Director Hansal Mehta recently faced the same fate as many innocent travellers to Europe. The National Award-winning maker of Shahid and Citylights was horrified to find that his wallet had been stolen in Paris, deeply affecting this family holiday. He described feeling “violated” and remarked on the lack of sympathy from the local police. Not that this dampened his spirits for long—after all, he is en route to New York where Citylights is being screened and has been nominated at the New York Indian Film Festival 2015 next week. Besides, his latest film Aligarh has wrapped shooting. The film not only has Mehta reuniting with old-time friend and actor Manoj Bajpayee, but also sees his continuing collaboration with friend and National Award-winning editor Apurva Asrani, who makes his debut as a full-fledged screenwriter. In Aligarh, Bajpayee plays a professor terminated from his job because of his sexual preferences. Adding another dimension to this story is Asrani’s connection with Bajpayee. Asrani won a Filmfare award for editing Satya, which saw Bajpayee deliver a career-defining performance as Bhiku Mhatre.
Arjun Mathur who recently impressed with his performances in Fireflies and Coffee Bloom, has temporarily shifted base to Malaysia. The actor will be there till the end of this month shooting for season two of the British TV mini-series Indian Summers, a drama set in the summer of 1932, a few short years before the end of the colonial rule in India. The ongoing TV series also stars Julie Walters, Lillete Dubey and Roshan Seth. It’s hard to imagine Malaysia passing off as Shimla, but that is what the makers seem to be doing with this mini-series. As for Mathur, before leaving to join the shoot, he posted on a social networking site that he was “extremely excited” to be a part of this pre-independence drama. “The character has shades that I truly haven’t had the opportunity to explore,” he said.
Indies on the world map
Indian films continue to make strides globally with Cannes becoming a hot property for independent films. Later this month, two films will compete at the Cannes film festival. Gurvinder Singh’s Chauthi Koot (The Fourth Direction), set in Punjab in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s assassination, and Neeraj Ghaywan’s Masaan (Fly Away Solo), which tracks the lives of four people living in Varanasi, have been selected for Un Certain Regard. While Singh has previously directed the National Award-winning Anhe Ghore Da Daan, Masaan is Ghaywan’s debut feature.
The unstoppable Akshay
Best known for his work in the Telugu film industry, director Krish makes his foray into Bollywood with today’s release, the Akshay Kumar starrer Gabbar. A remake of the Tamil film, Ramana, the action-thriller is squarely aimed at delivering a message—about the common man’s fight against corruption. Kumar plays the titular role with Shruti Haasan, Sunil Grover and Suman Talwar in supporting parts, and a special appearance by Kareena Kapoor Khan. Chitrangada Singh also features in the item song. Singh is an unusual choice, considering she is hardly known for her moves and shimmies. The unstoppable Kumar, on the other hand, is already deeply immersed in his next film, Airlift, based on real incidents from the 1990 Gulf War and the invasion of Kuwait. He plays a powerful Indian businessman, Ranjit Katyal, who helps evacuate 1,70,000 Indians.