Comparison with Baahubali 2 doesn’t bother Salman Khan

Salman Khan was in his element at the trailer launch of Tubelight. Pic/Nimesh Dave
Sonil Dedhia (MID-DAY; May 26, 2017)

With the second instalment of 'Baahubali' shattering box office records from the day of its release, the S S Rajamouli-directed project is being touted as the benchmark of commercial success. Comparisons with Aamir Khan's 'Dangal' (2016), which was until recently the highest-grossing Hindi film, reportedly earning Rs 341.96 crore at the box office (till day 16), were inevitable.

Even as cinephiles wait to see if 'Tubelight', the upcoming release of box office boss Salman Khan, can surpass the numbers of the epic-fantasy, the star is comfortably unconcerned. "After 'Baahubali' 1 (2015), we came up with 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan' (2015), which did well. This time, we are coming up with 'Tubelight'. I haven't seen 'Baahubali', but it's a super successful film. But a comparison doesn't make any difference to me. Every film has its fate," Khan said on the sidelines of the film's trailer launch yesterday. He was quick to point out that Amar Butala, the CEO of his production house, Salman Khan Films, may feel the pressure.

"But I am sure we will do well," he added. In 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan', Khan's outing as Pawan, a good Samaritan who battles all odds to help a Pakistani girl find her way home, was appreciated by critics and viewers alike, given that it was significantly distanced from his previous roles, which edged on the lines of, even being restricted to, witty humour.

Kabir Khan-directed 'Tubelight', Salman Khan says, will see him essay a similarly earnest role. "I play a pure character, and that, I feel, is the most difficult thing to do, because we aren't the purest of people. I have played such roles in 'Hum Aapke Hain Koun' (1994) and 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan'. To maintain the simplicity and honesty in a role is challenging."

Om Puri, who passed away earlier this year, was also associated with the project, and the 51-year-old confesses watching the trailer of his film pains him, given that it brings back memories of the veteran actor. "I have worked with Omji in several films. One moment, he was there, and in the next, I hear he is no more. Whenever I see him in the trailer, I don't know how to react."

Akshay Kumar buys rights to Raniganj Coalfield rescue mission story?

Akshay Kumar
DNA (May 29, 2017)

Akshay Kumar loves doing films which are inspired by real-life characters or events. After Airlift and Rustom, and the upcoming Padman, (based on the life of Arunachalam Muruganantham, inventor of a low-cost sanitary pads making machine) and Gold, he has one more lined up. He will play a rescue hero again as he has bought the rights to the story of the Raniganj Coalfield rescue mission (1989). The hero of the rescue operation was JS Gill, Additional Chief Mining Engineer, who risked life and went down the borehole in the capsule and organised the evacuation of 64 miners who were trapped underground in a coal mine.

If Aditya Chopra offers me a film that he thinks I will do a good job in, I will do it-Sushant Singh Rajput

Sushant Singh Rajput
Sarita A Tanwar (DNA; May 29, 2017)

Sushant Singh Rajput has delivered a massive hit with i, but for some reason he is not spoken about in the same breath as Varun Dhawan, Arjun Kapoor and Sidharth Malhotra. He did not have a dream launch. He made his debut with Kai Po Che, with an ensemble cast. He won Best Debut that year. He did two films after that all with YRF (Shuddh Desi Romance and Byomkesh Bakshy). Then, he had a fallout with Aditya Chopra and walked out of Paani after waiting for almost a year. He was told his career would be over. He delivered his first Rs 100 crore film with his next release. However, the industry is not acknowledging and celebrating his success like it should. And he understands this. He accepts it and perhaps, secretly enjoys it. Because that allows him to be the dark horse. Here he talks about the i chapter, the nepotism in the industry and “being Shah Rukh Khan” in his head. Read on for excerpts...

Working on your sixth film. Are you still trying to come to terms with the film industry?
I think it’s easy to understand. People talk about nepotism but I think we are just touching the subject superficially. We are just saying that outsiders find it hard to break into the industry and insiders get it easy, that’s the first thing. No one talks about how your successes and your failures are perceived and that is nepotism, too. If I do something and that’s going and you say...

Please explain..
It is not that insiders are not good, they are. But I also did something which is good but you would just punctuate that hundreds of times and you justify it. And the insiders would do anything and so nobody would question them because he or she was good. But that doesn’t take away from somebody else who was good, too. But that is there and just the room of that faith, hear what I am saying. Some failures are easily forgotten, some aren’t.

You mean that your failures are highlighted more, and your success is not celebrated as much?
I think all this is also nepotism. Anybody who says it isn’t, is either very ignorant or very powerful. That is it. I have no complaints because I have done five films that I wanted to do, I have signed some as well. Not that I didn’t have options... so, I can’t complain. But at the same time, I know that no matter how good friends I am with somebody, if my films don’t work... won’t get offered their films, but you will get invited to their parties, correct?
(Smiles) Yes, that is something that has started happened lately. I am invited to parties. So I finally feel that I’ve arrived. I wouldn’t name him, but this maker just offered me a film after we had a tiff last year and just because my last film did well. It is such simple mathematics and there is nothing wrong to it. It is a money-making thing and if you are saleable — I don’t mean to emphasise that we need to network to get work — but it is expected and sometimes necessary.

SRK and you both hail from Delhi, both made it big after working on TV. Have you subconciously imbibed his style? You are accused of having a Shah Rukh Khan hangover.
Really? If it is working, I won’t complain. (Pauses) If that is true, then it is probably because we had the same acting teacher — Barry John. In fact, I got a chance to finally do a dance song in Raabta and I did his signature — arms spread — move. I’ve always wanted to do it. Because I am a big Shah Rukh fan. He’s the only reason I started.

You have often said that.
I remember coming to Swades ka set, to get his autograph, and I couldn’t meet him unfortunately. I had come from Delhi, he was shooting in Mumbai And a few years later I was dancing behind him when I was with Shiamak and I said, ‘Hi’ and he said ‘Hi’ back. And then, a few years later, when I made my debut, we were at the IIFA, he called me to his room, we sat there for 45 minutes and chatted. I was like, ‘This is it. I can’t get beyond this.’

You and SRK also have the Aditya Chopra connection. Though your experience hasn’t been as nice as his.  Do you regret waiting for so many years for Paani to take off?
Yes. It was very unfortunate because I remember saying no to many films I really wanted to do at that point of time, just because I trusted somebody who was telling me, ‘No matter what, the film will be made.’ I can also understand that I am a newcomer and a filmmaker is putting in so much money, so he will have doubts, but it doesn’t take away the fact that if you decide not to do that film, you cannot not give me another film just because you know I have said no to so many films. That didn’t happen.

Did you really struggle with the decision to walk out of the film?
No, that was a very easy decision. I see few changes in myself that have happened in last four years. I am completely fearless about the consequences. I just don’t care. You will have a great time working with me because there are things I am sure of — I am professional and if you ask me to do nine things, I will do 10. You will be happy, but if it’s anything else that doesn’t contribute to what we are trying to do, then I will not take that sh*t, no matter how big or small you are. As simple as that. I think everybody who works with me, knows this and appreciates this.

How long did you wait for Paani to take off?
That was 11 months of the second year since making a debut. I did three films before that in one year and then I just had one year of doing nothing. But I shouldn’t say I wasn’t doing anything, because I was spending time with Shekhar and that did a lot for me. After waiting for nine months, in the tenth month, I got to know that it won’t happen. I waited for another month, so I would get another film but it didn’t happen. I said, ‘Fine! Let’s find out for myself.’

Did you feel you’ve burnt your bridges with him?
That’s for him to decide.

Shraddha Kapoor also had a problem with Aditya Chopra, but he recently offered her Thugs Of Hindostan. So maybe he doesn’t have that ego, and he will approach you if he has a film for you.
If he offers me a film that he thinks I will do a good job in, I will do it.

Kareena Kapoor approached by two leading publishers to write book on shattering pregnancy norms?

Mohar Basu (MID-DAY; May 29, 2017)

Kapoor Khan ruled the social circuit all through her pregnancy, shattering stereotypes and making a style statement every time she stepped out with her baby bump. Even 45 days after son Taimur was born in mid-December, she was out there, walking the ramp and chilling with her gal pals.

In an earlier interview, when we had asked the actress if she’d like to put down her journey to motherhood in a book, she had said, “I am not a writer. But never say never.” Now it turns out that Bebo has been approached by two leading publishers to write about breaking pregnancy norms and inspiring a legion of mommies-to-be.

A source close to Kareena reveals, “The offers came in last month and she is giving it serious thought. While she believes writing requires dedication, she wants her thoughts to reach people far and wide. In the glam world, pregnancy is equated to a disease and an actress’ career is considered over once she has a baby. Her book will attack the stigma around pregnancy and how she was able to shatter the so-called norms.”

The actress is still figuring out how much of the book will be about her professional and personal life. “She wants to be measured when it comes to writing about her personal life. Her sole intention is to inspire pregnant women not to avoid the public eye. One can also expect a chapter on the furore over Taimur’s name soon after he was born. Her diet and workout regime for post-pregnancy weight loss will also make for a major part of the book,” the source adds.

Salman Khan gets nostalgic as he shoots for India Banega Manch at Bandra Fort

MUMBAI MIRROR (May 29, 2017)

Over the weekend, Salman and Sohail Khan ap peared on Krushna Abhishek's reality show, India Banega Manch that sees contestants perform on the streets. The brothers shot at Bandra Fort, where they had spent a large part of their childhood. A source says, “Salman said that the place brought back some great memories as the amphitheatre used to be their playground. Their cars used to be parked at the entrance and they would go inside to cycle and hang out with friends.“

Krushna's query, whether the spot had transformed into a 'lovers' point' for them, as it is known today, made Salman and Sohail burst into laughter, stating that nothing of that sort had happened to them.

Kapil Sharma's The Kapil Sharma Show gets two-month extension thanks to Salman Khan?

Funnyman’s show gets two-month extension as superstar Khan’s packed diary delays shoot of ‘replacement’ programme, Dus Ka Dum
Bharati Dubey (MID-DAY; May 29, 2017)

A mid-flight fracas with co-act Sunil Grover in March had seemingly tolled the death knell for Kapil Sharma’s skit-cum-chat show. Along with Sunil aka Rinku Bhabhi, three other artistes — Ali Asgar ( Nani), Chandan Prabhakar (Chandu) and Sugandha Mishra (Teacher) — also quit the show, forcing Kapil to introduce a host of new comics.

TRPs plummeted swiftly and in the first week of April, the channel gave him a month’s notice to get his act together. Now, we hear, Kapil has got a two-month extension with ‘replacement’ show Dus Ka Dum being postponed, thanks to host Salman Khan’s unavailability.

“Salman has already started shooting for Tiger Zinda Hai, his reunion film with Katrina Kaif. So, the makers of Dus Ka Dum have pushed it to January 2018. That’s how the channel could allow Kapil more time to run his show,” says an insider.

Following the exit of Sunil, arguably the most loved act on the Kapil Sharma Show, the TRPs crashed as the show’s popularity took a huge beating. Kapil roped in veteran stand-up comics Raju Srivastava and Ehsaan Qureshi as replacements apart from new entrants like adult star Monica Castellino and Supriya Shukla from TV show Kum Kum Bhagya. However, the current ratings are far from impressive.

Industry observer Anil Wanvari says, “Last week’s TRPs went up to nearly four million impressions from B3.4 million the week before. At its peak, the show garnered an average six million impressions. The recent Arjun Kapoor-Shraddha Kapoor episode evoked a positive response. We will have to wait and watch for at least a fortnight if the upward trend continues. We can’t write Kapil’s show off just yet.”

Aamir Khan-Amitbah Bachchan starrer Thugs Of Hindostan to begin next week in Malta?

Aamir Khan and Amitbah Bachchan
DNA (May 29, 2017)

Now that casting has come to a close, Yash Raj Films’ Thugs Of Hindostan (TOH) is finally ready to set sail in Malta. The project, which stars Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Katrina Kaif and Fatima Sana Shaikh, goes on floors as soon as June 5.

The first schedule will begin aboard two massive, specially constructed ships docked by the Maltese seaside. Writer-director Vijay Krishna Acharya shares, “The set of the film is in a high-security water zone, with restricted access. Both ships have been built in the early 18th century-style, complete with cannons and other weapons. An international crew has been hard at work, creating these elaborate ships in Malta. Most of the portions filmed on board these ships will involve high-octane action.”

Set off the coast of Southern Europe, Malta is an island nation of Europe with relatively unexplored ocean side scenery.

People thought I was crazy to make Mr India-Boney Kapoor

Madhureeta Mukherjee (BOMBAY TIMES; May 29, 2017)

It was an imaginative story of an aam Hindustani, who went on to become a superhero of sorts. In a generation that had not seen anything like this on the silver screen, Mr India, directed by Shekhar Kapur, starring Anil Kapoor, Sridevi and Amrish Puri, achieved cult status. As the film completes 30 years this month, India's invisible man, the mighty Mogambo and the sizzling and haughty Ms. Hawa Hawai remain iconic and unforgettable. The man, Boney Kapoor, who was called the “Hero of the film“ for showing sheer guts for backing it as a producer, reminisces the making of the film and the magical effect of Mr India. Read on...

We had a dream team for Mr India, and at that point of time, I think I was the youngest guy behind the scenes. The spirit of the team was fantastic, including all the kids. We had created a classroom kind of space for them, so that their friends and family could join them. There was a lavish menu on the cards every day. We shot the film for over 350 days. Back then, a film with an A-list star (Jeetendra, Rajesh Khanna and Vinod Khanna) would cost nothing above Rs 40-50 lakhs. I'm talking only about the single-hero projects; of course, films like Sholay and Karma were multi-starrers and were made on a different scale. I spent close to Rs 3.80 crores on Mr India. I don't think that even a big film like Karma spent this kind of money (Subhash Ghai will hit me for this).

Films would take around 80-100 days to shoot, but we took three times more than that. Sri's (Sridevi) mother would allot 35-40 days for most of her films, but she made an exception for us. We were shooting for so long that there was immense curiosity about the project. So many actors like Jeetendra and Shashi Kapoor would drop in on the sets that we had erected in Versova (by the beach) for months, just to see what it was all about. Jeetuji said, 'Tum log bana kya rahe ho? Jitne mein meri picture banti hai, utna tumne sirf iss set pe kharcha kiya hai'. Around the time Mr India had released, international circuit mein piracy bahut zyada thi. Everyone was talking about it, but I said, 'Let's make a film that people would be forced to watch on the big screen'. Picture aisi banao ki logon ko theatre jaana hi pad jaaye.

I had the guts to back Mr India when no one did. I never had a budget, I was just passionate about the film and I went all out. I was mighty impressed with the way Shekhar narrated the film in just five-six minutes. I signed him up the next day for Rs 70,000, while at that time, the signing amount was about Rs 10,000.

Initially, Salim-Javed were supposed to produce Mr India with Amitabh Bachchan. There was even talks that Ramesh Sippy was considering it, but he felt it was too expensive for a single-hero project. In fact, Javed saab was the one who suggested Shekhar's name, and we all decided to go ahead.

It was a perception that Anil would be missing in the film. They thought he was crazy to play a man who keeps disappearing and I was crazy to make the film. In fact, Anil is there throughout the film. Mr. India is his most iconic character. Nobody could do the role like him. I don't know how it would have been if Amitabh Bachchan had done it. Maybe, it would be designed differently, because at that point, he carried the image of the angry young man. I remember that we picked up Anil's jacket from Mumbai's famous Chor Bazaar, it wasn't customised. He wore his old jeans and only his shirt was stitched. For the song Kaate Nahin Kat Te, we got an elaborate outfit designed for Sri, but I changed my mind. I had seen her chiffon saree look in Jaanbaaz, and Feroz Khan had picturised it fabulously. So, I told Shekhar Kapur, 'Can we better that song?' I wanted everything to be handled aesthetically. Also, all that you see in the film was shot in real-time. From the special effects to the fight-sequences, nothing was done in post.

When the script was narrated to me, we didn't have the villain's track, that was reworked later. It so happened that Pramod Chakravorty (director of films like Love in Tokyo and Dream Girl) had a mahurat planned with Amitabh Bachchan for some film. Somehow, he couldn't reach the event, and Amitabh's recorded voice was played on the speaker. That's where they got the seed of the idea and then, they worked on the script. Unfortunately, they (Salim-Javed) parted, and I think this was their last released film as co-writers, but actually, they had worked on the structure way before I started shooting.

Those days, superhero films like Superman and Batman were gaining popularity here, and Shekhar wanted something on those lines which was larger than life. Almost every villain in the industry wanted to do this part. Javed saab said that his takia kalam would be 'Mogambo khush hua' and we all jumped at it. He even predicted that the line will be remembered for as long as film industry exists. The challenge was to create the aura that Sholay's Gabbar (Singh, played by Amjad Khan) had, or come as close. While we had auditioned a couple of actors, Amrish Puri was at the back of my mind as Hum Paanch had just catapulted his villainous stature in the industry. A massive set was constructed at RK Studios to shoot Mogambo's sequences.

I am blamed for being overindulgent, but I'm not. I am just very honest, and I like to give everything I do, my all. I have been blessed that actors have backed me and I have backed my directors' vision. I have been brought up in the backyard of Raj Kapoor; my entire childhood was in their house, seeing Shammi Kapoor and Raj Kapoor reacting to their films. My father (film producer Surinder Kapoor) started his career as an assistant to K Asif, so I grew up hearing conversations and stories about how lavishly they shot and envisioned their films, including Mughal-E-Azam. Perhaps, subconsciously, it stayed with me always. My father was a large-hearted person. He encouraged Anil and me and had blind faith in us, without ever questioning our decisions. I have done over 30 films and not every film has been lavish. Some films need that kind of scale. For Pukar, we went to Alaska and Mexico, which was rare back then. I have shot 12 of my films in North America. Also, in those days, A R Rahman was the biggest prize catch for a film, but for Pukar, without talking money and dates, he straightaway gave me a confirmation, saying, 'You are the producer of Mr India, I will do it'. Mr India is one film that opened on a Wednesday in some centres, because there was a rush and theatre owners couldn't control the crowd.

People talk about branding and marketing now, we did such exciting promotions years ago. For Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja, I got singing and dancing dolls made of Anil and Sri. Before Mr India released, there was an India-West Indies match at Mumbai's Brabourne Stadium, where Anil landed in a helicopter in his Mr India get-up. Sridevi performed on stage as an actress for the first time during the Hope '86 concert in Kolkata, where she danced to the song Hawa Hawai. She was nervous before the show, and it was also the first time that out of sheer shock or joy, or whatever the emotion was then, she came off the stage and held me. I was crazy about her, and that made my day.

In every era, there are films that open doors like Awara, Barsaat, Ganga Jumna, Sangam, Bobby, Sholay, Kranti, 3 Idiots, Dangal and Baahubali. I don't follow any benchmark, I only trust my instincts. Yes, I went through major lows, but there was nothing that could stop me. I was also fortunate to get an opportunity to work with some of the biggest stars of the film industry. Would I like to make Mr .India 2? Yes, I would love to. I am itching to make a few more films like Mr India, Wanted and No Entry.

The dynamics are not different when I am working with my family. For instance, when we were shooting for Mom (his next production, starring wife Sridevi in the lead) in Noida, Sri and I were in same hotel, but we were staying on different floors. She wanted her space and I wanted mine. We never carry our personal relationship on the set and Sri is too focussed and dedicated to get distracted by anything.

Arjun Kapoor, Parineeti Chopra back for Dibakar Banerjee's next?

Sanyukta Iyer (MUMBAI MIRROR; May 29, 2017)

Five years ago, Arjun Kapoor had received a thumbs-up from critics as well as the audience for his debut turn as the local goon, Parma, in Habib Faisal's Ishaqzaade, while his leading lady, Parineeti Chopra, had won a Special Mention for her fiery Zoya in the film at the 60th National Film Awards. Now, Mirror has learnt that the duo is joining forces again for Dibakar Banerjee's next, an action-romance.

The film has been in the pipeline for six months with Dibakar having met Arjun for the first narration in November last year. “Arjun had loved the script and given his nod but had not signed on the dotted line. Dibakar was still working on the final draft and wanted Parineeti as the leading lady. By January, both the actors were on-board,“ a source close to the development said, adding that Arjun is reportedly to be playing a Haryanvi police inspector in the film.

Arjun and Parineeti, who share a large circle of mutual celebrity friends, share a cordial equation off-screen too. They're both excited about facing the cameras together once again. While it was expected that the film would roll in mid-2017, we hear the kick-off date is within the next two months. The dark, gritty plot is set in North India and Parineeti's turn will be a far cry from her girl-next-door image. “Prep begins next month,“ the source added.

I'm not stepping into Sylvester Stallone's shoes; I'm paying him a tribute with the Rambo remake-Tiger Shroff

Charged up about playing the Indian Rambo, the actor on the role of a lifetime and sequels of hit films in which he hopes to sustain the hype
Natasha Coutinho (MUMBAI MIRROR; May 29, 2017)

Tiger Shroff is all charged up about playing the lead in the official Hindi remake of Sylvester Stallone-starrer Rambo franchise, even if the Siddharth Anand directorial's kick-off is a way off. “I was over the moon when the offer came along. I've grown up watching Sylvester Stallone films. The word 'action' conjures up images of guys like him and Bruce Lee in my mind. I'm not stepping into his shoes; I'm paying him a tribute with the Rambo remake. I feel like I am up for the challenge. Subconsciously, I've been preparing for it all my life. He put out a lovely tweet to wish us. It felt like a dream come true,“ the 27-year-old action star-on-the-rise exults.

He is quick to add that while the remake's first poster, released recently during the Cannes Film Festival, highlighted Rambo's physical attributes, there's much more to the role. “It's the mental turmoil of the character that will be the real challenge. I haven't started prep yet since I have to complete the work on Baaghi 2 and Student of the Year 2 before Rambo rolls. It will be one of the most physically and mentally draining films I've ever done. Other than his physicality, the fact that the character has gone through so much at a young age, bringing those experiences to life will be a challenge,“ Tiger asserts, adding that his most favourite Rambo film was the first of the franchise, and probably closest to the one they are making. “You really feel for the character and root for his fight. He's the underdog, a bit of an outcast who tries to fit in and transforms into a killing machine but you still feel for him.“

The Stallone super-fan has self-admittedly binge-watched his other hit series, Rocky, as well. “I love watching it even today. I watch videos of the songs' Eye of the Tiger' (from Rocky 3) and 'Hearts on Fire' (Rocky 4) every time I go to train in the gym or before stage performances. Mr Stallone really has given the audience so much,“ Tiger exults.

Is Rambo Tiger's first step towards Hollywood? “My ultimate goal is to be Spiderman so Rambo is a good platform to get whatever talent I have to a bigger platform. The Rambo remake film is definitely one of my biggest platforms but Spiderman is the goal.“

Next up, the actor is set to begin filming Ahmed Khan's Baaghi 2 sometime next month. And according to the actor, it's like homecoming of sorts since the original, directed by Sabbir Khan, was a runaway hit. “I'm looking forward to collaborating with Sajid (Nadiadwala, producer) sir and Ahmed (Khan) sir. Of course I'll miss Sabbir sir. But I'm working with him on Munna Michael so it's not such a bad feeling. I've always been a fan of Ahmed sir; he had choreographed the 'Pappi' song in Heropanti (Tiger's debut). My first music video, 'Zindagi Aa Raha Hoon Main' was with him as well. Few people can pull off what he can so I'm looking forward to what his take on Baaghi will be. Sajid sir is like a father figure for me so I know I'm in safe hands,“ Tiger explains.

Another big franchise on his list is Student Of The Year 2 that had originally featured then debutants Sidharth Malhotra, Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt. Initially slated to kick off in June, the sequel has now been pushed to a later date.“It will see me in a completely different look. It's a huge responsibility because it's Karan (Johar) sir's baby. The original Student... did so well so I can't let the team down,“ the actor signs off.