Not People Like Us

The Kid Who Courts Controversy

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The Dutt Ensemble | Cooking the Box-Office Books

Contrary to what the tabloids have been suggesting, 2016 debutant and star-kid Harshvardhan Kapoor will have you know that Badlapur director Sriram Raghavan did not develop cold feet when it came to working with him.

Kapoor and Raghavan were in talks to make a thriller, but the movie will not happen now. And it’s not because of the abysmal failure of the 26-year-old’s debut film that Raghavan decided to nix the project. According to Kapoor, Raghavan wanted to go into production “immediately”, but as the actor was neck deep completing Lootera director Vikramaditya Motwane’s vigilante film Bhavesh Joshi, he decided there was no way he could get into Raghavan’s film simultaneously.

The actor, of course, is no stranger to controversy. His very vocal objection to Diljit Dosanjh receiving the Best Debutant trophy at the recent Filmfare Awards prompted industrywaalas to label him ‘entitled’ and ‘opinionated’, but he says it wasn’t his intention to attack the Punjabi music and film sensation. “I was only questioning the logic of the jury to present a debut award to someone who has made several films already… even if they were in another language.”

He knows now that a little tact might have helped get his point across without a backlash, but says he understands that this is the price of speaking one’s mind, and of being a celebrity.

He is also stubborn when it comes to the subject of his doomed debut film, Rang De Basanti director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s ambitious but flawed musical Mirzya. Harsh insists that he bought into Mehra’s audacious vision completely, and still stands by the film “which was an attempt at a new narrative style”. He understands that many—make that most—viewers did not connect with it, but still looks back at the film with pride.

The Dutt Ensemble

As many as three actresses have been signed on to star opposite Ranbir Kapoor in Rajkumar Hirani’s biopic on Sanjay Dutt. According to well-placed sources, Dia Mirza will play Dutt’s third and current wife Manyata, while Sonam Kapoor is playing a character that is an amalgamation of three of Dutt’s former girlfriends including Madhuri Dixit. Meanwhile, Anushka Sharma plays a fictional character.

No word yet on who will play the star’s sisters Priya and Namrata, while we know now that it’s Paresh Rawal and not Akshaye Khanna (as reported by some tabloids) who will play Sunil Dutt. The cast is rounded off by Masaan star Vicky Kaushal who plays one of Dutt’s closest friends, and Neerja baddie Jim Sarbh in another key role.

Whether Dutt himself will make a cameo is not known either, although there is a good chance Hirani will rope in his lucky mascot for a fleeting appearance.

Cooking the Box-Office Books

The box-office war between two recent films, each starring a top male star, has been heating up to the point that it’s gotten ugly. Insiders are saying the father-son team behind one of the films has been inflating their collections so much it’s not even funny. While it’s common practice in Bollywood for producers to add a few crore to their actual box-office numbers, trade pundits are saying the makers of this film have exaggerated their numbers by nearly Rs 20 crore. The objective, it appears, is to claim that the film has crossed the Rs 100 crore mark. However, experts say the film’s final tally will peter out well before hitting that benchmark.

Meanwhile, the other star producer is reportedly leaving no stone unturned to show massive collections for his own release. While there is no question that his film has a sizeable lead over the other movie, some have sniggered at the methods he may have employed to achieve this. One insider says the star, who recently performed at a private wedding for a top industrialist family, asked that his Rs 1.5 crore fee be paid in the form of block-booked tickets for his film.