(From L to R) Samantha Akkineni; Rana Daggubati and Rhea Chakraborty
Samantha Akkineni, currently receiving rave reviews for her intense performance as Raji, the Sri Lankan rebel, in the second season of The Family Man, is one of the few actors to talk about the impostor syndrome, which can be as toxic as it is deep. Samantha, whose first film Ye Maaya Chesave (2010) by Gautham Vasudev Menon, was an enormous success, was a hit from the get-go. “I am an anxious person,” she now says, “and that inhibited the early years of my career. That is, till I learned to use that fear, and do exactly what I fear the most.” Through a combination of yoga, reading and spiritual practice, she has now come to a point where she chooses roles that stretch her, challenge her and give her sleepless nights. “Going to work is like therapy,” she says. To prepare for Raji, she read several accounts and watched several documentaries. By the time she had to shoot, say observers, she had managed to make her eyes dead, her face vacant and her speech a monotone. After a particularly gruelling scene where she had to deal with a sexual molester, she broke down on set. Married to fellow actor Naga Chaitanya, Samantha is part of the Akkineni-Daggubati clan, which she says is a privilege. “Whether it is a picture I post on social media, anything I say, or a role I choose, they never question me,” she says. “They have allowed me to be myself.”
One person who is still paying the price for Sushant Singh Rajput’s death by suicide is Rhea Chakraborty. She has been objectified, vilified and now ostracised. Despite a recent trip to Hyderabad looking for work, she has had no luck. Mumbai filmmakers don’t want to cast her as well. Before Sushant’s death, she had some movie and modelling assignments. Now she has no work, her bank accounts are frozen, and every time she tries to move forward, there is a carefully planned leak that undermines her integrity. The one movie with her in it, Chehre, with Amitabh Bachchan and Emraan Hashmi, is yet to be released. In the midst of all this, a newspaper has also judged her the most desirable woman of 2020, which suggests that we are still obsessed with the public humiliation of women. There are so many mental health initiatives by notables now, surely there is someone who could champion her cause?
Back to the Box Office
Those supporting theatres as the first port of call for movies are ecstatic about the continuing good news from global audiences. Yash Raj Films boss Aditya Chopra has been advocating theatrical releases since the pandemic broke, and now the numbers are proving him right, he feels. The John Krasinski-directed horror sequel A Quiet Place II made $138 million (and counting) at the box office in its first week. It was displaced at the top of the US domestic box office by the latest edition of The Conjuring, which has become the highest grossing horror franchise. Fast & Furious 9 has already made $250 million in three weeks, even without being released in the US. Marvel Studios recently released a trailer of their Phase 4 Slate (2021-23), which is studded with star vehicles from Black Widow to Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3. Its soul-stirring tagline: “See You at the Movies”. Expect long-delayed official announcements from Yash Raj Films of the release dates of Pathan and Tiger 3.
Don’t Call Him Uncle
Rana Daggubati and Venkatesh are two of Telugu cinema’s biggest stars. They are also related, Venkatesh being Rana’s uncle. Now imagine the combined, starry DNA in one web series. Well, that’s exactly what is on the anvil with the Indian adaptation of Ray Donovan. The critically acclaimed Showtime drama will feature Ray as a fixer in Bollywood, and is currently in the scripting stage. Sunder Aaron of Locomotive Global Inc has acquired the remake rights. Liev Schreiber plays Ray and Jon Voight plays his father Mickey in the original, which was cancelled after its seventh season, much to the dismay of fans. Expect Rana to play Ray and Venkatesh to be the sinister Mickey.
Did You Know?
Tigmanshu Dhulia’s adaptation of Vikas Swarup’s Six Suspects for streaming is uniting three beloved characters from three different hit shows—Pratik Gandhi (Harshad Mehta) of Scam 1992, Richa Chadda (Zarina Malik) of Inside Edge and Sharib Hashmi (JK Talpade) of The Family Man—in a mystery based loosely on the Jessica Lal case. What could be more exciting?