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    Time to shine
    Eight years after Mohabbatein, Aditya Chopra directed Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, and eight years after that, he has Befikre releasing today. Touted as a “free spirited, contemporary love story”, Chopra’s film stars Ranveer Singh and Vaani Kapoor (of Shuddh Desi Romance fame) in the story of Dharam and Shyra. These two impulsive young adults seem to be preoccupied only with daring each other with juvenile challenges and making out in public places. But what stands out most from the promos and songs is Vaani Kapoor’s desperate attempt to outshine energiser bunny Ranveer Singh. Her enthusiasm, along with some questionable (and unnecessary) work on her face, are a clumsy distraction. She
    succeeds in drawing the attention away from Singh and even from the Parisian monuments that form the backdrop to this story about “living life to the fullest”. Every actor and filmmaker born after 1990 might cite Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge as the greatest influence on their lives, and Chopra can be assured that Befikre is unlikely to be any kind of threat to that film’s record-breaking run.

    Jack of all trades

    It’s likely that powerhouse talent Rajkummar Rao would have been disappointed that not only his role in Aligarh, but also the outstanding work of his co-star Manoj Bajpayee, were overlooked at the recent Star Screen Awards. These awards broke from tradition and were held a month sooner than usual, which makes one wonder as to how the awards for 2016 were given out, as December has only just begun, thereby firmly eliminating Kahaani 2, Dangal and Befikre from contention. But that’s besides the point. Coming back to Rao, he’s hardly been relaxing. In fact, he’s been shooting films back to back. First, he drew unilateral praise for his performance in Vikramaditya Motwane’s Trapped when it screened at the Mumbai Film Festival. His film Newton is currently in the final stages of post production. He has completed shooting Bareilly Ki Barfi and 5 Weddings and has already begun filming Behen Hogi Teri, after which he will turn his attention to a web series on the life of Subhash Chandra Bose. He has also worked on another film called Omerta, which should release in 2017.

    Going versatile
    It seems Alia Bhatt is going to be able to check off another item from her bucket list. Earlier this year, in an interview she did with me for Indulge, she revealed that she wished to explore two career goals: first, singing more and second, Hollywood. While she has set the latter aside for now, she might be training her vocal chords for a starring role in Aashiqui 3. The director, Mohit Suri, confirmed to news media outlets that Bhatt would be playing a singer in the film. The 23-year-old has previously sung for her films Highway and Udta Punjab, and impressed us with both. The timeline on Aashiqui 3, in which Sidharth Malhotra is also slated to star, remains to be seen, as the Dear Zindagi star is also committed to Ayan Mukherjee’s superhero saga Dragon, with Ranbir Kapoor.

    Back to the top
    Vidya Balan is back – and how! She displays her towering
    talent as both Vidya Sinha and Durga Rani Singh in Kahaani 2. Awkward walk, crumpled clothes, unkempt hair, et al. Director Sujoy Ghosh’s
    suspense thriller may be peppered with holes, but there is no faulting Balan, who embraces her role and doesn’t miss a beat. After a string of mediocre films such as Bobby Jasoos, Humari Adhuri Kahaani and Te3n, it took Kahaani 2 to catapult Balan back to the top actresses list. She has two more powerful films with author-backed roles coming up in 2017. The first is Begum Jaan, the Hindi remake of the Bengali film Rajkahini, and the second is a Malayalam biopic of author Kamala Das, titled Aami. Then, at some stage, Kahaani 3 will probably start brewing with a whole new character for Balan to own.

    -Udita Jhunjhunwala

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