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    Kangana’s candour impresses
    Kangana Ranaut was the special guest at Anupama Chopra’s book launch in Mumbai last week. Ranaut was her usual disarmingly charming self, surprising many in the audience who were interacting with her off-screen persona for the first time. Her comments on paid media and stars who become victims of their own created mythology were insightful, but what I liked most were her comments on journalists asking her to perform on the spot during an interview. Kangana said it drives her mad when she is asked to recite a dialogue from one of her films or dance. “It took me three days to prepare my dialogues and now you want me to just say one of them,” she quipped. Being asked to do a dance move was just as bad, if not worse, for the actress who admitted that she is usually too shy to appear in front of a big audience. “I am very shy, I get panic attacks,” she said adding that she respects her craft too much to perform on demand. This of course got people in the audience snickering about several of Kangana’s colleagues who do dance for their supper. “Some people might dance for you, they have a different approach, but I can’t. We’re not all the same!” she said, as if reading minds.

    Courting success
    Another globally feted film releasing this week is the Marathi language Court directed by Chaitanya Tamhane. Having screened at almost 20 festivals (it premiered at the Venice Film Festival too) and bagging more than 15 awards, the National Award-winning Court is one of the most eagerly anticipated independent releases of the year. Tamhane’s film is about how a folk singer is arrested and accused of performing a song that might have provoked a sewage worker’s suicide. The film follows the trial of the aging singer and the back-stories of the lawyers and judges that also affect this man’s fate. Through the courtroom drama device, Tamhane explores issues of caste, society, the justice system etc. Producer Vivek Gomber also stars as the defence lawyer. It seems Tamhane had previously directed Gomber in a play. Tamhane’s debut feature film has been lauded as one of the finest and most promising debut films in a long time, and he’s only 27!

    A sip of sensitivity, with a straw
    After a long journey from script to screen to festivals, Shonali Bose’s personal film Margarita, With A Straw finally releases today. It sees Kalki Koechlin in the role of a wheelchair-bound Laila who is affected by cerebral palsy but it does not stop her from traveling from Delhi to New York to study and live a full (almost) life. Casting Laila was one of the challenges writer-director Bose faced. She said they needed to find an actor of the right age and gender “who did not just have the acting chops but who would agree to work exclusively on the role for a minimum of three months. Kalki was one of the rare actors in our industry who filled all these categories,” said Bose. Since the starting point for the script is Bose’s cousin Malini, the latter helped Kalki build her character. “It was really important that the actor playing the role not pity her character,” added Bose. For Kalki, one of the biggest realisations was the difference in attitude towards the disabled in India and abroad. “In Delhi people would stare at me and there is no infrastructure for wheelchairs. I could not move without help. But in New York, I could whizz off in my chair and people were helpful and sensitive. So it’s not surprising that in the film also Laila becomes more independent in New York,” said Kalki.

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