How many stars will give a shout out to forthcoming movies of other stars at the launch of their own trailers? Well if you’re a star of the Telugu film industry, it seems to come naturally. At the launch of his forthcoming movie Kushi, Vijay Deverakonda took time out to congratulate friend Dulquer Salmaan (his co-star in the wonderful 2018 biopic Mahanati) on the trailer launch of his forthcoming film King of Kotha. That’s not all. Deverakonda also showed rare candour in accepting the underwhelming critical and commercial response to his last film, his Hindi language debut, Liger. “Failure does upset me,” said Deverakonda, “only insofar as asking myself: ‘How the hell did I not see it coming?’ Now for the next three films, I will let my work speak for itself. I embarrassed myself and that is my self-punishment.” No one in human history, he says, who has been successful has not failed. “We give too much importance to success and failure. Life is what happens in between,” he added. Deverakonda continues to field questions about misogyny because of his role in and as Arjun Reddy (2017), the hard drinking, obsessive doctor lover. He has turned it into his calling card as well, using it in the trailer of Kushi as well, where his character, Viplav, says contrary to popular perception, he is a feminist. He also quite happily fields questions about his marriage, without losing his cool. Sometimes goofy, always generous, Deverakonda is clearly comfortable with his stardom, while also cognisant of the skills needed as an actor. When asked about working with Samantha Ruth Prabhu, someone whom he has been on screen with before in Ye Maaya Chesave (2010), all he would say is that when he is on screen with her, they play their characters, Viplav and Aaradhya, not themselves. No coyness there. The movie pays homage to Mani Ratnam, with a song featuring Roja in the lyrics and a month-long shoot in Kashmir.
One of the biggest revelations of Shubhra Gupta’s book Irrfan: A Life in Movies was that Abhinav Kashyap had written Dabanng for the actor and it went to Salman Khan only when he was shopping for a producer and went to Arbaaz Khan, who took it to his superstar brother. Sutapa Sikdar, Irrfan’s partner in life and work, said the script that had come to Irrfan was very different from what eventually got made. What might have been is a question that often occurs when actors reject roles that become iconic—for instance, Salman was offered the role of hockey coach in Chak De! India (2007) that went to Shah Rukh Khan, while Shah Rukh was offered the role of Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. (2003) which went to Sanjay Dutt. Irrfan also dropped Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar (2014) and Ridley Scott’s The Martian (2015) to do Shoojit Sircar’s Piku (2015), which gave him the opportunity to create one of his most endearing characters, Rana Chaudhry. Sikdar said several movies with strong roles that were offered to Irrfan during his illness have not got made, testimony to his irreplaceability. One role he nearly did, before having to opt out, was Honey Trehan’s Raat Akeli Hai (2020), which went to Nawazuddin Siddiqui. But there’s an appeal for those who loved Star Bestsellers when they were first aired on Star Plus in 1999 and featured short fiction from filmmakers such as Anurag Kashyap, Tigmanshu Dhulia, and Hansal Mehta. Several starred Irrfan. All 21 episodes are available on Disney+Hotstar. Viewers will find many familiar faces, stories and even themes, from single women to fat shaming, from fractured father-son relationships to crack anti-terrorist units.
Scene and Heard
Those who’ve been missing Aamir Khan in action will soon see him out and about as producer of Kiran Rao’s next directorial venture, Laapataa Ladies, which will premiere at the Centrepiece section of the Toronto International Film Festival. The film, set in rural Bihar, features fairly new actors and is a comedy involving two missing brides. Rao’s first film, Dhobi Ghat (2010), starring Aamir Khan, was a critical success. Despite having separated, the couple continues to maintain an amicable relationship, showing up to support each other professionally and personally. When Rao’s father fell seriously ill recently, Aamir was a big help. When Aamir’s daughter Ira got engaged, Rao was very much part of the celebrations.