Akshay Kumar and the need for reinvention

A rundown on how Akshay Kumar went from being a bankable star with numerous hit films to an actor struggling to get good openings.

Starting from the year 1991, Akshay Kumar aka “Khiladi Kumar” acted in over 100 films.

At the beginning of his career, Akshay was primarily known as an “Action Star” because of his physicality and fitness levels. The “Khiladi” tag was the result of the action sequences and this image has stayed with the actor to date.

However, thanks to acclaimed South Indian director Priyadarshan, the actor’s image took a huge turn with the film Hera Pheri (2000). In Hera Pheri, Akshay Kumar played a street-smart guy called Raju.

The film gave him ample scope to display his comic skills. The movie also had a couple of emotional scenes which he pulled off with ease.

Hera Pheri opened new doors for Akshay Kumar. The film did not get a good opening but emerged as a box-office success gradually.

It is considered to be one of the best comic films made in Hindi cinema. It was a remake of the Malayalam movie Ramji Rao Speaking (1989).

The combo of Akshay Kumar and Priyadarshan entertained the audiences further in the likes of Garam Masala (2006) and Bhagam Bhag (2005) — also a remake of the Malayalam classic Manichitrathazhu (1993).

In these films, Akshay Kumar raised many chuckles with his comic timing.

A special mention must be made of the scenes in Garam Masala, where his character juggles multiple girlfriends.

However, it wouldn’t be fair to categorise Akshay as just a comic actor.

More than a comedy actor

Akshay Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan in ‘Waqt: The Race Against Time’. (X)

There are the likes of Aankhen (2002) and Waqt: The Race Against Time (2005), among others, where Akshay Kumar proved himself as a versatile actor.

In Aankhen, he played one of the blind men whom Amitabh Bachchan uses as a pawn to take revenge against the bank where he was working and humiliated.

The Bollywood actor got the nuances of the role spot on and was very impressive, particularly in the face-off with Bachchan.

In Waqt: The Race Against Time, the actor played a spoilt son who undergoes a metamorphosis the hard way. He was both goofy and also intense in equal portions.

Akshay Kumar as a social commentator

Akshay Kumar in ‘Padman’. (X)

There was also a period when Akshay Kumar found success with films dealing with social issues but with commercial ingredients. Case in point being Toilet: EK Prem Katha (2017), and Padman (2018).

What made Akshay’s performance in Toilet: Ek Prem Katha commendable is how he transforms himself from a son, who is scared of his orthodox father, to bringing a change in the mindset of an entire village. There is a visible effort in getting into the skin of the role.

Another movie worth mentioning in this category is R Balki’s Padman. It was about an entrepreneur Arunachalam Muruganatham who made low-cost sanitary pads for women in rural areas.

The actor did a wonderful job of conveying the determination of a man who is mocked constantly and considered a madman by the people around him.

There are scenes in Padman that not many leading stars would have attempted. A case in point is the portion where Akshay’s character tests a sanitary pad on himself with disastrous results.

You also have a speech in the pre-climax at the United Nations, which is very moving.

An impressive Airlift

Akshay Kumar in ‘Airlift’. (X)

Apart from the above-mentioned ones, Akshay Kumar was also hugely impressive in the thriller drama Airlift (2016).

He was seen as a businessman who helped in the evacuation of Indians in Kuwait during the invasion of that country by Iraq’s supremo Saddam Hussain. This invasion is the beginning of the Gulf War.

Akshay’s character Ranjit Katyal starts as an arrogant businessman for whom profit is the only thing that matters. But soon, we see him vulnerable and helpful.

There are occasions where Ranjit is down and out but he still keeps going. Airlift is easily one of Akshay’s best performances.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Akshay Kumar was having a mostly dream run with hits upon hits.

In fact, the actor’s box office figures were much superior to Shah Rukh Khan who was going through a lean patch at that time. But all that changed drastically post-pandemic.

Malfunction of formula

Akshay Kumar in ‘Samrat Prithviraj’. (X)

The formula that worked so well for Akshay all those years has now come crashing down.

It is a well-known fact that the actor hops from one film set to another in a stipulated time. He likes having many releases in a year and method acting has never been his forte.

Akshay’s co-stars have often joked about it openly during movie promotions. Sure this strategy paid big dividends in the past, but now, it backfired with the actor becoming the butt of many jokes.

Certain jadedness came both in terms of script selection and also the actor’s attitude.

A good example of this is the movie Samrat Prithviraj (2022). It was clear while watching the film that the actor looked upon the project as just another film instead of getting into the skin of a very important historical character.

What he ought to have done was something like Hrithik Roshan in Jodha Akbar (2008).

The rumour has it that producer Aditya Chopra asked Akshay to grow a real moustache but Akshay refused to do it.

Even if you look at the movie Mission Raniganj (2023), there is no effort in getting into the headspace of Jaswanth Singh Gill — an engineer who risks his life getting the trapped miners out.

Even the Punjabi accent is more put on than anything else.

Latest failure

Akshay Kumar in ‘Bade Miyan Chote Miyan’. (X)

But the most shocking of all is the recent Ali Abbas Zafar’s Bade Miyan Chote Miyan (2024). In fact, the genre of Bade Miyan Chote Miyan fits perfectly on the radar of Akshay Kumar — a combination of action and comedy.

However, the Bollywood actor appears as a pale version of his Khiladi avatar.

In fact, Tiger Shroff was in much better form with some genuinely funny one-liners. At least he appeared to be enjoying himself, unlike Akshay, who was literally sleepwalking through the role.

This is a sad scenario because Akshay is a capable actor who has shown that he can deliver good performances.

It is high time that Akshay Kumar does some serious introspection both about the kind of films he is choosing and also his working pattern.

Kareena Kapoor Khan: An actor who stays relevant and is a strong force to reckon with

An overview of how Kareena Kapoor Khan is flourishing with author-backed roles and spreading joy among her fans.
Published in: Southfirst

Starting from her debut film Refugee in 2000, Bollywood actor Kareena Kapoor Khan has been part of over 60 movies, including special appearances and dance numbers.

The special appearances include Zoya Akhtar’s Luck by Chance (2009), Priyadarshan’s Billu (2009), and Lovely Singh’s Kya Love Story (2007).

In a career spanning well over two decades, Kareena Kapoor has carved a niche for herself — as a glamorous heroine and a good performer.

In Refugee, she was offered a performance-oriented role which she pulled off with finesse.

Of course, there are films where Kareena came across as too over the top in pitching her performances, like Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001) and Prem Ki Diwani Hoon (2003).

Karan Johar once commented that Kareena was not even aware of for whom she was crying in one scene. But having said that, the actor also proved herself to be a versatile performer in many movies.

Kareena Kapoor, a versatile actor

Kareena Kapoor and Shahid Kapoor in a still from ‘Jab We Met’. (X)

A good example of this is Sudhir Mishra’s Chameli (2003). In the movie, Kareena Kapoor Khan played the role of a sex worker who speaks a rustic language.

It was a brave choice, particularly considering the glamorous image of the actor, but Kareena sunk her teeth into the role playing her part with empathy and conviction.

In the film Dev (2004), directed by Govind Nihlani, the Bollywood actor played a deglamorised role. She shared screen space with the likes of Amitabh Bachchan and more than stood her own.

A scene that deserves a particular mention is when Kareena’s character comes forward to expose the powerful men responsible for the riots before the police commissioner.

The actor effortlessly conveyed the grit of a determined young woman.

Ken Ghosh’s Fida (2004) is another important film in her career. In the flick, Kareena appears as a girl next door with a lot of tenderness. But in the second half, the character takes a huge turn and she is the villain who dupes Shahid Kapoor’s character.

Another noteworthy performance in Kareena Kapoor’s filmography is Vishal Bharadwaj’s Omkara (2006). Her role (Dolly) goes through many emotions from love, awe, fear and bewilderment.

The Hindi actor does not have many lines but she made a big impact with her expressions.

Imtiaz Ali’s Jab We Met (2007) is, of course, a monumental film in her career. Kareena’s Geet has many shades. From a bubbly and overtly talkative young woman, the character goes through heartbreak in the second half.

But still, there is an inner resilience. Kareena Kapoor delivered an award-worthy performance.

A strong screen presence

Kareena Kapoor Khan and Aamir Khan on the sets of ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’. (X)

When it comes to married female actors, there is a tendency to slow down post-motherhood and have long breaks. But Kareena Kapoor Khan’s speciality lies in maintaining her glamorous image even after two children and getting author-backed roles in different genres.

These films include Laal Singh Chaddha (2022), Good Newwz (2019), Jaane Jaan (2023), and the latest Crew (2024).

In spite of Aamir Khan playing the title role, Kareena registered a strong impact in Laal Singh Chaddha. Her Roop is a conflicted woman who loves Laal Singh and dreams big for herself.

Kareena Kapoor played her part with a lot of compassion, additionally, she also looked stunning.

In Raj Mehta’s Good Newwz (2019), the Bollywood actor appeared as a working woman named Deepti Batra, who has been trying to get pregnant for a long time.

She had a meaty role and she did a swell job. The actor was particularly good in a dramatic monologue with Akshay Kumar.

In Sujay Ghosh’s Jaane Jaan, Kareena played a single mother, who escaped an abusive marriage. Things take a dramatic turn when the past catches up in the form of her abusive husband played by Saurabh Sachdeva.

Kareena’s Maya D’Souza was a mixture of steely resilience, vulnerability and charm, among other things. She delivered a knock-out performance.

Crew, an absolute riot

Kareena Kapoor in ‘Crew’. (X)

Now, to her last release Crew. In this film, Kareena Kapoor Khan plays an air hostess who is unapologetically greedy and doesn’t mind taking a shortcut to get rich. At the same time, there is also a deep loneliness.

The Hindi actor did a wonderful job of portraying the different facets of Jasmine. Additionally, her scenes with Tabu were an absolute riot.

Kareena Kapoor also got into production with Hansal Mehta’s directorial The Buckingham Murders (2023), which premiered at the London Film Festival on 14 October last year. Her performance has been much appreciated.

This is a brief outline of Kareena Kapoor’s past and recent roles. Here’s hoping that the senior actor continues to shine bright and spread joy among her fans with varied roles.

Mammootty : An actor who constantly reinvents himself and pushes the barriers of a traditional superstar

Mammootty’s brilliance lies in the fact that even at 72, he has a burning passion to excel and challenge himself as an artiste.

Mammootty has acted in over 400 movies so far, mainly in Malayalam but a few in Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, English, and Kannada as well. He left a solid imprint in all the languages.

The actor won three National Awards for Best Actor and nine Kerala State Film Awards. He also has a record of 13 South Filmfare Awards.

It is easy for an actor to get complacent and play safe when you are in the industry as long as Mammootty. But his brilliance lies in the fact that even at 72, he has a burning passion to excel and challenge himself as an artist.

The passion to challenge himself as an artist is visible in the subjects he chooses.

In Peranbu (2018), he played a father to a daughter suffering from cerebral Palsy. The character goes through many emotions and there are times when Mammootty’s Amudhvan comes across as helpless and very much vulnerable.

On the other hand, in the film Puzhu (2022), he played a caste bigot and a single father with an overbearing nature. The way he treated his son is similar to how he would handle a criminal.

Both these characters are as different as chalk and cheese in terms of how they are written. Mammootty excelled in bringing them to life.

Mammootty as a cop

Mammootty in ‘Kannur Squad’. (X)

Then there are the cop characters like the ones in Unda (2017) and Kannur Squad (2023).

In Unda, Mammootty was seen as SI Manikandan. He leads a group of freshly trained policemen on election duty in a Maoist area. Though Mammootty plays the primary character, there is nothing invincible about him. Mammootty blends with the surroundings and never overpowers the story. Manikandan is a man who is both scared and vulnerable, but there is also a strong inner strength. Mammootty brings these aspects with his trademark gravitas.

The actor also cracks you up on many occasions with his subtle humour.

In Roby Varghese’s directorial Kannur Squad, Mammootty played an ASI leading a special investigative team.

The role of ASI George is not a big stretch for Mammootty but the actor shines bright as the determined squad leader.

He also had some delightful massy moments, including an action stretch in the dark. The physical agility of Mammootty in the mass sequences is praiseworthy.

Many facets of the Malayalam Superstar

Mammootty in ‘Bramayugam’. (X)

In Kaathal-The Core, the Malayalam Superstar plays a homosexual who has not made peace with his sexuality yet.

Mammootty deserves all the accolades for not just accepting this bold role but also doing a brilliant job of portraying the different emotions.

The actor particularly shines in a heartbreaking conversation with his father Devassy played by RS Panicker.

In the 2023 flick Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam, Mammootty plays a Malayali man James who starts behaving like a Tamilian farmer named Sundaram upon entering an unknown village. There are many quirks to the role.

In the hands of a lesser actor, the whimsicalness of the entire scenario would have fallen flat. But Mammootty, the legendary actor that he is, transforms James into Sundaram and back to James smoothly.

Rorschach (2022), directed by Nissam Basheer is another film which shows a different facet of Mammootty.

In the movie, he plays the role of a mysterious stranger Luke Anthony. He is a man with secrets and has a mission to accomplish.

Director Basheer did a brilliant job of exploring the psyche of a man whose thirst for vengeance is not fulfilled even after the enemy dies.

Mammootty magnificently embodied Luke Anthony’s endless appetite for revenge.

Bramayugam, directed by Rahul Sadhasivan, showcases another shade of Mammootty’s on-screen villainy.

In the beginning portions, his character Kodumon Potti appears to be a benevolent man. But, as the story progresses, his actual personality is revealed.

Mammootty terrified the viewers with just his body language. It was clear that he had a blast in portraying the wickedness.

Other language films

Mammootty in ‘Swathi Kiranam’. (X)

Regarding the other language films, late K Vishwanath’s directorial Swathi Kiranam (1992) is widely considered one of Mammootty’s best films in Telugu and his overall career and rightly so.

What added to Swathi Kiranam’s brilliance,  apart from the gripping narration, was Mammootty’s stellar act as an egoistic musician.

The actor conveyed the feelings of jealousy, remorse etc in a very impactful manner. Swathi Kiranam introduced Mammootty’s brilliance to the Telugu audiences much before the Yatra films (2019 and 2024).

In Tamil, Thalapathi (1991) is a significant film in the actor’s filmography. Acclaimed director Mani Ratnam pulled off a huge casting coup by casting Rajinikanth and Mammootty together.

Rajinikanth played a character modelled on Karna from Mahabharata in this contemporary take. Mammootty, on the other hand, was the modern Duryodhana.

In spite of Rajinikanth’s star power in the Tamil industry, Mammootty dazzled the viewers with his fabulous act. It is hard to take your eyes off the screen whenever the actor appears.

Mammootty also made a huge impact on the international shores with the English and Hindi bilingual Dr Bahasaheb Ambedkar (2000).

He got into the skin of one of the most revered personalities of Indian history with utmost ease. He skillfully portrayed the tenacity of Dr Bahasaheb Ambedkar while at the same time showcasing his vulnerabilities.

This is just a small appreciation of Mammootty’s recent roles. The list is by no means exhaustive given his long journey in films.

Here’s hoping this legendary actor continues enthraling the viewers with many more varied roles.

More Glamour Than Acting: A Critique Of Deepika Padukone’s Recent Choices

It is to the credit of Deepika that she took a big risk with her glamorous image when she produced and acted in ‘Chhapaak’ (2020).
published in southfirst

Deepika Padukone has always been a glamorous star. But earlier, she used to balance glamour with acting.

But of late, it has been more glamour and less acting.

Starting with Gehraiyaan (2022), Pathaan (2023), Jawan (2023) and now, Fighter (2024), all followed the same route — all in two years.

It is not that Deepika did not have her share of good performances.

For instance, in Shoojit Sircar’s Piku (2015), the actor shared the screen space with the legendary Amitabh Bachchan and the late Irrfan Khan. And still, she held her own opposite these stalwarts.

Lost in Bhansali’s grandeur 

Deepika Padukone in Padmaavat
Deepika Padukone in ‘Padmaavat’. (X)

In her first collaboration with Sanjay Leela Bhansali — Ram Leela (2013), Deepika Padukone delivered a performance that had the right mixture of spunk and vulnerability.

In Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013) and Tamasha (2015), there was both glamour and acting.

In Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, her character goes from being a nerd to a more confident woman.

Deepika pulled off the different shades with finesse.

In Tamasha, the actor had less screen time. Nevertheless, she did make her scenes count.

The song sequence “Agar Tum Saath Ho”, in particular, deserves a mention.

But Deepika Padukone was disappointing in two of Bhansali’s big films — Bajirao Mastani (2015) and Padmaavat (2018), where she was central to the plot.

The Bollywood actor could have done so much more but confined herself to looking glamorous.

In both these films, Deepika was overshadowed by Priyanka Chopra and Ranveer Singh respectively.

Her choice of roles

Deepika Padukone in ‘Chhapaak’. (X)

It is to the credit of Deepika Padukone that she took a huge risk with her glamorous image when she produced and acted in Chhapaak (2020). The Bollywood film was based on a real-life acid attack survivor named Lakshmi.

Performance-wise, Deepika was good, and credit has to be given to her for taking a risk like Chhapaak. However, the movie suffered from a documentary-style approach, and the key flashback portion required more heft in terms of writing and acting.

The financial failure of Chhapaak seems to have had an impact on Deepika’s selection of roles. This is visible from Gehraiyaan (2022).

Directed by Shakun Batra, Gehraiyaan was a keenly anticipated film, given the critical and commercial success of his Kapoor and Sons (2016). It was a complicated relationship drama. In the name of performance, Deepika Padukone was mostly seen doing only intimate scenes with Siddanth Chaturvedi’s Zain.

The focus was more on glamour rather than delivering a solid performance. In fact, Ananya Pandey was much better in the few emotional scenes that she got. The characterisation of Alisha also did not help Deepika Padukone. The best example of this is the portion involving the pregnancy drama.

Lost in action

Deepika Padukone in Pathaan
Deepika Padukone in ‘Pathaan’. (X)

In Pathaan, Deepika  Padukone made for a good action heroine. The actor was fluid in her movements as the Pakistani agent named Rubai. But there was no stand-out emotional scene. Even the love story between her and Shah Rukh jumped out of nowhere.

The highlight of Deepika’s presence remained the controversial “Besharam Rang” song. In Atlee’s Jawan, Deepika Padukone comes only in the second half as the wife of father Shah Rukh Khan.

In that extended special appearance, she has only two moods — one is anguish, and the other is sadness. On top of that, Deepika’s portions majorly slowed down the proceedings and brought the screenplay to a grinding halt.

Now, in her latest outing Fighter, Deepika Padukone’s character is supposed to represent women’s empowerment. She goes against her father’s wishes to become a fighter pilot.

However, for most of the flick, she is required to flirt and look at Hrithik Roshan’s Patty with adoration. She is supposed to heal him. Even the strained relationship with her father ends only because of Hrithik’s character. There is a glazed look that Deepika Padukone carries, throughout Fighter, which is painful to watch.

Even the scenes of her operating the fighter plane resemble a man driving an auto. Glamorous characters can also have substance, a case in point being Deepika’s Cocktail (2016). In the film, she plays an angst-ridden rich girl. The actor looked stunning as always and was impressive performance-wise.

Deepika Padukone and the power position

Deepika Padukone is in a position where she can pick and choose roles that showcase both her beauty and acting. The actor need not settle with the likes of Pathaan and Fighter. It is high time that the Bollywood actor gives more importance to the role she plays rather than acting with big male stars.

For example, when Vicky Kaushal acted with Alia Bhatt in Raazi (2018), he was not such a prominent name as he is now. Similarly, Shantanu Maheshwari was a rank newcomer when he worked with Alia in Gangubai Kathiawadi (2022).

In both films, Alia Bhatt gave more importance to the part and the story rather than focusing on the commercial viability of her male actors.

Ranbir Kapoor And His On-Screen Universe Of Daddy Issues

From ‘Wake Up Sid’ to ‘Animal’, an overview of the different kinds of daddy issues that Ranbir Kapoor’s films have covered so far.

One of the most depicted relationships in cinema is that of a parent and child. Irrespective of the number of times we have seen it — whether it is father and son or mother and daughter, there is something universal about these relationships.

For example, a reason for the success of Jawan (2023) is the double role played by Shah Rukh Khan. The scenes featuring the Bollywood Badshah as father and son were an absolute treat for his fans and movie buffs.

The interval bang when the father saves the son and the subsequent dialogue drew cheers in the cinema halls.

Another example of the father-son bond this year is OMG 2. In the movie, Pankaj Tripathi plays a diehard devotee of Shiva who also runs a pooja shop. Things take a turn when his son gets admitted to a hospital due to exhaustion caused by excessive masturbation.

Things get even more problematic when the youngster’s video of masturbation in the toilet is secretly filmed and circulated on the internet.

For the sake of his son, Pankaj Tripathi’s character slowly changes from a distraught father to a revolutionary.

Coming to Ranbir Kapoor’s relationships with his on-screen fathers, there has always been certain unease in his movies — be it in Animal (2023), Sanju (2018), Yeh Jaawani Hai Deewani (2013), Tamasha (2015), or Wake Up Sid (2009), they all have daddy issues.

It is a well-known fact that Ranbir’s real-life relationship with his father, the late Rishi Kapoor, was not smooth. This might be a factor for the directors to choose him for the roles or Ranbir Kapoor getting attracted to such characters.

Well, let us take a quick look at some of Ranbir’s on-screen father-son problematic relationships:

Animal

In Animal, Ranbir Kapoor’s Ranvijay is the son of a successful industrialist Balbir Singh (Anil Kapoor). Balbir Singh is a typical old-time patriarch obsessed with his factory and has little time for anything else, including his children.

The relationship between Ranvijay and Balbir is strained and goes into a toxic territory as life goes on. The parody here is that Ranvijay loves his father too much but makes him angry at every step.

When a murder attempt is made on his father, Ranvijay gets so obsessed about finding his father’s enemies that he soon becomes a wild animal himself. He doesn’t listen to anyone, including his father.

The most engaging part of Animal is easily these twisted dynamics coupled with how Ranbir throws himself into this dark territory. There is no denying that in most households, there is a certain distance between the father and the son.

However, in this case, director Sandeep Reddy Vanga takes it to an extreme level with little or no care for social repercussions.

Sanju

In Sanju — a biopic on Sanjay Dutt, Ranbir Kapoor played a son who feels immense pressure to live up to the lineage of his illustrious parents — Paresh Rawal (Sunil Dutt) and Manisha Koirala (Nargis). This pressure leads Sanjay to take drugs, among other things.

There is no denying that Rajkumar Hirani did go soft on the transgressions of Sanjay Dutt. But having said that, the emotional upheaval of Sanjay Dutt cannot be denied.

One of the best moments in Sanju is when Ranbir Kapoor writes an apology letter and plans to surprise his dad by reading it publicly.

However, things don’t go according to the plan, and that very night, Paresh Rawal’s Sunil Dutt dies. Ranbir’s Sanjay Dutt ends up reading the letter to his dead body.

In this letter, he talks about how bad a son he has been and the troubles he has caused.

Tamasha

In Tamasha, Ranbir Kapoor plays a son who feels suffocated due to his demanding father. His character (Ved) gets stuck in a typical corporate job while his passion lies somewhere.

There is a certain bipolar nature to Ved, and there are scenes in the second half that focus on the issues of mental health.

In pre-climax, there is a powerful scene between Ranbir’s Ved and Javed Sheikh, who plays the father. It is a confrontation scene that most Indian sons can identify with.

Ranbir Kapoor and Anil Kapoor in ‘Animal’. (X)

In Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Ranbir Kapoor played a free-spirited youngster who constantly seeks thrill.

Late Farooq Sheikh played the father.

Ranbir’s Bunny has an awkward relationship with his father. There are two main reasons for this; one is personality differences between them, and the other is his father’s second marriage.

There are only a few scenes of the father-son relationship, but still, they are impactful.

Wake Up Sid

In Wake Up Sid, Ranbir Kapoor plays a carefree young man who lacks clarity about what he wants to become. There is a laid-back nature to Sid.

Like most fathers, this does not go down well with his father, played by Anupam Kher. Naturally, this leads to a certain amount of friction. These moments are few but still very powerful.

A special mention must be made of the showdown scene that leads to Sid leaving the house and staying for some time with Konkana Sen Sharma’s Aisha Banerjee.

There, he discovers his passion for photography and goes back to his family.

Ranbir Kapoor and Farooq Sheikh in ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’. (X)

Apart from these films, in Ajab Prem ki Ghazab Kahani (2009), the discord between the son and father was used to generate moments of slapstick comedy.

Well, these are some shades of Ranbir Kapoor’s relationships with on-screen fathers. Maybe it is time for the Bollywood actor to take a break from these daddy issues and move on to other subjects!

Aditya Chopra and his penchant for giving second chances

One of the major characteristics of Yash Raj Films (YRF) is how it nurtures talent and gives several chances to directors and artistes in spite of their initial failures.

For example, Kabir Khan’s directorial debut Kabul Express (2006) wasn’t a commercial success but the director still got an opportunity to direct two more major Yash Raj Films — New York (2009) and Ek Tha Tiger (2012).

Both did well at the box office, especially Ek Tha Tiger, which laid the foundation for the flourishing spy universe.

Here’s the list of Bollywood celebrities who won multiple opportunities from the YRF chief Aditya Chopra despite their failures:

Maneesh Sharma

Maneesh Sharma has directed five films — all for YRF.

The first is the romantic comedy Band Baaja Baaraat (2010) starring Ranveer Singh and Anushka Sharma. The movie had low expectations, but Maneesh and Ranveer surprised the audiences.

A poster of the film Tiger 3

A poster of the film ‘Tiger 3’. (X)

Maneesh’s second film too was a Ranveer-starrer: Ladies vs Ricky Bahl (2011). Though it didn’t replicate the success of his debut, the Bollywood movie didn’t break Aditya Chopra’s trust in the director.

A third film, Shuddh Desi Romance (2013), was offered to him again. It was an engaging romantic comedy dealing with how the younger generation looked at marriage commitment in small-town India. The movie also dwelt on live-in relationships.

Its success led to Maneesh Sharma getting his fourth opportunity with the YRF — to direct Shah Rukh Khan in a double role. As the title Fan (2016) suggested, the film was about an obsessive fan who gets heartbroken with his idol.

Maneesh Sharma did a decent job in the first half, but the young director lost his grip in the second half, and everything went topsy-turvy.

In spite of the failure of Fan, Maneesh got yet another opportunity to direct a large-scale action film — Tiger 3 (2023).

Maneesh Sharma aimed to make a geo-political film with a lot of action. However, his inability to handle big scale once again came to the fore.

The hand-to-hand combats, Emraan Hashmi’s characterisation, and Shah Rukh’s extended cameo were all brilliant in Tiger 3. But the film never rose above the sum of its parts.

There is no denying that Tiger 3 is doing good business, but having said that, it is also a setback for the spy universe, particularly in comparison to the previous two films War (2019) and Pathaan (2023).

Vijay Krishna Acharya

Vijay Krishna Acharya made his directorial debut with the action drama Tashan (2008). The film had a galaxy of stars — Kareena Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan, Akshay Kumar, and Anil Kapoor.

It was an old-fashioned revenge drama in Hollywood style. True to the title, the film had plenty of style, particularly the characterisation of Akshay Kumar’s Bachchan Pandey.

A still from the film Thugs of Hindostan

A still from the film ‘Thugs of Hindostan’. (X)

But, just gloss can never substitute for a gripping story. And, that was what happened with Tashan too.

Kareena definitely found her soul mate in Saif Ali Khan and vice-versa, but for Aditya Chopra, the movie was a big loss.

However, Tashan‘s failure did not stop the producer from trusting Vijay Krishna Acharya again with the third instalment of the Dhoom franchise.

Vijay Krishna Acharya was only a story writer for the first two Dhoom films (2004, 2006) but for Dhoom 3 (2013), he was both writer and director.

Dhoom 3 did bring in profits for its producers, but at the same time, it was a step back as it paled in comparison to the fun and thrills provided by Dhoom 2.

Only Aamir Khan’s star power coupled with a more engaging second half made Dhoom 3 a hit at the box office.

Aditya Chopra was even more generous when he allowed Vijay Krishna Acharya to direct Bollywood “Shahenshah” Amitabh Bachchan and Mr Perfectionist Aamir Khan together in Thugs of Hindostan (2018).

Unfortunately, for the fans and the production house, the experience was far from memorable. The film brought huge losses to everyone concerned.

Vijay Krishna Acharya’s last directorial is a religious comedy/drama titled The Great Indian Family (2023) also produced by YRF.

Despite being a much better product than Thugs of Hindostan, The Great Indian Family didn’t do much at the box office. Now, we have to wait and see if Aditya Chopra will give him another chance.

Shaad Ali

Shaad Ali was an assistant director to Mani Ratnam for Dil Se (1998).

Later on, he helmed seven films as a director. Of these seven projects, four were produced by YRF.

A poster of the film Kill Dil

A poster of the film ‘Kill Dil’. (X)

The first is the romantic comedy/drama Saathiya (2002), a remake of Mani Ratnam’s Tamil blockbuster hit Alaipayuthey (2000). Saathiya was a moderate success and was well-received by the critics.

Before Saathiya, Rani Mukherjee had only seen limited success. With the film, her career saw a resurgence. For Vivek Oberoi, it was the third success of that year.

Shaad Ali’s second outing, Bunty Aur Babli (2005), also did well at the box office.

It gave Abhishek Bachchan a much-needed hit as the leading man. His sizzling chemistry with Rani Mukherjee also helped the movie become a blockbuster.

Later, Shaad Ali faced massive roadblocks in the form of Jhoom Barabar Jhoom (2007) and Kill Dil (2014).

Jhoom Barabar Jhoom was an expensive musical that brought no profits. It had a hit soundtrack composed by Shankar Ehsaan Loy. But good music and glossy cinematography couldn’t compensate for the lacklustre direction.

Shaad Ali was clearly not comfortable dealing with a story of this scale.

Despite Jhoom Barabar Jhoom‘s failure, the director helmed another YRF film — Ranveer Singh’s Kill Dil (2014). It was an action comedy film about two assassins raised by a local gangster. Here too, there was ample style but little substance.

Shaad Ali’s journey with YRF has come to a stop for now.

Siddarth P Malhotra

Siddarth P Malhotra’s debut directorial was We Are Family (2010). It is an official adaption of Stepmom (English, 1998).

Rani Mukherjee in Hichki

Rani Mukherjee in ‘Hichki’.(X)

The film was produced by Karan Johar and had the likes of Kajol and Kareena Kapoor.

It had all the elements required to be a solid emotional drama, but Siddarth P Malhotra couldn’t do complete justice to it.

Despite We Are Family’s failure, the young director got an opportunity to helm a YRF film starring Aditya Chopra’s life partner, Rani Mukherjee.

Hichki (2018) was about a teacher with a passion for teaching in spite of suffering from Tourette syndrome and the impact she has on students of class 9F.

These students come from a nearby slum and are not interested in studies. Rani Mukherjee, as Naina Mathur, transforms their lives with patience and perseverance. Hichki was a classic underdog story that resonated well with the audience.

Siddarth P Malhotra showed that Aditya Chopra’s trust in him wasn’t misplaced.

Karan Malhotra

Just like Siddarth P Malhotra, Karan Malhotra, too, started his career with Dharma Productions.

He directed the action drama Agneepath (2012), a remake of the 1990 film of the same name.

A poster of the film Shamshera

A poster of the film ‘Shamshera’. (X)

While the original film had Amitabh Bachchan in the lead role, the remake had Hrithik Roshan and two terrifying villains, Rishi Kapoor’s Rauf Lala and Sanjay Dutt’s Kancha Cheena

Agneepath was a well-made masala film that registered good numbers at the box office.

Later, Karan Malhotra directed Brothers (2015), also a remake. However, the source material this time was an English film titled Warrior (2011). He tried to replicate the success of Agneepath with the same treatment, but this time, the results were far from satisfying.

The failure of Brothers led to Karan Malhotra stepping out of Dharma Productions.

After a gap of seven years, Karan Malhotra directed Shamshera (2022) produced by Aditya Chopra.

The film was a period-action drama about an oppressed tribe with a double dose of Ranbir Kapoor. Ranbir gave it his all, but the movie ended up being a poor clone of the Baahubali (2015 and 2017) films.

Unlike the other Malhotra, this Malhotra couldn’t live up to the expectations of the YRF Chairman.

Pradeep Sarkar

Late Pradeep Sarkar directed five films. Of them, three were produced by YRF.

These include Laaga Chunari Mein Daag (2007), Lafangey Parindey (2010) and Mardaani (2014). Among these, only Mardaani did good business.

Not many would have trusted the Parineeta (2005) director with a subject like Mardaani, but the late Pradeep Sarkar ensured that Aditya Chopra’s trust in him was not misplaced.

Mardaani is a significant film in the career of Rani Mukherjee. 

Rani Mukherjee in ‘Mardaani’. (X)

Vani Kapoor

Vani Kapoor has acted in seven films so far. Out of seven, five were produced by YRF.

The Bollywood diva started her career promisingly with Shuddh Desi Romance. But her next outing, Aaha Kalyanam (2014), a Tamil-telugu remake of Band Baaja Baaraat produced by YRF (the only South film bankrolled by YRF) was a dud.

Despite Aaha Kalyanam’s failure, Vani Kapoor was paired opposite Ranveer Singh in Befikre (2016). Unfortunately, neither the film nor Vani could create any impact.

Still, she was cast in another YRF film – War (2019). But there wasn’t much heavy lifting for her, as the focus was primarily on Hrithik Roshan and Tiger Shroff.

The actress was last seen in another YRF dud Shamshera (2022).

Vani Kapoor will next be seen in the web show Mandala Murders, co-produced by Aditya Chopra.

Here’s hoping that the actress will finally be able to repay the trust of her mentor.

Manushi Chillar

Manushi Chhillar has acted in two movies so far. Both were bankrolled by Aditya Chopra.

In spite of the failure of Samrat Prithviraj (2022), YRF gave her another chance in The Great Indian Family, which again was a failure.

The actress is a good looker, but she hasn’t proved her acting credentials until now!

She will be next seen in Operation Valentine alongside Varun Tej. The Telugu actor is making his debut in Bollywood with this Telugu-Hindi bilingual. It is hitting the screens on 8 December.

Kangana Ranaut: The Rise And Decline Of The National Award-Winning Actress

Kangana Ranaut made her acting debut with Anurag Basu’s directorial Gangster in the year 2006.  The film co-starred Shiney Ahuja and Emraan Hashmi.

In this movie, she played a young woman with a traumatic past. This included falling in love with a wanted gangster and running away with him.

Gangster opened to mostly positive reviews and Kangana was praised for her performance.

On the flip side, the success of Gangster led the actress to play similar roles (troubled women) in her subsequent films — Woh Lamhe (2006), Raaz: The Mystery Continues (2009), and Fashion (2008).

35 films to date

With Chandramukhi 2 (2023) and Tejas (2023), Kangana Ranaut has done 35 films so far.

Some of her most notable performances are: Tanu weds Manu films (2011 and 2015), Queen (2013), FashionRangoon (2017), Manikarnika (2019), and Panga (2020).

Vikas Bahl’s Queen is a significant film in the Bollywood actor’s career as her role of Rani Mehra is quite a departure from the likes of Gangster and Fashion. And, the actress rightfully won her first National Award for Best Actress for this film.

The Tanu Weds Manu films are another major landmark in Kangana’s career, particularly the sequel. In Tanu Weds Manu Returns, Kangana Ranaut played a double role and was hugely successful in carrying the film on her shoulders.

Tanu Weds Manu Returns did much more business than the prequel. The actress also got her second National Award for Best Actress for this film.  The other National Awards came for Manikarnika and Panga respectively.

A downward graph

After Tanu weds Manu Returns, Kangana Ranaut became a bankable star actress considered on par with heroes. But unfortunately, after that, the graph has been going downwards with every new release.

It is a combination of bad script choices coupled with her excessive rants on social media which haven’t done her any favour even with her fans.

For example, she labelled both Swara Bhasker and Taapsee Pannu as needy outsiders.

She even called Vikrant Massey a cockroach.

Her continuous attacks on Karan Johar and Alia Bhatt are something that everyone is familiar with.

Before the release of Gangubai Kathiawadi (2022), the actress went on record that crores of money would bite the dust along with the film.

She also attacked Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl (2020) before its release.

All this has come back to haunt the actress with her latest release Tejas (2023). Fittingly, Vikrant Massey’s 12th Fail, released on the same day, has emerged as a big success.

Now, let’s focus on Kangana’s non-performing films and give an overview of why they have fared the way they have starting from Tejas.

Tejas

Tejas, debutant director Sarvesh Mewara’s Air Force thriller/drama, was a mix of patriotism coupled with women empowerment. But the filmmaker failed to succeed on both counts.

Sarvesh Mewara’s direction was dull, but having said that, Kangana Ranaut’s single-tone act made the film even more unbearable.

Irrespective of the scene that the actress was performing, there was a robotic quality to the way she was delivering her dialogues.

Ideally, the big speech about the Indian soldiers should have an emotional connection. But viewers don’t feel any connection because it comes across as more of a real-life rant that the actress is known for.

Chandramukhi 2

Rajinikanth and Jyotika-starrer Chandramukhi (2005, Tamil) is a movie that enjoys a special place in the hearts of the viewers.

It is widely considered as Jyotika’s best. Her performance as a married woman suffering from a split personality was a treat to watch.

Jyotika’s act was always going to be a tough one to match, but the extent to which Kangana Ranaut failed in Chandramukhi 2 (2023) was unimaginable.

A lot of the blame for this fiasco lied with the sketchy characterisation. But the fact that Kangana didn’t match even 5 percent of what Jyotika did in the prequel was also to be blamed.

Adding to viewers’ woes were Kangana Ranaut’s Bharatanatyam dances that generated unintentional comedy.

Thalaivi

The real-life story of Jayalalithaa is an inspiring one in many ways. She was a woman of steel with many highs and lows.

Before Thalaivi (2021), there was a web series called Queen (2019) directed by Gautham Menon and Prasanth Murugesan.

Both directors did a good job of portraying Jayalalithaa’s life. Ramya Krishna who played the title role was also solid in her performance.

But AL Vijay’s Thalaivi did not match Queen.

Vijay did a good job in the first half exploring the relationship between Jayalalithaa and MGR (Kangana Ranaut and Aravind Swamy respectively).

But in the second half, the director slipped badly and from then on it was all downhill.

The political side of Jayalalithaa was shown in a rushed manner. At certain points, it looked like AL Vijay was more interested in playing to Kangana’s real-life image rather than the story.

Another problem with the film was the characterisation of Nassar’s Karunanidhi; it was more of a caricature.

Panga

Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s Panga (2020) was a sports drama that revolved around a former kabaddi player who gave up her dreams just before a major tournament.

The movie did receive glowing reviews with Kangana receiving critical acclaim.

Kangana Ranaut’s role of Jaya was easily one of the best characters in her filmography. But, in spite of all the positive reviews, Panga was a non-starter at the box office.

A reason that could be attributed to its failure was a certain fatigue that had set in with this genre.

Manikarnika

Manikarnika co-directed by Kangana Ranaut and Krish Jagarlamudi was not an absolute disaster in comparison to the above-mentioned films.

The movie did reasonable business but wasn’t a blockbuster hit as the actress claimed.

Kangana Ranaut made for a perfect Jhansi ki rani. The ferociousness and swagger required of a Queen was very much there.

Neetu Lulla’s costumes also came in for much praise particularly the ones worn by Kangana Ranaut.

However, the big problem with Manikarnika was that it became all about Kangana alone with not much space for anyone else.

The cardboard British characters were another eyesore.

Judgemental Hai Kya

Actor-director Prakash Kovelamudi tried to do many things with Judgemental Hai Kya (2019).

On one hand, it was a dark comedy. In the second half, the film turned into a whodunit combined with commentary on mental health.

However, this khichdi of genres didn’t amalgamate into something truly memorable.

The film had solid performances from both Kangana Ranaut and Rajkumar Rao.

Of course, the actress is no stranger to playing mentally unhinged characters and she did do a good job. Rajkumar Rao also did a wonderful job in his negative role.

Just like Thalaivi, this movie too suffered from the curse of the second half. It could have been so much more but it ended up neither here nor there.

The multiplex audiences didn’t completely get it and the masses were simply not interested in it.

Katti Batti

Nikhil Advani’s Katti Batti (2015) is a concoction of many films. There was clear inspiration from Hollywood romantic movies coupled with his directorial debut Kal Ho Na Ho.

For reasons best known to Nikhil, he placed the weight of Katti Batti on the shoulders of a struggling Imran Khan.

Kangana Ranaut enters and exists as per the convenience of the screenplay, though she rated her performance in this movie on par with Tanu Weds Manu Returns.

Not surprisingly, the audiences preferred to do “Katti” with the flick!

Well, it is sad to see a good actress losing both on- and off-screen and getting embroiled in unnecessary controversies.

Wish Kangana Ranaut would refocus on her craft and deliver many more Queens and Tanus!

Vijay Varma: A Decade Of Formidable Talent – From ‘Pink’ To ‘Jaane Jaan’

If we observe Vijay Varma’s filmography, we predominantly notice two types of roles – negative/grey roles and cop characters.

Vijay Varma started his acting career in 2008 with a short film titled Shor. But his big screen debut started with Chittagong in 2012. It was followed by late Satish Kaushik’s Gang of Ghosts (2014) and Priyadarshan’s Rangrezz (2013).

However, none of these movies gave a significant push to his career until Pink (2016) came along. Since then, as the saying goes, there is no looking back for the Bollywood actor. Vijay Varma is an FTII student, and this clearly shows how the actor has adapted to different roles. If we observe his filmography, we notice that two types of roles majorly stand out – negative/grey characters and cop roles. Let’s check them out here:

Ankit Malhotra

Pink was a breakthrough film for Vijay Varma where he played a deeply misogynistic person -Ankit Malhotra. He was the one who eggs on Rajveer Singh (Angad Bedi) to take revenge on Taapsee Pannu’s character, Minal. Ankit Malhotra just doesn’t stop there,  he also molests her in a moving jeep and throws her on the road. He really looks menacing in that scene. We hate him as much as Angad Bedi.

Moen

Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy (2019) saw Vijay Varma as a neighbourhood crook Moen who was also a friend of Ranveer Singh’s Murad. He was not a psycho but had his own grey shades. Throughout the film, viewers couldn’t make out if he was good or bad. The Bollywood actor owned the part with a brilliant performance.

Sasya

In Imtiaz Ali’s web series She (2020), Vijay Varma played a drug peddler named Sasya. In spite of not having a lot of screen time, he owned every frame that he was in. What also added to the performance was how he spoke Hyderabadi Deccani – a language spoken in Hyderabad where he grew up. Vijay also got the body language of the drug peddler spot-on.

Hamza

In Darlings (2022), Vijay Varma played an alcoholic, abusive husband named Hamza to Alia Bhatt’s Badru. He was someone who was extremely cruel and at the same time, lovey-dovey depending on the situation. Vijay looked like a truly scary psychopath. The actor received a lot of positive hate for his portrayal of Hamza. By Vijay’s own admission, it was not an easy task to be an abusive husband to the “heartthrob of the nation.” The Bollywood actor also said that he was very scared of unintentionally hurting Alia in the scenes involving physical abuse. Those scenes were so real that every time he appeared on the screen, we were as terrified as Alia. Coincidentally, their first feature films (Chittagong and Student of the Year) were released in the same month (October) in 2012.

Anand Swarnakar

Initially, the viewers have a positive impression of Vijay’s character Anand Swarnakar in Dahaad (2023). Apart from being an excellent Hindi professor, Anand also runs a mobile library for the underprivileged. But soon, this bubble breaks as the real face of Anand is revealed. Vijay Varma was absolutely terrific – both as a middle-class married man struggling to make ends meet and as a serial killer who has severe unresolved issues with his father.

Adi

Monsoon Shootout is an early film by Vijay Varma shot in 2013. It had its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, but theatrically, it was released four years later in 2017. In the movie, Vijay Varma played a cop who was deeply influenced by his father’s principles. His father told him that all life’s choices were not black and white, and there was a middle path too. In spite of sharing screen space with a heavyweight like Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Vijay Varma more than held his own. He did a swell job of showcasing the different nuances of his character.

Ravi Shankar Tripathi

In the web series Kaalkoot (2023), Vijay Varma’s Ravi Shankar Tripathi was vastly different from the mainstream cops that the audiences are used to. For example, Dabbang (2010) and Singham (2011). He was a soft-spoken cop who considered himself a misfit in the police department. There was a constant desire in him to resign. But as the show progressed, his character underwent a transformation. This show had come right after Dahaad where he played a serial killer. He made the audience forget that this was the same man who appeared as a serial killer.

Karan Anand

In Sujoy Ghosh’s Jaane Jaan (2023), an OTT film, Vijay Varma appeared as a charming cop. It was the closest he came to doing romance. The scenes where he flirts with Kareena Kapoor’s Maya D’Souza were so adorable to watch. He gave the film some much-needed lighter moments in an otherwise tense atmosphere.

Vijay Varma is now 37. He has already done 24 films, including web series. Here’s hoping that our filmmakers will tap his potential – much more in future – which goes beyond the above-mentioned characters!

Published in SouthFirst on 15.10.2023. Click on the below link for https://thesouthfirst.com/entertainment/vijay-varma-a-decade-of-formidable-talent-from-pink-to-jaane-jaan/

Alia Bhatt And Her Tryst With Different Languages And Cultures

An overview of how the talented Bollywood actress covered various Indian States and different dialects through her roles.

In a career spanning over a decade, Alia Bhatt has represented women characters from different parts of India. These women are not only varied in terms of physical demographics but also their social strata.

The states that Alia Bhatt has represented so far include Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Goa, Rajasthan, Kashmir, Gujarat, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Bengal.

Though most of them are Hindu characters in three films, she played Muslim characters, too. They are Sehmat in Raazi (2018), Safeena in Gully Boy (2019) and Badru in Darlings (2022).

Alia Bhatt has proved her efficiency in moulding herself to suit each of them.

Let me start with the latest picture:

Rani Chatterjee

Rani Chatterjee in Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahaani (2003) is a Bengali journalist who settles in South Delhi.

The Bengali imprint was clear in the gorgeous sarees she wore and also in the way she spoke her mind like any educated Bengali woman would do.

This came out brilliantly in her introduction scene itself when she bashed a minister for his sexist comments about how women should dress and what they should eat. It was much more of a massy entry than Ranveer got.

Alia Bhatt’s Bengali accent wasn’t flawless, but the actress ensured that it didn’t become a distraction with her screen presence and acting capabilities. Well, Alia was bang on when she pronounced “Khela Hobe” which means “the game is on”.

Gangubai

In Gangubai Kathaiawadi (2022), which won Alia a National Award for her performance as Gangubai, the actor’s dialect had a mix of Gujarati and Marathi.

On many occasions, we see her speaking in the Kathiawadi accent. It came from the family that her character Gangubai was born in.

Alia Bhatt was not only good at showing a gamut of emotions through her eyes but she also aced the dialect.

The Gujarati touch can be particularly seen in the song “Dholida“.

Sita

In SS Rajamouli’s RRR (2022), there was one heavy scene that Alia Bhatt shared with Junior NTR’s Komaram Bheem. It came at a juncture when Ram Charan’s character Alluri Seetharama Raju was in jail and on the verge of being hanged.

She had to speak lengthy Telugu dialogues and the actress didn’t miss a beat in conveying the emotions.

Vaidehi

In Badrinath Ki Dulhania (2017), Alia played a rebellious girl from Rajasthan’s Kota who aspired to be an air hostess. Marriage was the last thing on her agenda.

Through her character Vaidehi, the Bollywood actor represented the ambitions of many small-town girls. She was also successful in pulling off the Kota accent.

Bauria

In Udta Punjab (2016), Alia Bhatt’s character Bauria is that of a Bihari migrant who goes to Punjab in search of work. For this film, the actress learnt the Bihari dialect under the guidance of the acclaimed actor Pankaj Tripathi.

There is a lengthy monologue where Bauria pours her heart out to an astonished Tommy Singh, played by Shahid Kapoor. Alia Bhatt was brilliant throughout the film, but her performance in this scene was heartbreaking.

It is not just about conveying the pain and pathos, but it is also about how she convincingly says it in the Bihari accent.

Ananya

In 2 States (2014), her very third film, Alia played a Tamilian.

In 2013’s Chennai Express, Deepika was criticised for her over-the-top portrayal of a Tamil girl. Although Deepika is a South Indian by birth, she has an exaggerated accent.

On the other hand, Alia Bhatt was much appreciated for portraying Ananya in a more nuanced way and speaking Tamil more naturally. At no point does her accent bother the viewers.

Other roles

Regarding the Muslim characters she played in Gully Boy and Darlings, both roles had a backdrop of slums in Mumbai.

In Gully Boy, there is a particular slang that the actress uses. Despite not being the central character, her dialogue became one of the highlights.

In a scene, she says, “Mere boyfriend ke saath koi gulu gulu karenga toh dhoptuingi hi na usko.”

In Darlings, Alia Bhatt’s Badru constantly spoke in odd plural phrases. These included “I loves you” and “bad lucks”.

In Raazi, the Bollywood actor played a Kashmiri Muslim named Sehmat. Naturally, there was some Kashmiri touch to her dialogues and the actress expectedly got it bang on.

What made the role of Sehmat even more interesting was that Alia is half Kashmiri and half Gujarati in real life.

Given the speculation that Alia Bhatt would play Roopmati in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s upcoming film, she might soon add another name to her cross-cultural list of characters!

https://thesouthfirst.com/entertainment/alia-bhatt-and-her-tryst-with-different-languages-and-cultures/

Allu Arjun: The Stylish Star Of Tollywood With Unconventional Looks

From a shaky start in ‘Gangotri’ to a National Award-winning performance in ‘Pushpa’, he conquered many hearts over the years.

Starting from Gangotri in 2003, Allu Arjun has done 26 films so far. Among these is a short film titled I Am That Change (2014) directed by the star filmmaker Sukumar.

There are special appearances, too, like the one in Shankar Dada Zindabad (2007). Before Gangotri, he played a small role in Megastar Chiranjeevi’s Daddy (2001).

Gangotri was a prestigious project in more ways than one. Apart from the film being Allu Arjun’s debut as a leading man, it was also K Raghavendra Rao’s 100th movie.

Gangotri was a success at the box office, but the actor’s performance got mixed reviews.

There was a visible rawness. The film also didn’t have any of the stylish dance steps that have become a trademark of Allu Arjun now.

In short, there was no indication of the pan-India superstar he would become one day.

As Stylish Star

Post Gangotri, Allu Arjun went through a rough patch for a year or so. But he reinvented himself both as a performer and as a Stylish Star with Sukumar’s directorial debut Arya (2004).

In Arya, the actor played a free-spirited guy who falls in love with an introverted girl Geeta (Anuradha Mehta).

Geeta is already the love interest of someone else. But Arya doesn’t give up. He pursues his love.

What made the film work were the fresh treatment and the positive attitude of the protagonist. For the most part of the movie, Arya keeps asking Geeta to just feel his love. This was a new approach that struck a chord with the audience.

Through the character of Arya, Sukumar also explored the concept of one-sided love. In fact, there is also a song that celebrates one-side lovers. His performance was a far cry from his shaky start in Gangotri.

He not only proved himself as a performer, but his dancing skills also caught the attention of the moviegoers. Since Arya, there has been no looking back for the actor. He conquered many hearts across the demographic of India.

What makes Allu Arjun’s success even more special is the fact that he doesn’t have the conventional looks of a hero, unlike Prabhas or Mahesh Babu.

Before the latest Pushpa: The Rise (2021), some of his more prominent movies included Happy (2006), Vedam (2010), Son of Satyamurthy (2015), Julayi (2012), and Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo (2020).

An early movie that showed Allu Arjun’s potential as a serious actor was Vedam directed by Krish Jagarlamudi. In the film, he played the role of a cable operator who isn’t particularly likeable.

He pretends to be a big shot in order to marry a rich girl. There is a transformation that the character goes through and Allu Arjun doesn’t miss a single beat in capturing the different nuances.

As a stellar performer

In Happy, he is mostly a happy-go-lucky guy named Bunny. At the same time, there are some scenes that show his capability as a performer. A case in point is the scenes that he shares with Manoj Bajpai.

In one particular scene, Bunny cooks up a story of how he and Madhumati (Genelia) are madly in love and won’t be able to bear separation. He leaves the police station crying, which also leaves Manoj Bajpai in tears.

But the minute he comes out he becomes his normal self. The merger of grief and laughter was done seamlessly.

I am sure everyone in the theatre would have noticed and appreciated his talent in that particular bit. He also shined in an emotionally charged pre-climax.

Trivkram and Allu Arjun

Before Son of Satyamurthy, Trivikram and Allu Arjun teamed up for Julayi.

It was a stylish entertainer about an intelligent youngster who wants quick bucks and would take any risks to achieve his goal.

The film had many witty one-liners in trademark Trivikram style, which Allu Arjun delivered effortlessly.

Son of Satyamurthy was a different outing from Julayi. Here, he played the younger son who undergoes a life-changing transformation after the sudden death of his father.

The actor showed his versatility with an emotional performance, particularly in the scenes where he remembers his father. It was a welcome restraint from the actor.

Ala Vaikunthapurramulo, also directed by Trivikram, is a key milestone in the actor’s career.

Before Pushpa: The Rise happened, Ala Vaikunthapurramulo announced the arrival of the Stylish Star in the Hindi Market.

At its core, Ala Vaikunthapurramulo is a movie filled with regressive undertones. However, what made it work was the skilful treatment of Trivikram and Allu Arjun’s charisma.

The script relies heavily on the charisma of Allu Arjun and the actor didn’t disappoint one bit.

He excelled in portraying all the shades of Bantu. He was particularly good in his combination scenes with Murali Sharma.

He also shined in roles where the focus was not always on him. For example, in Gunashekhar’s Rudhramadevi (2015), he played a fearsome warrior called Gona Ganna Reddy.

His screen presence coupled with his dialogue delivery proved to be a much bigger attraction than Rana who had more screen time. His Telangana dialect was also an absolute delight.

Allu Arjun as Pushparaj

Now let’s come to the film that has given Allu Arjun his National Award — Pushpa: The Rise. His role in Pushpa is very different from what the actor did so far.

There is no trace of the Stylish Star even in the dance sequences. What you see is only the character and not Allu Arjun.

The role of Pushparaj is challenging in many ways starting from a particular body language to a specific dialect that the actor speaks.

He did a fantastic job of portraying a rustic and downtrodden character. On the outside, Pushpa is a tough soul, but there is also a strong vulnerable side.

Allu Arjun delivered an immersive performance that made the viewers root for him.

In these 20-odd years, Allu Arjun’s journey went from strength to strength and made him a huge pan-India Star. Here’s hoping that Pushpa 2 lives up to the massive expectations that have only increased after the national award win.

(PS: Many fans are hoping to see Allu and Aloo (Alia Bhatt) working together in a feature film. It would be a treat to watch the two National Award winners in the same frame.)

https://thesouthfirst.com/entertainment/allu-arjun-the-stylish-star-of-tollywood-with-unconventional-looks/