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    Happy go lucky
    It’s been a while since we saw a nice, frothy romcom and that’s exactly what Happy Bhaag Jayegi promises to be. Besides curiosity about Diana Penty’s return to cinema after a respectable debut in Cocktail, I am looking forward to seeing Abhay Deol back in the hot seat. The actor shifted base to USA right after the debacle of his home production, One By Two, but is now back at least for Mudassar Aziz’s latest—in which he plays a wealthy Pakistan resident whose path crosses with that of a runaway bride, Happy (Penty). In the mould of Vivek Oberoi, Deol, too, started his career with great promise, but unlike Oberoi, he made offbeat choices with critically-acclaimed films including Manorama Six Feet Under, Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! and Dev.D. He probably found his greatest commercial success, however, with Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011). Let’s hope this latest release (in cinema’s today), marks a happier time in Deol’s promising career.

    Steady steps
    This week sees an unusual debut from an unlikely celebrity. Australian cricketer Brett Lee is cast opposite Tannishtha Chatterjee in UNIndian, directed by Anupam Sharma. Focussing on the delicate issues surrounding cross-cultural relationships, this Australian romantic comedy also stars Supriya Pathak Kapur, Akash Khurana and Gulshan Grover. Lee plays Will, an Aussie attempting to woo Meera, a single Indian mother living in Sydney. While Meera is attracted to the tall blonde man, her family is not too keen on something so un-Indian. While the film will probably get some theatrical traction from Lee’s fans and those expecting some titillating scenes (in spite of the censoring), for me it’s another opportunity to see the rock steady Chatterjee, last seen in Angry Indian Goddesses. Her upcoming films include Parched, Lion (which premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival this year) and Island City. She has also just signed on to play India’s first practising lady doctor, Rukhmabai.

    Vaulting to fame
    With biopics being announced by the day (the latest being one on activist Irom Sharmila), I wonder how long it will be before someone picks up gymnast Dipa Karmarkar’s story. After a film on boxer Mary Kom and the announcement of a biopic of badminton champ Saina Nehwal, the only Indian woman athlete to capture the nation’s imagination in recent times is Karmarkar. While writing the script might be easy enough, the greatest challenge, if someone took this on, would be finding an actress agile and athletic enough to pull off a Produnova on the vault!

    An open mind
    There seems to be no stopping Akshay Kumar. After headache-inducing films like Entertainment and The Shaukeens, he started making rather interesting choices circa 2015. Baby and Brothers saw him take on character roles, followed by Airlift and a noteworthy cameo in Dishoom, discounting Housefull 3. Last week, he rocked a crisp white naval officer’s uniform in Rustom, which opened even stronger than his earlier hit, Airlift. Both films have compelling real-life stories at their core. Currently shooting Jolly LLB 2 and slated to appear in Shankar’s sci-fi Tamil film 2.0 with Rajnikanth, Kumar is continuing to make unusual choices. In a recent interview, he said he takes risks to alleviate boredom for both the actor and the audience. He credits the success of his recent movies to the audience, their willingness to experiment and their need for diversity. With this steady appreciation and a changing perception, Kumar is enjoying the adulation and tag of an “interesting” actor that had long eluded him.

    -Udita Jhunjhunwala

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