Not People Like Us

All It Takes to Make an Actor

Rajeev Masand is entertainment editor at CNN News18
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Casting Wisdom | The Star-Struck Filmmaker

Salman Khan’s brother-in-law Aayush Sharma has been sweating it out in the gym lately, working on a six-pack that he might flaunt when he makes his acting debut soon. The twenty- something-year-old husband of Salman’s little sister Arpita will reportedly be launched in a film by the superstar, who has been grooming the young man over the last year or so.

Aayush, who was born and raised in Delhi, far away from the arc-lights, was first dispatched to assist director Ali Abbas Zafar on the sets of Sultan, but unit members say he was never really entrusted with any heavy lifting like ADs usually are. “He was present on the sets to observe, rather than do anything,” one source reveals. Salman also reportedly gave him fitness tips and diet plans and set him up with his own personal trainer—because of course that’s the first thing one needs when one’s getting ready to become an actor: a killer physique! No word on whether Aayush has gone to acting school, performed theatre, or taken workshops.

Casting Wisdom

Shahid Kapoor wants everyone to know that it was him who was instrumental in roping in Alia Bhatt for Udta Punjab. Its censor woes aside, the film is still being talked about for its promising trailers and for the way it appears to weave four separate storylines into its larger narrative about the growing drug trade in Punjab.

The Haider star is reportedly telling anyone who cares to listen that he recommended Alia’s name to director Abhishek Chaubey, but the Dedh Ishqiya helmer didn’t think Alia would be interested. Subsequently, Shahid pitched the project to her himself while they were working on Shandaar, and got her interested in reading the script.

Turns out it was Shahid again who suggested that the filmmakers approach Kareena Kapoor for another key role in the film—but this time he didn’t volunteer to make the call himself. The exes don’t have any scenes together in the movie, but are not unaware that much of their fans’ interest in the project stems from the promise of seeing the Jab We Met stars sharing the same frame again.

The Star-Struck Filmmaker

The crew that worked on a recently released film appears to be genuinely upset about the film’s failure, placing all the blame at the feet of their director whom they insist was way too distracted to give his job the attention it deserved. Those closely attached to the project reveal that the director simply wasn’t around for much of the post-production, choosing instead to participate in reality shows and promotional tours with his stars in the weeks leading up to the film’s release. A key member of the team says the captain of their ship didn’t so much as sit in on the final edit of the film, issuing blanket instructions over the phone while attending international premieres. “Dus minute kaat do,” he ordered his editor on the phone line from Europe when the producer said the film’s length was becoming an issue. He didn’t even bother to recommend which scenes to snip.

According to unit members, the director was so privileged and overwhelmed to be working with his A-list star that he became blinded by the fact that the star’s performance just wasn’t cutting it. When one of his actors pointed out that the star’s hysterical delivery needed to be reined in, the director reportedly brushed off the concerns, insisting that it is exactly how he had imagined the character. But this is hardly surprising for anyone who has closely followed his story. On his debut film a few years ago, it is a well-known fact that his actress had to jump in and pretty much take charge when the unit lost confidence in his leadership skills. He even fell out with his producer during the making of that film over his inability to execute the project in the manner that had been planned.