(L to R) Sanjeev Bhaskar, Sanya Malhotra, Javed Akhtar
They both like their entertainment to have a strong dose of reality. Siddharth Roy Kapur’s recent movies, The Sky Is Pink (2019) and Yeh Ballet (2020), have been exquisitely directed stories taken from real life. Nikkhil Advani’s movies and TV series—including two waiting to be released, Amazon Prime Video’s Mumbai Diaries, based on the medical response to 26/11, and Disney+ Hotstar’s Moghuls—are usually entertaining and enlightening. Together, it’s no surprise that they’re bringing to light a story India hasn’t seen much of. Rocket Boys, starring Jim Sarbh as Homi Jehangir Bhabha and Ishwak Singh as his friend and protégé Vikram Sarabhai, is shooting quickly to keep its deadline of airing on SonyLIV at the end of the year. The story, which took over a year to write, deals with India’s space programme, spearheaded by Sarabhai, and its atomic energy programme, helmed by Bhabha. It shows how two men who had it all—the best foreign education, the right social connections, the perfect suits, the finest cars—put everything aside to focus on making the country a true scientific superpower. It doesn’t shy away from controversies, whether it was Sarabhai’s pacifist reluctance to build the country’s nuclear potential or Bhabha’s mysterious death in an air crash that many believe was a CIA conspiracy. Add to it APJ Abdul Kalam as a young scientist (played by newbie Arjun Radhakrishnan) before he moved from Indian Space Research Organisation to Defence Research and Development Organisation. Something tells me it will do for space what Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story did for the stock market. I can’t wait to watch it.
In 2019, The Hollywood Reporter had listed her as one of the five best talents to look out for at the Berlin Film Festival. After Pagglait (2021) on Netflix, viewers can see why. The actress was the life and soul of the social drama-cum-comedy with its quirky cast of characters. Sanya Malhotra is now looking forward to another dramedy, Meenakshi Sundareshwar, with the underrated Abhimanyu Dassani and a thriller, Love Hostel, with the ever-reliable Vikrant Massey and Bobby Deol, whose career has been resurrected thanks to some excellent performances. Malhotra says she’s overwhelmed by the response for her character, Sandhya, and is pumped to see how 2021 unfolds after such a “spectacular start”.
Anyone who thought Sanjeev Bhaskar couldn’t do drama, well, think again. The 57-year-old British-Indian actor best known for the hilarious Goodness Gracious Me and The Kumars at No. 42 has been quietly turning in understated performances, stealing scenes from bigger stars. His latest work in Unforgotten’s heartbreaking Season 4 was unforgettable. Detective Sergeant Sunny Khan, you have our respect.
Odisha’s Nila Madhab Panda had been making movies on climate change much before the subject caught the world’s attention. Such single minded focus helps. His new film Kalira Atita has been taken up by students of Cornell University for a detailed discussion on the battle between man and sea. It stars Pitobash Tripathy, who was in Panda’s highly rated I Am Kalam (2011).
Did You Know?
Is the man behind T-Series finally joining The Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS) lyricist and writer Javed Akhtar? Given T-Series’ own history of success (by violating copyright-law loopholes to make covers) and the fact that it controls 80 per cent of Hindi film music over the past 20 years, it’s no mean feat. As chairman of IPRS, which has over 5,000 member artists, Akhtar has been working tirelessly behind the scenes, and artists who will receive royalty for their work can thank him for the trouble he has taken. Yash Raj Films is the only major firm that remains outside the purview of IPRS. Akhtar had been instrumental in the passage of the Copyright (Amendment) Act, 2012, which ensures a fair share in revenue for writers, lyricists, singers and composers from music companies and production houses.