Not as Brave as His Film

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Not as Brave as His Film • Second Choices • Honourable in Debt

Sushant Singh Rajput, who stars in Shuddh Desi Romance, was reportedly miffed at mediapersons earlier this week when they quizzed him about his relationship with girlfriend (and television actress) Ankita Lokhande. While promoting the movie, in which his character Raghu is in a live-in relationship with Parineeti Chopra’s Gayatri, journos asked Sushant about the parallels between reel and real life, given that Ankita and he have been living together for some years now. The actor muttered an unconvincing response, then quickly asked a publicist to intervene and ensure that similar questions didn’t come up again in subsequent interviews.

Leading up to the film’s release and as part of a promotional strategy to push the movie, Sushant and Parineeti have been talking about changing attitudes towards pre-marital sex and relationships in India, but Sushant in particular seemed uncomfortable when the queries became more personal. In fact, in some interviews, he clarified that Ankita and he were planning to wed in the year ahead. Chicken!

Second Choices

Shahid Kapoor is not happy about being dragged into a controversy involving Milan Talkies. The actor was recently offered the lead in Tigmanshu Dhulia’s next, after producer Ekta Kapoor decided to drop her Once Upon Ay Time In Mumbaai Dobara star, Imran Khan, from the project. Shahid complains that although he hasn’t yet signed on the film or even heard a complete script narration, he’s being made to look like the reason Imran was ousted. “Whatever happened between them is unfortunate. But it has nothing to do with me,” he explained when I met him earlier this week. “Casting decisions aren’t taken by me.”

He doesn’t deny that he was offered the role Imran eventually played in Once Upon Ay Time... “but those discussions didn’t go very far”. Could that have anything to do with the fact that Shahid has religiously avoided working with Akshay Kumar after their 2005 dud Deewane Hue Pagal? According to well-placed sources in the film trade, Shahid hasn’t forgiven Akshay for using his clout to get his role slashed substantially in that loose remake of There’s Something About Mary. It’s a rumour Shahid won’t address, although he does give you the sort of cheeky smile that suggests you’re not off the mark entirely.

Honourable in Debt

An actress who produced a starring vehicle for herself recently is left with substantial debts to clear, according to the Bollywood grapevine. The film bombed miserably at the box-office, failing to revive any interest in the once popular star.

While a comeback looks unlikely, what the leading lady does appear to have in abundance is the goodwill of her unit. Even below-the-line staff and technicians have revealed that their fees were paid in full and that the actress never scrounged on their dues like many producers in the industry often do. During overseas shooting schedules, the unit was housed in more than decent hotels and their daily allowances fairly paid.

If anything, insiders say the actress spent lavishly on the film’s making, even unwisely so. Among other indulgences, the core team reportedly travelled three or four times to an expensive European city where the film was shot—for a recce initially, then for blocking locations, subsequently for what turned out to be a badly planned shooting schedule, and finally for another schedule once the filming was finally completed.

Admirably, the actress has maintained a dignified silence on the complete failure of her production team, which clearly couldn’t keep the budget in check and because of whom she now owes a sizeable sum of money to creditors. Bitchy colleagues insist she shouldn’t have jumped into film production if she didn’t know enough about the job in the first place.