Making the change
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s last release was Jazbaa, a thriller that left critics and audiences underwhelmed. In today’s release, Sarbjit, she plays Dalbir Kaur, the sister of an incarcerated Indian farmer who fought relentlessly for his freedom. Ash’s screaming act in the trailer has not been well received, nor has the patchy make up designed to age her in the film. Instead, it’s the titular character of Sarbjit Singh, played by Randeep Hooda, that one is most curious about. After all, it was Sarbjit who suffered a long internment and was murdered in jail, too. The film spans a 23-year period during which Kaur fought to secure her brother’s release. Hooda immersed himself in the part to the extent of losing weight to portray an emaciated prisoner, besides adopting the dialect, accent and body language of a Punjabi farmer. While he did some wrestling training for Sarbjit, he engaged in rigorous mixed martial arts (MMA) training to prepare for his role in Do Lafzon Ki Kahani, in which he plays a MMA fighter. Do Lafzon Ki Kahani releases in June.
Last week’s cricket-centred semi-biopic, Azhar, was an unfortunate opportunity lost. What could have been a charged film fell short on almost all fronts, barring a spirited performance by Emraan Hashmi. The biggest offender was Nargis Fakhri, cast as Bollywood star Sangeeta Bijlani who Azhar falls in love with and later marries. It reminded one of the debacle that was Rockstar, a nuanced film with a solid performance by Ranbir Kapoor, but partially let down by Fakhri’s casting. To her credit, she fared fairly well in Madras Café, in which she could speak lines in English. Next up, she’s part of the third instalment of the comedy franchise, Housefull, appearing opposite Abhishek Bachchan and alongside Jacqueline Fernandez and Lisa Haydon. What does one say when the best actor of that trio seems to be Fernandez! Anyway, it came as a surprise to some that Fakhri is taking some downtime to recover from health issues in New York. Perhaps it’s best she’s not around to read the reviews for Azhar.
Rahman gets sporty
It was a pleasure to meet composer AR Rahman at a special screening of Pele: The Birth of a Legend, in Mumbai last week. Rahman has composed the music for the biopic on the legendary Brazilian football player. “My next project is Sachin: A Billion Dreams. I seem to be specialising in sports biopics,” he jested. His next big Hindi film project is Ashutosh Gowariker’s Mohenjo-Daro, besides Robot 2 and other South films. But his passion project is 99 Songs, the film he has written and is producing, which is being
directed by Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy.
Return to Cannes
Richa Chadda, who will be seen playing the role of Sarbjit’s wife, Sukhpreet Kaur, in Sarbjit, has just returned from Cannes where the film had a market screening. During interviews for the biopic, Chadda was repeatedly asked if she was okay playing second fiddle to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. Her reply was simple and pragmatic. She said she could neither be cast to play the older-looking character, nor was she as big a name as Bachchan. The Fukrey actress is more interested in seeing reactions to her risqué character in the upcoming Cabaret. Ask her which of the films from her growing filmography she’s most proud of and she singles out Gangs of Wasseypur and Masaan, which premiered at, and won accolades, at last year’s Cannes Film Festival.