Interest in the three Khans never seems to go away. While the nation is addicted to the unfortunate soap opera that is playing out in Mumbai with the alleged involvement of Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan in the cruise drugs case and Salman Khan is busy schooling contestants on Bigg Boss, Aamir Khan is spending his days in deep emotional catharsis. He has been calling friends, cousins, even former girlfriends for one-on-one conversations. He has been explaining his actions in the past and talking about his new focus in life. Clearly, much of this has been inspired by introspection during the Covid-inspired lockdown, which also saw him announcing the end of his second marriage to filmmaker Kiran Rao in the most amicable way possible, much like his first divorce from Reena Dutta in 2002. Having wrapped up his long-pending Laal Singh Chaddha, a remake of Forrest Gump (1994), which is to release next year, Aamir is clearly preparing for the next phase of his life. Whatever it may be, it is bound to be affected by the two years spent away from making movies.
One of the reasons Indian films have stopped doing well at international film festivals is that they at some point stopped depicting the country as it was. All the best films of the world have stayed true to their roots. When Indian cinema does that, whether it is Sant Tukaram winning a special recommendation at the 1937 Venice Film Festival (in the fifth edition) or Neecha Nagar winning the Grand Prix at the first Cannes Film Festival in 1946 (though it was shared with 11 others), it wins big. Some filmmakers, such as Satyajit Ray and later Mira Nair, became favourites at Cannes and Venice. But most Indian films indulge in passive storytelling, where audiences are not forced to think too much. When one sees movies, such as Fire in the Mountains (2021), Ajitpal Singh’s intimate tale of a mother in Uttarakhand who tries to build a road to send her ill son to the city for physiotherapy, which had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, it hits you right in the gut. It’s the kind of active storytelling that refuses to serve everything out there. It is a story that can be told from any part of the world, and yet be very Indian at heart. Singh’s new series on SonyLIV Tabbar carries that same smell of the earth as it tells the story of an ordinary family inadvertently caught up in a crime. A self-taught filmmaker, Singh says it took him a long time to articulate his ideas since he was not proficient in any one language—having spoken Punjabi at home, studied in a Hindi-medium school, he lived for a while at an IFFCO township in Gujarat where his father, who owned a cinema hall in Punjab, had to become a security guard. He eventually studied there in an English-medium college. François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows made a huge impression on him along with his self-study of literature from Munshi Premchand to Anton Chekhov, and finally gave him the confidence to tell a story inspired by his own family.
Will Ram Madhvani’s film Dhamaka, on Netflix, give Kartik Aaryan a much-needed makeover, from romantic hero, and most recent addition to the band of actors unofficially “banned” by producer-director Karan Johar, to a serious actor? The actor plays a TV anchor who uses an act of terror to claw his way back into the ratings and seems to have displayed the required mix of showmanship and insecurity. If it succeeds, will it win over the sceptics? More importantly, in the new Bollywood where titans are falling thick and fast, do such sanctions matter?
Did You Know?
The actual attack on the town of Uri by Pakistani terrorists is what prevented Aditya Dhar, the director of Uri: The Surgical Strike (2019) from making his first movie, Raat Baaki. The movie was to star Fawad Khan and Katrina Kaif but after Uri, it became impossible for Pakistani actors to get work in Bollywood. Fawad was virtually erased from Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016), and Anushka Sharma’s character went from being a Pakistani Muslim from Lahore to an Indian Muslim from Lucknow.