With the increase in divisive chatter in the nation and the rise in hate crimes, some positive words of girl love are a welcome change to our ears. Rajeev Masand’s annual actresss roundtable did just that!
Featuring some of the most accomplished women in Bollywood, this conversation revealed a lot dark secrets and behind the scenes jokes that moviegoers aren’t normally privy to. This year Masand welcomed Alia Bhatt, Anushka Sharma, Sonam Kapoor, Vidya Balan and Radhika Apte, to the roundtable, all talented and accomplished woman who have given us some of the most amazing films of 2016 like “Sultan,” “Neerja,” “Udta Punjab,” “Parched,” and “Kahaani 2.”
The actresses were all very eloquent when answering and quick to praise each other, as well as other actresses, for their work—we’re loving the immense amount of girl love!
Masand’s questions had them veering into the topic of molestation of young girls in India, a strong issue that needs addressing and the leading ladies agree that parents should be asking their children more questions, taking an initiative on how their children should react in case something does happen to them, and not just shove things under the rug because a girl’s sexuality is taboo.
They also spoke of how emotionally draining it is to film violent scenes like assault and rape as well as how awkward kissing and love scenes are because it’s so technical. Bhatt and Sharma even joked about how media annoyingly asks about their on-screen kisses, mocking the term “lip-locks,” Bhatt explains that it’s not romantic and it’s not like the actors are enjoying the kiss, it’s just technical.
The girls even shared stories of how awkward their kissing partners were during the shoot, and many of the actresses mention kissing scenes never made the films. “It was that bad,” said Kapoor regarding her deleted kissing scene with Abhay Deol in “Aisha.”
Apart from speaking about their work and sharing hilarious kissing stories, the most beautiful takeaway from this roundtable was the amount of girl love present in the room! It was so encouraging to see actresses build each other up as well as other women with love and support.
Here are 13 instances in which the girls spread some love towards each other and other females.
1. Kapoor praised Apte and Balan for their work in films that portray sexual abuse and women dealing with their sexuality.
Balan plays a woman who was sexually abused as a child in “Kahaani 2” and Apte was in the short film titled “Clean Shaven” made by Anurag Kashyap which deals with a woman’s sexual needs. Kapoor said she was moved by “Clean Shaven” and it was a short film that was so impactful because it was relatable.
She also told Balan how she is constantly inspired by Balan and her work because stories like “Kahaani 2” are so encouraging to girls of all ages.
2. Kapoor was so inspired by her character in the film “Neerja,” she said it encouraged her to become as optimistic, idealistic and positive about life as Neerja Bhanot was.
She explained how, as you grow older, things become gray—but learning about Bhanot really changed her as a person because Bhanot had been this average girl, straight from Bandra, lively, loving, so sure about what is right and what is wrong. Kapoor said Bhanot re-taught her compassion and not to compromise.
3. All the girls unanimously agreed that Balan started the trend of refusing to be just another pretty face on the screen which brought them roles of more substance.
Sharma said that more actresses are following in the footsteps of Balan and are refusing to do certain films so filmmakers are forced to create better roles for women. Kapoor went on to call Balan a trailblazer.
4. Bhatt explained how she’s taken inspiration from Balan when choosing her films and saying no to films that seem like the right choice, but are ultimately not meant for her or not films she can respect.
The girls explained that sometimes you have to take that risk of not doing roles, of not working so that you can take on better roles—a risk that they have been inspired to take on thanks to actresses like Balan.
5. Balan expressed how amazed she was at Apte’s work in the Tamil film “Kabali.”
Balan explained how she burst out crying in the theater in a scene where Apte’s character met her husband after years because it was so emotional.
“You were wonderful in the film,” Balan said.
Kapoor was quick to agree that Apte had done a stunning job in the film.
6. Kapoor also talked about Apte’s beauty especially considering Apte’s outspoken words about body positivity and inner happiness.
“I look at her and I’m like omg this girl is so beautiful and every time I see her I go ‘oh god you’re so beautiful,’” Kapoor said about Apte. “You know, I was telling my sister, I was like ‘Rhea this girl is so beautiful and I hope people don’t ever tell her anything else’ because people are such and they think you should be a certain way or look a certain way.”
7. When Apte said that she was not affected by the gossip surrounding her revealing scenes in her films and that she loves herself, including her imperfections, Bhatt and Kapoor were the first to jump in and tell her how inspiring that is.
“I wish I had that confidence,” Kapoor said.
8. Kapoor mentioned that due to her body image issues she’s constantly using her fashion skills as an armor.
“It’s so beautiful and so inspiring to see you [Apte] and Vidya and even Alia and Anushka be so uninhibited about certain things you know,” Kapoor said, “and, it’s very inspiring and it gives other girls so much confidence.”
9. While Kapoor was busy praising all the other actresses, young Bhatt pointed out how Kapoor herself is quite inspirational for her uninhibited speech.
“You inspire us to speak, like I don’t have the guts to speak about so many things and I want to but I don’t because I want to be correct,” Bhatt explained, “but you don’t have that which I think is great. So you should self love for that.”
12. Kapoor spoke of how much she loved meeting her favorite actresses, Julianne Moore and Helen Mirren describing both as being such beautiful, kind and elegant women and that more people should be like them.
13. Kapoor said she wants to direct movies and hopes to direct Sharma in a film one day because she loved her work since she saw Sharma in the hit film, “Band Baaja Baaraat.”
After watching this video from last December, it’s never been more clear a time to put the old-fashioned stereotype of actress hatred and competition to rest.
As this actress roundtable proves, what we really need in Bollywood is more love and respect of actresses, and a whole lot more opportunities for them to showcase their obvious strengths and talent.
[Photos Source: Giphy]
With a master’s degree in developmental psychology under her belt, Nila Choudhury is avoiding rishta aunties by heading back to school for a doctoral degree in clinical psychology at Immaculata University. Currently, she is an assistant editor at India.com. A born-and-raised New Yorker, she lives on bagels and pizza. She enjoys traveling, reading, writing, watching corny Bollywood movies, wearing tiara’s and singing “Let It Go” —off key, of course—during her free time. Keep up with Nila on her new blog, Recklessly Besharam.
It’s always a flamboyant affair of colour, emotions and grandeur when Karan Johar directs a film, and his latest blockbuster “Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani” is as K Jo as it gets. After recently being recognised at the British House of Parliament for 25 years as a filmmaker, Johar is back to doing what he does best — bringing together families and star-crossed lovers, but this time with a modern touch. He makes a decent attempt at showcasing progressive ideals and feminist issues while taking us on this family-friendly ride.
“Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani” is a larger-than-life film revolving around the love story of a boisterous Rocky (Ranveer Singh) from a wealthy Delhi family, and Rani (Alia Bhatt), a sharp journalist from a progressive Bengali household. And of course, despite belonging to completely different backgrounds and lives, our protagonists, in true Bollywood fashion, fall hopelessly in love through a string of slow-motion gazes, warm embraces and some truly breath-taking song sequences in Kashmir’s snowy mountains. They are then forced to face their opposing families which brings along the family drama in the second half of the film.
The plot is not the film’s strongest point — there’s no real surprise about what’s going to happen next, and yet the film doesn’t fail to keep audiences engaged and pack an emotional punch. This is down to its strong acting, witty dialogues and K Jo’s classic, beautiful cinematography.
Ranveer Singh sinks into the skin of his character with ease – not only does he make the hall burst into laughter with the help of perfectly-timed gags but he pulls off those dreamy gazes ,expected in K Jo’s heroes, to evoke that typical, fuzzy-feeling kind of Bollywood romance. Alia Bhatt’s intelligent and undefeated character is no less a pleasure to watch on screen — not only does she look breath-taking in every shot but her feminist dialogues earn claps and cheers from the audience as she brings a progressive touch to this family drama.
Albeit, while Bhatt’s dialogues do their best to steer this film to the reformist drama it hopes to be, some of Singh’s gags and monologues on cancel culture bring out bumps in the road. The film could have done better to reinforce its points on feminism and racism without using the groups it tries to support as the butt of jokes.
There is also a case to be made about how long these Punjabi and Bengali stereotypes can go on with often gawkish displays of Ranveer’s ‘dilwala-from-Delhi’ character among the overly-polished English from Rani’s Bengali family. But it is with the expertise of the supporting cast, that the film is able to get away with it. Jaya Bachchan in particular is as classy as ever on screen; the stern Dadi Ji holds her ground between the two lovers, while Dada Ji Dharmendra, and Thakuma Shabana Azmi, tug at our heartstrings showing that love truly is for all ages.
Saving the best to last, it is the film’s cinematography that makes the strongest case for audiences to flock to the cinema. The soul-stirring songs steal the show with their extravagant sets and powerful dance performances that treat the audiences to the much-awaited cinematic experience of a K Jo film. While audiences may already be familiar with the viral songs, “What Jhumka?” and “Tum Kya Mile“, it was the family-defying fight for love in “Dhindhora Baje Re” that really gave me goosebumps.
Overall, the film does exactly what it says on the tin and is a family entertainer with something for everyone. It will make you laugh, cry, and cringe at times, but nothing leaves you feeling as romantic as some old school Bollywood with a mix of new school humour, in true K Jo form.
“Ghoomer,” R. Balki’s latest directorial venture, had its world premiere at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne 2023 (IFFM), earlier this month, and the moment was nothing short of memorable. Lead actors Abhishek Bachchan, Saiyami Kher, and Angad Bedi, were present to unveil their labor of love to the world, and all three were left speechless at the reaction of the global audience; the film received a standing ovation on opening night, leaving the team extremely emotional — a feeling that Bachchan tells Brown Girl is one he cannot put into words.
“Ghoomer,” tells the story of Anina (played by Kher), an exceptional cricket player who loses her right hand in an accident. Downtrodden and with no will to live, Anina finds a mentor and coach in Padam Singh Sodhi (played by Bachchan), an insensitive and brash failed cricketer who helps her turn her life and career around; Anina also has the unwavering support of her husband, Jeet (played by Bedi). Sodhi teaches Anina unorthodox techniques to make her mark on the cricket ground once again. Enter, ghoomer, a new style of bowling.
Balki checks all the boxes with this feature — his protagonist is a female athlete, the film is his way of giving back to cricket (a new form of delivery), and he highlights the idea that nothing is impossible for paraplegic athletes. The heart of Balki’s film is in the right place — Kher mentions that the film is meant to be more of an inspirational movie and less of a sports-based movie. One can only imagine the impact that a film like this would have on an audience that’s hungry for meaningful cinema.
And, to chat more about “Ghoomer,” Brown Girl Magazine sat down with the stars of the show. Bachchan, Bedi, and Kher came together to talk about their inspiring characters, the filming journey, and how their film aspires to change the landscape of cricket and paraplegic athletes in the country. It was all that, with a side of samosas.
Take a look!
The featured image is courtesy of Sterling Global.
March 20, 2023March 21, 2023 4min readBy Nida Hasan
If you are a South Asian, born in the ’80s or the early ’90s, chances are your ideas of love and romance are heavily influenced by Hindi films — that first gaze, the secret love notes, that accidental meeting somewhere in Europe, over-the-top gestures and dancing around trees. While reality may have been far from what was promised on reel, you still can’t stop pining over a hopeless romantic, with chocolate boy looks, chasing you across the earth and many universes; in the life here and the ones after. Somewhere deep down, you still dream of that possibility despite your husband sitting and sipping his morning coffee right next to you. And much of the credit for weaving this dreamland, that we can’t resist happily sliding into, goes to the legendary Yash Chopra. Award-winning filmmaker Smriti Mundhra’s docu-series, “The Romantics,” that released on Netflix on February 14, chronicles Chopra’s prolific career; offering an illuminating look into the highs and lows of his journey, his unblemished vision for Hindi cinema and sheer love for filmmaking.
I wanted to look at Indian cinema through the lens of it being a major contributor to the global cinema canon and Yash Chopra seemed like the perfect lens to explore that because of the longevity of his career and the fact that he had worked across so many different genres. His films, for so many of us, defined what Hindi cinema is.
— Smriti Mundhra
As “The Romantics” unveils, in a mere episode — a challenging feat in itself — Chopra did experiment with multiple genres as a budding filmmaker, initially under the shadows of his elder brother B.R. Chopra. From the religiously sensitive “Dharamputra” and the trendsetting “Waqt” to the action-packed and iconic “Deewaar.” It wasn’t until later on in his career that he set a precedent for a Hindi film having a wholly romantic narrative; though “Waqt” did offer the perfect glimpse into what would go on to become Chopra’s cinematic imprint. And then came “Chandni” which ushered in a new era for Hindi cinema; defying the formulaic approach to box office success and making love stories the golden goose.
In the words of more than 30 famous faces, a host of archival videos and interviews, and personal anecdotes, audiences get an extensive insight into the life and career of Yash Chopra and the evolution of his vision through the business acumen and genius of his polar opposite son and a famous recluse, Aditya Chopra. “The Romantics” is not a fancy portrait of a legendary filmmaker but an exploration of what goes into making a successful film family and a path-breaking production house. As viewers, we not only get a peek into the making of a fantasy creator but also learn of the many failures, hurdles and uncertainties that the business of filmmaking comes packaged in, the impact of socio-political shifts on the kind of content being produced and demanded, and just how much control we have as an audience over the fate of the film and the filmmaker.
For both the uninitiated and fanatics, there are some interesting revelations like Shah Rukh Khan’s lifelong desire to become an action hero as opposed to a romantic one and the creative conflict between Aditya Chopra and his father Yash Chopra on the sets of “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge” — a project that, surprisingly, did not seem too promising to the latter. Mundhra penetrates deep into the family’s history and industry relationships evoking some really candid conversations; almost as if these celebs were eagerly waiting for their moment to speak. With one appraising interview after the other, it’s a panegyric that does border on being a tad tedious but there is enough depth and fodder in there to keep one hooked. Kudos to Mundhra for managing to achieve cohesion despite there being more than enough material to chew on. In the process of bringing this project to life, Mundhra also ends up achieving a number of milestones: one that the series features the last of actor Rishi Kapoor’s interviews and two, it brings Aditya Chopra, who, it appears, can talk a blue streak contrary to popular belief, to the front of the camera after almost two decades. The moment when he puts the nepotism debate to rest by referring to his brother’s catastrophic attempt at acting is quite the show-stealer.
At some point during the four-episode series, you might question if it’s fair to credit the Yash Raj family for being the only real changemakers of the Hindi film industry and for picking up the baton to get Hindi cinema the global recognition that it has. But then there is no denying the Chopra clan’s body of work, their ability to understand what pleases the crowd and their commitment towards growth and progress amidst changing times and technology — Yash Raj Studios is in fact the only privately held and one of the biggest, state-of-the-art film studios in India. Chopra’s career and legacy are in no way under-lit that Mundhra can claim to throw new light on with “The Romantics.” But what she really has on offer here are sheer nostalgia, some fascinating discoveries and an ode to a cinephile and his art with a bit of fan service.
In an interview with Brown Girl Magazine, Mundhra discusses why it was so important for Chopra to be the subject of her docu-series, her own learnings during the series’ research and creative process and her accomplishment of getting Aditya Chopra to talk, and that too, at length.