Ayushmann Khurrana; Taapsee Pannu and Zahan Kapoor
One of the major pleasures of new talent in the space of movies and streaming series is the new locales they bring with them. Amazon Prime’s The Last Hour showcased the landscape and talent of Sikkim. Now, Amar Kaushik’s soon-to-be-released horror-comedy Bhediya will be the first movie to be shot entirely in Arunachal Pradesh. Kaushik grew up in the state, with his father being a forest officer. His first film, a short called Aaba (2017), was based on the Apatani tribe of the area. Bhediya, too, was filmed in the pine forests around Ziro, home to the Apatani, and cast a lot of actors from in and around the area. It also includes a rap song by local star Kekho Thiamkho. Starring Varun Dhawan and Kriti Sanon, the film is written by Niren Bhatt, the brain behind enormous hits such as Bala (2019), and before that, Pratik Gandhi’s Bey Yaar (2014) and Wrong Side Raju (2016). Bhatt most recently also wrote two films in the Ray anthology on Netflix: Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa and Spotlight. The Bhediya shoot was a big win for Arunachal and its Chief Minister Pema Khandu was not above celebrating the achievement by hosting a party for the cast and crew and taking to the guitar with John Denver’s ‘ Take Me Home, Country Roads ’. An inner line permit is essential for travel in Arunachal and the connectivity is terrible. o, Bollywood shoots such as that of Bhediya can really help put the beautiful state on the map of the world.
The Star Next Door
Bollywood star Ayushmann Khurrana knows what it’s like to be an outsider in Bollywood. So, he’s decided to make it easier for those external to this elite bubble. He follows a lot of incredible young poets, singers, performing artists, dancers who are yet to make it big, and uses his social media to draw attention to them. He feels they are the future disrupters and has intensified his effort since the pandemic broke out to give them a platform. The reason is obvious. As he says: “When I was looking to make a name for myself, I didn’t have the power of social media to put myself out there. I didn’t have the opportunities. So, I feel if we all can use our social media as a platform to bring out some of the best talents, we would be doing right by our country and the genius it has to offer.” He believes India has a wealth of talent which needs to be discovered more aggressively. He says, “There is a need to constantly find brilliant new artists because they will be shapers of the future. Their honesty to the craft and passion make my day. Anywhere you look, you will find raw artistry in our country.” His mission: to discover the star next door.
Taapsee Pannu goes bravely where few women in Bollywood have gone before, whether it is playing the feisty feminist in Pink (2016) or the could-be criminal going toe-to-toe with Amitabh Bachchan in Badla (2019). So, it’s no surprise that she pulled off the sexually manipulative Rani Kashyap in Netflix’s Haseen Dillruba (2021). It was a character far out of her comfort zone. Rani is proud of intimidating people around her with alpha presence, and yet she is a very honest character. “And that was my biggest weapon,” Taapsee told me, “because her ideology is not something I subscribe to in my life. So, I had to be true to her, just as I had to be true to Rumi of Manmarziyaan (2018). I felt like a fish out of water, but that’s what acting is all about. Otherwise, I will get bored of my job and you will get bored of watching me if you’re going to expect my onscreen character to be like me. It helps me explore a side of me I didn’t know exists.” As a society, she feels we are extremely judgemental. Everyone, she feels, has a grey in them. “Your grey might be darker than mine, it’s all a theory of relativity. All the characters in Haseen Dillruba are flawed. No one is the oppressor. Both are right for each other,” she adds. It’s all a matter of consent, even if the love is toxic.
Did You Know?
Zahan Kapoor, who is making his debut in Hansal Mehta’s next, a thriller, is Shashi Kapoor’s grandson, but his mother’s heritage is equally illustrious. His mother, ace photographer Sheena Sippy, is the daughter of director Ramesh Sippy whose Sholay continues to be one of Indian cinema’s most iconic movies.