(From L to R): Randeep Hooda; Nushrratt Bharuccha and Kartik Aaryan
Actor Randeep Hooda must have been shocked when he was attacked last week for a sexist comment on former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati nine years ago. It was a joke he had told during a session discussing a national news magazine’s annual sex survey. Clearly, digital footprints are impossible to erase. Public figures have to be extra careful about what they say, no matter how young and naïve they are, or say nothing at all.
Nushrratt Bharuccha began with Dibakar Banerjee’s most progressive LSD in 2010 and then became a staple of Luv Ranjan’s films where the women are the targets of rampant misogyny. That is what those films are, she says, and are made specifically and unapologetically for the audience that enjoys them. With Dream Girl (2019), Chhalaang (2020), and a segment in the Netflix anthology Ajeeb Daastaans (2021), Bharuccha is refreshingly realistic about her growth as an actor. She talks about the time she would go to auditions in tattered jeans, t-shirt and clogs. “Casting agents would look at me and say who is this praani (creature). Even I wouldn’t have cast myself then,” she says now. So, she educated herself in filmmaking by landing up on sets in advance, learnt to groom herself, worked her way up from friend roles, to finally become “heroine material”. If there is anger against the blatant lookism of the industry, Bharuccha certainly doesn’t show it. From the oddest ball with the weirdest sense of dressing to one of the brightest young women is a distance she is proud to have travelled on her own.
Villain to Hero
He played true evil in Mardaani (2014) but Tahir Raj Bhasin will now be seen on screen as a conventional hero, in the movies Looop Lapeta opposite Taapsee Pannu, and Bulbul Tarang opposite Sonakshi Sinha as well as the Netflix web series Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein, in which he has been paired with Shweta Tripathi. He’s also playing the ultimate hero, Sunil Gavaskar, in the long-delayed 83. It’s been a long slog for the Delhi-born son of an Indian Air Force fighter pilot. The University of Melbourne graduate entered the industry in 2012 and has been making his mark slowly but surely. Being self-made is a very good feeling, he says. “I feel proud that I worked every single day to get to wherever I have reached. It is a satisfying feeling because I know how hard it has been for me and how I had to approach every film with the same dedication as Mardaani. I knew if I didn’t make a mark with every project, I would be at risk because I don’t have any backing.” It’s the story of every newcomer in the industry: patience, persistence and practice win the day.
Hero to Villain
How does one transit so quickly from hero to villain? Kartik Aaryan knows but he’s not talking. The actor who was hailed as a rising star with movies such as Luka Chuppi (2019) and Pati Patni Aur Woh (2019) has quickly found himself being dismissed from Dharma Productions’ Dostana 2 as well as another film no one knew he had signed, Freddie, with Red Chillies Entertainment. The eagerness with which the latter announced they were parting ways with Aaryan seemed a little too similar to his exit from Dostana 2—in Freddie, too, it is reported, Aaryan wanted a change in the script after first agreeing to it. Not too long ago, Aaryan was being labelled the new heartthrob and dated a series of Bollywood’s most beautiful young star daughters. Now, he finds the door is being firmly shut in his face. Bollywood big bosses seem unable to learn lessons from the way they mistreated the late Sushant Singh Rajput.
Did You Know?
Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India was released almost exactly 20 years ago. The three-hour 44-minute movie which defied all expectations upon its release on June 15th, 2001, went on to be shortlisted for Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards. Aamir Khan acted in another ground-breaking film later that year, Dil Chahta Hai, which established a new language of cool, replacing family with friends, and substituting production songs for lip sync numbers.