From Queen to crown
‘Manjhi – The Mountain Man’ may have met with mixed reactions from critics and viewers but the overall reaction has been positive enough to bolster director Ketan Mehta. The maker of films like Bhavni Bhavai and Mirch Masala is already steeped in his next script on Rani Lakshmi Bai, Rani of Jhansi. “She is one of the most fascinating characters in the history of India’s freedom struggle,” said Mehta who previously made The Rising: The Ballad of Mangal Pandey with Aamir Khan. For the part of Rani of Jhansi he has the nod from Kangana Ranaut. This would be second in a planned trilogy revolving around the freedom struggle. Said Mehta, “1857 was a major turning point in Indian history. I have done a lot of research. The final part will be a film on the last Mughal.”
British film crew
London based filmmaker Gurinder Chadha’s last film A Wonderful Afterlife (2010) did far from wonderfully at the box office. Five year’s later, the Bend It Like Beckham and Bride & Prejudice director is back on set with ‘The Viceroy’s House’ which explores the last six months of Lord Mountbatten’s tenure in India before the English colonizers left India in 1947. Her script, co-written by husband Paul Mayeda Berges, is based on research and two books (‘The Shadow of the Great Game’ and ‘Freedom at Midnight’). Jodhpur’s Umaid Bhavan has been taken over by her crew for the shoot starring British and Indian talents. Among them is ‘Downton Abbey’ star Hugh Bonneville (as Mountbatten) and X-Files’ Gillian Anderson (as Edwina Mountbatten). It seems the Viceroy’s House was run not unlike ‘Downton Abbey’, the hit British TV series: while the Viceroy and his family lived upstairs, their thousand-strong staff of local servants lived below. The Indian actors include Huma Qureshi, Om Puri, Sarah Jane Dias and Manish Dayal, best known to Indian audiences as the talented chef in ‘The 100 Foot Journey’.
Some unwelcome changes
Filmmaker Anees Bazmee had to face finicky questioning by the censors ahead of the release of his latest film ‘Welcome Back’. Sources say they objected to two things in particular: a shot of woman leaving a swimming pool dressed in a bikini and the use of a rather pedestrian slang word. Bazmee, we hear, tried to reason with the members that a woman in a swimming pool would naturally be dressed appropriately and what could he do to change that. It seems the compromise was to reduce the length of the shot. As for the slang, one will only know if the filmmaker bleeped out the word or was able to convince the censors that a word, which also means wife’s brother, is hardly considered abusive. ‘Welcome Back’, which releases today, stars John Abraham, Nana Patekar, Anil Kapoor, Shruti Haasan and Dimple Kapadia.
Bollywood decamps to London
As a British film is being shot in India, at the same time three major Bollywood crews are on their way to London to shoot: The multi-starrers Housefull 3 and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and Katrina Kaif-Sidharth Malhotra starrer Baar Baar Dekho. Consider that this means Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif, and Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan are shooting in the same foreign location at the same time. Now that could mean quite a saving in hotel room costs for the producer! Besides Abhishek, Housefull 3 also stars Akshay Kumar, Ritesh Deshmukh, Jacqueline Fernandez, Nargis Fakhri and Lisa Haydon. And along with Aishwarya and Ranbir, Karan Johar’s ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ also features Anushka Sharma. Johar’s last film as director Student of the Year launched Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan and Malhotra, who also happens to be shooting at the same time in the same city as his mentor. One can only imagine what craziness these crews are going to get up to after pack-up!