3 years

Not People LIke US

No Sparks Yet

Rajeev Masand is entertainment editor at CNN News18
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Hoping for a Comeback | Time’s Not Up in the Hindi Film Industry

Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt, who’re playing the leads in Ayan Mukerji’s ambitious desi superhero film Brahmastra, visited Israel this past New Year’s Eve weekend, and two theories began doing the rounds. One, that they’d taken off on some romantic getaway. And two, that they’d begun shooting the film since Ayan had accompanied them on the visit and a day later the film’s producer Karan Johar joined the group.

As it turns out, both theories are wrong. There’s nothing brewing between the pair (“not yet,” say insiders who’ve been predicting that sparks will fly between the two single stars), and the film hasn’t begun shooting either. The actors made the trip to meet Ido Portal, a Tel Aviv-based ‘movement coach’.

Ido’s online profile says, ‘has spent years studying different martial arts, dance forms, gymnastics, acrobatics’ . He now trains using an approach that blends aspects from each of these forms. For Brahmastra, he has devised the principal character’s movements and has been entrusted with Ranbir and Alia’s fitness. The actors flew to Israel to meet him because, reportedly, he was too busy with other commitments to make a trip to India.

There are rumours that Ranbir will play a young man who overcomes his fear of fire from a childhood tragedy and turns it into a strength. Makes sense, given that the filmmakers flirted with the title ‘Dragon’ before ditching it for Brahmastra after the success of Baahubali convinced them that a more mythological sounding title would have all-India appeal.

Hoping for a Comeback

After directing Amitabh Bachchan in Bombay Talkies, Anurag Kashyap will now turn his lens on Abhishek Bachchan, who’s signed up to star in the filmmaker’s next, Mannmarziyaan, a love triangle set in Punjab. Anurag told me that AB Jr seemed “excited” and “hungry” to step out of his comfort zone and embrace other work styles.

Abhishek’s co-stars in the film are Tapsee Pannu and Vicky Kaushal, and the movie is expected to go on the floors next month. It’s a crucial project for Abhishek, who’s had a rough spell at the box-office recently. Insiders say he’s working hard on his fitness and is in a good ‘head space’.

Time’s Not Up in the Hindi Film Industry

The discussion around sexual harassment and exploitation at the workplace has gotten louder on local shores too.

I’ve heard the professional conduct of at least two popular casting directors being seriously discussed at recent gatherings. Two former assistants of one influential casting head revealed that their jobs involved “cleaning up” after their boss had “had her way” with some young hopeful. They described the said big shot’s appetite for strapping young fellas as an “open secret”. The same person was known to make young girls who came to her for acting opportunities especially insecure about their bodies, routinely recommending cosmetic surgery and “boob jobs” to correct their ‘shortcomings’.

The second casting director, I was informed, had a habit of sending messages to young women he was professionally mentoring,asking them to come for “meetings” late at night. He was infamous among cinema strugglers for showering extra attention on women who were “pliable”.

From what one has been given to understand, these examples are a drop in the ocean when it comes to exploitation in tinsel town. The fear of taking names remains one of the reasons that culprits aren’t taken to task. But in a landscape where men openly accused of crossing the line continue to go about their lives without fear of consequence, it’s hard to say when ‘time’s up’ will be called for sexual misconduct in Bollywood.

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