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Back to the Grind

Rajeev Masand is entertainment editor at CNN News18
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For a Slice of the Pie | When the Gloves Come Off

The suspense over Deepika Padukone’s next move is finally over. No, wait… next on the cards is definitely shaadi to Ranveer Singh in November, so let’s speak of her next ‘career move’. The actress, who’s only made two films in two years (xXx: Return of Xander Cage and Padmaavat) has signed on to star in Raazi director Meghna Gulzar’s next. Deepika will play real-life acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal in the film, and has revealed that she will produce it too.

After her film with Vishal Bhardwaj was shelved some months ago, Deepika reportedly met multiple filmmakers about potential roles. Apparently there was serious talk about a Chaalbaaz remake and a film with Masaan director Neeraj Ghaywan. But it appears that the film with Meghna will be the next project DP will shoot for.

Sometime next year she is also expected to reprise her role—and take centrestage—in the next xXx film, director DJ Caruso recently let slip on social media. When talk of the new film first came up, Deepika had said she would wait until she saw a script before committing, which led to speculation that she wasn’t going to be happy just being a part of the ensemble. Soon after, reports surfaced in Hollywood that the next xXx film could have a bigger role for Serena Unger, the badass action heroine that DP played. It wasn’t very long after this that Caruso responded to fans on Instagram confirming that Deepika was to star in the new film.

There is also some talk that the decision to beef up the Serena character in the new film is in keeping with the studio’s larger plan to splinter off a Serena spin-off soon, but for now that’s strictly hearsay. The only thing that appears to be certain is that 2019 will be a busy working year for the actress.

For a Slice of the Pie

Emboldened no doubt by the success of Sacred Games (even if its future hangs from a thread following the dissolution of Phantom Films) and how it impacted Saif Ali Khan’s career, Abhishek Bachchan is expected to make his ‘digital bow’ soon in the second season of Amazon Prime’s original thriller series Breathe. The Manmarziyan star has reportedly said ‘yes’ to acting in the project, which will also star Nithya Menen, best known to many as the female lead opposite Dulquer Salman in Mani Ratnam’s OK Kanmani.

Like Sacred Games Season 2, the future of Abhishek’s next movie Gulab Jamun is also unclear, since it was to be produced by Phantom. That project was expected to reunite Junior Bachchan and his missus Aishwarya Rai after they last worked together in Raavan. It’s not the only film that will be affected by the Phantom fiasco. The fate of Kabir Khan’s 83—a recreation of the events leading up to India’s World Cup victory in 1983, with Ranveer Singh playing Kapil Dev—also hangs in the balance.

When the Gloves Come Off

A top female star has a new physical trainer who’s putting her through the paces every other morning. Nothing unusual about that, except that many of her friends were surprised that she would no longer be training with the pro she’d been loyal to for some time now.

Turns out she didn’t ditch her trainer. Insiders say that another actress—who formerly shared a cordial friendship with the leading lady in question—may be responsible for the severing of this professional relationship. It’s no secret this other actress happens to be very close to the same trainer, having worked with her for some years now. According to the grapevine, once awkwardness developed between the two ladies, which had nothing to do with their professional careers, the second actress may have leveraged her closeness to the trainer to ensure she didn’t have time to work with the aforementioned star.

The rift between the two actresses was inevitable, industry watchers insist. But few would have guessed it would result in such pettiness.