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    India calling
    If last week was all about Deepika Padukone wowing XXX: The Return of Xander Cage co-star Vin Diesel and director DJ Caruso on their two-day visit to India, next month Mumbai is scheduled to host international action star Jackie Chan. Chan will be hosted by co-star Sonu Sood as the two promote their movie KungFu Yoga, a multi-lingual action adventure comedy. Directed by Stanley Tong, the film also stars Lay Exo, Disha Patani and Amyra Dastur. It seems the cast underwent extensive training for the film including aerial training with wires and a harness. Plus they shot a song in Rajasthan which was choreographed by Farah Khan although the main portions of KungFu Yoga were shot in China and Iceland.

    Going places

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    Another Bollywood talent who is set to woo the world stage is Huma Qureshi. Her first international film Viceroy’s House, directed by British filmmaker Gurinder Chadha, is premiering at the Berlin Film Festival next month. The film recounts the true story of the final months of British rule in India, and releases in the year India celebrates 70 years since independence and Pakistan marks 70 years since its birth. Qureshi plays an interpreter to India’s last British Viceroy Lord Mountbatten and his wife. She is cast opposite Manish Dayal who reunites with his The Hundred Foot Journey co-star Om Puri in one of the towering actor’s final roles. It certainly would be heartening to see a fine actor like Qureshi get substantial work abroad, if not at home.

    Clash of the biggies
    This Republic Day eve, the battle for the box office will be fought between Hrithik Roshan’s Kaabil and Shah Rukh Khan’s Raees. Both films are action oriented though the former has a strong romantic core. Raees has the edge as it releases a few hours before, on the morning of the 25th, whereas Kaabil opens to a paid preview on 25th evening. Both films are hoping to capitalize on the long weekend, and wrestle away some screens and eyeballs from Dangal. For more on Raees, you can read my interview with director Rahul Dholakia on the Cinema page. As for Kaabil, Hrithik Roshan desperately needs a win after the debacle of Mohenjo Daro last year. Kaabil, which also stars Yami Gautam, is the story of a vengeance seeking blind man determined to make right a wrong that befalls his wife. Now for some reason if this film too does not work, Hrithik will have to ensure that his father Rakesh Roshan is quick about scripting Krrish 4 and slip on the mask and cape that have always delivered hits. Hrithik is also slated to play a double role in an upcoming comedy being helmed by Karan Malhotra (Agneepath).

    All about the girls
    Women-centric films seem likely to dominate 2017. While Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s epic costume drama Padmavati headlines Deepika Padukone, Hansal Mehta’s Simran stars Kangana Ranaut who is also the pivotal character in Vishal Bhardwaj’s Rangoon. And then Sunhil Sippy has just finished principal photography on Noor, with Sonakshi Sinha playing the titular character, Shraddha Kapoor turns gangsta’ for Apoorva Lakhia’s Haseena and Kriti Kulhari will step into the shoes of Indu Sarkar for Madhur Bhandarkar. Tapsee Pannu gets top billing in Naam Shabana, a spin-off inspired by her character in Baby and Aditi Inamdar will scale heights in the Rahul Bose directed biopic, Poorna. Looks like the heroes better watch out!

     

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