Hollywood stars in India
Most people know the petite Canadian actress Ellen Page as Juno (from the 2007 film) for the role that won her an Oscar nomination and for her parts in Inception and the X-Men series. So naturally curiosity was ragingly high when news spread that the diminutive and unassuming 29-year-old was spotted in Mumbai. It turned out that she along with her friend and co-host Ian Daniel are traveling around India shooting a part of the new season of their TV show. Titled Gaycation, the show explores stories of alternative sexualities and LGBT experiences around the world. While in Mumbai, Page watched the critically celebrated Aligarh. She was so interested and affected by the Manoj Bajpayee starrer that she reached out to the film’s team and interacted in depth with its screenwriter Apurva Asrani. The shoot of the show has also taken them to Varanasi, Hardiwar and Delhi. Later this month, Oscar winning British actor Ian McKellen, another outspoken voice for gay rights, will also be visiting Mumbai. More on that soon.
Double the fun
Last week at a special preview screening of her upcoming film Waiting, directed by Anu Menon, Kalki Koechlin was chatting with her co-star Naseeruddin Shah and discussing her upcoming travels in North East India. “I am going to shoot a television show with my father. We will both be riding separate motorcycles and traveling across various states of North East India,” she informed. Kalki and her dad Joel’s journey will take them over 5,000 km before she returns to Mumbai, just days before her film’s release (May 27). Motorcycling is one in a list of adventure sports Kalki enjoys. The others are skiing and scubadiving. This road trip, which is being filmed for a TV show that will air later this year, began a few days after Kalki received her National Award in Delhi for Margarita, With A Straw. She has also shot for Konkona Sen Sharma’s directorial debut Death in the Gunj.
A dramatic comeback
Tanuj Bhramar’s Dear Dad is a bittersweet coming of age story revolving around father-son duo of Shivam (Himanshu Sharma) and Nitin (Arvind Swamy) as they set off on a road trip from Delhi to Shivam’s boarding school in Mussoorie. As many journeys often are, this one too is cathartic with unexpected events and characters along the way. Swamy made his Hindi film debut at the age of 21 with Roja (1992) and was later seen in Bombay (1995), both directed by Ratnam. He then went off the radar, after his last Hindi film Raja Ko Rani Se Pyaar Ho Gaya 16 years ago, and shifted his focus to running a business. Swamy has often described himself as a “reluctant actor”. While the actor enjoyed the filmmaking process, he was ill at ease with the attention and fandom that followed. Then, following an accident, which required long recuperation, he made a return to the arc lights in 2013 with Ratnam’s Kadal (2013). He also appeared in the Tamil film Thani Oruvan last year. There’s nothing like a good comeback story and this one certainly has its share of highs and lows.
On Azhar’s trail
Emraan Hashmi, Prachi Desai and Nargis Fakhri take on the real life personas of cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin and his two wives Naureen and Sangeeta Bijlani respectively in the Azhar biopic (releasing today). Given the former Indian captain’s checkered life (infidelity) and controversial career (match fixing scandal), there is enough fodder available for a movie. Apparently director Tony D’Souza has recreated the sting operation of 1999 that led to the blackening of the Hyderabad-based player’s career and reputation. Karanvir Sharma is seen playing Azhar’s nemesis called Manoj. One might, quite naturally, believe that his character is moulded on bowler Manoj Prabhakar who was part of the 1999 expose that also gravely affected his career. Gautam Gulati’s character is supposedly inspired by Ravi Shastri. These three male actors in particular have engaged in a great deal of training and matching body language besides period costumes and hairstyles to fit their parts. Hashmi, however, was fortunate enough to be able to shadow Azharuddin himself.