Tag Archive for 'Actor'

Being Bin Laden

Ricky S. Sekhon (he plays Osama bin Laden in the Kathryn Bigelow film Zero Dark Thirty) in NYT. Sekhon was born in Southall, West London in 1983 to Indian parents

My journey to becoming Bin Laden started in March of last year, when I got a call from a casting director in London, who said she had been trying to get hold of me for a week — apparently the phone number I had registered on the Spotlight database, an online resource used to contact actors, was an old one. I apologized. She asked if I could come in the next day. I said yes, what for? She said she couldn’t tell me.

The next week, I was offered the part of the world’s most notorious terrorist. My first reaction was an expletive that cannot be printed here. I am a 29-year-old native Londoner, a moderate Sikh with a drama degree from Royal Holloway, University of London — a pretty far cry from a 54-year-old Saudi multimillionaire-turned-terrorist who had been on the lam for nearly a decade after murdering some 3,000 people. I guess I do look a bit like Bin Laden — I am 6 feet 4 inches tall, about what he was. I have brown skin and a prominent nose, but it’s not as though anyone has ever stopped me in the street and shouted, “Hey, aren’t you Bin Laden?” (And I think I have a better smile — not as creepy. At least my girlfriend says so.)

It’s not that easy to be an actor of Asian ancestry in Britain or America. There are fewer leading roles for us, but then again, there are also probably fewer of us going up for those roles. More:

“… I got so comfortable in the (body) bag that, by the end of the shoot, I was known as Osama bin Loungin’,” Read here

Rajesh Khanna: The man you could take home to your mother

The BBC made a film on him, titled Bombay Superstar, in 1974. Above, part 1, and below part 2.The other seven parts are on YouTube.

Sidharth Bhatia in Mint:

To anyone younger than 35, it would be very difficult to explain that the gaunt, bearded figure appearing in an advertisement had once captivated the entire nation. The ad, somewhat tackily, puns on the word “fans” to evoke memories of a time when Rajesh Khanna was the darling of film goers. That is actually an understatement—he had a fanatic fan following, the likes of which has never been seen before or since.

Khanna, who died in Mumbai on Wednesday after a prolonged illness, was the undisputed king of Hindi cinema through the early to mid-1970s. It was not just the kind of fandom that follows a film star but something over and beyond. He was mobbed wherever he went, women wrote letters to him in blood and then “married” his picture and every gesture and outfit he wore was copied. Rumours routinely floated about that he was suffering from a life-threatening disease, mainly because of his on-screen roles in several films (Andaz, Safar, Anand, Namak Haraam), where he died in the end.

Khanna (real name Jatin) was the son of a middle-class business family. He won a Filmfare contest in 1965, which got him a role in a G.P. Sippy film, Raaz (though Aakhri Khat was released earlier, in 1966). The film was not a hit, though he got noticed enough to be offered some more films like Baharon ke Sapne and Khamoshi.

In 1969, his film Aradhana, in which he had a double role, opened to an ecstatic reception. It had a story replete with emotion and drama, lovely locations and great music. The songs became huge hits and a new screen pair—Khanna and Sharmila Tagore—was born. More:

‘Rustam-e-Hind’ Dara Singh dead: Watch him in action

Legendary wrestler-turned-actor Dara Singh has died in Mumbai after a long illness. He was 83. Click here for the Wiki profile.

King Kong

[If anyone can find a clip of the famous Dara Singh - King Kong wrestling match in Bombay, please do share it with us.]

Watch him in Tarzan Comes to Delhi

And in an action scene in Trip to Moon (here’s the link to the full Hindi sci-fi movie circa 1965)

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is the latest victim of postnatal body fascism

Barbara Ellen In The Observer:

Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, once called “the most beautiful woman in the world” by Julia Roberts, has caused outrage in India by not losing her baby weight quickly enough. A website, Desimad.com, produced a feature depicting Bachchan with elephant sound-effects in the background. Many are raging that she is a disgrace to Indian womanhood and should set an example, “like Victoria Beckham,” by getting back into shape.

When did Bachchan give birth? Seven months ago. What is her reason for not focusing all her energies on “snapping straight back into those pre-pregnancy jeans!”, as the parlance goes? Bachchan says she just wants to “enjoy motherhood”. What kind of lame excuse is that? Except it isn’t. Rather, it’s a nod to a saner time, before post-pregnancy was turned into another torture zone for the modern female.

People are forgetting that this used to be the norm. The aftermath of pregnancy was a time when women were freed from “looking sexy” in the conventional way. A sainted space when women could tell lookist society to take a hike – they were busy, OK? They needed to concentrate on their baby.

Then arrived the concept of the Yummy Mummy. Suddenly, body fascism crept into the postnatal experience, hunkering down among the nipple pads and Pampers, like some evil, squawking cuckoo. Women had to worry about not only shedding weight, but also shedding it quickly enough. What had always been viewed as a becalmed, no-pressure marathon transformed into a self-loathing sprint. From now on, the ideal would be to look as though, physically, the pregnancy never happened – that one’s children were magically discovered beneath the Slimming World gooseberry bush or delivered by the Dukan stork. More:

Soumitra Chatterjee, a master of his craft

Salil Tripathi in Mint:

The astonishing part about Soumitra Chatterjee’s long career is not that he won the Dadasaheb Phalke Award this year, but that it took four decades of exceptional performances before national juries began honouring him: a special jury prize in 2001, and a national award in 2007, (besides the Padma Bhushan in 2004). He spurned the first such award, pointing out how popular, mainstream cinema was crowding out the cinema that made you think, and he was right.

If quantity equated quality, Hindi cinema would be India’s best. For provocative cinema that stays with you beyond the three hours at a theatre, we turn to films made in other Indian languages, Bengali being the most prominent. These films bear a closer relationship with life as it is, and not as it is fantasized, although the so-called regional languages too produce escapist fare, and not all Hindi films are mediocre.

And yet, it took 42 years after Chatterjee’s unforgettable debut in Satyajit Ray’s Apur Sansar (The World of Apu, 1959) before he won his first national award. In the last of Ray’s Apu Trilogy, Chatterjee played Apu, now a young man, who joins his friend to attend a family wedding. more

The Protagonist: Irrfan Khan interview

His portrayal of the army man-turned-steeplechase runner-turned-bandit in Paan Singh Tomar has achieved both critical appreciation and commercial success. In July, he plays Spiderman’s nemesis, the villainous Proto Goblin in The Amazing Spiderman. Come Christmas, he’ll slip into the shoes of the Older Pi in Ang Lee’s Life of Pi. Between all these, he manages to squeeze in a film like Thank You. Harneet Singh interviews actor Irrfan Khan:

Irrfan Khan

What has been your toughest role till date?

It would be HBO’s In Treatment and Life of Pi. I felt claustrophobic while acting in the In Treatment segment. The show required me to be naked emotionally, I felt as if I was being squeezed and strangulated and pushed in one corner, and I had to keep feeling that way for quite a while.

And why do you say Life of Pi?

Because it’s such a difficult, intelligent and clever book. To be on top of that and to be directed by Ang Lee has been an experience unlike anything else. The film opened a new world for me. The themes the film deals with required me to absorb everything. It can be a small thing, the character can be speaking about “karma”, but when I say the line I should come across as someone who understands the vastness of karma. Life of Pi required me to constantly understand, so that I don’t become disconnected. More:

Joy Mukherjee (1939 – 2012)

Meera Syal: My family values

In this YouTube video, Meera Syal reads from The Taming of the Shrew in this clip from Baby Cow’s ‘From Bard to Verse’ – Shakespeare’s greatest hits packaged into bite size chunks and performed by the UK’s hottest acting and comedy talent.

In The Guardian:

Inside our Punjabi household the atmosphere was one of familiarity and solidity, but outside the house things sometimes felt threatening. I have vivid memories of my parents and all their friends talking about a certain speech that Enoch Powell made. I always thought that the reason there were packed suitcases on top of every wardrobe was that we might have to leave the country in the middle of the night because of Enoch Powell. It was only years later that I realised that everybody’s families had suitcases on top of the wardrobe.

Punjabis are the cockneys of India. They are party people – gregarious, outgoing, very entrepreneurial, sharp-witted, loud, meat-eaters. Back in the Punjab, they are basically earthy, rural workers. And that was very much the atmosphere when we had friends around. It was incredibly noisy, loads of music, lots of loud voices and drinking, and I thought that was normal until I went to other people’s houses and I was shocked to discover that sometimes people’s families say nothing to each other during dinner. More:

Also at Wiki

The meaning of being Salman Khan

Salman Khan reinvents himself in the role of a tough cop in Dabangg

Shoma Chaudhury with Rishi Majumder in Tehelka:

It’s early evening on Rakhi day. Salman Khan is sitting at his sister Alvira’s dining table in Bandra Hill, surro unded by family and the remains of a festive gathering. The house is small, the camaraderie is big. Salman is red-eyed and stubbled and has a towel slung over his shoulder into which he periodically blows his nose. He’s been running a fever and it hasn’t been easy to track him down. Now it’s a fresh struggle to get lone time with him. “What’s the difference?” he says. “Isn’t this interview going to be published? Aren’t people going to read it? This is just family.”

Doggedness is not only his domain. “Let me turn the conversation into art first,” I say, “this is like watching someone dress in the green room.” The faintest hint of a chuckle escapes him. The family withdraws into other rooms. Big steaming mugs of coffee appear. (Someone had said, “Everything is open and big-hearted in the Khans’ household: the hugs are big, the coffee is big, the table is always laden with food. It’s a typical Pathan home.”)

Salman’s very first answer presents a man nothing has quite led one to expect. It’s on the legacy question. On what he thinks his years in the limelight have added up to. “It’s simple,” he says. “Some fathers want their sons to grow up to be like me. Other fathers say, grow up and be anything, but just don’t ever be like that man. Either which way, it’s good.” More:

Aamir Khan: The box-office economist

Sanjukta Sharma in Mint Lounge:

Okay, there’s one thing that unsettles Aamir Khan. The stock market. “The stock market? No!” he exclaimed, and looked nonplussed when I asked him if he followed market trends. Leaning forward on the couch he was sitting on, he explained why, without choosing his words as he usually does: “I have no idea how it works. I have tried to understand it. When you say somebody is worth 3,000 crore, I’d like to think he has Rs3,000 crore. I am corrected, I’m told his shares and investments add up to that much. So then, if he sells everything, will he have that much? But no, if he sells them, his worth will immediately fall. So what does he actually have and why is he worth 3,000 crore? The market is all fantasy and illusion, you believe me.”

Khan’s public persona is crafted cool. He has a disarming candour, the kind which, for the short while you are sitting next to him, strips him of star trappings. He measures his words, but not in an obvious way—like all stars, he wants to be perceived as a good person or an interesting person. His sense of humour comes across as self-deprecating. He can also be a natural mimic. And unlike many stars, actors even, he looks at you intently, and listens to every word you say. More:

‘The villain of the millenium’


Bollywood Food Club reminds us that the legendary Bollywood actor Pran turned 90 on Feb. 11. He has appeared in over 350 films; his last three, according to Wikipedia, are 1942: A Love Story (1994), Tere Mere Sapne (1996)and Mrityudata (1997). We love the scene (see YouTube video) in The Evening in Paris (1967)

The paintings are from his website pransikand.com

Inside SRK’s world

Discovery Travel & Living trailed Shah Rukh Khan for over a year to put together a special ten-part series on the superstar. A glimpse into the first two episodes in Hindustan Times:

Much as I love Mumbai and Delhi and India, I think London would be my next favourite place on earth. I like the weather, the greenness, the cold. Normally I come here for work and holidays but I love coming here. There were two places in the world which my mom wanted me to see, one was Madame Tussauds in London and the other was the Louvre in Paris. So it’s the greatest moment and achievement of my life that I am in Madame Tussauds. She would have been very proud.

When I’m in London, I go to Hyde Park to play soccer with my kids and their friends. I don’t play unfair. Aryan will cheat a bit but he should not. Since he’s playing against the girls, maybe he wants to win but I think he does that in school also which is not good. I think this is his one bad habit that I need to change. You don’t cheat and win. You don’t lie and win.

You can tell the difference between boys and girls when they are playing. You can spend 20 minutes with the boys and 20 minutes with the girls. You may have fun with the boys but you realise life is best with the women and so I like to be with girls. And I want them to be really tough. At least the girls whom I know, they should be tough and should kick all these idiots around. Guys are a little dumb. I am sorry, I may lose some male fans but the girls rock! More:

The instinct of Aamir Khan

Manu Joseph in Open:

It is said that getting Aamir interested in a film has the excruciating agony of waiting to win a girl’s affections, and his acceptance comes with the greater torments of a woman’s terrifying obsessive love. “He is involved in every aspect of a film,” a director says, “Some might not like that. He does not trust anyone, it seems.”

Most of the time, though, Aamir rejects the scripts. One such writer who was rejected remembers a whole evening he spent in Aamir’s home trying to sell him the idea. “I was nobody then, but Aamir spent a lot of time with me discussing the story. He had so many questions. So many doubts. ‘Would this work, would people find this convincing… I know people and the people won’t accept it’. He didn’t know me at all, but we went to the toilet together and we peed standing side by side, talking about the script. In the end, he said ‘no’.”

Aamir says that he does not waste the moments of his life doing anything he does not love enough. “When I am choosing a script, I don’t think of the audience. I think of myself. I have to love it. Then I think of the audience. I wonder how can we tell this story without boring anyone. I have only one interest in a film. The message is not important to me. What is important is that I don’t bore you. I know what you want is entertainment. The only responsibility of a film is to provide it.” More:

Aamir Khan on his new role and turning producer

Sanjukta Sharma in Mint:

On the eve of the release of 3 Idiots, the only film of 2009 with Aamir Khan in a lead role, the actor’s residence at Pali Hill, Bandra, wasn’t exactly bustling with pre-release activity. He had already completed a tour across India, promoting the film, and All is Well, the film’s anthem, was already in advertisements and Top 10 lists of radio channels. Khan spoke to Mint in his study, crowded with books and files and a painting recently painted by and gifted to him by Salman Khan. Edited excerpts:

Such a long promotional tour for ‘3 Idiots’ across the country, and that too in disguise. You must be tired?

I am actually a bit under the weather. But, today, for the premiere, all the people that I visited are coming to Mumbai. After this, I’ll have to go and meet them.

You do few films. What makes you decide which films you want to be a part of? Why ‘3 Idiots’?

I choose films based on my excitement about the script and my level of confidence and faith in the director and producer of a film. At that time, I am the audience. I move towards roles instinctively, there is no great thought behind it.

I loved the script of 3 Idiots. I have been very keen to work with Rajkumar Hirani for some time now. The only doubt I had and still have is the age of the character. He’s 22 and my own age is 44 now. The audience will decide whether I’ve been able to pull it off nor not. But the character of Rancho, which I play, is someone who Raju (Hirani) felt was close to who I am in real life. I have taken some bizarre decisions, have followed my own rules. More:

The man of the family

Nobody in Bollywood was betting on the outsider Katrina Kaif, but a surging need to forge stability for herself and her siblings has driven her to the top. Shoma Chaudhury in Tehelka:

Katrina Kaif

Katrina Kaif

Katrina came to India at 17 as part of director Kaizad Gustad’s film Boom: he had spotted her as a model in an ad in London. It should have been a grand debut, boasting as it did a cast that included Amitabh Bachchan, Jackie Shroff, Madhu Sapre and Padma Lakshmi. But, for all its apparent star and skin power, the film flopped badly. That could have been the end of Katrina’s Bollywood career – she was young, an outsider, and incapable of a word of Hindi. Instead, in barely six years, she has grown to be a commercial female superstar, moving from the anonymity of bit roles in Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi films to mainstream directors and producers like Vipul Shah, Rajkumar Santoshi and Yash Raj Films. She has learnt Hindi, taken Kathak lessons, and is spoken of in the same breath as Aishwarya Rai and Kareena Kapoor. Far from the minor-league deals of her early years, she now charges between Rs 2 to 3 crores for product campaigns and, at last count, signed a two-film deal with Studio 18 for Rs 6 crore. What explains this singular story? Who is Katrina Kaif off-screen?

It’s not very easy to piece that together. “I am a Cancerian,” she says, “and Cancerians don’t like discussing their private lives. I also don’t buy the argument that filmstars’ private lives are fair game for the public.” Even routine questions about parents and family are not easily lobbed. If you persist though – embroidering them with caveats and exit routes – they yield some answers.

One of seven siblings – six sisters, one brother, she exactly in the middle – Katrina was born to a British mother, Suzanne, and a Kashmiri Muslim father, Mohammad Kaif. “My father is not an influence, he was not part of our family; my parents separated when I was very young and I have never met him since.”