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    Virtual battles1

    With the launch of Amazon Prime in India and Netflix making an announcement of a deal with Shah Rukh Khan, the online battle for content and viewership is hotting up. The box office battleground is expanding from cinema screens and satellite channels to digital platforms. Many filmmakers are more than content for their films to skip the pressure of a theatrical release and go straight to digital. Abhay Deol is backing this idea by pitching his independent films to the digital platforms. Among the first cut are Aditya Vikram Sengupta’s Labour Of Love, Payal Sethi’s short film Leeches and Brahmanand S Singh’s documentary Kaagaz Ki Kashti. Newcomer Pulkit’s Maroon, starring Manav Kaul, will go directly to iTunes worldwide. By doing so, the filmmakers will bypass the high marketing costs involved in a theatrical release. Maroon is a psychological thriller about an insomniac professor who, betrayed by his wife, is marooned in loneliness. Other under production films that are focussed on a digital releas are Devashish Makhija’s Ajji, Samit Kakkad’s AscharyaFuckIt and Nikhil Bhatt’s Brij Mohan Amar Rahe.

     

    Packing a punch

    Everyone knows that Aamir Khan is not an acting or moviemaking machine. He takes his time to select scripts, prepare for parts and strategically promote them. The videos of his weight loss and gain, and body-reshaping have been shared widely. He has made no public appearance in the last month without his two on-screen ‘daughters’, actresses Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra. Dangal, which releases today, is a biographical sports drama featuring Aamir Khan as Mahavir Singh Phogat, a wrestler who realised his unfufilled dreams of bringing glory to the country through his daughters Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari. Geeta was the first Indian female wrestler to win a gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, while her sister Babita Kumari won the silver (in a different weight category). Dangal means wrestling competition, and it’s a term that became familiar to most people after Salman Khan’s Sultan, which also showcased a wrestler’s story. Now, considering that Khan’s next release, Secret Superstar, will see him in an over-thetop avatar, let’s see what tricks he comes up with to promote his home production featuring another Dangal daughter, Zaira Wasim.

     

    Top dog 2

    Next week, I shall do my annual round-up of the best of 2016 (and maybe a short list of the worst). While the list will mainly feature films, there is no doubt that when it comes to picking a girl who had a turning-point year, I would have to pick Alia Bhatt. With three successful film this year — Kapoor and Sons, Udta Punjab and Dear Zindagi — and with awards likely to fill up her shelves, here’s a throwback to what the 23-yearold said to me in an interview for Indulge earlier this year: “I want to be having fun. I believe in variety. The same way that I don’t want to eat the same food every day, I also don’t want to do the same work or wear the same clothes.” With Aashiqui 3 and Dragon slated for next year, her plate sure seems to be filled with variety.

     

    Going grey

    Anyone who watched the Vidya Balan-starrer Kahaani 2 would have definitely commented on the presence of Jugal Hansraj. The cute child actor from Masoom became a hero in movies such as Aa Gale Lag Jaa and Mohabbatein. He then directed the silly romcom Pyaar Impossible. Nothing in his career graph prepared us for this role as a pedophile in Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahaani 2. Hansraj has said that it was exactly this unexpectedness that made the makers cast him, because the part required a family man, with a sense of respectability, to also be a criminal. He has also admitted that he was nervous about taking on the part and performing opposite Vidya Balan. Hansraj found this part far more challenging than playing his parts in Mohabbatein or Papa Kehte Hain. “When you play a character that contrasts with your personality, it is always a challenge,” he said.

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