Category Archives: Movies Review

For Janhvi Kapoor, Pankaj Tripathi and Sharan Sharma, why the making of Gunjan Saxena felt personal

In a conversation with Firstpost on Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl, director Sharan Sharma, Janhvi Kapoor and Pankaj Tripathi open up about trials of telling a true story, the debate surrounding the trailer, and more

Janhvi Kapoor’s sophomore feature film Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl, directed by debutant Sharan Sharma, has been faced with the uphill task of staving off online debate on nepotism. Premiering on Netflix on 12 August, the film stars Pankaj Tripathi, Vineet Kumar Singh and Angad Bedi in supporting acts, and is based on the life of Flight Lieutenant Gunjan Saxena.

Among her several firsts, Saxena was the first woman to join the Indian Air Force as a pilot at the young age of 24, and served in the ’99 Kargil war. She was also the maiden female recipient of the Shaurya Vir Award, given to her for displaying courage and grit during the Kargil conflict.

In a Zoom conversation with Firstpost, Sharan Sharma, Janhvi Kapoor and Pankaj Tripathi open up about the wonders of inhabiting Gunjan Saxena’s world, the debate over the trailer, and why the journey felt so deeply personal.

I actually stumbled upon the story of Gunjan Saxena. I feel very lucky and blessed that even though what we show of her story ended in the year ’99, nobody else had picked it up in all these years — this was a blessing for me. When I stumbled upon an article on Gunjan ma’am, I did not find too much on her. All it said was that she was a 24-year-old girl who had served in the Kargil war as a rescue pilot, and her brother was also in the army and a part of the Kargil war, and that her father was in the army as well. At the moment that I saw the article, I took it to my mother and asked her what she thinks of it, and she said it is interesting. There was something about it which appealed to me. I took it to Karan (Johar) with the intention that somebody should tell the story; I was a little skeptical about telling it myself, because as somebody raised in Mumbai, I really wasn’t familiar with Gunjan ma’am’s world. He asked me to research it and see where it goes. He really backed me up from an early stage.

When I went to meet Gunjan ma’am, I was not sure about what to expect. But when I did meet her, I was so pleasantly surprised and thrilled to understand her personality, her outlook towards life, her family dynamics, even her brother-sister dynamics. A few things also hit me at a very personal level. While I went there as an outsider trying to understand her world, as a human being and in terms of her thoughts, they really felt very personal to me — especially how she was a kid with this dream of wanting to fly. I was a kid who dreamt of becoming Sachin Tendulkar, but that did not happen. So, I know that feeling.

She and her brother have this very interesting dynamic, and I too have a younger sister. So their equation really struck me. I have always heard that a filmmaker should tell a story that is close to them, but I think it’s also important for a filmmaker to tell a story that they want to know about, and Gunjan Saxena’s world was one that I wanted to really dig deep into. I am very lucky that nobody else picked up this story in these 17-18 years, and I had the good fortune of telling it.

What were the biggest challenges you faced in the process?

As a filmmaker, a film is a collection of challenges, no matter which one you’re making. But to answer your question more specifically, I would say that as an assistant director, the kind of films I have worked on did not give me the opportunity to understand the technicalities of action sequences. But again, I was very lucky that I had with me two big pillars of support: one is my director of photography Manush Nandan, who is a terrific human being besides being terrific at his job, and also an outstanding aerial coordinator, Marc Wolff. If you look up his page on IMDb, it might take you two or three days to go through it entirely, because he has done so many films, like Star Wars, Mission Impossible, Black Hawk Down, etc. So he really came in with his expertise, helped me, and navigated the entire journey for us.

Janhvi, this is is your second feature film since Dhadak, which was released two years ago, with Ghost Stories in between. In these two years, how do you think your craft has changed, or perhaps improved?

No, I don’t think that’s something for me to say. I think you should ask that question to people who’ve seen the film. I don’t know, I don’t think I can say anything for myself. Hopefully, I’ve gotten more confident, and I’ve gotten more comfortable in front of the camera, and I hope there’s been improvement (laughs).

Is there any training that you’ve undertaken in these two years, or any tricks of the trade that you may have picked up that you can talk about?

I think there is a lot that I have tried to pick up. I know it’s been a two years’ gap, but during this time I have shot for two full feature films, one short film and one half of Dostana, which is my third feature film. So, I’ve been working non-stop for these two years. The best way to learn when it comes to acting is on the job, because no matter how much you do or prepare (for a part), the kind of experience you get when you are actually in front of the camera…and then you watch, and you do, you review and then you learn, and you do it again — I think that’s the best kind of learning. Of course, when you’re in the company of great actors like Pankaj Tripathi, you learn a lot from them.

And I’ve just been trying to learn from my surroundings. I’ve had the opportunity to travel to many interesting places within my country that I’d never heard of, let alone even seen. So one thing that I think I have tried to actively do is get to know my people more. Because at the end of the day, as actors we are playing people of our country, so you need to know where they come from, where they are, where they want to go, their likes, their ambitions, their dislikes, their livelihoods. I’ve led a relatively protected life, so I think that it’s been a dream…no, not a dream of mine, but an aspiration of mine to always have the freedom to explore that, and I think through my film shoots I’ve been able to do that a lot more in these past two years.

Pankaj, the father-daughter relationship on-screen between you and Janhvi has a very simple, old-world charm to it, and your characters are, of course, based on real people. What kind of preparation or homework do you do for a role based on a real person?

I did not do any homework beyond the normal amount for this role. Whatever written material and research was there, along with Anup Saxena’s voice notes that Sharan had brought with him to me, were enough for me. I realised that I, coincidentally, belong to the same background as him, — whether it’s economically or socially — I come from that part of the country itself. So I think I understand his concerns, his dreams and his needs. But yes, since he was a real person and not a work of fiction, the voice notes and the various elements incorporated into the script made it easy for me to play the role. It did not feel all that tough for me.

When you work on a film that is biographical in nature, what are the toughest elements to navigate?

Janhvi Kapoor: I don’t know if there are any challenges, but there’s a lot of clarity, because you have a real-life example in front of you. However, there is a sense of duty and responsibility, especially because of the world that Gunjan Saxena comes from, and because of everything she has done. So besides a sense of duty, there is also a moral and ethical responsibility that I think all of us felt very greatly.

Sharan Sharma: I think from my experience of this film, the biggest challenge is to earn the trust of the person on whom the film is being made. And luckily for us, I think we crossed that bridge very early in the process. When Gunjan ma’am came on-board, there was great syncing from a very early stage. And after that, I did not see it as a challenge; I only saw it as something positive, because there is so much in front of you to play with. There were times when certain things came into the film that had they not happened in real life, I don’t think me and my writers would even have thought of them.

Also, I think the way I would put it is a true story gives you so much to play with that it can only be positive. I don’t see any challenges coming in the way; I believe it only enhances creativity, and enhances the journey of being able to tell a story.

Pankaj Tripathi: In real stories, especially in ones like Gunjan Saxena, I feel a certain amount of delicacy, sincerity and compassion need to be present, and Sharan brings all of that to the table. You see, a lot of times we end up approaching such stories in a very ‘filmy’ manner, and a film like this demanded not being filmy. It is not one of those stories. Sharan has that kind of sincerity and sensitivity in abundance, which is why he could make this film.

Sharan, when you write a film based on true events, how do you decide how much of it will be factual, and how much of it is going to be fictionalised or dramatised for celluloid?

That is one of the biggest challenges in the writing phase, because sometimes you find so much that’s good about the real story. One of the writers, Nikhil (Mehrotra), had actually told me that the biggest difficulty in a film of this nature is deciding what should not go into it, and he is somebody who has worked on a film like Dangal before this. He has gone through that journey. So that is very critical in a film based on a true story, where there are so many amazing incidents, and you need to decide what should not go in. We had a very important chat with Karan Johar in the beginning, where he said that if people like a film, it should not be because of the fact that it is a true story. Even if people don’t know it’s a true story, the film and the drama themselves should hold, and the narrative itself should work. So, I believe while you can take from real life, the film itself should work as a film, and not just because it is a true story. That is a discipline that we tried to take into our writing phase.

Gulabo Sitabo Movie Review: Amitabh Bachchan beats Ayushmann Khurrana. The audience wins

Gulabo Sitabo Movie Review: Shoojit Sircar’s Gulabo Sitabo, starring Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana, dropped on Amazon Prime Video on June 12.

Movie Name: Gulabo Sitabo
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Ayushmann Khurrana
Director: Shoojit Sircar

Fatima Mahal is no Taj Mahal. It most certainly was built with love, but right now it serves but one purpose – to serve. A hundred years give or take, Fatima Mahal houses Mirza (Amitabh Bachchan) and his Begum, and a bunch of tenants unofficially led by Baankey (Ayushmann Khurrana). Mirza and Baankey’s nokjhok, as the makers told us repeatedly, holds the whole plot together. Yet, it is not the central point of Shoojit Sircar’s Gulabo Sitabo – Fatima Mahal is.

Mirza wants to throw Baankey out. Baankey won’t leave. Mirza decides to sell the haveli instead, if that helps. He has to cross out those extended family members who could lay claim on the property before he sells it. In addition, Fatima Mahal’s 100-year-old legacy has by now attracted the archaeological department. Like little school children, all these atrangi characters flutter around Fatima Mahal, and she simply watches. A brick falls here, a railing drops there, she continues to stand witness to it all.

Greed is an excellent driver. Mirza’s greed, very evident, drove him to marry a woman 17 years older to him. “Aapne unme kya dekha?” and Mirza quips, “Haveli dekhi.” He is 78 now, old, frail, stooping under the weight of his once tall stature, yet his greed doesn’t leave him. He survives on pennies he gets to pick from Begum’s baksa, sells chandeliers for pocket money, Begum squarely tells him, “Apni shakal ab kafi dinon tak mat dikhana,” and he almost happily obliges.

Baankey, on the other hand, runs a chakki (small-scale wheat mill) feeding the mouths of his three growing sisters and a widowed mother. He can ride a bike and buy a microwave, but ghar ka bhada will remain Rs 30 a month. Rent-control areas in any old part of this country, no matter the city – Lucknow or Mumbai or Kolkata – will have such bickering landlord-tenant jodis. In that, Shoojit has yet again picked a subject so simple and everyday, that you would have thought they couldn’t have been made into a full-fledged feature film. Shoojit surprises you yet again. But then, not really.
Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana coming together for the first time was a big deal. But Bachchan’s Mirza trumps Ayushmann’s Baankey. Bachchan’s prosthetic make-up, especially the nose, sticks out like a sore thumb in parts, but the maverick more than makes up for it with his acting and more importantly, his body language. Ayushmann’s Baankey, unfortunately, oscillates between the Punjabi munda that he is and the Lucknavi that he is supposed to be. And then there is the Lucknavi twang. There’s so much diction can do.

Bachchan’s perfect Urdu – from the epiglottis and all – leaves Baankey miles behind him. Baankey, in fact, has a lisp, and we’re not sure if it was a character requirement or was it put to shroud the actor’s shortcoming, especially stark in contrast to Bachchan. Nonetheless, Ayushmann the actor is so resilient that he doesn’t let that bog his performance down.

Unlike Fatima Mahal’s walls, literally crumbling, failing to support its enormous legacy, the supporting cast of Gulabo Sitabo outdo the lead cast. Brijendra Kala as the astute lawyer Christopher Clarke, a property-dispute specialist Mirza seeks the help of, jo khane mein sirf lunch aur dinner letein hai because that’s how ‘English’ he is, is excellent. Vijay Raaz’s Gyanesh Shukla, an archaeology department official adamant to declare Fatima Mahal a heritage site, who suffers from arthritis and pyorrhea, and the occasional character slip, goes beyond what the script might have said. There are legit moments when you know the script could not have written this expression or that hand gesture down; and Raaz adds a dash of masala to this steaming pot of biryani.

Srishti Shrivastava doesn’t need to be introduced as the girl you saw in Gully Boy; she stands on firm ground, at least for us internet-content consumers. She brings her TVF-style madness into Guddo, Baankey’s graduate sister, and Shoojit’s rumbling Fatima Mahal. But Farukh Jaffer as Mirza’s Begum, 95 in the film right now, is par excellence.

Juhi Chaturvedi, credited for story and dialogues, truly deserves credit. Shantanu Moitra’s music adds a certain melancholy that compliments Fatima Mahal’s texture. You will find yourself humming Madari Ka Bandar in the kitchen while you sip that cup of morning tea. Yet we missed Swanand Kirkire’s throaty voice. Tochi Raina and Anuj Garg do a good job, but you can’t but click your tongue. Tch!

Gulabo Sitabo was supposed to have a theatre release. But owing to the coronavirus crisis, went for an OTT premiere instead. It works in Shoojit’s favour that this film renders itself beautifully to small-screen viewing.

Paresh Rawal’s son Aditya on Anurag Kashyap’s Bamfaad: Glad to be part of the thrilling film

Veteran actor Paresh Rawal’s son Aditya is set to make his acting debut with ZEE5 original film Bamfaad. The movie, directed by debutant filmmaker Ranjan Chandel, will also mark the digital debut of Arjun Reddy star Shalini Pandey.

According to the official logline, the Hindi film, based in Allahabad, is set in a romantic volatile backdrop which will bring out an unusual yet raw and edgy love story on the screen.

Aditya, who is playing the male lead Nasir Jamal, said he is happy that he got the chance to enter the film industry with such a thrilling story.

“I am glad that I got the chance to be a part of such a thrilling film. Though the driving force of the film is the love story, it has many more layers to it. I want to make my own mark as an actor in the industry, and it feels great to begin my journey by playing Nasir Jamal, a character that fascinated me ever since I read the script,” the newcomer said in a statement.

I hope that people watch the film in huge numbers on Zee5, and I am eager to hear their feedback,” he added.

Shalini described her character Neelam as bold and strong but said it was her vulnerability that resonated with her strongly.

“As an artist, I look forward to projects that challenge me and this project really pushed me and I learned a lot while playing this part. Bamfaad has a phenomenal storyline and it is getting the perfect exposure with a massive video streaming platform like ZEE5,” she said.

Bamfaad is presented by Anurag Kashyap, who shared the film’s poster on his Instagram account.

“Jahaan dil lagaana nahin asaan wahan aashiqi hogi bamfaad! Introducing Aditya Rawal as Nasir Jamal and Shalini Pandey as Neelam, directed by Ranjan Chandel. Premieres 10th April on @zee5premium#ZEE5Original (sic),” Anurag wrote in the caption.

Tiger Shroff’s Baaghi 3 becomes highest opener of this year; here are records the action drama missed breaking

Tiger Shroff’s star power has driven Baaghi 3 to a promising start at the box office, despite odds stacked up against its business. Moreover, it has also been panned by critics.

The film made Rs 17.50 crore at the ticketing counters, becoming the biggest opener of 2020 yet. It has bested Ajay Devgn and Saif Ali Khan-starrer blockbuster Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior. Imtiaz Ali’s rejigged Love Aaj Kal has nabbed the position of the third-highest opening film with Rs 12.40 crore, followed by Street Dancer 3D (Rs 10.26 crore) and Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan (Rs 9.55 crore).

Tiger Shroff’s third-highest opening movie Baaghi 3 is now Shroff’s third-highest opening film ever, behind Yash Raj Films’ War (Rs 53.35 crore) and the franchise predecessor Baaghi 2 (Rs 25.10 crore). Since War also starred another mainstream actor, Hrithik Roshan, Baaghi 3 is Shroff’s second-highest solo film. The collections of his other films are Student of The Year 2 (Rs 12.06 crore), A Flying Jatt (Rs 7.10 crore), Munna Michael (Rs 6.65 crore), and Heropanti (Rs 6.63 crore). Here are the figures

The Ahmed Khan-directorial, starring Shraddha Kapoor as the female lead, also became the second-highest opener in the franchise, followed by Baaghi 2 (Rs 25.10 crore).

Potential roadblocks in the box office results

Trade analysts state the high-octane action drama fared well regardless of being released during the board examination month, the coronavirus scare, and the pre-Holi lull period. They added the film recorded higher footfalls at the single screens. However, the film was a decent performer in the multiplexes as well.

The revenge drama also features Riteish Deshmukh, Jackie Shroff, Vijay Varma, Jaideep Ahlawat, and Ankita Lokhande in pivotal roles.

Thappad box office collection: Taapsee Pannu starrer collects Rs 3 crores on first day

The Taapsee Pannu-starrer Thappad, directed by Anubhav Sinha, saw a low-key opening on Friday, its first day of release, in the domestic market despite excellent reviews and positive word of mouth. The film collected 3.07 crores on Day 1.

The makers of Thappad had systematically worked on creating a buzz about the socially relevant and well-crafted film over the past week or so, by screening it for select audiences in Delhi and Mumbai.

The viewers have loved how such a critical topic has gotten light and has been talked about in such a tenacious way. Weekend collections expected to be big due to strong word of mouth and positive media reviews.

Thappad marks the hattrick of hits given by Anubhav Sinha after Mulk and Article 15. The movie also marks the reunion of Taapsee Pannu and Anubahv after Mulk. The on-screen duo has surely created the right noise with such a gut-wrenching storyline.

Thappad is directed by Anubhav Sinha and stars Taapsee Pannu in the lead role. The movie hit the screens on 28th February 2020.

Thappad box office collection: Anubhav Sinha, Taapsee Pannu’s film makes Rs 3.07 cr on opening day

Anubhav Sinha’s social drama Thappad had a slow start at the box office on Friday but the business gained momentum in the latter part of the day. The film has raked in Rs 3.07 crore on its opening day.

According to trade analysts, the Taapsee Pannu-starrer witnessed a healthy footfall in the metros, especially in Delhi. The movie is expected to multiply its business at least two-fold during the opening weekend.

In an earlier interview with Firstpost, Taapsee Pannu had spoken about what it means for her to be a star:

“By definition, a ‘star’ means someone who can ensure a certain consistent opening at the box office. When I meet the media, they make me feel like a star. But it’s their job to observe cinema. My first day figures grounds me, and prove that in the mind of an audience member, I’m still not a star. These people have a lot of work to do. The day they take time out for my film, I think that is the day I’ll call myself a star. I’m waiting desperately for that day.”

Thappad seems to investigate the nitty-gritties of systemic oppression in even a “seemingly normal” marriage. Pannu essays the role of an educated, upper-middle-class woman who is forced to evaluate her relationship after being slapped by her husband, played by Pavail Gulati. Thappad chronicles her struggle as she files for a divorce petition, and ventures on in her pursuit of justice.

The film also stars Ratna Pathak Shah, Manav Kaul, Dia Mirza, Geetika Vidya Ohlyan, Kumud Mishra, Tanvi Azmi, and Ram Kapoor in pivotal roles.

 

 

Bhoot — Part One: The Haunted Ship’s box office collection stands at Rs 5.10 cr on opening day

Vicky Kaushal-starrer Bhoot — Part One: The Haunted Ship had a promising opening day at the box office. The film, which released alongside Ayushmann Khurrana and Jitendra Kumar’s Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan on 21 February, raked in Rs 5.10 crore.

Trade analysts say Bhoot’s performance benefited from the Mahashivratri holiday. However, they add that the film needs to display an increase in earnings during its weekend run, to accumulate a healthy total.

Bhoot is Vicky Kaushal’s third-highest opening film (excluding Sanju, where he played a supporting part), after Uri: The Surgical Strike (2019) and Raazi (2018).

The film is directed by Bhanu Pratap Singh and also stars Bhumi Pednekar and Ashutosh Rana in key roles. It has received mixed reviews from critics.

Bhoot – Part One: The Haunted Ship, is produced by Karan Johar, Hiroo Johar, Shashank Khaitan and Apoorva Mehta. Previously, Khaitan had said that their main intention with this film was to develop it into a series (which might also include horror comedies).

The production house also approached Ram Gopal Varma to buy the rights of the title ‘Bhoot'; he made the 2003 horror film of the same name starring Urmila Matondkar. Johar thanked Varma in a statement, mentioning that with Bhoot – Part One: The Haunted Ship, the makers at Dharma would “aspire to make sure the title is in the right hands of horror.

Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan movie review: Ayushmann Khurrana-starrer crosses a new frontier by Bollywood

From the pre-2000 decades when LGBT+ persons were almost always (almost, but not always) written purely as objects of either derision or comedy by Bollywood scriptwriters, to this week’s Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan (SMZS); from an earlier era when comparatively sensitive Hindi filmmakers packed their works with subliminal messaging about same-sex love, to the post-2000 era’s intermittent open declarations; from the days when the homosexual relationships in My Brother Nikhil (2005) and I Am (2011) were assumed to be of niche interest by producers, distributors and exhibitors, to the present day when glamorous mainstream stars have been cast as same-sex lovers in films bearing all the trappings of mainstream commercial Bollywood such as Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (2019) and SMZS, it has been a long long time coming.

Bollywood in 2020 is far from being a jannat, orthodox masses still seem to need comedy as a package for a sensitive reality, and at a couple of places, Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan (Be Extra Wary of Marriage) does make apologetic noises to traditionalists. Still, from a time when audiences were conditioned to assume that songs like ‘Yeh dosti hum nahin todenge’ (We will not break this friendship) were about platonic male buddies, to today when SMZS is questioning those assumptions, Bollywood has come a long way, baby.

Ayushmann Khurrana stars in writer-director Hitesh Kewalya’s Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan as Kartik, a young man living in Delhi and in a committed relationship with Aman (Jitendra Kumar, listed for some reason as Jeetu in the closing credits here). The two are not out to their families. When they travel to Aman’s hometown, Allahabad, for a wedding, relatives go berserk on accidentally discovering that they are a couple in love. SMZS is devoted to how Kartik and Aman come to terms with this rejection and how the family comes to terms with their truth.

Kewalya’s film is an intelligently handled affair. It is hilarious, but it never mocks the two gay men at the centre of the story. Its laughter is reserved entirely for the prejudice they encounter and the straitjacketed existence of those around them who are determined to preserve their notion of “normal”, even if that “normal” has sucked the joy out of their own lives. SMZS’s sense of humour does occasionally slip up for other reasons (example: that really flat joke about Neil Nitin Mukesh), but at no point does its comedy turn homophobic.

With a word here and a touch there, through long conversations and fleeting references, Kewalya invites us into his questioning mind and shows a deeper understanding of human relations, gender, Hindu mythology and popular culture than most mainstream Hindi filmmakers. In 2014, when I was working on a feature about the history of LGBT+ portrayals in Bollywood, Ruth Vanita, co-editor with Salim Kidwai of the book Same-Sex Love In India, had told me that when she showed Hindi films featuring the old-style intense yaari-dosti between male leads to her students at the University of Montana, “all of them commented on the fact that the men are singing romantic songs to each other like ‘Diye jalte hai’ (from Namak Haram) and the songs from Dosti. If you played those songs without knowing that a man is singing to a man, it sounds like a man is singing to a woman…” (For more on that, click here.)

Like Vanita, Kewalya repeatedly asks us to step outside ourselves and consider the possibility of messaging, including coded messaging, featured in art works and mythological motifs we have long loved but seen with different eyes in the past.

Aman’s relatives, played by the phenomenal Neena Gupta, Gajraj Rao, Sunita Rajwar, Manu Rishi Chadha and Maanvi Gagroo, perfectly capture various shades of bias and acceptance to be found in families that are weighed down by social conditioning and ignorance, not hate.

In the midst of this carefully chosen cast, Bhumi Pednekar appears incongruous, not for any fault of hers but because of what her brief appearance in the narrative signifies. The lovely Ms Pednekar was the heroine of the 2017 Bollywood hit Shubh Mangal Saavdhan (with dialogues and screenplay by Kewalya) in which she had a solid role alongside Khurrana. Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan has no plot connection to the previous film, the title merely cashes in on that one’s recall value. It is telling then that the producers felt comfortable revisiting the name while dispensing with the leading lady, instead of establishing a new brand. As it happens, this is customary in the world of Bollywood franchises and sequels. Obviously Pednekar’s cameo here is a bow to the success of Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, but her role is written almost like a spare tyre lying unused, it is embarrassingly insignificant (a cameo need not be) and forgettable, and it is an unfortunate reminder of the continuing dispensability of women stars in this male-star-obsessed industry.

Repeat: Bollywood is far from being a jannat of progressiveness. It is up to viewers to decide whether to see the glass as half full or half empty. There is a third option: we could celebrate forward movement and yet draw attention to missteps and steps yet to be taken.

SMZS falters during a scene in which Aman’s mother laments her husband’s unwillingness to fight for her son, but simultaneously criticises her son for — so she says — expecting his family to evolve overnight. This monologue is designed as an expression of empathy, so it has to be placed on the record that marginalised social groups do not owe it to dominant groups to break them in gently. Individuals may CHOOSE to do so for strategic reasons or out of love and affection, but no one has a right to demand it.

Whether this scene is a mark of the writer’s own sub-conscious conservatism or a safety net spread out with commercial compulsions in mind is hard to tell. It is troubling though, as is the odd emphasis on how homosexual relations ought to be private during a TV news announcement about the Supreme Court’s ruling on Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that earlier criminalised same-sex relations. This moment in the film would perhaps pacify conservatives who seem to have this bizarre expectation that anyone who is not heterosexual wants nothing more than to have sex in public. Perhaps that is why it is there.

Hopefully these aberrations will find mention among the many conversations SMZS will spark off. That it will spark off conversations is a given. This is, after all, no ordinary film raising ordinary questions, as is evident early on when two characters dwell on how a father’s sole contribution to creating a child is his sperm. One of them adds that a child spends an entire lifetime repaying the debt of that single sperm. So you see, SMZS’s courage lies not just in its condemnation of homophobia, but also in its questioning of the very foundation of the Indian patriarchal family structure which rests on the belief that children owe parents a debt of gratitude for having made them us.

Love Aaj Kal box office collection: Sara Ali Khan, Kartik Aaryan’s romantic drama makes Rs 20.41 cr in two days

Kartik Aaryan and Sara Ali Khan’s Love Aaj Kal has now made Rs 20.41 crore at the domestic box office. The romantic drama, a Valentine’s Day release, opened with a decent Rs 12.40 crore, but witnessed a fall on Day 2 (Rs 8.01 crore).

Trade analysts note that the drop was witnessed in multiplexes and metropolitans, which is the film’s target audience. Love Aaj Kal has also performed dismally in tier-2 cities and other regions.

Business Today writes that 2009’s Love Aaj Kal, which starred Khan’s father Saif in the lead alongside Deepika Padukone had opened to Rs 8.02 crore. The film went on to make a total of Rs 66.56 crore. The Imitiaz Ali directorial is currently competing with Aditya Roy Kapur-Disha Patani-starrer Malang.

Love Aaj Kal has also become Aaryan’s highest opener now, followed by the comedies from last year, Pati Patni Aur Woh (Rs 9.10 crore) and Luka Chuppi (Rs 8.01 crore).

Much like the 2009 movie of the same name, this film also follows two parallel narratives “separated by decades” but find their common ground in romance. The trailer follows Aaryan as a young school boy and his crush played by newcomer Arushi Sharma. The modern day love story focuses on Khan’s Zoe and Aaryan’s Veer, who have a tumultuous yet passionate relationship. The film also stars Imtiaz’s Highway actor Randeep Hooda.

Malang box office collection: Aditya Roy Kapur, Disha Patani’s thriller makes Rs 47.67 cr by second weekend

Mohit Suri’s suspense thriller Malang is slowly and steadily inching towards the Rs 50 crore milestone. Starring Aditya Roy Kapur, Disha Patani, Anil Kapoor and Kunal Kemmu in pivotal roles, the film has earned Rs 47.67 crore so far.

In its second week of theatrical release, trade analysts mention that Malang has made Rs 2.25 crore on Friday, Rs 2.52 crore on Saturday, with a added boast of Rs 3.25 crore on Sunday. Trade experts also claim that the film may cross Rs. 50 crore mark during the week and might slow down after the new releases of Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan and Bhoot: The Haunted Ship this Friday.

However, trade analysts also note that the underwhelming performance of Kartik Aaryan, Sara Ali Khan’s fresh release Love Aaj Kal have benefitted Malang’s box office run.

Patani in an interview to Firstpost opened up on her prep for the film and said, “Aditya (Roy Kapur, her co-star) and I shot underwater for 12 hours, from 6 pm to 6 am, in the pitch dark. We also had to hold our breath at times. Swimming in a long dress was difficult, all that looks good in shots. The activities were very different and challenging because we had to learn everything in just a day or two, whereas, normally people take years of experience to learn underwater sports. But overall it was a lot of fun for me performing all those stunts because I really like sports.”

Malang has become Kapur’s highest-grossing film that features the actor in a solo lead over the opening weekend while Aashiqui 2 comes a close second with a collection of Rs 20.50 crore.