It’s not often that a Bollywood star gives almost back-to-back flops directed by two brothers. But that is the case with Ranbir Kapoor—first with Abhinav Kashyap on the irredeemable Besharam and now with Anurag Kashyap’s magnum opus, Bombay Velvet, which has collapsed like a house of cards. Looking back at Besharam, Kapoor now acknowledges that he and the director, hot on the success of Dabangg, were “arrogant about it”. Kapoor believes they took the audience for granted and the backlash was well deserved. Kashyap’s 1960s-set Bombay Velvet has not been lambasted in the same way, however disappointment and shock is writ large all over reactions to the film. After all, Kashyap has long been the outspoken, anti-establishment director who made edgy films economically, but has now proven he is as fallible as the rest when catapulted into the big boys’ club. Kashyap finally took to social networking sites to reach out to friends and family, and reassure them that he is fine, has no regrets and will soon be back at work. One wonders if the cast is as regret-free as the director claims to be.
Kapadia wows Cannes
Meanwhile, beyond the dresses and red carpet appearances by the likes of Katrina Kaif, Sonam Kapoor and Aishwarya Rai, and beyond the official screenings of two Indian films—Gurvinder Singh’s Chauthi Koot (The Fourth Direction) and Neeraj Ghaywan’s Masaan—another director of Indian descent is being toasted for his work. British filmmaker Asif Kapadia’s Amy, a documentary on the dramatic life of deceased singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse, who died at 27, has been described as the find of Cannes 2015 and a “tragic masterpiece” by The Guardian. Kapadia’s earlier non-fiction study, Senna, on the racing driver Ayrton Senna, was also feted globally. It seems Amy already has an Indian distributor and fans of the singer can look forward to the film releasing later this year. Early in his career, Kapadia had made the lyrical, The Warrior, starring Irrfan Khan.
Double role, triple jump
The unstoppable Kangana Ranaut might be revisiting her character Tanu in Tanu Weds Manu Returns, which releases today, but she also tackles another character in this sequel. Her double role includes playing Datto, a Haryanvi athlete who gets into Delhi University on a sports quota. Datto is a state-level sprinter, long jumper and triple jumper, and Ranaut had to train with athletes for the jumps and sprints, and with a dialect coach for the accent. Buzz is that Ranaut has nailed the part.
Breaking new ground
I was most impressed by the trailer of American TV drama, Quantico, mostly because of the starring role played by Priyanka Chopra. The inclusion of Indian actors in American and British serials has been on the upswing in recent times, including Suraj Sharma and Nimrat Kaur in Homeland, Rahul Khanna in The Americans, Arjun Mathur and Lilette Dubey in Indian Summers and, the most famous, Apu in The Simpsons. But Chopra’s casting as an FBI trainee is different. She is the centrepiece of this drama and Chopra insisted that her casting not be about her ethnicity. So the character was apparently amended from a white American girl to a half Indian-half Caucasian, and Chopra had to augment her American twang into a full-blown American accent to fit the part. Now, the authenticity of the accent might be questionable, but you cannot deny that Chopra seems set to make a new benchmark as the top-billed actor in an American show.