Posts tagged casting
Lets one get one thing straight-We Are Family isn’t a ‘copy’ of or ‘lifted’ from Stepmom as is believed by some. It’s an ‘official adaptation’ of the Hollywood flick and due credit is given to its writers as well. With a brilliant plot in one hand and powerhouse actors on the other, the makers could have easily come up with a classic. However, We Are Family suffers from the same problem that some recent films helmed by debutant directors faced-an execution which just isn’t upto the mark. Inspite of it, the film has its moments and also the wonderful performance make it worth watching!
The story of the movie: Although Maya (Kajol) and Aman (Arjun Rampal) are divorced, they are still on good terms. They have 3 children – Aliya (Aanchal Munjhal), Ankush (Nominath Ginsburg) and Anjali (Diya Sonecha) who live with Maya. She’s the perfect mother and wonderfully takes care of them and adheres to their needs. Aman, too, catches up with them regularly. However, he has moved on and has a girlfriend Shreya (Kareena Kapoor). On Anjali’s birthday, he introduces Shreya to Maya and their children who develop an immediate dislike for her. Aliya is angry and feels that Shreya will ‘rob’ her daddy from them and they both will marry. Whenever Shreya tries to be friendly with the kids and strike a chord, something unexpected happens which leads to the kids hating her more! However, one day Maya discovers a very bitter truth and realizes that Shreya needs to be made a part of their family. Will that be possible? Will the kids able to love Shreya as they love Maya? Can 2 mothers make a home?
Let’s talk about the plusses first. The casting is just perfect! Every actor does total justice to his/her role. Storyline is unusual but works well. There were doubts that such kind of plot will not be accepted by Indian audiences. Not true! A story like this one is made for Indian audiences even though it’s little unorthodox. Moreover, some scenes are very well treated and instantly touch the hearts. Especially the climax which takes the film to a high!
However, on the flipside, as mentioned above, the direction isn’t topnotch. The plot needed to be more sensitively treated which unfortunately doesn’t happen. The director should have given more time to the characters to develop, mature and bond with each other even if that would have increased the duration of the film (which was anyways just 2 hours). Also, some scenes just don’t make any sense. For instance, Kajol’s outburst on Kareena when she had prepared peanut cookies was too exaggerated. It seemed like an unnecessary attempt by the director to add some drama and conflict in the film to spice up the proceedings! Wish if the flaws were taken care of, what a film We Are Family would have been!
The two actresses-Kajol and Kareena Kapoor-rock the show! Kajol was terrific to say the least! She gets better in the later portions of the film wherein she has a pale look. One of the reasons why you’ll get teary-eyed in the end is because of Kajol and her brilliant performance! Kareena Kapoor also manages to hold a strong position throughout the film. I was skeptical whether she’ll be able to play a convincing ‘stepmom’ considering she has never done even remotely similar. But surprisingly, she comes out with flying colours and was in fact perfect for this role! Another brilliant performance from a terrific actress!
Arjun Rampal also does a great job but somehow his performance doesn’t satisfy. Maybe because he had delivered the best work of his career in his last film (Raajneeti) that is still lingering in our minds. Or maybe because the scene here is dominated by the two ladies and in many scenes he’s just relegated to the background! Overall a fine attempt though! As for the kids, the youngest one, Diya Sonecha stands out because of her cuteness. Aanchal Munjhal shines in several scenes while Nominath Ginsburg don’t get much scope.
Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s music was strictly okay and this is easily their weakest attempt at composing. 2 songs which stand out are-Dil Khol Ke Let’s Rock and Reham O Karam. Raju Singh’s background made an impact in certain scenes. Cinematographer Mohanan captures the locales of Australia wonderfully. Costumes, especially those of Kareena Kapoor (Manish Malhotra) were too good and Kareena as usual was looking stunning! Niranjan Iyengar’s dialogues made a mark at several points. Story (by Gigi Levangie who wrote Stepmom) was no doubt brilliant. The adapated screenplay (Venita Coelho) could have been better and fails to match up to the script of the original.
Finally, Siddharth P Malhotra’s direction wasn’t up to the mark. He has handled several scenes with utmost sensitivity but overall he was just okay. If Karan Johar had helmed this film, We Are Family would have been as brilliant and exciting as say Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham or Kal Ho Naa Ho! Hope Siddharth comes up better prepared when he directs his next!
Some of the best scenes:
1. The first scene
2. Anjali’s birthday party
3. Shreya takes care of the kids for a day
4. Maya stumbles upon the bitter truth
5. The intermission point
6. Maya realizes that Shreya can be a nice stepmom
7. Maya hospitalized
8. Maya gifts each child one by one (watch out for Kajol here!)
9. The climax
On the whole, a film like We Are Family needed an expert direction which Siddharth P Malhotra fails to do. And that’s what goes against the film which is otherwise well shot, well written and well performed. Notwithstanding the flaws, it is still worth watching for Kajol, Kareena and its theme!
My rating-*** out of 5!
When a weaker female role in Anurag Basu’s biopic Silence had no takers, Priyanka Chopra opted for it, and sacrificed her coveted role for it
After the Kites debacle, a new turn of events has ruined Anurag Basu’s year. His Kishore Kumar biopic has been put on hold. Apparently, the film needs extensive research, and is no longer financially feasible.
According to a director-friend of Ranbir Kapoor (who was supposed to play Kishore), “Ranbir has stopped talking about the Kishore Kumar biopic. It’s no longer a lucrative project anymore.”
When Anurag decided to focus on his prestigious project Silence, starring Ranbir Kapoor as a deaf and mute hero, he cast Priyanka Chopra to play the role of a mentally challenged girl. Not in his wildest dreams had Anurag expected that this casting will be the root of his problems.
|Priyanka Chopra||Ranbir Kapoor|
Asin was supposed to play the other female part in the film. When Asin turned that down, Katrina stepped in. But both opted out later. Why? Because by then, both Asin and Katrina had discovered that the part Priyanka had been chosen for was actually a far stronger role.
As a result, this other female part had no takers and this had put the film on hold for six months.
Until Priyanka stepped in. Apparently, Priyanka, who thinks the project is too precious to be endangered, has now volunteered to play the vacant female part (which is believed to be the weaker part), so the more powerful female part would be easier to cast.
At one time Kajol had similarly volunteered to play the other female lead in Karan Johar’s Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, when every girl in tinsel town had turned down the role Rani Mukerji played.
Says a reliable source, “Silence is too powerful a project to be stalled. Priyanka knows this and is only too happy to do whatever is best for the project. Even if it means swapping roles.” When contacted Anurag Basu said, “It’s true we’ve been unable to cast the other part. We have time. We’ll sort it out.”
Wonder which part Anurag is referring to now?
By Taran Adarsh, July 6, 2010 – 08:21 IST
The suspense is over! Karan Johar has finally okayed the script of the new-age AGNEEPATH, the cult film that won Amitabh Bachchan a National Award for his brilliant performance as Vijay Dinanath Chavan. While Karan is yet to take a call on its casting, he has finalized the director of the film — Karan Malhotra — who was the associate director in MY NAME IS KHAN.
Karan Johar confirms the news, “Yes, Dharma has green-lit the remake of AGNEEPATH. But it’s not a scene to scene remake of the original that was produced by my father [Yash Johar]. It’s an adaptation and restructured version of that film, which has been penned by Karan Malhotra along with two more writers.”
There’s talk that Karan has already approached Hrithik Roshan and Kareena Kapoor for the principal roles, but he denies it. “We were waiting for the script to get completed. The next step would be to approach the actors. However, we haven’t approached anyone yet,” Karan sets the record straight.
Ekta Kapoor has chosen the actor to play the lead in the desi TV version of The Twilight Saga
Ekta Kapoor is busy sprucing the televised desi version of The Twilight Saga, a current favourite on American screens.
While the American series, based on the adventures of a group of teenage vampires, stars Robert Pattinson as Edward and Kristen Stewart as Bella, Ekta’s show would have Vivan Bhatena play the lead character Abhay. Abhay’s character is based on that of Edward’s.
Vivan seems a bit cagey when asked about this project.
|Vivan Bhatena||Robert Pattinson|
He says, “Yes, I have been approached for the show,” and when asked if he is keen on taking up the offer, he replies with a monosyllabic “Yes”. The actor, popular for his chiseled looks is quite a favourite amongst women and is known for his roles in Karthik Calling Karthik, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi and Chak De India (remember the fictional vice captain of the Indian cricket team?). His debut role was however as a child actor in Shekhar Kapur’s 1987 hit Mr India.
Ekta Kapoor’s show was expected to start their shooting schedules early in June, but the prolonged casting has caused a delay.
A source in Balaji Telefilms says, “We had been hunting for a face that would be apt for Abhay’s character; the guy has to look dapper and confident. We considered Kunal Verma of Tujh Sang Preet Lagai Sajna and Anuj Sachdeva of Sabki Laadli Bebo fame, but things didn’t fall into place with them. Vivan Bhatena fits the bill perfectly. He has the looks required to portray the character of Abhay. We are now waiting for the deal with him to be finalised.”
—Hill Road Media
Ritesh Sidhwani has a firm grip on the reins of one of Bollywood’s biggest production houses
MEENA IYER | TNN (BOMBAY TIMES; June 22, 2010)
Actor-director Farhan Akhtar, the face of Excel Entertainment, and producer-partner Ritesh Sidhwani, the force behind the production house, have an enviable slate on hand. The company, in a decade since that cultclassic Dil Chahta Hai, bankrolled Farhan’s Lakshya and Don, Zoya Akhtar’s Luck By Chance, Reema Kagti’s Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd, Abhishek Kapoor’s recent National Award winner Rock On, and Vijay Lalwani’s psychological thriller Karthik Calling Karthik. And currently has on the floor Game (Abhishek Bachchan), Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (Hrithik Roshan, Katrina Kaif, Farhan Akhtar and Abhay Deol) and Don-II (Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra).
Farhan, of course, is the creative strength, but Ritesh is the unsung hero who multi-tasks. Young (in his mid 30s), energetic and affable, Ritesh can be aptly described as the nerve centre of Excel. From being on board the focus groups for scripts readings, to music sittings, casting and actually green-lighting projects, Ritesh does most things effortlessly. With math being his strong point, this astute businessman makes sure that none of their films exceed limits. His logic is simple. “Never over-spend on a project and you will definitely take home some profits. Money must be intelligently spent.’’ Happy to delegate to his line producers, Ritesh says, “Once I put a film on the road, then my role is that of a silent observer.” But everyone knows that if they need some quick troubleshooting, Ritesh’s number’s on quick dial. For Farhan and Ritesh, films are a work of passion. They own the copyright of all their films and while they believe in curtailing budgets, they also don’t compromise on quality.
Ritesh, who admires the business acumen of Hollywood honchos like Jerry Bruckheimer, Warren Beatty and Quentin Tarantino, knows that the only way you can conduct a film business is by being totally hands-on. “It is an all-consuming passion, not a 9 to 5 business, and unless you have a crazy drive for it, you can’t make it work,’’ he says. He feels Excel has paved its own little success story in the decade gone by and worked with every big Bollywood superstar including Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan and Hrithik Roshan, simply because as a company, they steer clear of politics. Says Ritesh, “Box office apart, we know that films are about good stories and great narratives. Four months of rock solid preparation goes into every film of ours before the principal photography actually begins.”
Sanjay Gupta and Abbas Mustan clash over the rights to remake the same Spanish film in Hindi — and neither of them is ready to back down
Sanjay Gupta is ready to direct again after five years, but his choice of film is proving to be problematic. A Hindi remake of the Spanish film Ladron Que Roba A Ladron, it has been titled Jahan Teri Yeh Nazar Hai and he has bought the rights from its original producers, Lions Gate films.
However, Abbas Mustan is also making the same film, which will be produced by Shemaroo, titled Players. And thus, the fight for the rights begins.
Our source said, “Gupta was in the process of buying the rights when he learnt that Shemaroo is also bidding for the same film. He managed to bag the rights as the producers of the Spanish film had seen Kaante. However, Abbas Mustan had already finished the entire script and are in the process of casting.
|Abbas Mustan||Sanjay Gupta|
They named the film Players and managed to get the title. That’s when the producers learnt that Sanjay Gupta is also going ahead with the film. Ketan Maroo, the owner of Shemaroo, has also approached Gupta to part with the rights but Gupta is in no mood to comply.”
An unperturbed Sanjay Gupta said, “Yes, it has been brought to my notice that a lot of people have been toying with the idea of remaking this film. I don’t blame them. It makes for great commercial cinema. As things stand now, the final negotiations are in our favour.”
The rivals are in no mood to relent either. Shemaroo head honcho, Ketan Maroo, said, “We are negotiating. Our script is ready and Abbas Mustan are directing it. We have also spoken to the actors and we will make the announcement soon. It’s a film with three actors, one villain and a leading lady. We have titled it Players and we have been working on it for some time now.”
When asked about the problem of Sanjay Gupta owning the rights of the film, Maroo said, “We will get the rights from him if he has it.”
By Joginder Tuteja, February 8, 2010 – 12:35 IST
The cat is out of the bag. Though it was supposed to be a well guarded secret, it doesn’t remain anymore with the revelation of one of the principal actors in Ishqiya. Though all this while the film was smartly publicised as the story of Naseeruddin Shah, Vidya Balan and Arshad Warsi, the fact remains that amongst many other principal actors in the film, there is also an actor from Pakistan who has a substantial role to play in the film.
His name is Salman Shahid who enacts the role of the chief baddy in this Vishal Bhardwaj production. Another major revelation is that he was worked in only one Hindi film before, Kabul Express, and incidentally his co-star there was Arshad Warsi. Though one is tempted to believe that he (Arshad) may have played a role in the actor being roped in, Arshad denies any insinuation.
“No, no, I wasn’t involved in the casting decision at all”, says Arshad, “There was an audition held for each of the supporting actors in the film and Salman went through the same process as well. I am glad though that he made it to the cast eventually.”
He was pleasantly surprised though when he met Salman on the sets of Ishqiya. “I wasn’t aware about his casting and when I saw him on the sets, I exclaimed – ‘arrey, aap yahaan?’ It was nice to reconnect with him once again after Kabul Express. Apart from being a fantastic actor, he is also a very nice human being.”
One wonders why the man was left behind in the entire promotional campaign of Ishqiya which has been on for over six months now. While a lot has been heard and written about the three main actors in the film, presence of Salman has been completely kept under the wraps. Was it the prevailing tension between India and Pakistan that turned out to be a major reason behind this exclusion?
“Nothing like that”, says a source attached to the film’s production, “The film revolves around its three principal characters and publicising anything else would have been an unnecessary distraction. Yes, Salman is important to the film’s plot but it made sense to bring audience primarily on the basis of Naseer, Vidya and Arshad.”
In Kabir Khan’s debut directorial effort Kabul Express (2006), Salman had enacted the role of a Pakistani who kidnaps the characters played by Arshad Warsi and John Abraham. He received quite some acclaim for his role and even though he had featured in another critically appreciated film Khamosh Paani: Silent Waters earlier, he didn’t bag too many roles in the Hindi film industry. One hopes that with Ishqiya turning out to be a good success, Salman will get back into the reckoning once again and bag some meaty roles for himself in films to come.
After the award-winning Jodhaa Akbar, Ashutosh Gowariker brings another chapter in history alive…
MEENA IYER Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; February 7, 2010)
Asin and Bipasha Basu certainly didn’t think Ashutosh Gowariker was making a piece of history. Both the girls had the same reason for refusing Ashu’s latest film — Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey.
Ashutosh, of course, is not deterred by small hiccups that have come in the way of one of his most ambitious projects.
His Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey is being shot on a very lavish scale on the virgin locales of Sawantwadi, two hours from Goa at a century-old spectacular palace. Art director Nitin Desai has changed the existing edifice beyond recognition, and it actually seems like a heritage structure from the 1930s.
The film, based on Manini Chatterjee’s Do and Die: The Chittagong Uprising, is an engrossing account of the years between 1930-34, when a revolutionary group headed by Surya Sen (Abhishek Bachchan) and 64 others led an armed uprising for Indian Independence.“It was around the time when Mahatma Gandhi asked everyone to steer clear of violence and yet, there was this one group who planned their coup to rattle the British. They were willing to give their lives for a cause, for their country,’’ says Ashu. The filmmaker is so inspired by the book that he has poured his every sensibility into turning the script to a quickpaced narrative, which touches on a chapter in history that needs to be told. “And it is a very contemporary take, something today’s evolved audience can relate to,” he says.
Ideally, Ashu’s film should have been shot in Bangladesh, but knowing how difficult that may be for a mammoth unit like his, the filmmaker did a recce, and found that the flora and fauna of Sawantwadi could match what he had in mind for KHJJS.
As for the casting, Ashutosh feels every film has its own destiny. “Hrithik Roshan was meant to do Swades. Shah Rukh Khan did it… and Swades is still one of the most-talked about films in SRK’s career. Abhishek and Deepika are best suited for this project. What more could I ask for? Ultimately things work out for the best.”
While no Indian film made it to the Oscar this year, a student film, Kavi, has made the bold leap to the Academy Award shortlist. Nominated in the Short Film (Live Action) Category, it’s a miracle that the film got made at all, let alone find itself in the top five at the Oscars.
A film that had no funding, a lead actor from the slums and an American director who coasted solely on his passion for the subject: there were too many problems at the outset. So director Greg Helvey, from the University of Southern California, did the smart thing. He got himself Indian producers.
Guneet Monga and Harish Amin, who have worked with the likes of Anurag Kashyap and Mira Nair, stepped in as they liked the script. Well, they had to; after all, it wasn’t exactly a moneymaking proposition. Quite the contrary, really, as Greg confessed that he had none.
Harish says, “Greg had visited India twice before and really likes the colour and the people. It is his diploma film and he didn’t know how to go about it. We asked him if he has a decent budget and he said, ‘I don’t have the money.’ He raised it independently as funding started pouring in on his website. He also held photo exhibitions to raise funds. We shot it and then it stopped there as he had to raise more money. So we waited sometime before we went back to the film.”
What money he cobbled together was only enough to shoot in a decrepit resort on the outskirts of Wai. It was going to be shut down, so there was no room service and the crew did everything from making the bed to cooking.
Finding a child actor wasn’t easy either. The protagonist Kavi (played by Sagar) is a young boy who wants to go to school and play cricket, but has to work as a labourer in a brick kiln. Guneet says, “We auditioned about 100 kids from the slums. Sagar had played a small role in a friend’s film and we had to look for him in the Oshiwara slums. Sagar was a rock star. Uma Dacunha helped with the casting and then Barry John held a week-long workshop for all the actors.”
The film picked up awards across indie festivals and was sent to student Oscars. It got the gold and was nominated for the Academy award with 14 other films. Being shortlisted in the top five was unexpected for Guneet and Harish. He says, “Our aim was to highlight the cause. Greg put together facts like 27 million people are in bonded labour across the world.”
The duo hopes to be present at the ceremony as well. Guneet says, “I really want to take Sagar as well, and we’re trying to figure out donations so that we can take him along.”
Ramesh Taurani shares his success ‘tips’
MEENA IYER Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; January 30, 2010)
Fifteen years, 24 films, the latest being 2009’s blockbuster Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, has put Tips Industries and its head honcho Ramesh Taurani on Bollywood’s power list. A man of few words, Ramesh has also been the enterprising mind behind a 100 music videos and his audio company has a catalogue of 500 of the best Hindi tracks.
His work in the field of media entertainment speaks volumes about him. Says Ramesh, “The secret of our success is simple. While green-lighting a project, we at Tips have always given priority to the story-line and the director. Our casting has always been in tandem with the script. While I admit that superstars lend charisma to a project, I’m also of the firm opinion that a good script never fails to deliver. Content is king.”
As a new age filmmaker he feels that the right amount of gloss and aggressive marketing are necessary ingredients to sell films to today’s evolved audience.
Ramesh’s next is the crackerjack comedy Toh Baat Pakki with Tabu and Sharman Joshi, scheduled for a mid February release. And work is also on for a slick sequel to Abbas-Mustan’s Race. Race-2 will have Anil Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan and two dishy girls, whose names he refuses to disclose as yet.
Ramesh also feels that in recent times, Bollywood has made films that have cut across genres; but at the same time, he is also concerned about keeping budgets within control.
“Money well spent is money well invested,” he laughs. “We believe in putting our money where our mouth is. Bollywood was flush with funds when the corporates gained control of the industry. We’re a leading entertainment corporation too. But I still feel that keeping a keen watch on budgets helps get better box office results. With each of the 20-odd films that I have done, this has been one of my prime concerns.” Another aspect he’s keen on controlling is piracy. “It’s been eating into our profits… and I personally feel that we need a dedicated police force to control piracy. If the two Ps — price and piracy are controlled, then it will definitely yield profits,” says Ramesh.