Brazilian model Izabelle Leite has been in India less than four years and, besides being the face of some large brands, she has also starred in two Bollywood movies. Her debut was in last year’s Sixteen, for which she garnered a best debutant nomination. More recently, she received tepid reviews for her role in Purani Jeans. Iza, as she is affectionately known, may have a long way to go in Bollywood, but she’s proven she can make it in an alien country. As a 19-year-old who moved here straight from Brazil, she didn’t even speak English but now she’s almost fluent and even trying to learn some Hindi. Often paired with co-stars and cricketers, Leite says she does not let gossip bother her. “In the beginning, I used to get upset. But people who know me, know my personality. Dealing with critics and the media, I guess, is another thing I need to learn to deal with,” says the young actor.
Children of War, a film based on the nine months of the 1971 war of Bangladesh—where fact melds with fiction—releases today. Starring Farooque Sheikh (in his last screen role), Victor Banerjee, Pawan Malhotra, Raima Sen and Indraneil Sengupta, director Mrityunjay Devvrat’s controversial film explores the two main weapons used by the West Pakistan army on the then East Pakistan and its resident Bengalis: religion and rape. The large-scale violence that ensued is often described as genocide with figures in the realm of 400,000 rapes and three million deaths. On election results day, this hard-hitting drama goes head-to-head with Himesh Reshammiya’s retro-thriller Xpose, which looks at the film industry and its scandals in the 60s and 70s. Reshammiya’s films are known to be inadvertently funny—a quirk that guarantees a certain first-day-first-show audience for this brand of so-bad-it’s-good cinema. Also starring composer-singer-rapper Yo Yo Singh, Irrfan Khan and Sonali Raut, this is a murder mystery with 11 suspects believed to have enough motives to kill a movie star.
Ready for a comeback
After a four-year break from movies—her last release was No Problem in 2010—Sushmita Sen is ready to breathe Bollywood again. The mother of two young daughters, who ran the I Am She Miss Universe franchise for two years, has signed a Hindi and a Bengali film and is also immersed in setting up her wellness and fitness studio in Mumbai. Looking fit and fine, the 38-year-old will be shooting her first Bengali film, Jodi Emon Hoto (What if it had happened), directed by Rupali Guha, this summer. Sen has acquired the Hindi remake rights for the same film, too. She’s also signed on for Happy Anniversary, ad-man Prahlad Kakkar’s debut as feature film director. Kakkar’s film will comprise of an ensemble cast. With her daughters old enough not to need mummy all the time, and with her back having recovered and her weight having been shed, Sen is ready to face the camera once more and show her fans that she’s still got what it takes. One thing she is sure of: she wants to tread safe, commercial ground right now, like Main Hoon Na, which just marked a decade since its release. Who can forget Ms Sen as the sexy chemistry teacher in those chiffon saris!