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    Big and friendly voices
    The Indian divisions of Hollywood studios and distributors have finally woken up to the value of using high profile and talented actors to dub parts in regional languages. Till a few years ago the norm was to use dubbing artists and the quality was out there for all to see. Dubbed versions based on poorly translated scripts were mocked with only action and horror genre films passing muster. But with films like The Incredibles, The Jungle Book and Captain America, Hollywood has collaborated with Bollywood to enlist high profile voicing talents such as Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra and Varun Dhawan. The newest addition is Steven Spielberg’s fantasy adventure film BFG, whose Hindi dubbed version will feature the voicing skills of Gulshan Grover as the baddie Fleshlumpeater, Parineeti Chopra (as the female protagonist) and Big B, Amitabh Bachchan, as the voice of the good giant. This is a smart move by Chopra who is otherwise appearing rather desperate to reposition herself as a sexy object of desire as evidenced by the item number on Dishoom with Varun Dhawan.

    Mr Congeniality
    He surprised many with his performance as a plumped up American in Tere Bin Laden 2 earlier this year, and now Sikander Kher is all set to make his television debut with the second season of Anil Kapoor’s 24 (later this month). Kher plays baddie Haroon Sherchan in 24. He apparently spent considerable time learning the dialect and intonations associated with Gorakhpur and floored his producer and co-actor with his grasp of Gorakhpuri. It’s interesting that Kher continues to have a strong bond with Kapoor in spite of his short-lived engagement to Kapoor’s wife, Sunita’s, niece. But Kher says there are no residual issues. While his personal life is patchy, professionally, Kher has also been on a slow burn since his debut, having appeared in just seven films since 2008. He continues to make small moves even now. Besides 24, he also has a lesser but pivotal role in the international science fiction web series, Sense8, which also features Purab Kohli and Tina Desai. Coincidentally Sikander’s father, Anupam Kher was also a part of season 1 of the show last year.

    A sequel too late
    We often talk of a dearth of originality in cinema, in particular when it comes to Bollywood films rehashing old themes or copying from Hollywood/ Korean cinema. The latest trend is to remake old films or announce their sequels, even if the director, actor and subject are well past their sell-by-date. This is exactly the case with Subhash Ghai who still holds onto the ‘showman’ title even though his last hit film was Taal in 1999! So what does he do? Go back to the archives and pull out the 1993 film Khalnayak, regroup with its lead actor Sanjay Dutt and announce Khalnayak Returns. Fortunately they appear to be smart enough to let slip that they are planning to add a young and happening star to the cast. Someone like Tiger Shroff would be an obvious thought given that his father Jackie played an inspector in the original.

    Batra’s box overflows
    The Lunchbox director Ritesh Batra is on a roll, and how. Even before his second feature film, an adaptation of the novel, The Sense of an Ending, is ready, the Mumbai-based filmmaker has been enlisted to direct Hollywood giants Robert Redford and Jane Fonda in another adaptation. Kent Haruf’s novel, Our Souls at Night, sees the Barefoot In the Park and The Electric Horseman co-stars reuniting for his web original twilight years love story. Guess Batra’s own project, Photograph, which has been under development for a while, will have to wait
    for its beginning.

    Udita Jhunjhunwala

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