Not People LIke US

Scheduling Woes

Rajeev Masand is Entertainment Editor and film critic at CNN-IBN
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Price Tags | Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Aah, so rumour has it that Deepika Padukone has had to bow out of Tanu Weds Manu director Anand L Rai’s Shah Rukh Khan starrer. Apparently she’s neck deep filming Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati, and he won’t release her dates so she can take on the new film.

Despite two major hiccups while he was shooting—twice did protestors vandalise his sets—Bhansali is adamant on making his December release date, as if to show that he cannot and will not be cowed down by bullies. As a result, he’s shooting long days and expects that his actors be available to him when he needs them. Although he had previously agreed to give Deepika some time off from Padmavati so she could start at least two new projects, the new breakneck schedule gives her no room to focus on anything but his film.

Insiders are saying SRK and Anand are upset about losing their leading lady, and are now circling Alia Bhatt about possibly taking the role. Some sources say Katrina Kaif also has a supporting part in the movie.

Price Tags

According to the Bollywood grapevine, Shraddha Kapoor, who was being hotly considered for a key role in the Aamir Khan-Amitabh Bachchan starrer Thugs of Hindostan, may have lost the project after she reportedly asked producer Aditya Chopra to hike her fee from the Rs 1 crore pay-cheque he was offering her. A source close to the developments reveals that the Aashiqui 2 star trotted off to YRF Studios to discuss monies with her producer, instead of letting her agents do it for her, as is the practice. She is believed to have asked Adi to pay her more than he paid Katrina Kaif for Dhoom 3—so far the most the studio has paid a female actor (a reported Rs 3 crore).

Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

He’s a respected actor, and viewed as a poster-boy for English-language films made in India. His debut film as director, released over a decade ago, travelled the typical festival route before opening to empty houses. Lately, he’s earned a thumbs-up from critics for his second directorial project, an inspiring true-life story that nevertheless fizzled out at the box-office. Whatever the film’s fate, it reinstated his reputation and brought him the much- needed goodwill that had eluded him in recent times.

It appears, however, that beneath the veneer of a sensitive filmmaker lies a ruthless, cut-throat opportunist. Well-placed sources reveal that the actor was never meant to direct the film. He was approached to play a key role in the movie by the film’s writer duo, a married couple. The husband was set to direct the film, but less than midway through the production, the actor took over the project when he realised there was potential here to revive his cold-as-ice directing career. He sidelined the writers, reportedly threatened them with consequences if they didn’t relinquish the directing reins to him.

Rank outsiders with no experience in the film business, the writers backed off once the script was in place and watched the actor realise what had been their vision all along. They had secured subsidies, tax breaks, and shooting permissions— all of which he inherited. He kept them at a safe distance, paid them in full, gave them writing credit, and even magnanimously named the husband as ‘co-director’ in an obscure end-credit sequence.

Crucially, however, he made them sign non-disclosure agreements, threatening to sue them if they so much as mentioned to anyone what had transpired during the making of the film. Threats were issued, family members were involved, and the couple could do nothing as they were dealing with personal issues at the same time. Right now they’ve decided to focus their energy on their next project. More than anything, they can’t get over the irony that the actor-turned- director is being seen as someone with a caring, sensitive soul on the basis of this film. If only the world knew. If only.

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