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Rajeev Masand is Entertainment Editor and film critic at CNN-IBN
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The Space Ride Aamir Wants SRK to Take | Wheels and Whiskers | Direction Dilemma | Away From the Glare | Happily Unmarried | Spanner in the Works

For her walk to the mandap, Anushka Sharma asked that a song from her own film be played. Insiders reveal that the actress expressly requested that the strains of Din Shagna Da—a Punjabi wedding track from Phillauri, which she acted in as well as produced—fill up the hall in the sprawling Tuscan villa as she made her way towards Virat Kohli. Research reportedly reveals that the song was India’s most ‘googled’ in the days following the marriage, especially after clips of the ceremony leaked online. Turns out that many fans searched for the song and downloaded it to their devices in celebration. Which is ironic, given that it barely registered when the movie came out—and flopped—in March.

The Space Ride Aamir Wants SRK to Take

The Space Ride Aamir Wants SRK to TakeAccording to the Bollywood grapevine, Aamir Khan has dropped out of the Rakesh Sharma biopic that he was meant to star in for former-Disney honcho Siddharth Roy Kapur’s recently launched production shingle. Based on the life and achievements of Sharma, who became the first Indian astronaut to travel to space, the film is slated to be directed by advertising filmmaker Mahesh Mathai. Industry sources are saying Aamir pulled out of the film because he’s set his sights on a Mahabharata adaptation that he wants to do next, but others insist that differences with the makers over the script may have led to the actor’s exit. It has also led some in Bollywood to wonder if the passion project that Aamir has his heart set on could be the Mahabharata film that Baahubali director SS Rajamouli has said he has always wanted to make. Could we be looking at a possible Rajamouli-directed Aamir-starrer? Well, nobody seems to know just yet. Rumours have also begun swirling that Aamir reached out to his good friend Shah Rukh Khan and asked him to consider doing the Rakesh Sharma project. But sources close to SRK tell us that the Jab Harry Met Sejal star may have lined up his own magnum opus that he will be diving into shortly. That film is one with his Devdas director Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Yes, it appears that Bhansali and Shah Rukh may have finally found a project that excites them, and could get going on it as soon as next year. The filmmaker is expected to begin working on the movie shortly after Padmavati is released; and for his leading lady, he’s not looking too far—apparently he’s already spoken to his lucky mascot and muse Deepika Padukone about it.

Wheels and Whiskers

It’s been a busy week for Masaan and Gangs of Wasseypur star Richa Chadha who had multiple reasons to pop the bubbly. Not only was it her birthday earlier this week, her latest film Fukrey Returns has also emerged a surprise hit at the marquee. It’s a commendable achievement, especially in a year when few films have worked at the box office. The actress recently splurged on a fancy schmancy Mercedes Benz GLE, which was delivered to her the day before her birthday. To sweeten the occasion, boyfriend and Fukrey co-star Ali Fazal gifted her a kitten to add to her brood of pets. Richa, who is already mum to a kitten named Kamli, christened the new feline Jugni. No word yet on whether the cats have gotten a spin in her new set of wheels.

Direction Dilemma

Direction DilemmaAfter announcing that she would dive straight into her directorial debut after she wraps up production on Manikarnika, Kangana Ranaut appears to have had a change of heart. The Simran star will shoot a “quick thriller” once the Rani of Jhansi project is done and before she decides on any further course of action. Her intended directorial venture, Teju, initially offered to her as a starring project by Shekhar Kapur, may now be put on the backburner, say sources close to the actress, or may be directed by the Bandit Queen helmer himself. Teju is reportedly a progressive drama with an 80-year-old woman at the centre of the story, and apparently Kangana jumped at the challenge of playing an octogenarian. She immediately embraced the idea of being buried under make-up and prosthetics for the role. At one point, she considered directing the film herself, but insiders are saying she has handed the directorial reins back to Shekhar as she realises that it will be a tough one to both direct and star in. There’s also some talk that she may be doing a film that will likely reunite her with her Queen co-star and flavour of the season Rajkummar Rao. So much for stories that she’s been boycotted by Bollywood following her public spats with Hrithik Roshan and Karan Johar. She’s still got work, but Kangana is aware that she needs a hit. If anything ends a star’s career, it’s the repeated failure to put bums on seats.

Away From the Glare

Away From the GlareRani Mukherjee is aware that fans were disappointed they couldn’t see any pictures of her daughter Adira at her birthday party. Many of the guests who showed up—Karan Johar, Kareena Kapoor, Shilpa Shetty— let their kids be photographed, but not the 2-year-old birthday girl. “Adi (Aditya Chopra) is clear on this matter,” Rani told me just days after the party. “He wants, as far as possible, for our daughter to have a normal childhood, and that’s not possible if she gets used to cameras trailing her everywhere. So he tries to shield her from photographers as much as he can.” Guests, she says, didn’t insist on pictures “because they know Adi’s rules”. There is, however, a non- party picture of their daughter floating around online, she is aware. “That picture the photographers managed to take while she was with her father,” she says of the photo in which an irritated Aditya Chopra is seen carrying Adira. “I must confess that I’m relieved it happened when he was with her. Everyone at home says the same thing. I’d have been in so much trouble if it had happened because of me,” she jokes.Rani admits that she herself wouldn’t have a problem if a few photographs of her daughter were available for fans to see. “But this is something that Adi feels strongly about and we’re a team, so I’m going to respect his decision on this,” she says, and then adds mischievously, “You’ve got to pick your battles.”

Happily Unmarried

Anurag Kashyap, who’s wrapping the final schedule of his Netflix series Sacred Games, is back on set with his Gangs of Wasseypur star Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Currently filming on location in Mumbai, the eight-part series will star Nawaz in his nth gangster role, and both director and star are aware that parallels will be drawn between Ganesh Gaitonde (the character Nawaz plays in Sacred Games) and the other bottom-feeders he has played on screen, particularly in Anurag’s own films. Yet, they’re confident that Gaitonde is an entirely different beast. Asked how he ensures that their work doesn’t get repetitive after having worked together so often, Anurag compares themselves to a long-married couple whose relationship runs the risk of losing its spark. “Right after we finish an intense project together, I keep telling Nawaz, ‘We’re a couple whose sex has gone boring.’ So we need to go off and do other things with other people, so that when we work together again we’re all charged and excited and at the top of our game.” Sexual analogies aside, Nawaz says they’ve developed a shorthand over the years, and that Anurag pushes him to lengths that other filmmakers might not feel confident enough to. Meanwhile, even as he’s wrapping Sacred Games, Anurag is in pre-production on Manmarziyan, the romantic film he will direct next for Anand L Rai, while doing press for Mukkabaaz which is expected to release in January. He’s also finishing post-production on his episode in Bombay Talkies 2, which he shot with Radhika Apte. That’s a lot of sex he’s having outside marriage, some would say.

Spanner in the Works

A top male star’s filmmaker father has reportedly once again put a spanner in the works of a project that his son is involved in with a young director at the helm. This biopic has been twice pushed from its start date because the actor—prompted by his father—decided that the script was not in perfect shape. Apparently, the director has already lined up his crew, but the team is waiting around twiddling their thumbs because they have no idea when the film will finally go on the floors. While it’s admirable that the actor does not want to get on the sets till he’s fully convinced that they’re working on the best possible version of the script, the director is reportedly growing increasingly frustrated by the delays. He’s confident that he’s in a very good place with the script, and is itching to get shooting. He’s also said to be a tad anxious, given that the star has lined up two of his next projects, and he recently walked out of one. “This is an actor who is extremely moody, so the entire unit is treading carefully. They know they’re not making this movie till they start shooting it,” a source explains.

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