Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

December 1, 2011

Fifty is just an age: Sanjay Dutt

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rajeev @ 11:18 pm

  Actor Sanjay Dutt’s political career didn’t quite take off in the manner he expected it to but Dutt said he would remain involved with the Samajwadi Party. The actor has a series of releases scheduled for the coming months. First up, is the action-adventure Luck directed by Soham Shah. Dutt who turns 50 later this month says he isn’t shying away from action just yet. He says his mind and body are in good shape.

Rajeev Masand: For a while your fans thought that they had lost you to politics. And now that you are back on the sets and signing new films, is it because the Samajwadi Party didn’t come into power?

Sanjay Dutt: Absolutely not, I had maintained since the beginning that my first love is cinema, my family is the film industry. This was something that I had to do for myself. Amar Singh ji always said that, ‘this is your first love and I’ll never take you away from the film industry’.

Rajeev Masand: Will you continue to be involved with the party?

Sanjay Dutt: I’m the General Secretary of the party and I will definitely be involved in the party. But it isn’t a field job, what a Member of Parliament has from a constituency. So I will be there to make decisions for the party.

Rajeev Masand: In both your forthcoming films, Luck and Blue, there is a lot of physical work involved. In Luck, there is this scene where you are dodging trains across railway tracks while you are blindfolded. In Blue, there is a segment of scuba diving involved and swimming with the sharks as well. You are pushing 50, does your body ever say enough?

Sanjay Dutt: I think it isn’t the body, but the mind and one has to be above all that. Fifty is just an age I think and it is all in the mind. And thanks to Soham, he made me jump through all those trains, blindfolded. I had fun. In fact, I’m doing another film in 2011, for which I’m going to start really building my body and it’s another challenge, I’ll be 52 by then.

Rajeev Masand: When you see these young actors, Ranbir and Imran -who you are even working with in Luck – are you reminded of your own early days? You had a big star launch too?
Sanjay Dutt: My days were different than days today, things were different and films were different. There was a lot of respect and a lot of dignity. There was a lot of respect for seniors and elders. Things have changed a lot.

Rajeev Masand: What do you miss most about those days?

Sanjay Dutt: The togetherness. There was a lot of bonding in the film industry, which I don’t see anymore. People used to stand for each other and be for each other. I’m not saying there wasn’t any competition, there was. But it was a healthy competition and there were no egos.

Rajeev Masand: When you see some of your colleagues, 40-year-old actors like Shah Rukh, Salman, Aamir, do you find it amusing to see 40-year-old men behaving like little kids?

Sanjay Dutt: I think these things shouldn’t happen at all and we should stand by each other. I think that it is a very important reason that the film industry is kept on the side, because we are not one unit. If we were one unit we could make a difference in the industry.

Rajeev Masand: You haven’t ever felt like taking them aside and patching them up?

Sanjay Dutt: They are all my younger brothers and I just wish and pray that everything works out and everything is good.

Big B at the big C of film fests

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rajeev @ 11:10 pm

  Superstar Amitabh Bachchan is at the Cannes Film Festival for the premiere of his film Cheeni Kum. CNN-IBN Entertainment Editor Rajeev Masand caught the Big B right there in the middle of all the action.

Rajeev Masand: Welcome to Cannes. You are just back from London where you were holidaying with family and Aishwarya and Abhishek who are presently on their honeymoon. They made a short trip to Cannes before you came in, so any tips on the film festival from them?

Amitabh Bachchan: Yes, Aishwarya was here for the red carpet as she is the brand ambassador for L’Oreal. And once they left, now I am here.

Rajeev Masand: Did they tell you where to go or where not to go. Though, they did not go around the place much either.

Amitabh Bachchan: No, I am just here for a couple of hours.

Rajeev Masand: It’s your first public screening of Cheeni Kum. How is it watching the film with an audience that is not connected with the film?

Amitabh Bachchan: Yes, it is a little peculiar. But the international market is growing rapidly for Indian films. So, it’s wonderful to be here and be able to experience the joy of seeing one of your films, which normally opens in Indian markets. I am actually delighted to see a lot of locals or French people who are beginning to recognise Indian films and actors. There were some at the airport too. So, it’s wonderful to see Indian films making a mark in Cannes as well as France.

Daniel Craig talks about his new flick Quantum of Solace

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rajeev @ 11:08 pm

  Daniel Craig returns as the world’s favourite secret-service agent James Bond in Quantum of Solace, which opens in India on Friday.

Entertainment Editor Rajeev Masand met up with him in London and asked him two of the best questions send by the viewers.

Here is the gist of the interview –

Rajeev Masand: The Bond films have tread a very similar path. Does this make you’ll raise the bar higher each time?

Daniel Craig: With are not in competition with anybody. This is a James Bond movie but we are really in competition with ourselves.

Rajeev Masand: This time Quantum of Solace has some pretty fantastic action and stunt scenes. There are car chases, motorboat chase, you fall from an aeroplane, an on foot chase over building roof and you did a lot of stunts this time yourself. Is that important for you to do it yourself?

Daniel Craig: I do think it is important, to make a film a whole and to have a continuity throughout the film. I think if you separate the stunts from the story line by making them a separate issue by hiding faces and all, I think that drags the audience out of the story. I want the audience to be enthralled through the whole thing. That’s is the part of our job but when the job gets really difficult the other man does it.

Shiney promotes his new film at IFFI

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rajeev @ 11:04 pm

  Goa: With films like Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi and Kal actor Shiney Ahuja is perhaps a festival circuit poster boy.

However, with Anurag Basu’s Metro he is hoping that the art house acclaim will be his, amid ringing cash registers.

And what better way to have the best of both worlds for Shiney than promoting a mainstream Bollywood film at an eclectic International Film Festival of India (IFFI).

CNN-IBN Entertainment Editor Rajeev Masand caught up with the actor at the festival in Goa.

Rajeev Masand: He is Bollywood’s man of the moment having delivered incredible performances in Woh Lamhe and Gangster and he is here at IFFI in Goa to promote his new film Metro.

The thing about promoting this film is because conventionally film festivals are seen as places to promote serious films. By bringing a film like Metro, unveiling it and giving us a first look at IFFI, do you think that it is a reflection of the fact that a film like Metro has festival potential or that festivals are becoming interesting places to promote mainstream pictures?

Shiney Ahuja: I think that it is a bit of the both. It is beneficial for Metro to be here. And it is also interesting for a film festival to have a film like Metro showcased. I would also like to say that that the only way to understand this film is by watching it because it is a film that fits a film festival really well.

Metro is also a commercial film and that is where the USP of the film lies. It is about moments, it is about life and it has been packaged in a commercial sense. It is a film that breaks the typical typecasting of it being a commercial or a mainstream film.

Rajeev Masand: At least two of your films, Hazaron Khwaishen Aisi and Kal did the festival rounds, did you get to travel around with those films?

Shiney Ahuja: No, I didn’t. It is actually the first time that I am attending a film festival to promote my film and I am happy with the way things are going.

Rajeev Masand: Actors just pop in and pop out of film festivals to promote their films and they rarely get a chance to watch the film at the festival. I am going to put you in the dock, which is last good film that you saw?

Shiney Ahuja: The last good film that I saw was The Sting starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford.

Rajeev Masand: So, you are a big movie buff?

Shiney Ahuja: I am.

Rajeev Masand: Best of luck and let’s hope for interesting films from you. Thank you.

Shiney Ahuja: Thank you.

Unsure if opting out of Dostana was right: Ash

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rajeev @ 11:03 pm

  Thrilled with her response to her husband Abhishek Bachchan’s performance in Dostana, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan says she is not sure she did the right thing by opting out of the film. She is now teaming up with Sanjay Leela Bhansali in a film opposite Hrithik Roshan. And on the international front, she will be seen in Pink Panther 2 with Steve Martin. Arriving in Mumbai from Kochi, where she is shooting with Abhishek Bachchan for Mani Ratnam’s new film, Aishwarya met up with CNN-IBN Entertainment Editor Rajeev Masand to talk movies. Read on…

Rajeev Masand: Aishwarya I have to really start asking you that would you really thought of your husband Abhishek in Dostana. I thought it was really funny, it was a really brave performance, what do you think?

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan: I obviously thought he was fantastic. He was very entertaining and really funny in the film but if I say that you guys will accuse me of bias. But, the fact is that it is very fantastic when you the viewer, you the critic and the audience comes away appreciating it.

Rajeev Masand: What’s interesting is that it’s actually a film that you were attached to initially. I know that you were meant to be the heroine of that film. Why did you decide eventually not to do it?

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan: This movie was definitely going to be a fun film and Abhishek and I were really looking forward to it because we knew we’d have a blast making it, but actually the filming schedule was to start last year and at that point we were talking about it as a summer film, which would have then been the first film after our wedding. Now, I don’t know if it was the right decision or not but now everyone has seen the film, the all tell me that I could have done it and I say ya! The fact is that it’s not about the girl and guy’s relationship at all, here John and Abhishek are the pair. That’s what people are really looking at. We had a bit of a discussion and I said okay, I will opt out as Abhishek is impertive to the film and I am very, very glad.

Rajeev Masand: Now you have recently signed Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s new film opposite Hrithik Roshan. What’s interesting is that with Sanjay Leela Bhansali, you have delivered two of your finest performances and with Hrithik you have had too massive hits.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan: We obviously are excited because as colleagues, as co-stars, we have had very good working experiences. We have worked in two diametrically different movies – Dhoom 2 on one spectrum or a Jodha Akbar on the other – and we are glad that the audiences accepted both the films, very gratifying to us and Sanjay and me have had a wonderful rapport. What he and I have shared as filmmaker and actor is intense and that has reflected itself in the kind of work we have done, in the kind of relationship and rapport that we have shared over the years and we are very close-knit, irrespective of whatever turn of talks over time. We are really looking forward to this experience of working together again.

Rajeev Masand: Now, you have done some comedy in Bollywood, but did that in any way prepare you for working with Steve Martin and the team of Pink Panther 2 which in fact is ready for release in February.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan: Well, it certainly was novel, because firstly it’s Pink Panther and you have watched the Peter Sellers genre as akid from time to time and that’s what you just remember – laugh riot, family entertainer. And it’s again not some intense acting piece, not something that needs to be scored through, something that has to have the comb run through it in terms of criticism. That’s the objective with which one expected it. I mean this is a huge ensemble and just actors coming together to have a good time making a film. No one is getting in to how much screen time do I have or do I get a close up and that kind of stuff.

Rajeev Masand: Finally, your association with Longines and the international brands that you endorse have contributed to you becoming a familiar face over the world. Is there still any place in the world where you can still go unrecognised?

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan: The beautiful aspect of life is that we as Indians are everywhere. We find ourselves everywhere. I mean Abhishek and me went really far away for our honeymoon and we found our people there. We are everywhere, so I think it’s a bit tough to go unrecognised, but it’s up to us to embrace life normally and that’s what we try and do.

Rajeev Masand: Great. Thank you for talking to us.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan: Thanks Rajeev.

I hate Mr Bachchan, SRK quips

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rajeev @ 11:02 pm

  Mumbai: The Bollywood grapevine insists that all’s not hunky dory between two of the country’s biggest superstars Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan.

Insiders say Karan Johar’s Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna will be the last film that they will star in together. CNN-IBN’s Entertainment Editor Rajeev Masand asked Shah Rukh Khan the prickly question.

Rajeev Masand: Now, one of your co-stars in Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna is Amitabh Bachchan, with whom you’ve done three films prior to this one. Of course you’ve heard the story of a cold war between the two of you.

And there’s also a story about you not being part of the Yash Raj banner anymore because of the cold war between you and the Bachchans. What’s your take on that?

Shah Rukh Khan: We hate each other and right now we are planning through assassins to kill each other and I’ve even decided to take on Mr Yash Chopra and destroy all the films and the negatives that he has done.

That is what it is at. And my assassins are all over Mumbai outside Mr Bachchan’s house, attempting to take over his house and his films.

Rajeev Masand: We assume that you are amused by these stories.

Shah Rukh Khan: I was amused earlier, I was never irritated, I was never disturbed. Now, I’m not even amused, I mean it’s an old and boring story. It’s just not there.

I think newspapers and channels should just freshen up some scandalous stories like me having an affair with Abhishek Bachchan would be more interesting.

Watch the entire interview – SRK Unplugged at 9:30 pm this Saturday on CNN-IBN.

Shahid and I look great together, says Rani

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rajeev @ 11:00 pm

  In an exclusive interview, CNN-IBN Entertainment Editor Rajeev Masand caught up with Rani Mukherjee and quizzed her about everything under the sun, including her about-to-be-released film Dil Bole Hadippa and the much-talked-about ‘impending marriage’. Rajeev Masand also quizzed the actress about her pairing up with Shahid in Dil Bole Hadippa. Here is the complete interview:

Rajeev Masand: Rani, it has been almost a year since we last saw you on screen and I know there has been much speculation in the media about an impending marriage. But your fans really want to know. What have been up to?

Rani Mukherjee: First of all, let me clarify. There is no marriage on the cards. Not at all, no engagement and no marriage. I think they have been trying to marry me off since the last three years and they are just not able to get a fix on the date. But just to clear the air, there is no marriage and there is none happening in the future also. Yes, when I do intend to get married, I shall definitely let you know because you are a friend of mine and of course to the rest of the people like my audience, my fans who deserve to know that I am getting married. I do not think I am that kind of a person or an actress who will hide an important thing like marriage. So, I guess they are hurting my sensibilities by contemplating a marriage of mine and not giving me the respect enough for me to tell the media or tell the fans. They are trying to make an actress out of me who is trying to hide her marriage, which is definitely not the case.

Rajeev Masand: You know, if you were not an actress, this would probably be the time you would have been married. Don’t your parents pester you (about getting married)?

Rani Mukherjee: Not at all. I think my parents are only too happy (the way things are). I guess, they only say that when you do decide to get married, please let us know because we have to persuade the guy to live with us. That is what they keep telling me, but no, my parents are just too sweet. They give me the independence to do what I feel like doing. I think that has been the case with my brother too. He had a love marriage, eight years back. He had wanted to run away (elope) with my sister-in-law. But I somehow convinced my parents that it is better to let him marry as he pleases rather than having him running away from home. They are very sweet. My brother and sister-in-law have a great marriage and also have two kids now. I am very happy looking after them, my two babies, Mayesha and Vihaan. That’s my life.

Rajeev Masand: So do you baby-sit too?

Rani Mukherjee: Yes. So for the last one year, I have either been working on Dil Bole Hadippa or baby-sitting my niece. So I guess that has been my life. I guess the most important part of my life is that I have been working really hard on myself. That involved a lot of physical training and all because for the past year and a half, I have been working on Dil Bole Hadippa. For the first six months before the shooting started, I had to go through this extensive training on cricket because I play cricket in Dil Bole Hadippa. So I was getting professional training from this coach who is a former cricket player. She taught me the ABCD of cricket, right from holding the bat correctly to kind of stance, hitting the shots, walking with the pads…the works. After that got over, I wanted to lose weight because I wanted to tone my body to look like an athlete. In the process I started enjoying the weight loss and the toning bit.
Rajeev Masand: And the results are there for all to see.

Rani Mukherjee: Yes, right. So I did all that and then started the film. I was so attached to the film and the script because this was the only film that inspired and excited me. I was getting to play a man, a boy that I have never played before. It was also offering me an opportunity to learn a sport which I have never played all my life. These two things were really, really interesting. Most importantly, my fans were a bit upset with me for doing roles in which all I did was cry. The constant reaction I had been getting was, “Rani, why are you crying in all your films?” So I thought, okay, I need to take a break from that and do films which involved a lot of laughter and was a little more lively and colourful. I think Dil Bole Hadippa just fit the bill perfectly well.

Rajeev Masand: Rani, I think you started working very early in life, right?

Rani Mukherjee: Yes, when I was seventeen.

Rajeev Masand: Wow! But tell me, do you ever feel burnt out?

Rani Mukherjee: Not at all. I feel great and in fact today I feel like I can go another seventeen years from here onwards. I think it has been a great journey for me because I worked with great people, lovely directors, producers and great co-actors. There have been people I have learnt so much from. So, it has been a wonderful experience and that includes meeting people like you too, Rajeev.

Rajeev Masand: So kind of you, thank you. You have said you enjoyed getting into shape. Give us a few tips. What was it like really?

Rani Mukherjee: See, actually what I did initially was to decide that I did not actually want to or need to lose weight but actually tone my body. If you see athletes or sportspeople, they have very athletic, worked out and toned bodies. So you need a toned body to look like an athlete. So my main concern was that if I am shooting for a film and am on the field, I should not ‘not look like an athlete’. I should look like an athlete, firstly for my role and secondly, I guess when I started the toning down, I wanted to lose that little extra weight that I had put on towards the end of Thoda Pyaar, Thoda Magic.

Rajeev Masand: Okay.

Rani Mukherjee: So, I started with power-yoga. I did a lot of yoga. I dis a lot of cardio and when I had lost the weight, I did a lot of weight training to tone up the body. The training regimens of course included zipping up my mouth for six months and not eat my favourite macher-jhol-bhaat and mishti (sweets). I also had to forego the French fries which I adore. But after that I got into a balanced diet mode where I ate nutritious food and food that helped me look great. My main concern was that when people start losing weight, it shows on their faces. I am looking bright and healthy because my food is very, very nutritious. What I also introduced to in the bargain is that the food you must eat is the one that is good for you. That is for life.
Rajeev Masand: Like salads and all, sounds kind of boring, doesn’t it?

Rani Mukherjee: No. Not at all. It is normal rice, daal and chicken, fish and oatmeal and all kinds of tasty food. But it must be eaten in the right proportion and eaten in the right way.

Rajeev Masand: Okay. So, for the next film, if they ask you to put on weight…

Rani Mukherjee: No, I will not. I will not do that because it has been quite a task to lose this weight. It would be very easy to do that by just binging but I will not do that because I am really enjoying my weight loss. I enjoy the way I am looking right now. I can go to a store and pick up the clothes, and they all look good on me.

Rajeev Masand: Was there a problem earlier?

Rani Mukherjee: No, there wasn’t really a problem. But when you have toned your body, you can wear these really figure-hugging clothes which make you look good. So I am really happy right now.

Rajeev Masand: Okay, tell us one thing about Rani Mukherjee that nobody knows.

Rani Mukherjee: I am really good maid. I can do really good work. I can wash the dishes really, do the sweeping and swabbing of floor really well. I can wash clothes really well. I guess I am good maid.

Rajeev Masand: I am sure no body knows that.

Rani Mukherjee: Yes, and it is only for your show.

Rajeev Masand: Dil Bole Hadippa is about a Punjabi girl who pretends to be a boy so she can play cricket.

Rani Mukherjee: Yes, a sardar (Sikh) boy.

Rajeev Masand: Was there a lot of time spent in make-up everyday?

Rani Mukherjee: Luckily, Manish did my costumes for the film. He dressed up Veera as well as Veer. It required a lot of brain-wracking work for the Veera part because I had already played Babli, a Punjabi girl. When you talk about a Punjabi girl, you cannot do anything much different from maybe giving her a jeans and kurta or a salwar-kurta and a Patiala (salwar). So Manish came up with this idea of adding a koti to the entire outfit. The character looked very colourful beacuse we are very conscious of the fact that we do not want the character to look like Babli. Now for Veer’s look, I think my director Anurag was sure what he wanted. He wanted the boy to look like any other boy who wanted to play cricket. So he told Manish that he wanted me to wear trousers which are not really trousers but track pants with the loose shirts. So Anurag was very sure what he wanted to see me in but the colours and the palette was decided by Manish. The sardar look was in a way inspired by Harbhajan Singh. We had this make-up artist from London who was designing the look of the sardar character, so they in fact sent a picture of Harbhajan to him, saying we want Rani’s look to be modelled around this kind of a sardar. Basically we wanted a young sardar with the pugri and daadhi-mooch (beard and moustache) in an unkempt, ruffled look, a young sardar and not a well-grown beard or hair. I think Mike has done a wonderful job.
Rajeev Masand: So putting on the moustache and beard…

Rani Mukherjee: That I think was the only tedious thing for me.

Rajeev Masand: And tying up your hair everyday?

Rani Mukherjee: Tying up the hair was fine, but the daadhi mooch thing was too much because I would go like “Oh no!” every morning.

Rajeev Masand: Yes, and the glue.

Rani Mukherjee: Yes, the glue. When the glue would come on to my cheeks, I would really feel stiff. When it was being put I would say, Dada, just put it on and let us get it over and done with. Just put it on fast and be done with. But I enjoyed playing Veer so much that everything was worth its while. I did not mind putting on the beard, the glue because I knew that when I would go out on to the set, I was going to have a great time.

Rajeev Masand: Right.

Rani Mukherjee: Then again, coming to the van to get the make-up off was a pain. To put on a solution to get it out, things getting into my mouth and all, it was really sick. But I was so happy playing that character that all this was like not really important.

Rajeev Masand: You play cricket. Do you enjoy learning cricket?

Rani Mukherjee: Actually, I am in love with cricket now. It is such a lovely game, it’s so unfortunate that so many of us in my generation were not encouraged to play cricket. Parents say things like, do not go out in the sun, you will end up darkening your skin complexion. I have an elder brother, Raja. He would play gulley-cricket in the streets with the boys and if I came out to play, he would shout, “What are you doing here? Go inside the house. So I never really got a chance to play it, you know. Girls in a group rarely play cricket the way the guys do. So I was never allowed. Unfortunately, I had a brother who bullied me. But with this film, I got an opportunity to learn the game. Now, honestly I really enjoy watching the game. That is because I know now what part of the field the ball is going to. Now I know what shot the cricketer is hitting and now I understand what an LBW (leg before wicket) means. Previously, I would be like – whatever happened? How did he get out? I would ask these inane questions to my Dad and my brother. But now at least I know so I feel a lot more educated. I like watching cricket now.

Rajeev Masand: The obvious comparison would be with Chak De India which had a girls’ hockey team. Here it is a girl wanting to play cricket.

Rani Mukherjee: I think the only similarity is that here we are talking about women who are really good at the game. In Chak De India also spoke about girls who can really play as well as the boys. If you see the girls’ match with the boys in Chak De, it shows that the girls are as good as the boys. In this film too, we are encouraging a lot more women to play cricket because it is a great game.
Rajeev Masand: Okay. Shahid Kapoor, your co-star in this film is junior to you as an actor. He came in much later. Was there any concern about whether you two would look good, say right together or otherwise?

Rani Mukherjee: On the first day, when I and Shahid looked into the monitor at us together, we were like, “Wow! We look great together.” I think the producer decides who he needs to cast and I think Adi was confident about casting Shahid and me together. Somehow, he had visualised that we would look great. And judging by the kind of reactions and feedback that I am getting, I think they are saying very good things about us.

Rajeev Masand: Sure. You know you were in this Pepsi commercial with Shahid long ago when you were a star and he was still a model. Did you think at that time that this boy is going to grow up and be my lead?

Rani Mukherjee: Actually, when Shahid did the commercial, I was just about seventeen when I was starting and he was I don’t remember exactly, maybe probably of the same age or maybe a year or so junior. But I remember he was quite in awe of me and he used to keep on watching me like that. But I do not think I thought on those lines because I was too busy making my own career. I did not look at any boy and go, “Oh, he is going to land up as my hero and I am going to be working opposite him.” No, I did not have any of those thoughts when I saw him at that time. I was just trying to make him feel comfortable because there was Shah Rukh, me and Kajol there. And I was also fairly new. It was my third film after which I did the Pepsi commercial. So I too was new and wide-eyed, trying to get things right and Shahid was also there.

Rajeev Masand: Rani, very little is known about your early film influences. What were the films you grew up watching in the early years?

Rani Mukherjee: I watched a lot of films which had Sridevi and Madhuri acting in them. I was besotted with them. I just could not take my eyes off them. They had a huge influence on me. I used to just continue watching wide-eyed and not even blink. I remember going to a set of a film that my uncle was directing, Paththar Ke Insaan. I had bunked school to be able to go watch the shoot. I just continued watching her wide-eyed and even today Sriji (Sridevi) remembers me as that kid watching her wide-eyed. Those two were so fabulous that nobody can fill up their space because they were phenomenal. They were complete actresses.

Rajeev Masand: Yes. Your family has been in the film business for years. Were you always exposed to films and film sets from an early age?

Rani Mukherjee: Yes. I was exposed to films and film sets from a very early age but for some strange reasons I was very disinterested.

Rajeev Masand: Okay.

Rani Mukherjee: I think the only thing that I was wide-eyed about was my maasi‘s an actress, Debashree Roy in Calcutta. So when my mother used to take us for the summer vacations to Calcutta, she would just pack us into the Geetanjali (Express) and take us. I used to want to meet her (Debashree Roy) and she used to be very busy and I just wanted to meet her. She was working round the clock. So I used to go see her in the studios and when I would enter her make-up room, I would feel that this is a fantasy world. I would see her in a chair before the mirror with light. I still remember the Malmal cloth they would wet and put on the face with ice. It was a common practice then as it would get very hot. A huge piece of white cloth like the malmal cloth put into water…I still remember the make-up artist fussing over my aunt and making her look really pretty.
Rajeev Masand: Right.

Rani Mukherjee: Now I see my niece doing the same thing to me. I see her quite in awe of me, whatever I am doing. When I am getting ready for work, I see her watching me. But those were really my first impressions of what films are.

Rajeev Masand: Do you remember your first day of shooting, facing the camera?

Rani Mukherjee: My first day of shooting, yes of course I remember it very, very clearly. I was in this dulhan outfit. My God, the first film is Raja Ki Aayegi Baaraat, can you imagine. I know Manish who was there, he had designed that outfit. I remember I had to give this mahurat shot and then start shooting for the film. But before that, I was really apprehensive and wondering if I will be able to pull it off. I thought to myself, I do not think that this is my cup of tea or whatever. They gave me my lines to say. I realised when the camera rolled and I said all my lines well. I remember thinking, oh, this is very easy, I could do it so well. I just have to say my lines. I remember my first day shooting very well.

Rajeev Masand: You know, your first film was just an obscure film that did not do very well, not too many people saw it. Did you ever feel after that film that I wonder where this is going? Did you ever think life is going to change the way it did?

Rani Mukherjee: You know, it is so strange. That film Raja Ki Aayegi Baaraat is so important to me because that actually a very big film for and I find it very strange when you say that not many people actually saw it. Today too, I get so many people coming up to me and telling me about my first film. The best part is that people concerned, like Shah Rukh, Aamir and Adi who are very instrumental in my career and in my life, they have seen that film. Shah Rukh saw it on TV and saw me in a promo. He saw a spark as he says, in me. Aamir at the same time saw me and kind of recommended me to Mukeshji. And Adi is famous for going to the theatre and watching every kind of film on the first day. So he saw that film too and he told Karan about me and said, “If you are not getting an actress, go for her.” Karan was really apprehensive because he wanted this Tina like a very south Mumbai kind of girl. What I think gave him confidence though, was I think the fact that I had already signed Ghulam with Aamir, so he was like – “Okay, she is working with Aamir, so I think I will take her.” So I guess that film really made a mark in my career in a sense that it was because of that film that I got all my other movies.

Rajeev Masand: Sure. We wish you the best of luck. Looking forward to seeing Dil Bole Hadippa and I hope you will continue to entertain us like you have been for all these years. Thank you so much.

Rani Mukherjee: Thank you.

It’s tough to make people laugh: Arshad

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rajeev @ 11:00 pm

  Mumbai: It’s said that comedy is the most difficult part of acting. They say it’s easy to do drama and action and even all the sobbing and crying scenes but getting the audience to laugh is never easy.

But Arshad Warsi is one gifted actor, who, from his very first film raised the audience’s spirits and made us laugh.

Some of the best performances were the ones he delivered in films such as Munnabhai MBBS, Waisa Bhi Hota Hai II and Salaam Namaste.

Rajeev Masand: Arshad, is it difficult to make people laugh?

Arshad Warsi: It’s very difficult to make people laugh. Apart from the basic concepts that people talk about like timing and all that, in comedy, the background score doesn’t help you and there is not glycerin. There is nothing else that can help you.

Rajeev Masand: So you have to rely just on yourself?

Arshad Warsi: Totally. It only gets more difficult. If you have a bad co-star, then it’s worse. So it’s tough.

Rajeev Masand: The next film that you have lined up for release, Anthony Kaun Hai, is supposed to be a comedy-suspense-thriller?

Arshad Warsi: It’s not a suspense really, it’s a thriller. It’s a light thriller. I wouldn’t say it’s a comedy. Normally comedy is thrown on people’s faces. It’s not done like that. You’ll laugh a little bit; you’ll giggle in some places. The story is really interesting. That’s what got me into it.

Rajiv Masand: The movie reunites you with your Munnabhai MBBS co-star, Sanjay Dutt. Do you guys have a good rapport? You said that was important.

Arshad Warsi: Yes, of course. You see, apart from just him and me having a good chemistry, we have become friends, so it’s easier. Plus, there is a level of respect that I maintain with him.
All said and done, he’s a senior actor, he’s been around and there is an age difference and one has to maintain that. It’s like me going up to Mr Bachchan and saying ‘Hey, what’s up dude?’ You can’t do that. So I maintain that and I think Sanju likes that.

Rajeev Masand: Your other film that is eagerly awaited is of course, Munnabhai Lage Raho, which is the sequel to Munnabhai MBBS? Is it going to be as special?

Arshad Warsi: Yes, I think so because there were some things that Raju (Raj Kumar Hirani) wanted to do in Munnabhai MBBS which he couldn’t do because he was a new director and Vidhu Vinod Chopra didn’t want to spend that much money. So now, he got whatever he wanted. So it’s a bigger film and it’s got a bigger platform. It’s a scarier too because to redo what we did in Munnabhai MBBS and not undo it is tough. And to not match up to people’s high expectations is a bit of a trouble.

Rajeev Masand: Are you going to go to Toronto since Kabul Express has been selected to be played there?

Arshad Warsi: Yes, I am so happy about that. Most of the time the films that go abroad are about poverty, hunger and people acting in strange ways and that’s the picture the world has about India. It’s so sad. It’s about you and me. Kabul Express is about you and me going to Afghanistan and talking just like this. So I think we are far more dignified than we are shown to be. So I think Kabul Express is our answer to Hollywood.

Rajeev Masand: Finally, tell me, you have a small son, who is two years old. Does he see your films?

Arshad Warsi: Oh yes, he even recognises me in my different get ups. Like in Munnabhai MBBS I had short hair and he went ‘Dada, dada’. I love him and he’s my stress buster. I could have all the worries in the world but when I come back home, I just need one hug and a kiss from him and I can fight it all over again.

Rajeev Masand: That’s super. Best of luck and let’s hope you can always make your son happy. We are looking forward to seeing lot’s more exciting stuff from you.

‘Indian roots are deeper than I know’

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rajeev @ 10:56 pm

  New York: Manoj Night Shyamalan is India’s most famous export to Hollywood. And in many ways Shyamalan’s latest film Lady in the Water is similar to our very own masala Bollywood films. And yet, the man who says he has never understood Hindi films insists that it’s his most personal picture yet.

Here is an exclusive interview of the director with CNN-IBN’s Entertainment Editor, Rajeev Masand.

Rajeev Masand: Shyamalan, you have said all along actually that this film started off as a bedtime story for your daughters. Have they seen the film and did they feel a sense of ownership to this film because they know that it was a story essentially created for them?

M Night Shyamalan: Yes. It’s been a beautiful time of them growing up to the point that they actually know what I am doing. Even when I made The Village, they didn’t really understand what I was doing for a living. But now they know because they see posters, they see people talk about it, they watch TV and see commercials. And the Lady in the Water story came from both of them and we have been talking about it. So they know everything about the story, everything about the movie and it’s intention.

But they are also at that age when they realise and they say, “That’s what Dad does? He gets to do this?” And I see the realisation blossoming.
Once when we driving down New York, there was a 150-foot poster of Lady in the Water in the middle of Times Square and they were looking up and saying “Oh My God.” It was a great moment because they knew every creature and every single thing in the poster and they knew what it means.

Rajeev Masand: What is it about your writing or about your movies perhaps that reflects your Indian roots?

M Night Shyamalan: The belief in mythologies, as a tool for learning. How we portray so many of our religious mythologies in our architecture. Even the Lady in the Water poster also senses the deedy with all the things around her. It’s probably deeper than I even know.
Rajeev Masand: And in many ways actually this film asks of its audience that many Bollywood films ask – ‘Just go along for the ride. Don’t question. Don’t ask. Don’t use logic’.

M Night Shyamalan: You are absolutely right. There’s a language to Indian movies that’s intoxicating when it’s done well, which is that you let go of the normal language of watching a movie. It’s not naturalistic. But then you get heightened, you feel emotional, you get swept away because the language is so neon. And in a way I did that kind of a thing in this film.

Rajeev Masand: You have said that you are not very familiar with Indian movies. Your wife watches them, your mother watches them, and even your aunts watch them. Is there a lesson to be learnt perhaps? What is it about Indian movies that it makes them so popular even with Indians who don’t live in India?

M Night Shyamalan: It’s exactly what we just talked about. I remember watching a movie with my wife and I had to keep letting go. No one acts like they do in Indian films in real life. There are huge pushing close-ups. When I am judging whether to do a push in, that’s a move, which means you are feeling tense. And a character only feels that once in a movie. You go close when the ship comes down and the aliens come out. But in Indian movies they do it even when they are in the kitchen and ask, “Do you want breakfast”. They move in five times. But you can’t help it and you have to let go. In a way it seems heightened like you are watching a soap opera, or a Shakespearian play where everything is so big and bold. It is also intoxicating to let go off such tied up situations.

Rajeev Masand: Finally, we have come to expect the ‘twist ending’, that this film apparently doesn’t have. Do you think this is something that will perhaps disappoint people?

M Night Shyamalan: I hope I didn’t do it in Signs which was my second biggest movie. I might make some movies that do have twist endings and some of them don’t. Hitchcock is known for twists. Can you name another movie besides Psycho that had a twist? You can’t. But the poor guy was labeled with ‘twists’ forever. That is what happens when one element takes over another.

Rajeev Masand: Best of luck for your latest movie. Hope we get to see lot more exciting work from you.

M Night Shyamalan: Thank you.

Dev Patel talks of his Slumdog experience

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rajeev @ 10:54 pm

  It is more than likely that you have never heard of Dev Patel. That will change however, when Danny Boyle’s critically acclaimed film, Slumdog Millionaire opens in India on January 23 and the 18-year-old London-based Indian kid becomes a household name and a recognisable face. Familiar only to British audiences until now from his role in the teen soap, Skins, Dev Patel’s life changed considerably after Slumdog Millionaire premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September last year where it received the Peoples’ Choice Award for Best Film.

Starring as the protagonist slum kid who participates in Kaun Banega Crorepati and ends up winning Rs 2 crore, Dev Patel won the most promising newcomer award at the British Independent Film Awards recently as well as the Best Young Actor Award at the Critics’ Choice Awards. Now if indeed Slumdog Millionaire picks up a few Golden Globes this weekend, and an Oscar or two in February, you can be sure that you will see a lot more of this kid. CNN-IBN Entertainment Editor Rajeev Masand met Dev Patel in London a few weeks ago and spoke to him about the film and his impressions about India.

Rajeev Masand: Dev Patel welcome to CNN-IBN. So Dev what’s your story? You are an Indian born and bred in the UK. We have seen you in Skins. In India actually, Skins hasn’t aired, so you are going to be a fairly new face when Slumdog Millionaire opens. So tell us about your background.

Dev Patel: Well that’s a long story. To cut a long story short, my mum was travelling on the tube and there you get this free paper called The Metro and on that there was a small advertisement saying ‘New teen drama needs actors, no prior acting necessary’. I was sixteen at that time and was doing my exams. She took me down there and we were queueing outside, like for X-factor and I had a number slapped on my chest. Then I went up there and read the script and all the directors out there started smiling. From there I went on another audition and got that part.

And then from there I met director Danny Boyle’s daughter. And they were having trouble casting the lead boy for Slumdog Millionaire and she was like why don’t you get this guy to try out and I was like yeah, why not and that’s how I got this film.

Rajeev Masand: When Slumdog happened, did you realise that this was the beginning of something very big?

Dev Patel: Uh, I don’t know. I knew to an extent that it was Danny Boyle’s film and there are going to be people watching it because he has got a big fan base.

Rajeev Masand: Were you familiar with his films?

Dev Patel: Of course yeah. I’m a kid born and brought up in London. Danny Boyle’s massive there.

Rajeev Masand: You came down to India to shoot this film. Had you been to India before?

Dev Patel: I went when I was like 10-years-old for a family wedding to Gujarat. I tagged along with the parents and all I got was loads of mosquito bites and runs. So, I looked at my sister and said, ‘Komal we’re not coming here again.

And when I came to Mumbai, it was a totally different ball game. I fell in love with the place. I went to Indian with the film’s crew, more mature now and yeah, India’s awesome and it’s so hard not to fall in love with it.

Rajeev Masand: Tell me, how did you approach your part in the film? Your character is a slum boy and I am guessing it’s difficult to relate to of course. What did you have to hold on to, to get into this character?

Dev Patel: The hardest bit was getting out of the foreign mindset and getting into the mind of a slum boy and it was good because I got to see slums. When they were looking for locations, Danny took me with him, so I got to see big slums like Dharavi and it helped me get into character. But it was very hard. I spent a lot of time there, immersed in the environment which helped me a lot.

Rajeev Masand: Looking at the film now, what is it about the film which draws people in, wins over people? Is it the rags-to-riches story? What do you think it is?

Dev Patel: Yeah, it is the rise of the underdog. This boy witnesses his mother die at such a young age. I mean no kid should have to witness that and he has – this kid and his brother. Whereas his brother grows up and gets enticed by the gangs, and the girls and the money. That’s his driving force in life. Jamaal – who I play – he stays cool. He has witnessed so much in life, he’s so experienced in life but he is so innocent. In that dog-eat-dog world, he’s morally upright and he goes for this show and no one understands that this boy is not there for the money.

The game show host gives him all this rubbish, he gets mentally intimidated, gets mentally and physically tortured by these constables. He’s a soldier you know. He has got this one dream, his destiny, to find his soulmate in a city of 15-18 million. It’s like finding a needle in a haystack, but he is going to do it – no matter if he gets killed doing it.

Rajeev Masand: What was Toronto like? Where Slumdog Millionaire won the award?

Dev Patel: That was crazy man. I remember. That was the first time I was seeing the film in the premiere at Toronto and I was so nervous. I walked into the theatre and it was jam-packed with people. I quickly wanted to get in, so I rushed to my seat and on the way I smacked my leg into a chair and it was gushing with blood, blood was flowing everywhere. But with the adrenaline pumping, I didn’t even know. I was so excited with watching the film and the music and the soundtrack and with seeing my face on the screen that I didn’t realise I was hurt. And then I had to go up on stage and I had to do like a Q&A and my suit trousers were pouring with blood and I didn’t even know, there was that much adrenaline in me, it was crazy.

Rajeev Masand: Are you familiar with Indian movies at all? Is that something that interests you at all?

Dev Patel: Yes of course, I grew up watching that stuff. My entire family’s been watching Bollywood movies forever so I’ve grown up watching them too. I used to love them as a kid. I mean I don’t understand Hindi completely but I used to love those big fight scenes, the scenes when Anil Kapoor would take on 50 villains and then rides away on a big horse. Where 10 men would fall with one punch of the hero, with the dhishoom sound effect. I used to love that stuff.

Rajeev Masand: Well best of luck.

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