Safar, the third track from Jab Harry Met Sejal is here and it’s going to topping your playlist in no time.
Voiced by Arijit Singh, in a way that you have never heard him before, Safar captures the essence of one’s restlessness in the journey of life.
Check out India Tomorrow – A short film by Imtiaz Ali. Music by A. R. Rahman. Thanks to Navjot Gulati.
As part of an initiative to build resonance around a message of positivity and progress for all, this short film explores an unpredictable theme of quasi-role reversal where a sex worker teaches a few stock market lessons to her stockbroker client. It’s core argument is that in #IndiaTomorrow, anyone can bring change and achieve success.
Imtiaz Ali has created a niche for himself in Bollywood. No wonder all stars are ready to give their arm and leg to work in his film. After Tamasha, he’s all set to roll his next and this time he has none other than Shah Rukh Khan in his film. Shah Rukh Khan plays a turbaned Sikh tourist in the yet-to-be-titled comedy. His interactions with the locals and his adventurous return to his home country forms the crux of this laugh riot.
According to reports, Anushka Sharma will be seen opposite SRK in Imtiaz’s next. This is the third time Anushka and SRK will star together. Anushka started her career with King Khan in Rab Ne Bana De Jodi and later they came together in Yash Chopra’s swan song, Jab Tak Hai Jaan.
This is the first time the two will work with Imtiaz. The two will start shooting for this one after they complete their respective film shoots. SRK is busy shooting for Gauri Shinde’s next and Anushka is completing last leg of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and YRF’s Sultan.
It’s funny how practically every major new film currently going into production will star or has been offered to Deepika Padukone. Even if filmmakers have not locked in a leading man yet, negotiating as they are among a handful of options, there appears to be little doubt in their minds about their choice of leading lady.
Soon after wrapping Happy New Year with Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika will begin filming Imtiaz Ali’s Window Seat with Ranbir Kapoor. She has also signed Karan Johar’s Shuddhi, which doesn’t have a hero after Hrithik Roshan’s exit (Ranveer Singh is most likely to be roped in), but is nevertheless being rushed to the floors in order to make a December 2015 release. Deepika will also flex her acting chops with Amitabh Bachchan in Vicky Donor director Shoojit Sircar’s next, a no-frills father-daughter drama that will also star Irrfan Khan in a pivotal part. And although Aamir Khan has reportedly walked out of first- timer Nithya Anand’s time-travel movie to be produced by Farhan Akhtar’s Excel Productions, Deepika remains attached to the project, which the makers have now offered to Hrithik Roshan. There’s a good chance Hrithik could also be the Bajirao to her Mastani in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s passion project of many years. What eludes her still is a movie with Salman Khan. If the grapevine is to be trusted, Deepika herself politely turned down Sooraj Barjatya’s offer to appear opposite the star because she wasn’t convinced of the script, making way for Sonam Kapoor to land the project instead.
Last weekend at Filmistan Studio, where she was filming Happy New Year, I met Deepika and enquired if there was a director she’d sacrifice an arm to work with. After much consideration, she replied: “At this point, I’d probably say Rajkumar Hirani.” She was also sporting enough to admit that she wishes she’d been offered Zoya Akhtar’s next (now titled Dil Dhadakne Do), which she describes as a “crazy, terrific script”. The dark comedy about a dysfunctional Punjabi family that takes a luxury cruise together will star Deepika’s boyfriend Ranveer Singh and Priyanka Chopra as brother and sister, and Anushka Sharma and Farhan Akhtar as their romantic interests. “I haven’t even discussed this with Zoya yet, but if I can get a few months off around that time, I’d go and work as an assistant director on that set,” Deepika reveals.
Shahid Kapoor spent his 33rd birthday earlier this week in Goa for some sun, sand and R&R, away from the snowy climes of Kashmir where he’s been shooting for weeks now with the unit of Vishal Bhardwaj’s Haidar.
The actor, who tends to take all his girlfriends, and even his casual dates, to the beach capital for quick weekend breaks—Priyanka Chopra, Bipasha Basu and Nargis Fakhri have all been spotted with him in Goa previously— invited a small group of friends to join him there this time.
Pulling his leg about his reputation when it comes to his Goa getaways, Shahid’s Rowdy Rathore co-star Sonakshi Sinha tweeted to him: ‘Happy Birthday @shahidkapoor!! Goa mein gandi baat aur party all night okkk :p Have funnnns!!’
A Hot and Heavy History
A prominent director of new age Indian cinema recently filmed an item song for his new movie on an oomphy has- been actress, best known for her seductive dance numbers in the 1990s. The filmmaker and the showgirl couldn’t be more different than chalk and cheese, but few will remember that they share a secret. Back in the day when she was ‘slumming it’, working in an art-house film during a rough patch in her career, she’d hooked up with the said director, who was at the time an up-and-coming angst-ridden scriptwriter working on the same project. They’d had a passionate fling, away from prying eyes, and the director has confided to close friends that “she taught me things I didn’t in my wildest imagination think possible”. When they met again recently to film the song, eyewitnesses on the set say they quickly got over any awkwardness they may have had, and in fact shared a friendly vibe. The director is reportedly thrilled with what he’s shot with her, and announced that she’s still just as smoking hot as audiences remember her.
Highway First Day Collection Report
Saturday 22 February 2014 11.00 IST
Box Office India Trade Network
Highway started slowly but picked up well in the evening in metro multiplexes. The film manage to record decent collections in places like Mumbai, Delhi, Gurgaon and Bangalore. The first day collections are around 3.25-3.50 crore nett.
The first day collections are okay as the release was only on around 700 screens and restricted to mainly multiplexes. In fact the horror film Darr @ The Mall had a wider release going to over 1100 screens. The film did not do well outside metros but that is expected and release was also restricted outside the major cities.
The film is sure to see growth on Saturday and it remains to be seen how much, it should go to over 4 crore nett but if it can get near the 5 crore nett then the film can really go somewhere.
Now one cannot really talk much about HIGHWAY’s story because it doesn’t comprise of dramatic twists and turns or any cinematic narration. All one can talk is the emotions which Imtiaz tries to pack in the film. HIGHWAY is a very easy example of a bumpy screenplay that goes for a toss in many scenes but simultaneously gives the film the much required highs.
The film establishes with a slow pace. First 35 minutes might put you on an uneasy mode as very modicum of progression comes across in terms of what the film is. But once we see the girl starting to talk to herself and shyly enjoying the whole hullabaloo, the film catches immense attention. The dialogues are razor-sharp at places and the wit is written all over them. There are moments you laugh out loud and the dialogues elevate the film.
One has to deal with the slow pacing of the film, which frankly is quite overdone. But second half does grab you for some excellent scenes like the one in climax where Alia’s character loses the cool and springs hot tempered monologue, or like that scene where she plays on an English song and starts dancing in the middle of a road. One really takes these scenes to heart and relishes the feel of the film. But alas, HIGHWAY is inconsistently so absorbing a drama.
There are lot of songs used in background but none really makes the impact apart from the already big hits like “Pataka Guddi” and “Mahi Ve”. HIGHWAY is strongly aided by the locations, by the sceneries, the look of the film. They are so beautiful that at times you don’t mind the director giving a documentary-esque kind of treatment for the journey. Although I must say, it is Imtiaz’s weak direction that puts HIGHWAY on the spot. He overhypes the entire drama by giving abrupt bullet shot sounds, by superficial slowness in the pace. Also his half-baked writing for Randeep’s character and especially his conflict with mother, serves as a major hurdle.
When I saw “Student of the Year”, I found Alia Bhatt picture-perfect for the regular bollywood potboilers. She was at ease and I felt she does immense justice to those kind of roles. But her portrayal in HIGHWAY has stumped and how! She is so much in the sync of her character that you are swayed in her world a lot of times despite the clichés in the story. She is utterly believable for what she does and it is understatement that without her inputs, HIGHWAY would have been boring! Randeep Hooda nicely does his job although one can blame the writer-director Imtiaz Ali for not letting his character to exploit to the potential.
In the end, HIGHWAY is pretty ordinary as it has lot of impacting moments, but the in the entirety, it somewhere lacks the spark. Yet, it’s a watchable film for the leading lady who turns out to be the best thing about the film, and remember she is just two films old!
Film-makers in India, generally, follow the age-old tradition of the lead man wooing and winning the woman with love and perseverance. Conversely, there’s a grim side too, as the lead man abducts the woman at gunpoint or drags her away from her world. The West has often attempted films on ‘Stockholm Syndrome’, a terminology used when the hostage feels empathy/sympathy and develops positive feelings for the abductor, sometimes to the point of defending them. Bollywood too has projected the syndrome on the big screen. Recall Subhash Ghai’s HERO. Now Imtiaz Ali’s HIGHWAY focuses on the relationship that ensues between the kidnapped victim and her abductor.
Who would’ve ever thought that Imtiaz Ali would opt for an offbeat pairing in HIGHWAY [Randeep Hooda, Alia Bhatt], after casting perfectly-matched couples in JAB WE MET [Shahid, Kareena], LOVE AAJ KAL [Saif, Deepika] and ROCKSTAR [Ranbir, Nargis Fakhri]? But Imtiaz is known to think differently, he goes by the dictates of the story and his films reflect that distinct quality. HIGHWAY is no different. The film takes an altogether different route, in terms of casting as well as content. The sole aspect where one can draw parallels between Imtiaz’s earlier films [JAB WE MET in particular] and HIGHWAY is that this one also traverses the landscapes of India.
First the plot before we move forward. A city girl, Veera [Alia Bhatt] — young, full of life — is on the highway at night. With her fiancé. They are scheduled to get married in four days. Suddenly, her life is swung away from the brocade and jewellery of marriage to the harsh brutality of abduction. She is taken away by this group of rustic criminals.
The same night, the gang is in panic. The girl is an influential industrialist’s daughter. His links in the corridors of power make ransom out of question. They are doomed. But the leader of this group, Mahabir [Randeep Hooda], is adamant. For him sending her back is not an option. He will do whatever it takes to see this through.
Days pass. These are days of unbelievable horror for her. But, as the tempo runs and miles turn, as the scenery changes, the light changes, the sun sets and rises and the air changes, she feels that she has changed as well.
Gradually, a strange bond begins to develop between the victim and the oppressor. It is in this captivity that she, for the first time in her life, feels free. But they are not made for each other. She does not want to return to where she came from. She does not want to reach where he is taking her. She wishes this journey to never end.
Although a number of films have been filmed at the panoramic locales of North India, the visual impact that HIGHWAY creates is mesmeric [DoP: Anil Mehta]. From the rough terrain to the snow-clad mountains, every frame is a painting on celluloid, a veritable visual treat, no two opinions on that. In fact, Imtiaz changes the terrain to convey the status of the relationship — rough and dilapidated exteriors, lush green fields, snow-filled paths… the relationship is projected through the journey the protagonists take in the film.
But the writing is a cause for concern. The screenplay is engaging in the first hour, though not in entirety. While Imtiaz sets things up wonderfully, he also makes sure he injects humor in the grim and disturbing scenario, which makes you smile/break into laughter on varied occasions. However, the writing hits a roadblock on several occasions. There’s a vital sequence in the first half when the tempo is stopped by the cops, but instead of screaming out for help, the victim decides to hide herself and continue with her journey with the abductor. What could be the reason behind it, you are left wondering. Also, Randeep’s back story, illustrated in flashes, seems totally inconsequential, since there’s no mention of any major incident that prompted Randeep to pick up the gun. The second hour stagnates as far as the writing is concerned. The focus is more on visuals — it becomes a travelogue actually — with barely a couple of episodes grabbing your attention. Fortunately, the turn of events towards the penultimate stages brings the film back on track.
A few moments have the unmistakable stamp of a fine storyteller… The conflict between the victim and her abductor appears real in the initial stages. Ditto for the moment when Alia reveals a dark secret, prior to the intermission. The twist in the tale towards the concluding reels is also worthy of attention. But the writing is far from cohesive this time, unlike Imtiaz’s previous ventures, and the treatment/execution of the material makes HIGHWAY an arthouse experience that appeals to a miniscule segment of viewers. Add to it the lethargic pacing. You ought to have a lot of patience to sit through those 2.35 hours.
The soundtrack [by maestro A.R. Rahman] never strays from the essence of the film. However, the problem is it lacks popular appeal, for you appreciate the songs as long as they last on screen, but don’t hum the tunes once you make an exit from the auditorium. The background score, also by Rahman, is minimal, but effective. Dialogue are wonderful at places, but not comprehensible at times [especially those delivered by Randeep].
The show belongs to Alia Bhatt, who takes giant strides in her very second film. Alia looks stunning in the deglam look, surrenders herself completely to the director’s vision and delivers a knockout performance. The film will make even the skeptics take a note of Alia’s talent, as she handles several challenging episodes in the film like a seasoned, mature performer. Her lengthy sequence in the climax is absolutely terrific. Randeep Hooda is only getting better with every film and under Imtiaz’s direction, delivers a performance that’s pitch perfect. The supporting cast — each one of them — is wonderful.
On the whole, HIGHWAY is a triumph for Alia Bhatt, who delivers a marvelous performance. Also, what you carry home, besides Alia’s winning performance, are the stunning visuals, especially towards the second hour. But the treatment of the written material restricts its appeal largely. The connoisseurs of cinema and a tiny segment of the movie-going audience may go ga-ga over the film, but there’s precious little for the large base of mass audience that’s looking at the entertainment quotient from the maker of hugely admired entertainers like JAB WE MET and LOVE AAJ KAL.