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India’s Most Wanted movie review: Arjun Kapoor’s earnestness has more weight than this

Do you sometimes sit in a movie hall and sense that what is unfolding on screen began with an interesting concept that somehow choked at the execution stage? India’s Most Wanted is that kind of film.

Indian intelligence officials and globe-trotting espionage agents have in recent years become a Bollywood fixation, but from the Saif Ali Khan-Kareena Kapoor-starrer Agent Vinod in 2012, to Baby (2015) with Akshay Kumar in the lead, and last year’s Aiyaary headlined by Manoj Bajpayee and Sidharth Malhotra, these films have tended to kick off with a promising premise and then struggle to be anything much beyond that. India’s Most Wanted (IMW) goes down the same path.

Prabhat (Arjun Kapoor), IMW’s central character, is a stubborn fellow who has a mind of his own independent of his well-intentioned immediate superior Ravi Raj (Rajesh Sharma) and the intelligence agency for which he works. As the film opens, India is being rocked by bomb blasts engineered by shadowy figures believed to be in Pakistan and Dubai. A source gives Prabhat a lead about the mastermind behind these explosions, which indicates that the man is, in fact, in Nepal. Higher-ups in Delhi are not convinced, but Prabhat decides to head off to Nepal anyway with a motley crew of colleagues, all of them conducting the operation at their own expense. Bossman Ravi Raj gives them his blessings but not his on-the-record assent.

India’s Most Wanted movie review: Arjun Kapoor’s earnestness has more weight than this screenplay

Honest, efficient government servants defying their senior’s orders in their frustration with sarkari red tape and obduracy, and ending up in a clash with Pakistan’s ISI in a third country while hot on the heels of a brutal terrorist, that too purportedly based on a true story – this is the stuff that dreams are made of, this is thriller heaven. With such ingredients at hand, IMW should have been an exciting suspense saga. Yet from the starting block the film struggles to get into the groove, despite assembling an interesting cast who look convincing as real people rather than actors to play Prabhat’s team of rogue agents.

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in the stars but in the screenplay. Firstly, it took me a while – too long a while – to wrap my head around the chain of individuals that had got information to Prabhat and why. Some amount of confusion, especially initially, is not unusual in films of this variety, but they usually offer compensation in the form of an accelerated pace or breathtaking action or, in the case of directors opting for a quiet tone, an under-stated sense of urgency that taps the audience’s own instinctive assumptions about the drama and danger intrinsic to such situations in real life although they are alien to ordinary folk like us. Not here.

IMW aims at being an intelligence agency procedural rather than a Mission Impossible / James Bond enterprise, which is fine in theory since writer-director-producer Raj Kumar Gupta demonstrated his natural affinity for the genre in the excellent Ajay Devgn-starrer Raid (2018) set in the world of income-tax officials. IMW, however, simply does not lift off.

Even after the initial cobwebs are cleared, the narrative remains fuzzy. The primary informant’s motivations are never convincing, Prabhat & Co find their prey with what seems like considerable ease, the actions of their Nepalese counterparts are inexplicable, and the ISI comes across as a sluggish lot.

That last point – the absence of a powerful antagonist – is the final nail in the coffin. Before it is hammered in, the film has already been betrayed by its own seeming lack of faith in the tenor it has set for itself. In life-and-death scenarios towards the end, for instance, precious seconds and minutes are spent just staring down opponents in conventional Hindi filmi style. And the voiceover by the lead terrorist at regular intervals is ineffective.

To be fair to IMW, neither the Indian agents nor the ISI are downright dumbos, unlike the desis and their enemy targets in Baby.

What IMW does have going for it are Arjun Kapoor’s earnestness, the credibility of the supporting cast especially the inimitable Rajesh Sharma, the non-judgmental tone adopted towards Sharma’s Ravi Raj although he is not willing to stick his neck out as Prabhat does, the warm equation between him and Prabhat, and the realness of the settings. Nepal looks gorgeous, but cinematographer Dudley cleverly uses the visuals not so much to impress us with their prettiness as to conjure up an ominous atmosphere.

Most important, although the terrorist being hunted down by Prabhat is a Muslim, his religious identity is not over-emphasised to crudely cash in on the Islamophobia prevailing worldwide in the way Bollywood films like Padmaavat and Kesari have done since 2017-18 – he is what he is, that is a fact, nothing more, nothing less. His ISI backers too are not stereotypically portrayed as demonic or fumbling cartoons – they may be sluggish, as mentioned earlier, but they are not foolish. And thankfully Prabhat’s Muslim colleague is treated as a regular person, not a contrivance planted in the screenplay to be condescendingly positioned as redemption for the Muslim community – the fact that he happens to be Muslim struck me rather late in the film because a big deal is not made of it. Despite its inevitable allusions to patriotism, inevitable considering the overall theme, India’s Most Wanted also does not resort to the kind of loud, chest-thumping nationalism that is all the rage in Bollywood and the public discourse these days.

At a time when many Bollywood stalwarts are revealing themselves to be either opportunists or bigots, Raj Kumar Gupta deserves high praise for this aspect of his writing and direction, especially since such opportunism has yielded solid box-office dividends in the past year. Sadly, his decency alone cannot hold up a film. Barring occasional suspenseful passages, India’s Most Wanted does not live up to the expectations it raises in its opening scenes. It lacks the punch, pizzazz and substance to make its Shah Rukh Khan reference truly effective.

Kabir Singh new song ‘Bekhayali’ shows Shahid Kapoor coping with heartbreak

The first song ‘Bekhayali’ from Kabir Singh was dropped by the makers on 24 May (Friday). Composed by Sachet-Parampara, the song has been written by Irshad Kamil and sung by Sachet Tandon. The track encapsulates the agony of heartbreak.

Even before the song’s launch, various covers had started making the rounds on social media.

Kabir Singh new song Bekhayali shows Shahid Kapoor coping with heartbreak

The song features the lead actors, Shahid, who plays the titular role and Kiara Advani as Preeti. The video gives the viewers a glimpse of their blossoming love story and its tragic end with Preeti marrying another man.

The film is the official Hindi remake of Telugu blockbuster Arjun Reddy, which starred Vijay Devarakonda and Shalini Pandey in the lead. Sandeep Reddy Vanga, who helmed the original, has directed the remake as well.

Kabir Singh, a T-Series and Cine1 Studios presentation, is produced by Bhushan Kumar, Murad Khetani, Krishan Kumar and Ashwin Varde. The film is slated to release on 21 June.

India’s Most Wanted: All you need to know about Yasin Bhatkal, the subject of Arjun Kapoor’s film

Arjun Kapoor’s upcoming film India’s Most Wanted is a spy thriller, following an intelligence team as they hunt for a terrorist.

The film is said to be based on the arrest of terrorist Yasin Bhatkal, who was a key conspirator in three terror acts carried out in different cities in India. Here’s everything you need to know about him:

India’s Most Wanted: All you need to know about Yasin Bhatkal, the subject of Arjun Kapoors film

Who is Yasin Bhatkal?

Mohammed Ahmed Siddibappa, who was named Yasin Bhatkal by India’s investigation agencies, is the founder of the terrorist organisation Indian Mujahideen.

Between 2007 and 2013, Bhatkal planned 52 blasts across India and is responsible for the death of over 220 citizens. He was listed as number one on the Most Wanted list of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in Maharashtra, in their case against the functionaries of the Indian Mujahideen. Maharashtra wasn’t the only state that was looking for him. The urgency spread across the country and the total amount for his capture was at one point close to around three crore. He was arrested at the Indian-Nepal border near Bihar in August 2013.

Yasim-copy

In India’s Most Wanted:

The film follows Arjun Kapoor and a team of five officers who captured Bhatkal, one of India’s most dangerous terrorists, without firing a single bullet or causing any civil unrest. Kapoor’s character is named Prabhat Kapoor, based on the Intelligence Bureau officer who led the mission to catch Bhatkal. According to Mumbai Mirror, the Intelligence Bureau had dubbed Bhatkal the “Ghost Who Bombs”.

The film’s trailer describes the terrorist as “India’s Osama” and describes the plot as “an untold story of the manhunt for India’s Osama”, calling his arrest “India’s proudest moment”.

Source: Twitter.

Director’s take 

The film’s writer and director Raj Kumar Gupta, when asked if the story was based on Bhatkal’s arrest, refused to name anyone but said: “I want to say it is inspired by a true event. Who is the terrorist, who have we based the story on…you can decide when you go and watch the film in the theatre. All I want to say is that it is based on a true event and it was a watershed moment of Indian intelligence department where a terrorist was captured without using a single bullet. But you have to watch the film to know the details.”

Gupta also told The Telegraph that it was exactly the terrorist’s deadly acts that prompted him to make the film. “When I heard about this for the first time, I had the same question. It’s so fascinating, that we go about our daily lives and all we hear are big headlines. Then you come across something that is of that magnitude and could have been worse. This question is what triggered this film.”

Student of the Year 2,The Jawaani Song

Student of the Year 2’s ‘The Jawaani Song’ recently dropped and has received mixed reactions from the audience. Many have expressed their displeasure at altering the original number ‘Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani’ by Kishore Kumar and RD Burman from Randhir Kapoor and Jaya Bachchan’s Jawani Diwani. The composer duo Vishal Dadlani and Shekhar Ravjiani have reprised the song, which has been picturised on Tara Sutaria, Ananya Panday and Tiger Shroff.

Randhir Kapoor on Student of the Year 2s The Jawaani Song: Remixes are making old songs accessible to youth

Randhir has spoken in support of the new version. “I feel there is no harm in recreating songs. The original track came out four decades ago. Many youngsters were not aware of the song, but today, everyone knows it because of the remix. [After the redux version released], they all went back and searched for the original song on the Internet. I haven’t seen the song but I have heard it; it has a nice tune. Also, Karan [Johar] has officially bought the rights of the number. So, his intentions are honest,” the actor told Mid-Day

In February 2019, the remixed version of 70’s classic ‘Mungda’ from Total Dhamaal had received criticism from veterans in the music industry. After Rakesh Roshan expressed his displeasure with the new version, legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar and her sister Usha Mangeshkar reacted to the number and complained that no one seeks their consent before using the songs.

Bharat trailer: Salman Khan teases his different looks in Ali Abbas Zafar’s upcoming patriotic drama

After teasing his various looks in a slew of posters from his upcoming Eid release Bharat, Salman Khan has unveiled the first official trailer from the movie on 22 April.

Bharat trailer: Salman Khan teases his different looks in Ali Abbas Zafars upcoming patriotic drama

As Jawaharlal Nehru’s Tryst with Destiny speech plays faintly in the background, Salman’s character is introduced. An old Bharat (Salman) reminiscences — through a voiceover — about his colourful journey, which began amid the violence and bloodshed of the partition. Initially a circus performer, Bharat is forced to seek a job at a government office as the country faces nationwide unemployment in the wake of Nehru’s death.

The actor also shared a collage of all the five previously-unveiled posters in a motion poster on 20 April. Beginning with 1964, where Salman is seen as a young circus performer, the posters take us to 2010, in which he can be seen as a 70-year-old.

Bharat will trace the journey of a man, spanning four decades. Earlier, the makers treated the audience with the teaser, that gives glimpses into the various phases of the film.

An official adaptation of 2014 South Korean film Ode To My Father, Bharat is produced by Atul Agnihotri’s Reel Life Production Pvt Ltd and Bhushan Kumar’s T-Series. It is slated to release on 5 June.

Kalank, The Curse of The Weeping Woman, Jersey, Kanchana 3: Know Your Releases

This week the movie goers will have plenty of options as films from several genres and languages are hitting the big screens across the country all on the same day. From an intense romantic drama like Kalank to a spine-chilling horror film like The Curse of The Weeping Woman, the audiences are spoilt for choice.

Kalank

Kalank, The Curse of The Weeping Woman, Jersey, Kanchana 3: Know Your Releases

What is it about: Directed by Abhishek Varman, Kalank is a multi starrer set in pre-Independent India, which tells the story of complex relationships, forbidden love, deep-buried truths, secrets of betrayal and a history of affairs that threaten to destroy the contrasting worlds of characters in the film.

Who is in it: Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan, Aditya Roy Kapur, Sanjay Dutt, Sonakshi Sinha, Madhuri Dixit Nene

Why it may work: Apart from its ensemble of cast which is a blend of veteran actors and youth, Kalank features arresting frames full of grand visuals along with Pritam’s songs that tug you at the heartstrings like ‘Ghar More Pardesiya’ and the Kalank title track.

The Curse of The Weeping Woman

Source: Twitter

What is it about: Directed by Michael Chaves, The Curse of The Weeping Woman tells the story of a woman stuck between heaven and hell as a consequence of throwing herself in the river after drowning her two sons in jealous rage. She’s now on a lookout for souls of children to replace her own.

Who is in it:  Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz, Patricia Velásquez

Why it may work: Originally titled The Curse Of La Llorana, the film will bring to creen one of the most well-known horror stories based on the Mexican legend of La Llorona. Set in the Conjuring universe, this movie is sure to be packed with horrific scenes that promise to scare even the bravest.

Jersey

Source: Twitter.

What is it about: Directed by Gowtam Tinnanuri, Jersey is a sports drama about a passionate and a gifted cricketer in his mid-thirties. With everyone encouraging him to give up on his dreams, the story will reveal whether he gives in or continues to pursue his career.

Who is in it: Nani, Shraddha Srinath, Sathyaraj

Why it may work: Considering Nani’s previous unforgetabble performances, one can expect him to get into the skin of this character as well and make the film less like a fictional drama anymore, and more like a real-life story based on an actual cricketer’s life.

Kanchana 3

Source: Twitter.

What is it about: Directed by Raghavendra Lawrence, Kanchana 3 will mark the fourth installment in the popular Muni film franchise. It will narrate the story of a popular ghost hunter as he returns to fight evil spirits.

Who is in it: Raghavendra Lawrence, Vedhika, Oviya, Soori

Why it may work: The film stars three heroines – Vedhika,  Oviya and Nikki Tamboli — with Raghava Lawrence in dual role. The trailer garnered immense praise from the audience who are eagerly anticipating the film’s release.

Kalank: Alia Bhatt-Varun Dhawan’s period drama leaked online by Tamilrockers a day after release

Online piracy website Tamilrockers has leaked Kalank online, reports The Indian Express. Despite control measures implemented to stop online downloading and piracy, Tamilrockers seems to have circumvented most.

The online piracy website recently leaked two major Hollywood films in the country — Hellboy and Pet Sematary. It also leaked the much-awaited first episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones season 8, added the report.

Kalank: Alia Bhatt-Varun Dhawans period drama leaked online by Tamilrockers a day after release

Ajay Devgn on Alok Nath’s casting in De De Pyaar De: Decision to replace him could not have been mine alone

The makers of De De Pyaar De, especially the lead actor Ajay Devgn have received significant backlash for casting Alok Nath in the romantic comedy, despite allegations of sexual assault against him. Tanushree Dutta and Kangana Ranaut’s sister Rangoli Chandel led the criticism against Devgn for Nath’s inclusion in the film. Now, Devgn has issued a clarification.

Ajay Devgn on Alok Naths casting in De De Pyaar De: Decision to replace him could not have been mine alone

evgn said that the film was initially supposed to release in October 2018 and the shooting concluded in September. The sequences featuring Alok Nath were eliminated by August. However, they were shot over 40 days across various locations with a combination of over ten actors. He said it would have been difficult to reschedule the shoot with a replacement, due to conflicting schedule of other actors and would have caused monetary loss to the producers.

“Everyone is aware that film-making is a collaborative process. The decision to replace Nath could never have been mine alone. In this case, I would have to go with the joint-decision of the entire unit. Not to forget, I could not have brought the entire combination of actors back or put up sets again for a 40-day re-shoot because this would mean doubling the budget, which again wasn’t my call to make. It would have to be the call of the makers. Had circumstances played out even slightly differently, I would have pushed for a different combination of actors. Unfortunately, this was not to be,” the actor said in a statement.

He asserted that his stand on the #MeToo movement remained unchanged. According to the statement, Devgn said that he did not understand why attempts were being made to single him out as insensitive as the circumstances in this case were out of his hands.

Previously, at the trailer launch of De De Pyaar De, the actor had also explained that the film had been completed prior to the allegations levelled against Nath.

Love Aaj Kal 2: Complaint filed against Sara Ali Khan for riding pillion without helmet during film’s shoot

A complaint has been filed against Sara Ali Khan, who is currently shooting for Imtiaz Ali’s Love Aaj Kal 2 in the capital, for riding pillion without a helmet during the shoot. Delhi Police officials have said that necessary action will be taken against the actress after details about the incident are received, perused and verified, reports News18.

Love Aaj Kal 2: Complaint filed against Sara Ali Khan for riding pillion without helmet during films shoot

A video of the incident has gone viral on social media where Sara is seen on a bike with Kartik for the shooting of a particular scene. Whereas Kartik was wearing a helmet, the Simmba actress was spotted without one.

Sharing the video, an anonymous complainant tagged Delhi traffic police on Twitter and demanded that action should be taken against Sara for allegedly violating the law. The complainant also urged action be taken against Kartik for being an accessory to the violation.

She also became subject of heavy trolling on social media because of the incident.

Not long ago, Sushant Singh Rajput was seen riding pillion without a helmet in Mumbai, a day after the release of his film Sonchiriya. However, no police action was taken.

After Manikarnika, Kangana Ranaut’s next directorial will be an epic action drama based on real-life story

After Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi, Kangana Ranaut has locked a script for her next directorial, an epic action drama based on a real-life story.

The film will be mounted on a large scale, but will be different from any other epic that has been made in recent times, the actor said in a statement.

After Manikarnika, Kangana Ranauts next directorial will be an epic action drama based on real-life story

“I’m on the verge of announcing my next directorial venture. It’s an action film, an epic drama. It has taken a lot of my time. Currently, we are putting everything in order, but we have locked the script. We will be doing a photoshoot, soon after, which we plan to release the poster, too,” said Kangana.

The actor feels great that female artistes are bringing a lot of business in the industry and believes it is the “right time” for her to start working on her second directorial project.

Kangana on 9 April wrapped up the shoot of Panga in New Delhi and will now head to Kolkata for the next leg. Apart from Panga, she also has Mental Hai Kya and Jayalalithaa biopic. She has also revealed that she will helm a film based on her life, written by Baahubali scriptwriter KV Vijayendra Prasad.