John Abraham has been the long-serving brand ambassador of the Mumbai marathon, but in its decade-long existence, the actor has never participated in the long distance race. When quizzed on this he said he did not have an answer why, even though he runs half a marathon every day on his treadmill. Known for his fitness and clean living and eating practices, his production office in Mumbai does not stock sugar but offers stevia, a natural sugar substitute. “Sugar is not allowed here,” I overhear him telling a visitor sipping on a green tea. While Abraham supports the Indian Super League, as the owner of the North East United Football Club, he was also slated to produce a period film based on football. But it appears the project, titled 1911, has been stalled and the script is being reworked.
Taapsee Pannu, who kicked some butt in the action drama Baby last year, is now shooting a film with two female co-stars and the towering talent of Amitabh Bachchan at the centre. Titled Pink, the film is being shot in Delhi by director Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury and co-stars actresses Kirti Kulhari and Andrea Tariang. Pannu also has another interesting project coming up this year. She plays a refugee in Ghazi, a period film based on the sinking of the submarine PNS Ghazi during the 1971 war. While she co-stars with Rana Daggubati in Ghazi, she is paired with Riteish Deshmukh in the revenge drama, Hunkar. Another millennial actor, Pannu is also exploring her entrepreneurial side with a wedding planning business. How do these girls do it all?
I must confess it has taken me until Kapoor & Sons, to understand what the ‘Fawad fever’ is all about. Having never watched the Pakistani actor Fawad Khan’s TV serial, Zindagi Gulzar Hai, my first introduction to him was in the Pakistani drama, Khuda Kay Liye, followed by the high-pitched and overdressed Sonam Kapoor-starrer, Khoobsurat. While I noticed the good-looking musician brother in Khuda Kay Liye, he was somewhat overshadowed by lead actor, Shaan Shahid, and the lovely Iman Ali. His stiff princely character in his Bollywood debut left me underwhelmed. But seeing Khan as the bestselling author harbouring a lifelong secret in Kapoor & Sons hit the right notes. His performance was understated yet nuanced, and one certainly hopes Indian filmmakers will consider him for far meatier and challenging parts. They would surely be assured of a large first day turnout of female fans.
Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari gave up a solid career in advertising to try her hand at direction. A few ad films, and after assisting her husband Nitesh Tiwari on two of his films (Chillar Party and Bhoothnath Returns), Ashwiny felt ready to make her feature film debut. The result is Nil Battey Sannata (meaning good for nothing) starring Swara Bhaskar, Pankaj Tripathi, Ratna Pathak Shah and Ria. It’s essentially a mother-daughter story. So impressed was actor Dhanush by the trailer that he enlisted Ashwiny to direct its Tamil version. She got writers to work on the Tamil script, changed the location from Agra to Chennai and cast Amala Paul and Revathi in Amma Kanakku (mum’s calculation). “My only condition for doing the Tamil version was that I had to have Revathi in the film. Once she came on board, I had to say yes! I have grown up watching her movies,” says Ashwiny, who was also in awe of Ilaiyaraaja, who has composed the music for the Tamil version.