When Covid restrictions ease, will ribbon cutting of stores and in-person product launches return? And if they do, what happens to the alternative revenue stream that Mumbai film stars developed during the lockdown? With a solitary shoutout on Instagram costing as much as Rs 40 lakh, top stars made money in their version of work from home. From Shraddha Kapoor who promoted the zero-calorie drink Shunya to Hrithik Roshan who treated his Instagram family to various stages of facial hair to promote hair product Beardo, stars kept themselves busy even as shoots were slow to take off. Oddly though, these sponsored endorsements usually end up performing much worse than organic news. Also, this is one area where women do better than men because there are many more products for them to use and endorse, from hair removal creams to fast fashion brands. Films, though, are another matter with inequality in pay continuing to be an issue.
Adil Hussain is quickly becoming the go-to star for every independent filmmaker in the country. Currently, he is in Kerala completing Footprints on Water, an English-Malayalam movie about illegal immigrants in the UK, directed by Nathalia Syam, who is from Kollam, but grew up in Southall like her sister Neetha, who wrote the script. Hussain, a graduate of the National School of Drama, Delhi and Drama Studio London, was a late bloomer in movies but is rapidly making up for lost time with memorable performances in riveting stories told by a mix of young and veteran filmmakers. Much like the late Irrfan Khan, he is developing a career globally, in mainstream Hindi cinema and in Indie movies as well. Seen most recently in Season 3 of Star Trek: Discovery on Netflix, Hussain wrapped up shooting for Bell Bottom with Akshay Kumar in Glasgow and was set to shoot a Jahnu Barua movie in April in his home state of Assam. Now that it is postponed, he is looking at options, all this while also keeping his ear to the ground and encouraging Guwahati’s mayor to make it the first bicycle city in the country.
Sapna Moti Bhavnani, the eclectic hairdresser and filmmaker, has planned a women’s film festival with a difference, one that celebrates them as they are rather than what they ought to be. With the eminent Uma da Cunha as mentor, she has called for women’s shorts, films and documentaries to be shown online coinciding with Women’s Day. The only problem? She’s called it the Wench Film Festival. When she started Wench Films last year, Instagram immediately restricted her account, and on Facebook, they restricted everyone from going to her website. Now, they’ve done the same to the film festival. “And that is exactly the stereotype we are trying to break,” says Bhavnani. Did anyone say social media was a space to celebrate liberty?
Aamir’s Item Song
The last two item songs Aamir Khan did were for his home productions Secret Superstar (2017) and Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na (2008). Now he has shot one for close friend Amin Hajee’s directorial debut. A thriller starring Kunal Kapoor and Amyra Dastur. Hajee’s relationship with Aamir dates back to 1998 when the latter shot Ghulam, and it was solidified when they filmed Lagaan (2001). Aamir was best man at Hajee’s wedding and the latter got the honour at Aamir’s wedding to Kiran Rao. Hajee was also Aamir’s confidant during the period the latter was recovering from his divorce from first wife Reena Dutta and infamously drank one bottle of Bacardi a day, by his own admission.
Did You Know?
The Ranbir Kapoor-Alia Bhatt wedding will happen by the end of 2021. That is when they are expecting the reconstruction of Rishi and Neetu Kapoor’s iconic bungalow Krishna Raj. The multi-storeyed building is expected to house the newly weds and Ranbir’s mother Neetu Kapoor. It will have a swimming pool and a mini theatre. And who will move into the house opposite them on what was once BSES land? By all accounts, Anil Ambani and family.