’s about it. But, I think the perception is really changing now since we have so many new actors entering Hindi cinema every year. For instance this year, we had Ayushmann Khurrana, whose debut film was so successful. Then, we also had Ranveer Singh, making his debut with ‘Band Baaja Baarat’ some time ago. So, yes, eventually, the stereotypical notion might break.

What do you love, apart from working in films?Watching films (laughs). When not working for a film, I like to watch various kinds of films. I love food. I love to eat. But obviously, I have to curb my desires every day, and stop myself from eating unhealthy food.

Your take on competition?Like I said, I’m just one film old, and been here for only six months. So, at the moment, I would just like to compete with myself, because I’m still in the process of learning and re-inventing myself with each film. Having said that, I am very competitive by nature. But I think each actor is different from the other, and all of us are comfortable in our own space.

What’s your definition of success?For me, success=happiness. If you’re happy with what you’re doing, then you’ve achieved success. But if you’re not happy when you wake up in the morning, and you’re not looking forward to what you have to do, then it’s just pointless.

What would be your Diwali message?I hope everyone has a happy and prosperous Diwali. I would tell people to eat a lot, party hard, but take care of themselves and the pollution. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Arjun Rampal

“The audience is the true barometer to measure a film’s success”

By Ankita R Kanabar

(This interview was published in the October 27 issue of Super Cinema)

While earlier he was tagged as ‘hot’ and ‘sexy’, Arjun Rampal has proved that he’s a lot more than just that. With a variety of roles, and some great films in his body of work, Arjun has now, certainly, broken the stereotype that ‘models can’t act’. And his recent films completely prove his credentials as a bankable actor. Be it his portrayal of ‘Joe’ in ‘Rock On!!’ that won him a National award, or a grey and powerful character of sort in ‘Raajneeti’, or the baddie of ‘Ra.One’, Rampal has played each role with panache. And undoubtedly, he’s now getting his due as an actor. His latest film, ‘Chakravyuh’ sees him in a different light, yet again. This Prakash Jha film is getting a lot of critical acclaim and Arjun himself confesses that it’s a film which is very close to his heart. Even the audience seems to be getting smitten by his portrayal of the tough cop Adil Khan. While we caught up with Arjun, he was extremely excited yet nervous before the film’s release. His voice seemed like he is tired with all the running around for the film’s promotion, but that only made his super husky voice, even more sexy. And despite being tired, he does break into a contagious laughter as he talks about the fun they had on the sets of ‘Chakravyuh’. And just as he laughs, his dimples add to his charm. So, here’s the super charming Arjun Rampal, talking about his latest offering, working with director Prakash Jha, upcoming projects and more

How do you see ‘Chakravyuh’ as a film?
When we initially started working on it, we always wanted to make an intriguing and entertaining film, with a strong message, and I think we have achieved that with ‘Chakravyuh’. The way I see it, it’s a film that cannot be ignored. It’s a film that is very relevant and important to every Indian since it’s based on the issue of naxalites. It’s important for people to be aware of the kind of situations, people from these villages go through, and there’s so much of inequality. While it does have a strong message, it’s equally very entertaining I feel. It’s also about people with different point of views, like the name of my character is Adil Khan and that of Abhay Deol’s character is Kabir. And then how they form these different opinions which leads to this whole chakravyuh. So, that’s what the film is all about.

Your character might have demanded quite a few preparations…
You know, for a Prakash Jha film, you can’t go to the set without preparing. You have to prepare. I had to do a lot of research about the way these police officers behave, and know what’s exactly happening in these villages. In the film, people from the villages, fear cops, so how my character tries to break the ice with them, and all required some preparation. Also, my character has a lot of layers. Like when his best friend goes against him, there is a lot of frustration. So, to portray this frustration, and a character with so many other layers has been challenging.

You also usually go through a lot of changes in your overall look…for a character 
You’ve got to always surprise the audience. My look gets designed according to the character that I’m playing. And as an actor, it’s my job and duty to get into the skin of my character. Like for ‘Chakravyuh’, I’ve had to observe police officers and their look. So, that’s how it works. 

How has it been working with Prakash Jha again after ‘Raajneeti’?
I get along very well with Prakash Jha. He is one director who’s always seen me in a different light, and had the confidence in me that I’ll be able to do a particular role. He’s given me roles that have been very unique from each other. Moreover, I’ve always wanted to play characters that will define themselves, and he has given me those kind of characters.

For a serious film like this, how serious is everyone on the sets?
Yes, like I said, it is a serious and intense film yet it will entertain you a lot. But when you do films like these, you can’t be serious on the sets all the time. I think it’s important that there’s this easy camaraderie on the sets. So, we used to always have fun on the sets, and just crack up, create jokes and start laughing. Sometimes there would be this long debate about something, and then lots of fun! Moreover, I think everything was very well planned. Prakash Jha is that kind of a director who plans it all well in advance and he knows that a film like this can get very taxing for the actors, so the atmosphere on the sets is always easy. 

How was it working with actors like Manoj Bajpayee and Abhay Deol?
I love all the actors I’ve worked with. And in fact, for this film it was even more necessary to have a great camaraderie with them off-screen, since in the film we’re beating up each other (laughs). So, it was great working with them. This is my second full-fledged film with Manoj, and all of us know that he’s such a great actor. Abhay on the other hand, I’ve known him for many years, and this film has been like a reunion. Even in the film, me and Abhay are best friends who meet after many years. So, we have this great chemistry on-screen. And I’m so glad to see the kind of work and films that Abhay is doing. He’s also done a wonderful job in this film.

Tell us about your upcoming projects… 
Well, at the moment I’m working for Nikhil Advani’s ‘D-Day’ which is a hard-core action film, so I’m very excited for it. Then, I have Sudhir Mishra’s ‘Inkar’ which shall release around January, next year. Later I’ll start working for Prakash Jha’s ‘Satyagraha’. So, yes I’m looking forward to all my upcoming films, as they’re all very different from each other. I like it if it’s like a mixed bag only.

You think that ‘Chakravyuh’ shall prove to be one of those films that isn’t the quintessential masala film, yet, shall work well at the box office?
See, I think that this is the best phase that we’re going through at the moment, since there’s an audience for everything. There’s an audience for the quintessential commercial formulae films, and also, people like to see slightly unique, niche films. ‘Chakravyuh’ is a kind of film that captures, engages, entertains and makes you think. And very rarely do we see a film that is entertaining and has a strong message. Plus, it has a very simple narrative. So, God willing, ‘Chakravyuh’ should do well. At least, as an actor, I’ve tried to ensure to make it as appealing as possible. The rest should be left upon the audience. I believe, the audience is the true barometer to measure the success of a film.
What’s happening on the production front?
I would love to produce a film again. In fact, I even have something in mind. But first I want to finish what I have in hand. My acting commitments are a priority at the moment, so, I’d like to concentrate and finish all these projects first, and then I may produce a film.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Huma Qureshi

“When I was offered ‘GOW’, I didn’t expect it to be a big film for me”

By Ankita R Kanabar

(This interview was published in the November 3 issue of Super Cinema) 

She’s a refreshing change from the staple fare of Hindi cinema actresses. She’s not trying to ape anyone. Not trying to get into the size zero bandwagon. She’s just being herself – cute yet sexy, bubbly and non-diplomatic. That is, Huma Qureshi for you. Just before I was to interview Huma, I tweeted and asked if anybody has any message for this lovely lady, and just within few seconds, tweets started pouring in. While guys wanted to know if she’s single and if she would have coffee with them, girls too have a ‘girl crush’ on her. Now, certainly that’s quite a big deal for an actor who’s just two films old. One can’t deny that Huma has certainly left the audience smitten by her charm. Her raw sensuality, disarming smile, and ‘chulbulapan’ have clearly left men drooling over her, and no, we aren’t surprised. Just as I speak to her, I realise that it’s probably her off-screen vivaciousness that translates on-screen and brings spark to her characters. She’s confident, yet, earthy and that reflects when she speaks. While she’s still garnering accolades for ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ series, her next film, ‘Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana’ released this Friday, and is getting some great reaction from the audience and critics alike. Huma has just returned from the screening of the film and she’s had a very long day, when she settles down for a long telephonic chat with me in the wee hours of night. Despite that, her voice shows no signs of fatigue. Here we have, Huma Qureshi getting candid about ‘Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana’, and Hindi cinema. She also reveals her relationship status, amidst a lot of other things 

Now that’s a very quirky name for a film – ‘Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana’... 
(Laughs) Yes it’s a very unique and yummy name. It’s basically a romantic film, but very unusual for a romantic comedy. You know, Anurag Kashyap is known as ‘The King of dark films’; he himself agrees to it, so something from his stable has to be unique but having said that, this is a real fun film, and not a dark film at all. It’s about relationships, and joint family, and how life can be filled with all the interesting weird people around you. And while the film is about discovering a recipe, it’s also about finding yourself. It’s a metaphor of sort.

From ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ to ‘Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana’, that has been quite a shift, isn’t it?
Oh yes absolutely! Both the films are completely different, and so are my characters. While Mohsina lived in a very dark environment amidst gangsters and was the only light of Faisal’s life, in ‘Luv Shuv...’, Harman is this highly educated girl, she’s a doctor. She’s very real and earthy. I’m sure most Punjabi girls, down the north and all, would identify with my character in the film.

How was it working with Kunal Kapoor?
Fantastic! Kunal is extremely hardworking. And in fact, he was also involved in the creative process, during the pre-production, like scripting and all. So, that was interesting. He is open to new ideas and suggestions, and it was very easy to work with him because he’s such a nice person. He’s a kind of actor who makes everyone around very comfortable, which was important in a film like this that had so many actors.

‘Luv Shuv’...has been getting great reviews already from industry insiders and the audience who saw it on Friday; that must feel good?
That does feel really nice. I was just telling our director Sameer Sharma that when we were making the film, we didn’t really realise that we’re making a good film. But I think what works for the film is that it has a very simple romance. Today, most films with the romance element are very complicated. But here’s a simple love story, with a lot of innocence. And the response has just been overwhelming. When we were promoting the film in the north, and areas like Punjab, we were so thrilled by the response we were getting.

Didn’t you have any apprehensions about making your debut with a film like ‘Gangs Of Wasseypur’, which was slightly niche and had a multi star cast?
No, not at all because I didn’t really think that way. I was given an opportunity to be a part of a film that had a good script and was being made by someone like Anurag Kashyap, so I just did it. I’ve always been a big fan of Anurag Kashyap as a filmmaker, and I’d have been stupid if I’d refused an opportunity like this. And while I was working for ‘GOW’, I’d never really thought that I would get noticed or appreciated because I didn’t even read the script and didn’t know exactly about my character since Anurag was still wanting to have many improvisations in my character, and there wasn’t any clarity in the script that time. So, when I was offered ‘GOW’, I didn’t think it would prove to be a big film for me. So, all the feedback post the film, has just been very overwhelming. The good thing is also that cinema is now changing, unlike earlier where we had too different categories like mainstream cinema and boring cinema. Now even slightly off-beat films are very entertaining so I think I couldn’t have asked for a better debut than ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’.

 What do you have to say about all the guys falling for you, and even girls saying that you’re their ‘girl crush’? Even all the tweets coming your way on twitter are full of appreciation...
(Laughs) Oh really? It’s really cute of people to say such things. This just feels so nice. See, we become actors for appreciation, and for getting noticed. So I feel really wonderful to be getting all the attention. Also, I’m a twitter addict, so I keep checking and reading tweets all the time, and love to reply to the tweets that I find interesting and sweet.

When people saw you in ‘GOW’, the audience thought you were different, more so in terms of your looks, and most definitely someone who wouldn’t join the size zero bandwagon. I think you remind us of yesteryear actresses. Your take?
You know when I signed ‘GOW’, I didn’t know how to go about my looks, because like I said, I didn’t expect anything from the film. And I think, all of us, as in all women, have some inherited beauty and it all depends on the director and his sensibilities as to how he portrays you on screen. My looks or image is not something I bother about because your image is what depends on your previous film. And if you see, most of the top actresses have always got some flaw or the other, because we’re not perfect. So, it’s okay to have flaws. Like you said, that I remind you of yesteryear actresses, a lot of other people have told me the same, and I find that flattering. But I’m glad that people are accepting me the way I am. See, if a particular film or role demands that I have a particular look, I would obviously mould myself accordingly. But the way I am currently, the way I look, that’s me, and I like myself that way. I am happy the way I am. I would not bother about what others have to say about me because that’s their perspective, and may be they have a particular norm or definition of beauty. So, that doesn’t bother me at all. Ultimately, I feel, beauty is internal, and all that matters is what you do on-screen.

What are the kind of films you wish to do in future?
I want to do everything. Everything! Like even now, I’m doing different roles and films. ‘GOW’ was totally different from ‘Luv Shuv...’ and my upcoming films are ‘Ek Thi Daayan’ and ‘D-day’. While ‘Ek Thi Daayan’ is a supernatural thriller, Nikhil Advani’s ‘D-day’ is hard-core action film, so they’re all different genres. I want to experiment a lot, work with different filmmakers, and try to re-invent myself every six months. See, you know, if I just continue doing dark films, I will get bored, and if I continue to do romcoms, even then I will get bored. So I just want to try out everything. I’m an actor, not a filmmaker. So I would try out a variety of roles and genres, anything that I think would work and anything that seems real to me. As an actor, that’s my job, to fit into various roles. Moreover, now we have an older generation that is so experienced and knows so much and then we have new talent that brings in the freshness. So, there’s so much variety in cinema now. Today, even a leading lady has so much to do in a film than just look pretty. There is much more scope for leading ladies, and I’m so glad to be a part of cinema at this point of time, in order to experiment with different roles and films.

Tell us a little about ‘Ek Thi Daayan’ and ‘D-day’...
I’ve almost finished shooting for ‘Ek Thi Daayan’ where I’m paired opposite Emraan Hashmi. This film is a combined venture between Ekta Kapoor and Vishal Bhardwaj so what more could you ask for? It should turn out to be fantastic. ‘D-day’, I’m shooting for, at the moment, and all I can tell you is that it’s an action film.

You said you want to work with different filmmakers, any wish list of filmmakers that you wish to work with?Like I said, I want to do everything; similarly, I want to work with everybody. Like Anurag Kashyap, I called the ‘King of dark films’, so he is best in that genre and similarly there are other filmmakers best at different genres. So, I want to work with all the best filmmakers, in various genres.

Your fans on twitter wanted to know if the pretty Huma is single
I’m absolutely single. (breaks into a laugher)

And what’s your take on love and relationships?You know, I’m a die-hard romantic, but at the moment I can be the worse girlfriend, because I have just no time. There’s so much work, and there’s no time to meet someone, and then get involved in a romantic relationship. But someday that will happen, and I know it will be beautiful. Whatsoever, the fact remains, I’m a hardcore romantic. 

Images - Courtesy Rohan Shreshtha 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sunny Leone

‘Sex is not a bad thing'

Adult film star-turned-actress Sunny Leone is visibly excited about her Hindi cinema debut. She discusses ‘Jism 2’, her character, and herself in an exclusive uncensored chat with Ankita Kanabar

(This interview happened and was published before the release of 'Jism 2')

Sunny Leone is in town to set temperatures soaring as she promotes ‘Jism 2.’ She took time out for a chat as we travelled with her to her hotel. En route, she spotted a huge hoarding of ‘Jism 2’ and flashed a giant smile. “I don’t really know how to feel. All this is so new for me. I’d never thought someday I’d see myself like this, on these huge posters, as I travel. I’ve always desired to be a part of Hindi films but I never thought it could happen. I guess I feel really good,” she says.
We inform her that the promos of her film are a rage already and that the music has made it to popular radio countdowns. “These are just the promos. I want people to see the film and like the film. I hope they do,” says Sunny.

Interestingly, Sunny’s character in the film, Izna, is also an adult film star like Sunny herself. However, she claims the similarities end there. “The film is the journey of a girl struggling with love. We all have a past; the movie looks at how you react when your past comes in front of you. She struggles; she innocently gets trapped in all the chaos created by Arunoday and Randeep’s characters,” Sunny explains. She adds, “Izna is really different from me. I’ve never met a girl like her in my life. She’s a character created in the beautiful mind of Mr Mahesh Bhatt.”

We ask her about her experience working with co-stars Arunoday Singh and Randeep Hooda. “Arunoday is a lot of fun. He always makes you laugh and keeps the atmosphere light on the sets. So, we share a very friendly bonding. Randeep, on the other hand, is very serious. He’s always into his character while the rest of us were serious only when the shot was taken. Randeep hasn’t shot many lovemaking scenes in his earlier films, so he could be a little apprehensive, but I think, we were comfortable,” she says with a smile.

Since she introduced the topic of lovemaking scenes, we dive right in asking her how that went. She laughs and says, “You know the only difference is that here it was all choreographed: the hand should go like this and all. In the films that I shoot, we film an hour of lovemaking scenes and then edit and use the parts of the shot we liked. In Hindi films, we try to make the director’s vision come true. Pooja (Bhatt) had a vision of how she wanted it. We were working towards making her happy and making it look good. A lot of detailing is needed here.”

The debutante is also all praise for director Pooja Bhatt. “Pooja and Dino Morea have worked 24 hours each day on this film. I’ve learnt so much from Pooja, so many details, like when to blink or not. It has been an enriching experience,” she claims. Well, that certainly puts media rumors of a tiff between Sunny and Pooja to rest.

Although Sunny doesn’t feel that the film is too bold, the Censor Board obviously doesn’t agree. Of course this relatively uninhibited take on sex is still new to Hindi cinema “You know, cinema is changing now. Cinema keeps changing and will continue to do so. We need to accept that change. Things you see now on TV are different from what you saw 10 years ago. Change is inevitable, or else we wouldn’t learn. And sex is not a bad thing. It’s what culminates among two people who are truly, madly, deeply, in love. It’s something beautiful that people do that results in beautiful babies,” she says with a smile. 

While she prepares to steam up Indian screens, it is endearing to discover that Sunny considers herself a nerd. “I’m such a nerd. I always carry books to read. When we were on a flight for the shoot, I was making a scarf and everyone in the crew was laughing at me. Then I decided not to do it in front of them (laughs). I love dogs. I keep adopting dogs, and urge people to do so. I love spending time with my husband. We go surfing and all. But you must ask my husband how I am as a person.” And before we can digest that piece of information, she calls her husband Daniel Weber over and has him speak to us. He says, “You know the best thing about Sunny is she is always so cute. If I’m stressed or have any problem and I talk to her, I can’t help but feel good. She’s so positive.”
Well, India will be able to make up its own mind on Sunny because ‘Jism 2’ is definitely not Sunny’s only foray into Hindi cinema. She confirms that she will soon begin shooting for Ekta Kapoor’s ‘Ragini MMS.’

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Blooming Talent

Raring to go…!   

(The article was published in the September 15, 2012 issue of Super Cinema) 

So, here we have, Salman Khan making 200 crores at the box office with his Tiger act. Akshay Kumar giving two back to back hits – ‘Housefull 2’, ‘Rowdy Rathore’-  and entertaining the audience with his quintessential action avatar, and comic timing. Of course, not to forget, Ajay Devgn has been bringing in huge moolah at the box office with his ‘Singham’ and ‘Bol Bachchan’ stint. Then, we have the Badshah, Shah Rukh Khan, who stands high on the popularity charts; not really surprising. Clearly, these actors despite being in the industry for a long time, are reigning at the box office.
Obviously, the adage, ‘Old is Gold’ holds true more often than not, but well, not all the time since there is no dearth of young talent in the industry. Each year, we are introduced to a number of fresh faces, some turn into superstars, some instantly make you skip a heartbeat, while some could well go unnoticed. But it’s hard to miss their dynamism, the freshness they bring to the 70mm and the enthusiasm to get there. This year too, was no different. Perhaps, this year saw some faces, who’ve instantly proved their credentials, and could most definitely be called ‘stars’. The industry is certainly welcoming the young blood, who might want to change how Hindi cinema looks, who might want to experiment with novel concepts. Or probably, do the same run-of-the-mill stuff differently.
Seemingly, the audience also is open to welcome fresh faces on the 70mm. Little wonder then, that ‘Vicky Donor’ is one of the most profitable films this year despite a cast that is new. Or people loved the raw chemistry between Parma and Zoya in ‘Ishaqzaade’ and Arjun Kapoor’s rugged look was a hit. The dewy-eyed Meera of ‘Cocktail’ made boys go weak in the knees. The list is long….
Of course, the year isn’t yet over, and there’s more for the audience to look forward to.  Here we go!

Arjun Kapoor
Debut Film: Ishaqzaade

He has been an industry child. Being an assistant director for films like ‘Shakti : The Power’ and ‘Kal Ho Naa Ho’, he indeed got the opportunity to hone his skills that could help him fulfill his dream of becoming a director. But obviously, destiny had something else for Arjun Kapoor. One mustn’t have expected Arjun to turn to acting. Reason? He was over-weight. He himself never planned on becoming an actor as he weighed 140kgs! It was actor Salman Khan who inspired Arjun to shed kilos and take up acting. Sallu’s association with Arjun has been a long one. Arjun was the executive producer for the Salman starrer ‘No Entry’ and ‘Wanted’. 
Well, that is history! Everything has changed at this day. His acting prowess has been well-appreciated by the critics and audience alike. Arjun now has women drooling over him and filmmakers wanting to cast him. His raw sex-appeal and intense chemistry with co-star Parineeti Chopra in his debut film ‘Ishaqzaade’ left the audience going gaga over Arjun.
The actor’s take: “I’ve always wanted to be a director. But you just don’t know what life has in store for you. Acting did demand a lot of hard work, more so, since I had to lose weight. But then when people like Salman Khan feel you have it in you and someone like Aditya Chopra feels you could carry off a role, that does make one confident and you start believing in yourself. I’d love to be involved in good films. Would love to experiment, but at the same time, pure Hindi commercial cinema is what I like. Touchwood, my upcoming films are all different from each other and I hope it remains so. And you never know, direction might happen too, soon.”
Trade perspective: According to trade expert Aman Gill, “His film has done well at the box office, and he has been liked by the audience, but his second venture will be crucial for him, since the expectations obviously rise. As for now, I certainly think he has a bright future.”
Trade expert Suniel Wadhwa seconds that opinion and adds, “He is just one film old, yet, is considered one of the most bankable stars. He has a good line up of films, and in 2013, he could be having 2-3 films releasing. While he plays a double role in ‘Aurangzeb’, ‘Gunday’ also is an interesting tale. He is also doing a film with Dharma Productions and a home production film which could be a big project. Arjun might be able to achieve mass as well as class appeal.”
Upcoming films: ‘Aurangzeb’ and ‘Gunday’ both under Yash Raj Films. ‘Gunday’ shall see him alongside Ranveer Singh, the female lead yet to be finalised. ‘Aurangzeb’ shall star a new face, Sasha Agha (Salma Agha’s daughter) opposite him. Adaptation of Chetan Bhagat’s novel ‘2 States’ which would be a joint venture between Dharma Productions and Sajid Nadiadwala.

Esha Gupta
Debut film : Jannat 2

She wanted to pursue law and never thought of being an actress. But the next thing she knew was, she had bagged a plump role in a film under the elusive Bhatt camp, that too, opposite Emraan Hashmi. Like they say, your destiny takes you to places. Not just her debut film was a hit, her next, the recently released ‘Raaz 3’ is doing exceptionally well at the box office too. With her current pace, we wouldn’t be surprised, if she’ll soon work with the Khans.
The actor’s take: “Actually you know I’m a bit crazy. Forget being an actor, I never thought I’d even be a model. I wanted to persue law after I finished my graduation. But then, I developed a liking towards modeling and one fine day thought of giving acting a try, and gave a screen test, and then I was told that I’ve been signed for the film. It has been an honour for me to make my debut with the Bhatts, and Bhatt sahab is just like a father figure to me.”
Trade perspective: “Among all the debutant actresses this year, Esha has made a remarkable mark. She had two films this year – ‘Jannat 2’ and ‘Raaz 3’, both have proved successful at the box office. Her third film is also coming up. Things look good for her,” says Aman Gill.
Though Suniel Wadhwa differs slightly in his opinion. He feels, “She made her debut with ‘Jannat 2’, where she didn’t have much scope to perform. But the film did well at the box office. Her next ‘Raaz 3’is also a hit, but can’t say much about her performance. I hope she doesn’t get branded for ‘sequels’. But hoping we get to see a good performance from her in her next, since it’s a Prakash Jha film.”

Upcoming films: Prakash Jha’s ‘Chakravyuh’

Ayushmann Khurrana
Debut Film: Vicky Donor

Over the years, a stereotype has gained ground: That people from the small screen cannot really make it big in the Hindi Film Industry, because of over-exposure which curbs audience’s curiousity. Of course, we don’t think that notion is true, given that the current Badshah of Bollywood, SRK, started his career with television. Ayushmann Khurrana seems to be breaking that stereotype too. The actor made a successful debut this year, with appreciation from the audience and critics alike. Women certainly are smitten by his charm and of course, those dimples. And his portrayal of Vicky Arora in his debut film, certainly has opened various prospects for him in the industry. The fact that he is multi-talented, can compose, sing, and pen lyrics, also adds to his fan following.
The actor’s take: “There has been this stereotype that people from the small screen may not be able to make it on the big screen. But I think it depends on your choices and how you carve a niche for yourself. I’ve always been a part of good shows and MTV is very popular among the youth, so I think I got the right kind of exposure. Also, since I’ve been anchoring for a long time, I had to unlearn a lot of anchoring techniques and habits and learn the techniques of acting. It didn’t take much time though. But I believe, I couldn’t have asked for a better film than ‘Vicky Donor’ for my debut, because of its unique concept.”
Trade perspective: Trade expert Aman Gill says, “Ayushmann has got a brilliant start, and a lot of appreciation. Box office wise too, the film was a hit. But again, it all depends on his upcoming films, and how well he is received in those films too.”
Expert Suniel Wadhwa opines, “Ayushmann is a great actor, plus he is gifted with a great sense of music since he can also sing. Also, he is being very careful about his choice of films which is a good thing. He indeed has a long way to go.”
Upcoming films: Rohan Sippy’s ‘Nautanki Saala’, Shoojit Sircar’s ‘Hamara Bajaj' 

Sunny Leone
Debut film: Jism 2
Now who doesn’t know Sunny Leone? From Karenjeet Kaur to adult film star Sunny Leone to Hindi film actress Sunny. She has chosen her path and made her own destiny. And Pooja Bhatt’s ‘Jism 2’, of course, changed the whole game for Sunny as it also opened several other avenues for her career. While she’s not your quintessential Hindi Film actress as yet, she certainly is trying to be one. Yet, for Sunny, all this still seems dream-like.
The actor’s take: “I had always desired to be a part of Hindi films, but I never gave much importance to that thought, since I didn’t think it was possible. And now, when I see myself in posters and in commercials on TV, like on national television, it does seem unbelievable. But it was a lot of hard work, specially when it came to learning Hindi dialogues. So, this actually feels good since I shall soon also start working on my next film. Now I hope I get to do some Bollywood dancing in a film soon.”
Trade perspective: According to trade expert Aman Gill, “Sunny Leone has made a mark at the box office, but there’s not much one can say performance wise. She has that ‘sex-symbol’ image, and she hasn’t done anything to break the mould through her performance. Hopefully, she should do that in her next films.
Upcoming film: Ekta Kapoor’s ‘Ragini MMS 2’ 

Siddharth Malhotra
Debut Film: Student Of The Year (SOTY)

Brother of filmmaker Punit Malhotra, and nephew of ace fashion designer Manish Malhotra, Siddharth came to Mumbai for another film that never took off. He would survive on modeling assignments, and was even set to sign a major contract with one of the leading brands. But then, he landed himself as a trainee assistant director for Karan Johar’s ‘My Name Is Khan’ before he was signed for ‘SOTY’. 

The actor’s take: “I had never thought about getting into the film industry. Initially, when I came to Mumbai, I’d started off with modeling. It was only later that the acting bug bit me. I was supposed to do another film but it never took off. So, I took up assisting in order to learn the technicalities of filmmaking. Then of course, ‘SOTY’ happened. ”

Trade perspective: As trade expert Suniel Wadhwa puts it, “It is like a dream debut for these actors, to be directed by Karan Johar. He looks promising in the promos. A youth-based film like this is coming after a really long time. It could be well-received at the box office.”

Upcoming films: Not signed as yet.

Alia Bhatt
Debut Film:
The Bhatt camp is known to launch a bevy of beauties in the industry. Kangna Ranaut, Esha Gupta, and the list goes long. While Bipasha Basu made her debut with Abbas-Mustan’s ‘Ajnabee’, she rose to fame with Bhatt camp’s ‘Jism’. Now that explains why it came as a surprise that Mahesh Bhatt’s daughter Alia Bhatt is being launched by Dharma Productions and not the Bhatt camp. So far, the promos of the film have aroused curiousity, while Alia seems to remind the audience of Pooja Bhatt in her heydays.

The actor’s take: “My father would have liked to launch me, but I wanted to debut with someone other than my home production. It’s a challenge to get work from an outside banner. Getting work from your father’s production house is an easy installment. At present, I’m just excited about my debut film and the wonderful character that I play, but I have to still concentrate as an actor and give my hundred percent to acting.”

Trade perspective: “Like I said, it certainly is a dream debut even for Alia. To be debuting with Dharma Productions, and being directed by Karan Johar, is a big thing. Things should look good for her,” opines Suniel Wadhwa. 

Upcoming films: Nothing confirmed as yet.

Varun Dhawan
Debut Film:
Student Of The Year (SOTY)
Son of acclaimed filmmaker David Dhawan, Varun also started off with being behind the camera. He assisted his father for several films and later went on to assist Karan Johar for ‘My Name Is Khan’.
Even though, his debut film hasn’t released, women seem to be drooling over his perfect ten physique and looks that they get to see in the promos.

The actor’s take: “I’ve worked as an AD with Dharma Productions but I was very clear about venturing into performing arts. However, I have inherited the genes of enacting through my dad David Dhawan who too was keen on becoming an actor but fate had something else for him. Now I’m hoping that the youth shall allure ‘SOTY’, the audience is the best judge, we can’t predict anything.”

Trade perspective: “About Varun, I’m similarly opinionated as in case of Siddharth Malhotra. Their chemistry with each other in the promos looks good and he could create magic with his debut film,” says Suniel Wadhwa. 

Upcoming films: Nothing confirmed officially.

Ileana D’cruz 
Debut Film: Barfi!
She isn’t an unknown face down the south, thanks to her body of work in Telegu cinema and successful commercial ventures like ‘Pokiri’, ‘Kick’ and ‘Jalsa’. With ‘Barfi!’ she made an entry in the Hindi Film Industry. Interestingly, the actress declined the offer of being signed as the female lead opposite Salman Khan in the Hindi remake of her film, ‘Pokiri’ – ‘Wanted’. While making a debut opposite Salman Khan could be every actresses’ dream, Ileana didn’t think she was ready to make her Hindi film debut, though she regrets having missed the opportunity to work with Salman. But, she chose a slightly niche film like ‘Barfi!’ to step into the industry. Her chemistry with co-star Ranbir Kapoor in the promos has been the talk of the town and is being appreciated. The film has everything going right for it, hence is expected to do well.
The actor’s take: “Down south, I’ve been doing glamorous roles. So, I always had this thought in mind that in a Bollywood film, I’d have to do a little bit of acting, and just look pretty and glamorous. With that in mind, I didn’t want to be a part of such a film. I earlier got many hindi film offers, but it didn’t excite me. I found the script of ‘Barfi!’ really different and interesting, something I haven’t done so far, hence I chose the film. It’s all about the right time.”
Trade perspective: Trade Expert Aman Gill says, “Ileana looked appealing in the promos of the film and her performance is getting good reviews. The film is expected to do well. Things should go well for her, since ‘Barfi!’ is a good film to start off with, and she’s already signed her next project.

Upcoming films: ‘Phata Poster Nikla Hero’ directed by Rajkumar Santoshi, opposite Shahid Kapoor. 

Diana Penty
Debut film: Cocktail

She could have been Jordan’s Heer. We mean, Ranbir Kapoor’s leading lady in Imtiaz Ali’s ‘Rockstar’. She had auditioned for ‘Rockstar’, but like they say, ‘you’ll do what you’re meant to do’. The actress made her debut with Homi Adjania’s ‘Cocktail’ as the simpleton Meera. It was Imtiaz who recommended Diana for the role, since he penned the script of the film. Diana has also done few commercials before entering the industry. One of her TV commercial had her share screen space with Ranbir Kapoor and Genelia D’souza.
Her acting ability was well-appreciated by the critics, and her performance equally well-received by the audience.

The actor’s take: “I’m not a trained actor, but what helped was that I could completely relate to the character of Meera, I’m not starry. I’m an ordinary girl. As a person, I am a little reserved, just as my character was. So, that made it easier for me. And I think ‘Cocktail’ was the perfect debut for me. But I had to train myself for everything possible, right from dancing to diction, modulation and acting classes.”

Trade perspective: “Diana did create a lot of buzz with her debut film and ‘Cocktail’ did well too at the box office. But one can’t say much now since she’s yet to sign her next film. It all depends on that,” says Aman Gill. 

Upcoming films : Not signed any.

Yaami Gautam  
Debut Film: Vicky Donor 
With a face like that, one definitely can’t forget her. So, when Yaami Gautam was seen in the promos of ‘Vicky Donor’, the audience instantly recognised the former TV actress. With a couple of TV shows, and various commercials, she wasn’t really a new face, though it indeed would have been a surprise for the audience to see her on the big screen. The actress had also been doing a few films down the south. But post ‘Vicky Donor’, she just swayed away all the compliments from the critics and audience. Right from her looks, to her acting prowess, the audience seemed to have loved Yaami and would most definitely hope to see more of her.

The actor’s take: “You know for me, work is work. I didn’t do TV thinking, ‘oh it’s just TV’. I had worked equally hard for all my TV shows, just as I did for ‘Vicky Donor’, but yes, it is a different feeling all together to see your self on the 70mm. And ‘Vicky Donor’ was a perfect film for the debut. I signed the film because of the script and a brilliant director like Shoojit Sircar”

Trade perspective: Aman Gill feels, “Yaami has been really liked in her debut film. She has that charm and a bubbly feel to her. But she hasn’t signed many films post ‘Vicky Donor’ so can’t comment much.”

Upcoming films: Shoojit Sircar’s ‘Hamara Bajaj’ with her debut co-star Ayushmann Khurrana.