Best face forward
2016 is a year that will be marked for the number of new female faces launched in Bollywood. Trailers of Mirzya are so far building up Harshvardhan Kapoor but you can’t miss the interesting face riding behind him on the horse. That’s Saiyami Kher. Then there’s Pooja Hegde, flowing gowns, towering headdresses and Hrithik Roshan as a co-star in Mohenjo Daro. The Dangal poster centres around Aamir Khan but you cannot miss the girls that surround him including debutantes Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra. Pakistani actresses Mahira Khan and Saba Qamar will debut in Bollywood with Raees and Hindi Medium, respectively, while Sayesha Saigal will be seen in Ajay Devgn’s Shivaay. Southern star Kriti Kharbanda will be seen in the oddly titled Raaz Reboot with Emraan Hashmi. Undoubtedly there are others too whose arrival will be noted.
So another Eid has come and gone and Salman Khan has owned version 2016 too. Sultan surprised critics and audiences alike, not least because the superstar allowed the character of Sultan to supersede his starry histrionics and posturing. Once he’s had a little break and enjoyed the fruits of his labour, Salman will begin work shortly on Kabir Khan’s Tubelight. This will be the third collaboration between the actor and director. Tubelight is to be shot in North India starting with a schedule in Ladakh next month. So it looks possible that Tubelight will be Salman’s next release, and–no surprises here– it’s blocked for Eid 2017! “Salman doesn’t believe in the Eid release or Christmas release. He’s interested in the holiday weekend. It just so happens that as one of his films releases it’s time to shoot the next one and then that one gets ready in a year. So, yes, my film will come next Eid,” says the Bajrangi Bhaijaan director. Interestingly Kabir Khan is also developing an Indo-China co-production tentatively titled The Zookeeper which tells the story of an Indian zoo keeper’s journey to China to find a panda to bring back to India in order to save his zoo.
Web series are spawning a whole new talent pool. The actors appearing in favoured web shows are online sensations and stars in their own right. Among them is Naveen Kasturia who was seen in the critically acclaimed Sulemani Keeda (2014). But more than his feature film outing, Kasturia is best known for the TVF show, Pitchers. Kasturia began as an assistant director before moving in front of the camera. His latest work to get an online release is a short film (12 minutes) titled Int. Café–Night, which also stars Naseeruddin Shah and Shernaz Patel. Born in Nigeria, raised in Delhi, Kasturia made a switch from software engineering to entertainment. A fan of Dibakar Banerjee’s Khosla Ka Ghosla, Kasturia approached the director for an assisting job but was instead cast in a soft drink commercial. Acting in ads and films, writing scripts and also fulfilling his wish to assist Banerjee, which he did on Love, Sex Aur Dhokha and Shanghai, this is why some risks are worth taking.
Ashutosh Gowariker recently spoke about why he cast Pooja Hegde in his imagining of an ancient civilisation, Mohenjo Daro. He says he was keen on a new face for the part of Chaani, The Chosen One, someone without any baggage or preconceived image in the audience’s mind. Gowariker noticed Hegde in an ad film and called the former beauty queen in for an audition.