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    Woman in action
    Think of a potential action heroine in Bollywood and ita��s unlikely that Sonakshi Sinha would have been a name among the top five contenders. But here is the curvaceous actor in and as Akira. Directed by A R Murugadoss, who she had previously associated with in Holiday, it has Sinha taking on a hardcore action role and a film that rests entirely on her shoulders. The actress spent months training in mixed martial arts (MMA) for this vengeance film that also stars Anurag Kashyap and Konkona Sen Sharma. Akira is clearly a shift for Sinha who is best known (unfortunately), for playing arm candy in various films like Rowdy Rathore and Son of Sardaar. However, with Akira (releasing today), Force 2 and Noor, she is cementingher standing as an actor and not just amandatory female counterpart toA�the dominant male star.

    Road to Venice
    Ruchika Oberoia��s debut film, the multi-starrer Island City, connects three comic-dramatic stories set in the megapolis of Mumbai. The story is inspired by Oberoia��s own experiences in Mumbaia��a mix of sad, comic and strange experiences. The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival last year. This year too, India will make a strong showing at the 73rd Venice Film Festival with film director Chaitanya Tamhane (Marathi film, Court) appearing on the jury and two Indian films in the fray. Director Shubhashish Bhutiania��s debut film Kush, premiered at the 70th Venice International Film Festival and won the Orizzonti Prize for Best Short Film that year. This year his feature Mukti Bhawan, which follows the story of an aging father and his middle-aged son traveling to Varanasi after the father awakens from a strange dream, is part of the Biennale College section. National Film Award winning director Ashim Ahluwaliaa��s 20-minute documentary Events in a Cloud Chamber will premiere under the Venice Classic category and is nominated in the Best Documentary section. Ahluwaliaa��s film is a remake of Indian artist Akbar Padamseea��s experimental project that he made in 1969. The print of the original is now lost and no copies exist.

    Pack a punch
    Taapsee Pannu is certainly on a roll. Even as some are touting the upcoming Pink as her a�?breakthrougha�� film (into the Hindi mainstream), the popular actress of South films has signed up for an action drama called Meera. The film reveals the back-story of how a girl, played by Pannu, becomes a special Government agent. Directed by Shivam Nair, the film stars Akshay Kumar and Manoj Bajpayee. Recall that Pannu made quite an impact with her brief but punchy role as a special agent in Baby. Meera will clearly require far more intense training, probably in Bollywooda��s favourite MMA!

    Pregnancy overdrive
    When I spoke to Konkona Sen Sharma recently, the Talvar actress said what attracted her to the part in Akira was not just that she plays a lady cop, but that she plays a pregnant lady cop! This meant she was not required to attempt any action sequencesa��a genre she is most uncomfortable with anyway. However pregnancy seems to be a hot-word in Bollywood media right now, with Shahid Kapoor and wife Mira birthing a baby girl and with the impending arrival of Kareena Kapoor Khana��s first child. Kareena, in all her pregnant glory, was the showstopper for designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee at the recent fashion week in Mumbai. A fashion-watcher, who was scheduled to attend the show, made a passing remark that the media was behaving as if no Indian woman had become pregnant before. a�?Why do they have to take pictures of her every day, at every activity? Ita��s as if shea��s the first Indian woman to get pregnant!a�? said the exasperated stylista. And one couldna��t agree more. Enough with the a�?baby bumpa�� pictures already! Another source also mentioned that daddy-to-be Saif seems more nervous than excited at the prospect of becoming a father onceA�again, at the age of 46.







    -Udita Jhunjhunwala


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