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Goodbye to the Big Screen?

Rajeev Masand is Entertainment Editor and film critic at CNN-IBN
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Daddy’s Got Your Back | Still Not a Household Name

Filmwaalas have already begun writing obituaries for Saif Ali Khan’s career. The 47-year-old actor’s latest film, Chef, has crashed and burned at the box-office, raking in such dismal numbers that it’s being talked about as the lowest performing release this year with a recognisable star. Industry pundits are saying there is no market anymore for the strictly urban films that are Saif’s mainstay. Others are saying he is now in the ‘Mohnish Bahl space’ and so must settle for supporting roles alongside younger, saleable stars. With his daughter currently shooting her first movie and getting ready to enter Bollywood, many believe it is time for Saif to move into an ‘older bracket’ anyway.

Chef, a remake of a Jon Favreau starrer of the same name, wasn’t even Saif’s worst film in recent years (yes, Happy Ending, we’re looking at you), but the numbers are admittedly abysmal. A senior filmmaker breaks down the scenario: “The kind of niche films that Saif made are now the stuff of Netflix and Amazon. Nobody’s going to pump money into those movies for the big screen. And Saif doesn’t work as a ‘mass hero’ so these are hard times for him.”

The actor is awaiting the release of Kalakandi, a dark drama written and directed by Delhi Belly writer Akshat Verma that ran into censor problems, but has reportedly been cleared for release recently. More wisely, some insist, he’s shooting Sacred Games, an original Netflix series based on the bestselling book, currently being directed by Anurag Kashyap. “That’s his sensibility, and that’s his market. It’s where he’ll get the opportunities that allow him to fly,” the senior filmmaker explains.

Daddy’s Got Your Back

Both Ranbir Kapoor and his father Rishi Kapoor have admitted that communication lines between them are strained. Both insist that there is great love between them but that Ranbir is closer to his mother and shares a slightly more distant bond with his daddy dearest.

Nevertheless, you can always count on Kapoor Sr to jump to his son’s defence in public. Recently the actor was at an event where journalists asked him to comment on the leaked New York photographs of Ranbir and Pakistani actress Mahira Khan. Frothing at the mouth, Rishi Kapoor demanded that the journalists change their line of questioning, going so far as threatening to whack them if they persisted.

I ran into Ranbir a few days later and asked if he’d seen the video of his father growling at the hacks. He smiled, acknowledging that he had, then shook his head helplessly as if to say, ‘That’s just how he is.’

Still Not a Household Name

This beautiful actress with porcelain skin may be destined to remain on the fringes of the A-list, despite having appeared in a bunch of big films that had the potential to send her career skyrocketing. Alas, the films bombed and despite credible performances in most, she was unable to reach the higher rungs of stardom. A shame, because anyone who meets her tends to repeat the same refrain: “Why isn’t she a bigger star?” The short answer to that question just may be: Because she hasn’t stirred public consciousness.

Don’t believe me? Listen on. Not long ago, the actress was at Hauz Khas in the Capital, shopping for a pair of sunglasses. She found a pricey pair at one of the fancier stores, and after paying for them, the shop manager, a genial middle-aged gentleman, asked her to enter her details in their visitor’s book so they could contact her when they had fresh stock of her preferred brand. She declined, but the manager insisted, oblivious of who she was.

The bittersweet reality of the situation wasn’t lost on the actress, but she wasn’t about to fill the visitor’s book anyway. She left the store clutching her new purchase and leaving the poor manager perplexed over her unwillingness to fulfil a simple formality. It was clear to her that A-list stardom was still elusive.

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