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Sporting Spirit

Rajeev Masand is Entertainment Editor and film critic at CNN-IBN
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Getting It Right | Learning from His Mistakes

Kangana Ranaut won’t be baited. The Rangoon star laughed it off when she was asked to respond to a joke by Vidya Balan on social media that seemed to reference a recent controversy in which Kangana was accused by the writer of her new film, Simran, of demanding ‘additional credit’ for contributing to the film’s script.

Describing Vidya as a friend, Kangana took the joke in her stride, insisting she wasn’t “thin skinned” and could take the occasional jibe.

Just a few weeks ago when the industry was compelled to take sides after Kangana got into a war of words with Karan Johar over the now infamous ‘nepotism issue’, Vidya defended the actress saying: “I think it’s really important that a woman stands up for herself. I feel very happy when I see that happen because it’s difficult for a woman.” Vidya made it a point to clarify that she wasn’t speaking specifically in the case of Kangana’s tu-tu-main-main with KJo but made no bones about the fact that she admired Kangana for the brave stands she often took.

Getting It Right

For two years now, Riteish Deshmukh has been prepping for a historical film on the great Maratha warrior, Chhatrapati Shivaji. The actor will produce the film and will star in the central role, while his Banjo director, Ravi Jadhav, will helm the ambitious project. It’s no secret that Riteish had been growing his hair and beard for months, so much so that friends routinely joked that he’d begun to look like a distant cousinof the scraggly character that Leonardo DiCaprio had played in The Revenant.

But recently Riteish chopped off the unruly tresses and trimmed the beard, partly because he needed to get into promotions for his new film, Bank Chor, and also because the Shivaji project has been pushed back a few months. The actor told me the film will likely go on the floors in October but research and scripting continues. The success of Bahubali may have inspired him to consider making the film a two-part series and there’s a very good chance it will be shot as a bilingual in Marathi and Hindi.

He reveals that a team of researchers have been working hard to collect all available information on Shivaji, his ancestors and his descendants, and the major events of his life and political career. Riteish says he’s very pleased with the way the script is shaping up, and realises it’s going to be an “expensive production” but feels confident about its potential.

Learning from His Mistakes

Two nights after celebrating the ‘success’ of his latest film, this young director reportedly called for a closed-door meeting of his closest collaborators to sit down and understand what went wrong with the movie. This is because even as the film’s producer continues to send out inflated box office numbers and host celebrations to give the impression that they have a winner on their hands, insiders are well aware that the film has underperformed. And let’s not even talk about the savage reviews and crushing word of mouth from the audience.

Keen to identify where they slipped up, the director assembled his writer, an actor friend, the author on whose book the film is based, and a handful of key associates. Together, over a couple of drinks, they weighed in on what they believe were the film’s weaknesses. The director specifically didn’t involve his leading man in the exercise, aware that the others might be reluctant to speak frankly in the presence of the star.

Apparently it was agreed upon that the script had too many problems, their hero just didn’t look like an athlete, and the film’s VFX were embarrassing to say the least. Never mind what comes of this deconstruction, the filmmaker’s team was happy to discover that he took the criticism on the chin and seemed genuinely committed to pulling up his socks on the next film he’s currently working on.

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