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Without borders
Six Indian and six Pakistani filmmakers are coming together on a single platform, titled Zeal for Unity. If you are wondering about the odd title, it’s obviously a forced effort to emphasise the name of the producer, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd or ZEEL. This initiative is being launched next week at the Wagah Border, in the presence of the filmmakers as well as musicians from both sides of the border. The six Indian filmmakers are Aparna Sen, Bejoy Nambiar, Ketan Mehta, Nikhil Advani, Tanuja Chandra and Tigmanshu Dhulia, while the Pakistani filmmakers include Khalid Ahmed, Sabiha Sumar, Shahbaz Sumar and Meenu-Farjad. No rules were applied or themes assigned. The films are likely to be released on digital and broadcast platforms and will be entered for film festivals.

Into the jungle
The latest Hollywood version of the much-loved The Jungle Book is slated to release in India on April 8, a week before its US release. The Jon Favreau directed reworking of Rudyard Kipling’s classic novel blends live-action with photorealistic CGI animals and environments. It stars young New York-based Indian child actor, Neel Sethi, as Mowgli, with the voices of Scarlett Johansson, Idris Elba, Ben Kingsley, Lupita Nyong’o and Bill Murray playing evergreen characters Kaa, Shere Khan, Bagheera, Raksha and Baloo, respectively. For the Hindi dubbed version, Disney India has roped in an equally high-powered cast of Bollywood stars. Priyanka Chopra (Kaa), Irrfan Khan (Baloo), Nana Patekar (Shere Khan), Om Puri (Bagheera) and Shefali Shah (Raksha).

Speaking out
Shakun Batra made his feature film debut with the romantic comedy, Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu, in 2012. In between, he worked with Alia Bhatt on the viral video Genius of the Year and now he’s ready with this second film, Kapoor & Sons. The trailer has piqued interest, not least because of its rather attractive lead actors, Sidharth Malhotra, Bhatt and every housewife’s fantasy, Fawad Khan. The film sees the reuniting of a family to celebrate the grandfather’s (Rishi Kapoor) 90th birthday. Malhotra and Khan play brothers and the grandsons. There was a rumour that one of the family secrets revolves around the sexuality of one of these boys. Batra laughs off the idea saying, “I think people are confused with Dostana 2. Yes, there is a conflict and there are past issues that remain unresolved. The film looks at what happens when issues that have been brushed under the carpet resurface.” Kapoor & Sons, which also stars Rajat Kapoor and Ratna Pathak Shah, releases next week.

East bound
Continuing on the theme of the last few weeks, of Bollywood ladies going West, here is another name to add to the list, with one change: Amyra Dastur, who was last seen in Mr X (with Emraan Hashmi), has gone East. Along with Sonu Sood, Dastur features in the Jackie Chan-starrer, Kung Fu Yoga. The Mumbai-based actress, who has already appeared opposite Dhanush in the Tamil film Anegan, is enjoying working with the popular martial arts and comic hero, Chan. Dastur, who debuted in Issaq (with Prateik Babbar) is expanding her repertoire with the action and stunt work required for Kung Fu Yoga, but once the shoot packs up by June this year, she returns to complete work on an Indian film called Ticket To Bollywood. Incidentally, Bollywood chatter has been wondering about Dastur’s closeness to Vinod Khanna’s son Sakshi, who is slated to make his Bollywood debut this year.

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