Posts tagged cricket
Hindi film director Vishal Bhardwaj and Anglo-Indian writer Ruskin Bond make for an unlikely working pair. But they think the world of each other
Anubha Sawhney Joshi | TNN (THE TIMES OF INDIA; August 22, 2010)
It’s not everyday that you hear Ruskin Bond sing. “But I was so bored and irritated with Mumbai’s traffic, I really considered breaking into song just to clear the cars,” says the 76-year-old Mussoorie resident only half in jest. The writer made the trudge from Colaba to Oshiwara to meet friend and fan Vishal Bhardwaj, who has based two of his films (The Blue Umbrella and Saat Khoon Maaf) on stories originally written by Bond. But more on that later.
“I’m a really bad singer but I quite enjoy singing. As a young man, I was fascinated by opera and would subject people to my baritone and tenor,” he says. But egg him on to sing and he surprises you with a song nowhere close to opera. Hawa mein udta jaaye, mera laal dupatta malmal ke.. err.. ka, Bond croons, sitting in the music room of Bhardwaj’s office. The music director nods approvingly.
Getting this duo together in Mumbai is a rarity. “But I’m happiest meeting Ruskinji in Mussorie,” says Bhardwaj, adding that he’s bought the house next to the author’s and they now share a wall. They actually share more than that. Both love the mountains. And enjoy a story well told, preferably over a couple of stiff drinks.
So who’s the better storyteller? “He is,” both say in unison. “There’s no debate there,’’ clarifies Bhardwaj, “I’m just a good re-teller.” He then confesses that he was introduced to Ruskin Bond’s writings by wife Rekha, the original Bond fan in the family.
Conversation flows effortlessly between these two. “I would go to Mussorie to play cricket; Ruskin Bond’s house was a landmark,” says Bhardwaj, who then indulgently lets Bond do much of the talking. “My opening dialogue in his film is a killer,” says the writer, referring to his cameo in Saat Khoon Maaf. “Am I allowed to talk about it?” The director gives his assent, and Bond launches into an elaborate explanation of the scene. “So Priyanka Chopra’s character is telling me how I make her feel calm and comfortable, and I say ‘It all comes down to love, sweetheart’,” Bond enunciates, thrilled at the dialogue and his delivery. As we applaud the first-time actor, he looks at Bhardwaj menacingly and says, “Don’t you dare cut that line out. If you do, I won’t write for you ever again.” Bhardwaj assures him that the line stays and a pleased Bond gleefully continues to tell us how he has two costume changes in the film. “And I look much better in those clothes than I do in my own,” he says, looking disapprovingly at his spotless white shirt.
He then gives Bhardwaj and his publicity manager some tips on marketing the upcoming film. While they both make mental notes, Bond wears the title of marketing guru quite lightly. “I’ve made a living by writing books in a country like India for 55 years—of course, I would know a thing or two about how to sell an idea,’’ he says nonchalantly. Does it bother him that the reading habit is slowly going down? “On the contrary, in fact. Despite no distractions like the internet, even in my time people hardly read. If anything, that minority of readers has swelled in the recent past. And I’m happy about that.’’
Bond writes in long hand. “When I was making Kaminey, the best time of the day would be after pack-up, when I would retire to my room and take out a chapter that he had written and lie back to read it,” says Bhardwaj. “I’m a lazy writer,” confesses Bond. “I would wait for him to read a chapter and say ‘Very good’ before I went on to write the next one.”
So does he still write every day? “I try to. I’m writing something else for him right now,” he offers. “We’re developing another project together,” says Bhardwaj. “But only if you don’t cut my opening line out from this one,”chuckles Bond.
Aamir Khan held a series of special shows for his latest production Peepli (live) and in the process demolished several industry camps
In one fell swoop, Aamir Khan, past master at maximising whatever hand he has been dealt with, has not only etched his new ‘small’ film Peepli (live) in the audience’s consciousness, he has also managed to easily cut across camps and groups in the industry.
Eschewing the mandatory premiere, Aamir opted instead for several shows to which he invited the strangest collection of people associated with a star. How, for example, does one reconcile the presence of Kangna Ranaut, with whom he hasn’t ever worked, with that of Juhi Chawla, his one-time favourite heroine turned foe and Shah Rukh Khan’s best gal-cum-business partner turned friend.
Or Raju Hirani, his director of 3 Idiots and the Bachchan parivar, none of who he has shared screen space with? If Karan Johar, another staunch SRK loyalist, was missing from the guest roster it was only because he is in London. But then, he had raised hopes of a collaboration between himself and the perfectionist actor by attending the music launch of Peepli (live).
This is a remarkable change from the one time anonymity seeking actor who would go to great lengths to preserve his personal space. Be it changing market conditions or a natural mellowing with age, but Aamir almost seems to now court the limelight.
He has thrown several parties in recent times whether for Gustavo Santaolalla visiting music director of Dhobi Ghat which was graced by most of Bollywood or the music launch of Peepli (live).
A leading lady, who nurtures hopes of being cast opposite Aamir whenever he chooses to chalk out his acting plans says, “The guest list quite took my breath away and I realised why Aamir Khan has been listed as the most powerful man in Bollywood by Filmfare.
Only someone like him could have got so many A-listers in one place to watch a film, if made by any other producer, would have remained, at best, a festival film.”
An industry watcher marveled, “Aamir has always known how to promote a film and since Lagaan, when he got the whole country to watch cricket being played by men in dhotis, he has honed his expertise to a fine art.”
Among Aamir’s guests were Deepika Padukone and Siddhartha Mallya, another surprise. Though Deepika has moved away from the SRK camp and has since worked with Ranbir Kapoor and Farhan Akhtar as well as Akshay Kumar, she has never been known to be close to Aamir. Likewise Priyanka Chopra.
Of course Salman, who, people say, spends many nights with Aamir in each other’s homes, was an expected guest. As was Sachin Tendulkar, also a longtime friend of Aamir and Rani Mukerji, his close friend also a dear friend of SRK.
If power comes from the company one keeps then Aamir has more than demonstrated his. Again and again.
|Pics: Yogen Shah and Manav Manglani|
R Madhavan is back on TV with a new game show
Roshni K Olivera | TNN (BOMBAY TIMES; July 1, 2010)
Bharati Dubey | TNN (THE TIMES OF INDIA; June 4, 2010)
After being sucked unwittingly into the Tamil-Sinhala conflict, the IIFA Awards in Colombo saw the seeds of another clash being sown on its opening day. Salman Khan, who’s been the face of this year’s event, criticised superstar Amitabh Bachchan for giving the awards a miss despite being the brand ambassador.
“Mr Bachchan is the brand ambassador of the event, he should have been present here. Besides, we are doing a lot for the Sri Lankan Tamilians, building houses for them and rehabilitating them,’’ Salman said after lending a hand to construction of houses by an NGO on the outskirts of Colombo on Thursday.
The Bachchan clan has skipped the event despite being closely identified with it since its inception. Although none of them has commented, industry insiders pointed to the fact that the Abhishek and Aishwarya-starrer Raavan, due for release soon, has been directed by Mani Ratnam, who has supported the south Indian film industry’s call to boycott the IIFA Awards.
Though Bollywood tried to put up a facade of being united in the face of pressure from the south Indian industry by taking a huge contingent to Sri Lanka, the names of those who are missing are significant. Ranbir Kapoor, Shah Rukh Khan, Boney Kapoor, Yash Chopra and Karan Johar are some of the bigwigs who will not be participating. Shah Rukh, who was scheduled to perform at the event, has tweeted his excuse: a lot of pending work.
Industry watchers pointed out an interesting trend from the list—most of those staying away have new releases lined up. For instance, Ranbir Kapoor has Raajneeti releasing this Friday. “I am busy with the promotion of my film, so will not be attending the IIFA,” he said. In fact, the entire teams of Raavan, Raajneeti, I hate Luv Storys, Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai will not be present at the awards function.
Though director Boney Kapoor is staying away, his film Milenge Milenge is among those that could be targeted down south. Kareena Kapoor, who stars in it, is participating. So is Sanjay Dutt and Bipasha, who are in Rahul Dholakia’s Lamhaa. Anant Mahadevan’s Red Alert features Suniel Shetty, who is participating in a charity cricket match for Tamil kids, but will apparently keep off the awards function.
From the red carpet of Cannes to the clay court of Roland Garros
AAKANKSHA NAVAL-SHETYE Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; May 20, 2010)
Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan seems to be in no hurry to return home and for a good reason too. After the red carpet rounds at the French Riviera for the Cannes Film Festival, it is now time for the actress to head for the brown clay courts at Roland Garros in Paris where she will be attending the ongoing French Open. Not many know, but Ash is actually quite a sports buff — she follows cricket, football and espescially tennis. An insider reveals, “Ash will be watching the women’s and men’s finals at Roland Garros on June 5 and 6, respectively, and she’s very excited.” Apart from watching the prestigious clay court tennis tournament and one of the four Grand Slam events of the ATP, the actress, being the international Ambassador of Elegance for Longines, will also be giving away awards instituted by the luxury watch brand here. With this, Ash will join the ranks of former tennis greats Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi, who’ve done the honours in the past. As the official partner of the French Open at Roland-Garros since 2007, Longines has been referred to as the official timekeeper of the French Open. After hobnobbing with the swish set of international filmmakers at Cannes, it’s now turn for her to party with the movers and shakers of the tennis world. Seems like the ball is in Ash’s court this year.
SRK and Gauri throw private bash for Barbara Mori
MEENA IYER Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; April 30, 2010)
Barbara Mori, who arrived in Mumbai ten days ago to promote Kites and is staying with her brother Kintaro Mori in Juhu, had a surprise party thrown in her honour by Shah Rukh Khan last Sunday. The Roshans have been more than hospitable to their film’s leading lady in Mumbai and have taken her on shopping sprees and dinners. “They are some of the best people I have met,” said the actress from Mexico. Then came the invite from Mannat. Said Barbara, “Sussanne wanted me to meet her close friend Gauri.” When she went to the SRK-Gauri home, Barbara found the couple watching the IPL final with Arjun Rampal, Mehr Jessia, Chunky and Bhavna Pandey, Sanjay and Maheep Kapoor, Neelam Kothari and Kajal Anand. “I don’t follow cricket, so initially I was getting bored. But everyone was enjoying themselves. After the match, we really partied hard. Shah Rukh and Gauri are very nice. I met many other people, some of whom are actors, it was nice of them to welcome me to Mumbai.”
Twinkle or Tina, the actor’s classy and stylish designer wife is holding a ‘holiday line’ exhibition todayMARK MANUEL Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; April 9, 2010)
Wednesday night, and it’s dinner time at the sea-facing Juhu residence of Tina and Akshay Kumar. She’s eating elegantly with her fingers, Frank Sinatra is singing Strangers In The Night, but Akshay is in the kitchen ordering halwa. I know he’s also slyly checking on what’s happening at the Eden Gardens where Kolkata’s killing Delhi in the IPL. He’s crazy about cricket. And, being savvy about finance and figures and people, he knows instinctively when a match is being thrown. Bollywood’s action star is a different man at home. He’s just completed Housefull and Action Replayy, but is busy shooting for Khatta Meetha and Tees Maar Khan, and will soon begin Patiala House and Thank-You. Right now, he’s chilling out in between schedules. The couple spend time walking their garden, hand-in-hand, sipping drinks. “When he thinks I’m not looking, he chucks the wine in the bushes,” Tina complains. And Akshay also makes a valiant attempt at taking son Aarav’s homework because Tina is busy with an exhibition that begins today. “I get a call at work, and Akshay wants to know what’s a noun and what’s an adjective,” Tina laughs, “then when I get home, I find the homework is all wrong!”
She talks about her exhibition, it’s of a holiday line at her designer store White Window in Bandra, and you can pick up everything you will need on a summer vacation here from kaftans, beachwear and glamorous night clothes to jewellery, makeup pouches and trendy business card holders. Only for women. “The men can help themselves elsewhere,” Tina says. Akshay knows what all is going up on the exhibition. “It all comes home, I have to see it once, whether I like it or not,” he says wryly. But actually, he’s hugely supportive of her work, he thinks she’s amazing at what she does, and is proud that she’s one of our leading interior designers. “She’s designed this whole place,” he says sweeping an arm around their tastefully decorated home, “my contribution has only been silence.” What he’s not saying is that Tina, well, has also ‘designed’ him and given him a stylish edge, a touch of class that he never had. Like what Victoria did to David Beckham. “I did a normal wife thing… it was not a deliberate attempt to style Akshay, it’s like what I do for my son,” Tina protests, “but the principles were the same as at work, there was a good, clear-cut foundation, and it was well accessorised!” She herself, is one of India’s classiest women, faultless in her dress sense, stylish in her ways, impeccable in her manners. She shops everywhere, from designers to high street and vintage stores to flea markets. “Again, my principles of dressing up are the same as at business, I prefer clear-cut silhouettes with an infusion of colours and an Indianness introduced in western clothes,” she explains. Dinner is over, Sinatra has retired for the night, and we are sipping coffee. Aarav breezes through the room and waves to us. “What are you, the Prime Minister,” Akshay calls out to his son. I ask her how she rates him as an actor, husband and father on a scale of 1 to 10. Without hesitation Tina replies, “Seven as an actor, 9 as a husband and 11 as a father.” Akshay preens himself, but he would rather the after-dinner conversation be on his wife. He is a wise man, he will not rate her, but he loves talking about how she designs people’s homes, does hotels, boutiques, restaurants, stores, for Bollywood’s most famous, for celebs, industrialists. Her clients could be anybody. “They come to me because they like my work, or because of who I am, and sometimes they just walk into the store to pick up something and then end up getting me to do their whole house,” Tina says. She meets clients personally, demands to see their plans, because for her the structure of the place is most important. “My ability is to divide and cut space to maximise,” she reveals, “but it’s not my way or the highway, I try to make the client happy, but not to a degree where I compromise on my sense of aesthetics. If I don’t believe in a client’s plan, and I can’t convince them to change, then I will give up their work.” Akshay leans over to whisper, “She’s clear and straightforward, Hafeez Contractor says good things about her work, look at the way she keeps the house, takes care of our son, manages her business, deals with the staff… I don’t think a man can ask for more.”
Clearly, Akshay Kumar is a content man, he’s at the top of his career, one of Bollywood’s most saleable stars and highest earners, he’s got a beautiful and successful wife, an adorable son, and a cosy and comfortable home, he may not want more. But Tina does. For herself, a White Window store in Delhi, one internationally, she has a clear picture of where she wants to be at different phases of her life. “At 60, dressed in jeans and short white kurtas, making and selling things, maybe with a restaurant to keep Akshay who will be in rocking chair occupied,” she laughs. And for him, she only wants a National Award. “He’s a simple, hard-working guy, very focussed in his work, incredibly smart, but he’ll never pretend to be more than what he is. It’s my ambition that he gets the National Award. I have a shelf ready for it,” she says.
And he gives her the killer Khiladi smile.
Pooja Ghai and Niraj Rawal tell Vickey Lalwani how they walked down the altar, three years after separating as man and wife
Relaxing in their luxurious 14th floor Oshiwara flat, Pooja Ghai and Niraj Rawal look lovey-dovey like any other newly-weds.
A great moment of domestic bliss, save for an interesting detail — it was a second walk down the aisle for both, the first time being with… each other! Mumbai Mirror had broken the story of how the tele-actress-turned-businesswoman Pooja and corporate professional Niraj had taken the saat pheras all over again after getting divorced three years ago. Incidentally, it was their son Raaj, 9, who took the lead in getting them together. Needless to say, the little one was an enthusiastic participant at his parents’ wedding held recently!
Looking back, a much-wiser Pooja and Niraj, who were married for eight long years, feel a twinge of regret. “We were rather immature to handle the responsibilities of marriage,” reflects Pooja. It’s a classic case of marrying in haste and repenting at leisure. She was then an aggressive 20-year-old; he, only 23. “Initially everything seems rosy. You overlook your partner’s faults. Only when you start living with a person do the rifts come to fore,” says Niraj. Gradually fights increased, ultimately leading to the courts.
The divorce especially took a toll on Raaj, who stayed with Pooja at her Andheri flat while Niraj lived with his parents at Worli. But the couple didn’t involve their son, who fortunately was too young to know what marriage and divorce were. “He asked questions about why we didn’t stay together but we handled it well. For eg, I’d tell him his Papa liked to live with his parents as he missed them,” says Pooja.
Meanwhile, Pooja even gave love a second shot when she got involved with actor Vikas Kalantri, though the relationship fizzled out. Was it difficult for them to accept the other’s new link-ups? “It pinches hard,” admits Niraj. “But you get over it because you have no right to intrude into somebody’s life.” Pooja shoots back, “I am sure he had girlfriends too in the three years. But it’s okay. We had decided to move on.”
Love, Chapter II
It was their love for Raaj that did the trick. The couple were already feeling guilty about their child growing up with a single parent. Raaj too missed his father very much. “I couldn’t play football and cricket with him, could I?” laughs Pooja, adding the tot would feel bad when he’d see other children with both their parents. “I couldn’t take it any longer.” Gradually it also dawned that they were hasty in separating. “You realise the worth of anything only when you lose it,” says Niraj. Pooja says, “One thing led to another and his sister advised us to give the relationship another shot. Again, Raaj’s persistence did the trick. He made a card on which he drew both of us inside a heart. The second page read: ‘Will you please marry my Papa? That did it!”
Then and now
What also worked for them was their new-found maturity and perspective. “I am 31, he’s 34 now. The time spent apart as well as their other relationships taught valuable lessons. Niraj says he sees a huge change in Pooja. “She is far calmer now than she was in her 20s; she has also stopped being a spendthrift! Pooja says, “Niraj bhi badal gaya hai. He used to be very aggressive, but he is more responsible towards his family, comes home early and listens to me more, now.”
No live-in, marriage suits Us
Taking the plunge again was a huge decision, but they were sure they wanted to get married and not test the waters, living in. “We don’t believe in it,” says Niraj. “It wouldn’t have gone down well with Raaj seeing his parents as a live-in couple. Live-ins are more accepted today but I feel it will peter out, just like the Hippy culture of the 70s or the 80s’ drug phase,” he says.
The main difference of being in a marriage as opposed to a relationship, say the duo, is that in the former the emphasis is on ‘ours’ than ‘yours’ or ‘mine’. “You start thinking about ‘us’ says Pooja. “It offers you more security though you have to make compromises and sacrifices.”
But the sweetest thing of getting back together is the wisdom that the time apart gives you. Chorus the couple,”Our entire mindset has changed. Now when we look back, the issues we fought on, seem so trivial!”
|Niraj Rawal and Pooja Ghai with their son Raaj at their second wedding|
His impish smile and naughty eyes along with the haunting title music, won the hearts of millions of TV addicts.
For the ‘80s generation, the name Malgudi Days and Swami brings back memories of a time when TV was a single-channel affair, conducted by families huddled around a set for their daily date with the 9 pm serial.
And the denizens of RK Narayan’s quaint village (filmed by the late Shankar Nag) was on top of their must-watch list.
Almost three decades on, Malgudi’s Swami aka Master Manjunath, has metamorphosed into the smart-talking, jet-setting corporate executive.
|A still from Swami and Friends from Malgudi Days|
The former child actor is living it up in his new avatar as head of PR and liasoning of the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor Project (BMICP); the arc lights having been long left behind.
“I don’t miss the movies,” says the 34-year-old Manjunath whom Mumbai Mirror caught up with on a ‘flying visit’ to the city. “I like films, cricket and travelling, but I thoroughly enjoy my job.”
For the record, Manjunath, who started at three, has been part of 68 movies in Kannada and Hindi. Of course, it was his role in Swami and Friends (also made into a full-length movie) that fetched him the maximum recognition - six international, one national and a state award. Swami… brings back fond memories for him. “We shot in a village called Agumbe for three months. I am still in touch with some of my co-actors,” he smiles.
It also landed him Hindi film roles most notably Agneepath (he played the young Big B). “Imagine me amidst these greats - Amitabh Bachchan, Rohini Hattangadi, Mukul Anand, Yash Chopra…it was a fabulous experience.”
So why did he give it all up? “Because I had been there and done that. At 12, I was attending film-festivals; I acted till I was 19. But then I questioned what I wanted from life.”
Ironically, it was during one such award ceremony at an international film festival in Italy that the moment of epiphany struck. “There I was, all alone with my award for Swami…no friends or family to share it with. Organisers, then, didn’t pay to take your family along! I knew I had to quit.”
Finance was another factor that weighed on his mind. “Those days there were no endorsements or heavy pay-cheques, it was more of an ‘honour’ to work in good films. Hailing from a lower middle-class family, I had to get educated and find a job.”
Thus, like a true-blue South Indian boy, Manjunath removed the grease-paint to get into academics, doing his MA in sociology, diploma in cinematography and even his CA Foundation course.
The IT boom, led by Bangalore, attracted him next and then came a period of job-hopping working as project manager for portals like onlinebangalore.com, a stint with a special effects company and so on. “I never stuck to a job for more than two years, till this one came along. It’s been 10 years here now,” he chuckles.
His job profile is interesting - from looking at legalities to handling the environmental cell to trouble-shooting for his company, he does “everything apart from cleaning toilets”!
But Manjunath doesn’t mind. He has a life apart from the hectic corporate schedules. “We have this group of childhood friends, Ninnengen Ovans (What’s your problem?). Every week we meet and have a wild time, going all over Karnataka on road trips, watching movies etc.”
Does Agumbe, alias Malgudi figure on the list? “Absolutely,” he says. “It’s about an hour’s drive from Manipal. It is still pristine and untouched, a tad underdeveloped but still as beautiful.”
Manjunath’s dream is to make the village famous on the tourist map. “I am trying to push the government to declare it a heritage or tourist site, it would be the ultimate tribute to R K Narayan and up the village’s profile too.”
Interestingly, despite the fame that the character fetched him, Manjunath says he still hasn’t read the book. “I have this image of Swami in my brain which I don’t want to change,” he says. He needn’t worry though, for in one of his rare interactions with the author, he got his most cherished compliment. “RK Narayan told me I was exactly what he imagined Swami to be. That was the ultimate acknowledgement.”
These memories, says Manjunath, are enough to last a lifetime, probably the reason why he was never tempted to face the camera again. “Malgudi Days worked because there was so much beauty in its simplicity.
Every kid could relate to it. Unfortunately, technology has killed that creativity and innocence among children these days. About the TV scene today, the less said the better.”
However, the cinema bug isn’t entirely dead yet. He harbours a secret desire to get behind it, “probably for a hard core commercial thriller.” But currently, he has, what he calls, “one solid plan” - to enjoy life as much as possible, have all the fun before I get too old. Travel, be with friends, enjoy my job, contribute to society - basically do things that make life worth living.”
By Taran Adarsh, March 17, 2010 – 16:11 IST
A title like LAHORE gives you the feeling that it’s an Indo-Pak story. The fact is, it is, but it’s about kick-boxing, a sport that hasn’t been presented on celluloid before, at least on the Hindi screen. Cricket, boxing, hockey and football have found their way on the Hindi screen, but kick-boxing, not to my knowledge.
Sure, there are references to the precarious Indo-Pak relations in a few sequences, but let’s get one thing clear. This is not a ‘war film’. There’s no slogan-shouting or Pak-bashing here. There’s no jingoism either. In fact, the culmination to the story — a shocker, which is sure to raise eyebrows — is absolutely outstanding and will work with both the nations.
|BY BOLLYWOOD HUNGAMA.COM
LAHORE isn’t about kick-boxing only. It’s about relationships — between two nations and also between two brothers — with a strong undercurrent of emotions. It’s the emotional quotient, besides the penultimate do-or-die match, that tilts things in its favour.
Final word? Take a trip to LAHORE. If you’re a sportsman or even if you’re not, catch this one for sure!
The selection of the Indian kick-boxing team is to be done. The final stage of qualification is in process. Amidst all this there is a minister [K. Jeeva], who wants his favourite participant to be selected; a coach [Farooque Shaikh], who wants merit to be the order of the day; an aspirant [Sushant Singh], who dreams to qualify purely on the basis of his merit; another aspirant [Kelly Dorji], who is over-confident, well connected and aims high to represent India.
The focus shifts to Kuala Lumpur. Two opponents, Dhirendra Singh [Sushant Singh] from India comes face to face with Noor Mohammad [Mukesh Rishi] from Pakistan. But an unexpected incident takes place. The sports fraternity stands numb.
The two nations meet in Lahore for a fresh kick-boxing tournament. This time, Noor Mohammed comes face to face with Virendra Singh [Aanaahad], Dhirendra’s brother. Winning the game is not the only thing on his mind. Virendra wants to settle some old scores and restore the lost pride of the nation.
Debutante director Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan gives you an insight of what to expect at the very start of the film. Thereafter, he unravels two tracks that run concurrently all through the first hour. The first track pertains to the relationship between the brothers and the second, the two neighbours — India and Pakistan — preparing to outdo each other in the boxing ring.
The highpoint of the film are the kick-boxing duels — in Kuala Lumpur first [first half] and Lahore [second half] later. The sequence at the interval is shocking and one looks forward to an equally exhilarating second hour.
But the story dips in the post-interval portions, primarily because you know where it is headed. The subtle romance between Aanaahad and Shraddha Das is well knitted, but a cricketer [Aanaahad] getting chosen to represent India for an altogether different sport [kick-boxing] is a bit difficult to absorb, although the director has justified the decision by depicting sequences where Aanaahad is shown getting trained in kick-boxing. Yet, despite that, it appears like a cinematic liberty.
But the moment the Indian team sets foot in Lahore, right till the culmination, the film regains the lost ground and moves into a completely new zone. The matches, shot deftly, are pulse-pounding and even if you’re not a sportsperson or haven’t watched a kick-boxing tournament before, you can’t help but remain hooked to the proceedings. The fight-to-finish duel is simply outstanding!
Debutante director Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan has the makings of a highly skilled storyteller. The film has won applause and awards at various international film festivals and very deservingly so! Aiding the director in his mission are two people — the person who executed the kick-boxing sequences [action director: Tony Leung Siu Hung] and the cinematographer [Neelabh Kaul], who has captured them with such precision. There’s not much scope for music [M.M. Kreem] in the film, while the background score [Wayne Sharpe] is effectual. The production design [Kesto Mondal] deserves special praise.
Farooque Shaikh is top notch. Saurabh Shukla compliments him well. Sabyasachi Chakraborty is incredible. Sushant Singh enacts his part efficiently. Shraddha Nigam is good. Mukesh Rishi conveys a lot through silence. Shraddha Das carries the Pakistani look well. Nafisa Ali is restrained. Ashish Vidyarthi is proficient. K. Jeeva is perfect. Kelly Dorji impresses. Nirmal Pandey gets minimal scope.
As for Aanaahad, it’s the role of a lifetime. It may not be a conventional launch, but the fact is that the role seems tailor-made for him and he performs it with gusto.
On the whole, LAHORE is a small little gem that takes you by surprise and catches you completely unaware. The finale in the boxing ring itself is worth the price of the ticket and more. I suggest, you make time for this one.