Cinema | Stargazer
The Rise of Rashmika
Bollywood is willing to bet on anything that is successful
08 Apr, 2022
(From L to R) Rashmika Mandanna, Ranbir Kapoor and Nimrat Kaur
The success of Pushpa: The Rise (2021) has had unintended consequences. Rashmika Mandanna, its female lead, has been cast opposite Ranbir Kapoor in Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s Animal, replacing Parineeti Chopra who had been hired with great fanfare. Mandanna’s character in Pushpa didn’t follow the progressive ideals one would like to see espoused in cinema, thinking nothing of kissing the hero for a little mad money, and bathing with Lux soap and wearing a new saree to offer herself to the hero (as opposed to the villain, who demanded she do so.) But success is a great leveller. Chopra hasn’t had too many successes despite being one of Yash Raj Films’ top talents and featuring in some critically acclaimed movies, such as Shuddh Desi Romance (2013), Hasee Toh Phasee (2014), and Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar (2021). Currently a judge in Hunarbaaz: Desh Ki Shaan, she has chosen to play Amar Singh Chamkila’s wife in Imtiaz Ali’s forthcoming biopic of the 1980s Punjabi singer. Chamkila, to be played by Diljit Dosanjh, and his wife were assassinated in 1988 for challenging the status quo. Mandanna’s rise in Hindi cinema has been remarkable, given that none of her Mumbai movies has been released. She has Mission Majnu with Sidharth Malhotra and Goodbye with Amitabh Bachchan. There is so much confusion in Mumbai movies currently that Bollywood is willing to bet on anything that is successful.
Ranbir Weds Alia
The release date of Brahmāstra is out of the way, Alia Bhatt’s dream projects with Sanjay Leela Bhansali and RRR (2022) are done, and Ranbir Kapoor has done justice to his father’s legacy by promoting his last film, the sunny Sharmaji Namkeen (2022). So, it’s not surprising that the two actors will be getting married. It’s yet another merger of two big Bollywood brands, not merely for their individual work but for what their surnames represent. The two are proof that occasionally nepotism works. Both have worked hard on their craft and have listened to their own hearts and minds when it comes to choosing films. The union creates a powerful brand in the world of endorsements as well. Will they want to cash in on it together as Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma often do, or will they keep their professional lives largely separate like Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh have done after marriage?
When Power Becomes Her
Dasvi (2022) is meant to be Abhishek Bachchan’s comeback vehicle and he is good in it, but the real star is Nimrat Kaur. As his wife Bimla Devi, she is sweet and salty in equal measure. Beginning like Maharani Devi in the SonyLIV series Maharani, loosely based on Rabri Devi, former chief minister of Bihar, she soon learns to speak up and run the government. A makeover follows, with the salwar kameez being replaced by silk sarees, and cow-dung being replaced by luxury handbags. A Tom and Jerry game follows with Bimla trying to ensure her husband Ganga Ram Chaudhary stays in jail, where he is supremely comfortable, with a TV, computer, mobile phone and a king-sized bed. Nimrat Kaur put on 18 kg for the role, and she quite looks the part of the well-fed politician who wants little beyond enjoying the perks of power. This is one actor India needs to see more of.
Consider Shabana Azmi an admiral who issues stern orders to underlings and says things like “I’ve had quite enough of your manipulative ways for one day.” Now, why didn’t we think of casting her as a strong woman who has to decide the fate of the universe? Well, Paramount+’s new series Halo does so, and uses her to good effect. Lending gravitas to a cast of mostly newcomers, she rarely smiles, speaks forcefully, and looks like she means business. The series, based on a video game, has Steven Spielberg attached to it as executive producer. Dressed in a power pant suit, her hair streaked with white tied in a bun, Azmi looks every inch a United Nations leader who can stave off doomsday. The series is a bit generic, but mounted lavishly enough for the 71-year-old to showcase why she can still hold the screen.
About The Author
Kaveree Bamzai is an author and a contributing writer with Open
‘This Is Not Fusion’ Akhil Sood
Song That Lost at the Oscars Kaveree Bamzai
Smiling in Gold-plated Coffins Kaveree Bamzai