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Music edition
We seem to be entering a season of Hindi musicals. First up (releasing today) is Jugni, followed by Mozez Singh’s Zubaan, starring Vicky Kaushal and Sarah Jane Dias, and then, in February, comes Rhythm, a romantic musical around the journey of Avantika and Rohan, two extremely talented artistes in their respective fields, who meet while following their dreams. Newcomers Adeel Chaudhry and Rinil Routh play Rohan and Avantika respectively. Zubaan focusses on Dilsher’s (Kaushal) journey and search for an identity. It’s a coming-of-age story of a Punjabi boy who develops a fear of music, his journey in overcoming it and, thereby, finding himself. Written and directed by Shefali Bhushan, Jugni revolves around Vibhavari (Sugandha Garg), a music director working on her first break in the Hindi film industry. Vibhavari hits the road in search of soulful music and finds a lot more than just that along the way. Sadhana Singh, who one might recall from her debut in Nadiya Ke Paar (1982), plays a singer and screen mother to the film’s hero Siddhant Behl. Interestingly, Singh, Garg and Bhushan are all trained in classical music, while Behl, who plays a singer in Jugni, has no background in music.

2Two for grownups

A patriotic biopic and a porn-com will take each other on at the box office today. It’s Akshay Kumar as the Kuwait-based Indian businessman in Airlift versus Tusshar Kapoor and Aftab Shivdasani doing god-knows-what in Kya Kool Hain Hum 3. Directed by Raja Menon, Airlift is the story of Kuwaiti billionaire Ranjit Dayal who strategises and executes the evacuation of over 1,70,000 Indians trapped in the Gulf-nation after neighboring Iraq declared war in the early 1990s. Nimrat Kaur plays Kumar’s glamorous wife, Amrita. The film was shot in Abu Dhabi and Bhuj, as areas that resemble the topography of Kuwait and Baghdad.
To bring authenticity, Kumar learned some Arabic and the dialect. Though the real-life Dayal lives in Kuwait, it is said
that Kumar was introduced to some of the Air India pilots who participated in the mass evacuation. As for KKHH3, her entry into the Bigg Boss house has made the film’s heroine Mandana Karimi a household face and name. Now let’s wait and see if she sticks it out inside the house or makes a timely exit to promote her film. With KKHH3, Mastizaade, Great Grand Masti, Santa Banta Pvt Ltd etc, this looks like the year of the Bollywood style adult comedy.

4Teenage tales
Speaking of adult comedies, here’s another American Pie-type offering. Brahman Naman has its world premiere this weekend at the Sundance Film Festival, USA. Last year, Prashant Nair’s Umrika represented India at this leading niche film festival championed by Robert Redford, while this year it’s B Naman about a teenage Bengaluru quiz team on a road trip. It’s India circa 1980 and quiz nerd Naman is the leader of a team of awkward teenagers determined to lose their virginity while attending a quiz competition in Calcutta. Written by former Bengaluru-resident Naman Ramachandran and directed by Kolkata-based Q, the film stars Shashank Arora as Naman, Tanmay Dhanania as Ajay and Chaitanya Varad as Ramu, among others.

3Tigerman to Tiger
A retrospective of Pavan Malhotra’s 25 years as a film actor (held in Delhi last week) brought into the spotlight the remarkable career of this accomplished and underrated character actor. He leapt out of the screen as Hari in Nukkad and later as Salim in Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro. One of his most memorable roles is that of Tiger Memon in Black Friday and, more recently, as Kareena Kapoor’s uncle in Jab We Met and as the cruel army man in Children of War. Drawn to the stage from his school and college days in New Delhi, one of his first experiences with film was as a wardrobe department assistant on Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi. Several years of working in production preceded his break on TV and, finally, film. One of his most celebrated roles is that of the Tigerman in Buddhadev Dasgupta’s award-winning Bagh Bahadur (1989). It’s good to see actors of his calibre being feted by peers and audiences.

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