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Fresh Bonds

Rajeev Masand is Entertainment Editor and film critic at CNN-IBN
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A Stitch in Time | An Unlikely Pair

When Alia Bhatt signed Meghna Gulzar’s Raazi, it was because she loved the script and the character she was approached to play. The 24-year-old actress was aware that her director was the daughter of the legendary poet and filmmaker Gulzar, but that might have been all she knew about the Talvar helmer.

As part of her preparation for the role—and specifically to wrap her head around the manner in which she was meant to speak Urdu in the film—Meghna reportedly handed over a bunch of old Hindi film DVDs to her leading lady. Ever the professional, Alia reportedly immersed herself in research, dutifully watching all the films she’d been asked to closely study.

A few weeks later, while discussing the references and takeaways from each of the movies she’d watched, Alia pointed out to Meghna that she particularly liked the styling of ‘the actress in Kabhie Kabhie’, entirely clueless that the heroine in question—Raakhee—happened to be Meghna’s own mother.

The director was amused by her leading lady’s ignorance, and equally by the fact that Alia’s initiation into Bollywood, and everything she knows about Hindi movies and the people that make them begins only with Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham in 1998. Apparently it’s been a running joke between Meghna and Alia since then, and may have brought them closer as a team. Who’d have thought!

A Stitch in Time

According to sources close to the unit, Sanjay Leela Bhansali still has a significant portion of Padmavati left to shoot. The filmmaker recently had another set constructed adjacent to the one he’s currently shooting on, and will soon be shuttling between both sets, simultaneously filming sequences in both places in order to wrap production on time and make the film’s December 1st release date.

Originally scheduled to release on November 17th, Bhansali was able to convince his co-producers to shift the release by two weeks so he has a little more time on his hands to bring the film in with all the trimmings and excesses he is partial to. The unit, which has now been working on the movie for a whole year, has reportedly been showing signs of exhaustion, but the largely positive response to the first images of the film’s stars, which were unveiled recently, is said to have lifted sagging spirits.

Over the next two weeks, Bhansali is expected to shoot scenes with Ranveer Singh, who plays Alauddin Khilji in the film. The actor, who has shaved off the thick beard he’d been sporting through the bulk of Padmavati’s production, is expected to film his character’s younger portions now.

An Unlikely Pair

Insiders are saying that away from the din of social media and the film and literary circles that they respectively circulate in, a film director and a respected young journalist-author may have found companionship and happiness. They’re an unlikely match, say friends of the filmmaker, but they seem to enjoy each other’s company immensely.

He’s currently trying to get his directing career back on track after a big film he was involved in fizzled out some years ago. She continues to fearlessly report prickly political stories, ignoring all the aggressive, repulsive trolling she is routinely subjected to on social media.

The pair, his friends say, have decided to maintain a low profile in public. No splashy, flashy appearances on red carpets and big events; they’re only out to close friends and well-wishers. That might have something to do with the fact that there are past relationships to settle and negotiate first. Others say all the secrecy is because they’ve been on and off for some time and need to figure out how they feel about each other before making any firm commitments.

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