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    Imtiaz hits the road
    Imtiaz Ali is hoping to shake off the baggage of Rockstar and hopes this week’s release, Highway, is a far more honest effort. Starring Alia Bhatt and Randeep Hooda, the story travels across six North Indian states and explores the coming of age of a young kidnapped girl. Ali shot the film in chronological order and wrote the dialogues once he was in location. His logic was that he didn’t want the lines to sound discordant with the surroundings. So he gave the actors their lines just hours before the scene was to be shot. Shot in Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir, Highway is the story of Veera and Mahabir. Ali’s fascination with travel is evident in his earlier films Jab We Met and Rockstar as well and stems from his own frequent journeys between his hometown of Jamshedpur and Delhi, where he was a student.

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    A jolly good show
    The award winning team of Jolly LLB, director Subhash Kapoor and actor Arshad Warsi, are reuniting with a comedy drama called Guddu Rangeela. Warsi plays the titular role of Rangeela, while Amit Sadh, best known for Kai Po Che, plays Guddu. Aditi Rao Hydari also stars in the film that will be shot in North India. Kapoor won a few awards for his writing of Jolly LLB and Saurabh Shukla also snagged an award for his supporting role as a judge in it.

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    Panic room
    After directing the hit horror film Ragini MMS, director Pawan Kripalani’s Darr@ The Mall releases today. The trailers certainly look promising. Starring Jimmy Shergill, Nushrat Bharucha, Arif Zakaria, Asif Basra and Nivedita Bhattacharya among others, the film
    follows what happens when a mall reveals its evil side to the people trapped inside. Apparently, to prepare them for the film and its mood, Kripalani had his actors sit in a dark room for almost 10 hours without any mobile phones or books. They were given refreshments. Also present was a performance coach who would make sudden noises in order to scare them. This was supposed to facilitate a more convincing portrayal of fear and claustrophobia during the shoot.

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    Berlin fortifies Killa
    Director Avinash Arun’s Marathi film, Killa, won two awards at the recent Berlin Film Festival. The film picked up The Generation Kplus (Children’s Jury) Crystal Bear for Best Film and a special mention by the international jury in the same section. A former assistant director and assistant cinematographer, Arun’s first feature is Killa. It’s the rites of passage story of an 11-year-old who has to start life afresh when, following his father’s death, he moves to a new town with his mother. When a group of new friends play a cruel prank on him, Chinu retreats into himself until a chance meeting with a stranger leads to an experience that helps him face his insecurities and fears. “Every viewer will relate to the story. It has a universal energy to it and this universality makes it more approachable,” says Arun. Here’s another Marathi film making waves in an industry that is firmly on the upswing.

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    Riding high
    Randeep Hooda was a natural fit for the part of the Jat character, Mahabir Bhati, in Imtiaz Ali’s Highway, being from the region himself. It’s a far cry from his next avatar in Main Aur Charles, allegedly based on the life of serial killer Charles Sobhraj. He’s also looking forward to making a move into a very commercial space with Salman Khan-starrer Kick. In between film work, he’s still passionately into riding and has recently added a new horse to his stable. After working with Alia Bhatt’s father Mahesh Bhatt, uncle Mukesh and half-sister Pooja, Hooda is now working with the youngest member of the family in the Friday release, Highway.

    Udita Jhunjhunwala

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