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    The big comeback
    This has been the month of comebacks, post parenthood, for two former beauty queens. Last week, Lara Dutta returned to the big screen, as Emily in Singh is Bliing, and stole the show with her over-the-top comic act (and flouncy frocks). This week, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan takes on the role of a lawyer caught in a web in Sanjay Gupta’s Jazbaa. Bachchan took a five-year break to be with her daughter and returns with a thriller co-starring Irffan Khan, Shabana Azmi, Jackie Shroff, Atul Kulkarni, Abhimanyu Singh and Chandan Roy Sanyal. Her next after Jazbaa is Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, with Ranbir Kapoor and Anushka Sharma. Bachchan was also recently seen performing at the opening ceremony of the ISL – Indian Super League football season, held in Chennai. Watching her stiff performance, we missed the lithe movements we saw in Devdas and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. Before taking her pregnancy-parenting break, Bachchan had a spate of poor showings at the box office, with Raavan, Action Replayy and Guzaarish. Enthiran was her only hit in 2010. So, no doubt, she’s got a great deal riding on Jazbaa.

    On the world stage
    The march of Indian movies around the world continues. Zubaan and Aligarh wowed predominantly Korean audiences at the Busan Film Festival last week and now bags are being packed for the British Film Institute’s London Film Festival, which opens this weekend. Aligarh, Talvar (Guilty), Sunrise and Nil Battey Sannata (The New Classmate) are some of the Indian films that will have screenings in London during this prestigious festival. Randeep Hooda and Gulshan Grover are also expected to attend the gala screening of their Canadian film, Beeba Boys, directed by Deepa Mehta, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last month.

    Shroff’s short take
    With the rise in the number of YouTube users and changing consumption of entertainment on mobile platforms, the short film format is enjoying a resurgence. Even mainstream actors are willing to lend their talent and muscle to these short stories that are made with the same production values as a feature film. We recently saw this with Radhika Apte and Soumitra Chatterjee in Sujoy Ghosh’s Ahalya. Now Jackie Shroff has taken on the central role in Makhmal, a short film that screened at the San Francisco Festival of Globe 2015 and won the Best Short Film – Asian Panorama. Written and directed by Faraz Ali, Makhmal is a touching story about a father aching for the company of his estranged daughter. Shroff’s character runs an embroidery workshop and a piece of velvet becomes a symbol of the bond between father and daughter. Ali has used the format well to encapsulate the narrative into a 17-minute format. The other renowned talent associated with Makhmal is singer Shafqat Amanat Ali.

    shrideviQueen of hearts
    Whatever Sridevi does make news. So after the astounding success of her ‘comeback’ film English Vinglish (2012), it was not surprising that all eyes were on her Tamil film, Puli. The Hindi critics have been far from complimentary about Chimbu Deven’s Hindi dubbed version of the fantasy-adventure, but that’s not going to stop Sri’s fans from flocking to the cinemas. This is Sridevi’s second film in this genre, after the Telugu film Jagadeka Veerudu Athiloka Sundari (1990), which was also released in Hindi (Aadmi Aur Apsara). Bollywood designer Manish Malhotra has put together Sridevi’s regal and opulent look, complete with crowns, gowns and adornments. Sridevi has worked in five languages in her more than three-decade-long career. Besides Hindi, Tamil and Telugu, she has worked in Malayalam and Kannada films, too. Making a return to the spotlight after 15 years in 2012, Sridevi says she notices many changes in filmmaking, particularly in technology and improved professionalism.

     

    Udita Jhunjhunwala

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