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    The half-yearly review
    STR-Snip4As we cross this year’s half-way mark, here is my pick of a handful of Bollywood films that have stood out so far. Top of the list is the Deepika Padukone and Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Piku, followed by the Varun Dhawan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui-starrer Badlapur, Kangana Ranaut’s double role in Tanu Weds Manu Returns, Anushka Sharma’s showcase thriller NH10 and Kalki Koechlin’s brave effort in Margarita With A Straw. Coming in close behind are Akshay Kumar’s Baby, Ayushmann Khurrana’s Dum Laga Ke Haisha and Zoya Akhtar’s ship saga, Dil Dhadakne Do. However, while the box office has been tepid thus far, the industry is gung-ho about the second half of 2015 with films like Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Drishyam, Shandaar,Tamasha and Dilwale yet to come.

    Head held high
    Salman Khan, his producers and his directors seem to be highly confident—
    or perhaps they know something we don’t— because even as the actor’s court case is due to come up this month, Khan is signing on new films. And the producers have been making announcements about their release dates, clearly suggesting their belief that ‘bhai’ will not be serving a jail term any time soon. While his Eid 2015 release, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, seems to be in safe waters, with Khan already going all out to promote the film (which he has also produced), Yash Raj Films announced that Khan-starrer Sultan will release on Eid 2016. And now it seems brother Arbaaz Khan is blocking Eid 2017 for Dabangg 3. Now if this isn’t confidence, what is?

    Almost reel
    We will know this weekend if all of Karan Johar’s enthusiastic support for SS Rajamouli’s Baahubali pays off or not. The first of the two-part epic releases in its Hindi dubbed version today. Shot mostly in Ramoji Film City, Hyderabad, the fantasy period film is made on a large scale with a huge budget. The vast battle scenes required hundreds of extras and thousands of props and weapons. I am told the producers are working on an idea to set up a display, like a museum piece, at Ramoji. “We have a major set still standing, so we can convert that into a tourist attraction. We are also thinking of making a TV series, which would use the props,” said Baahubali producer Shobhu Yarlagadda. Rajamouli still has about 100 days of shooting left for the second part, which is expected to recommence in September. The concluding part stars Prabhas, Rana Daggubati and Anushka Shetty and will release next year.

    Lost in translation
    With the Ajay Devgn starrer Drishyam slated to release on July 31, many fans were curious to check out the Kamal Haasan starrer, Papanasam. After all, both are remakes of the 2013 Malayalam hit, Drishyam, starring Mohanlal. It’s interesting that Jeethu Joseph, who has directed both the Malayalam and Tamil versions, added about 20 minutes to the Haasan starrer. This has done the otherwise engaging thriller some disservice and Hindi movie-goers are hopeful that Nishikant Kamat will keep his version taut. Kamat’s version is set in Goa and also stars Shriya Saran as the wife and Tabu as IG Meera Deshmukh, who wears rather snug police uniforms. Kamat, who has previously directed Mumbai Meri Jaan and Force, has another thriller, Rocky Handsome, with John Abraham and Shruti Haasan, coming out this year, too.

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