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SHOCKING: What drove Sushant Singh Rajput over the edge?

Exposed!

“Yes even I fear the virus!”

- ‘Reel to Real’ hero Sonu Sood

JULY 2020 A MAGNA PUBLICATION

The shameful truth behind nepotism-hit Bollywood’s ‘one big happy family’ act!

“I’m a good actor, not a good marketer!” - Shreyas Talpade


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COVER STORY

Is nepotism killing Bollywood? .................................................................................................................................11

EXCLUSIVE

Suicide or murder - what drove Sushant Singh Rajput over the edge? .............................................................27

IN FOCUS…

Sonu Sood: “When people sometimes say… my work for the migrants is for some political reason, I totally ignore them.” ........................................................................................................33

INTERVIEW

Sidharth Malhotra ....................................................................................................................................................19 Parineeti Chopra ......................................................................................................................................................23 Court Martial: Shreyas Talpade ...........................................................................................................................45 Music Room: Naqash ............................................................................................................................................57 Web Star: Karan Anshuman ..................................................................................................................................65

COLUMNS

Neeta’s Natter ..........................................................................................................................................................03 Wild Encounter: Elnaaz Norouzi ............................................................................................................................51 My Fave Things: Anjana Sukhani ...........................................................................................................................63 Starry Sashay ...........................................................................................................................................................41 Stardust On The Go ................................................................................................................................................43 Starry Look: Ananya Pandey ..................................................................................................................................71 STARDUST is published monthly by the proprietors MAGNA PUBLISHING CO. LTD., Magna House, 100/E Old Prabhadevi Road. Mumbai 400025, India. Tel No: 91-22-67091234. Editorial texts and illustrations are the copyright of the publishers of this magazine. No one may reproduce any material before permission is obtained in writing. All disputes are subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of competent courts and forums in Mumbai (India) only 2020 Copyright Magna Publishing Co Ltd. Volume No 50 (No. 07) Please address all your advertising, subscriptions and trade enquiries for to: Magna Publishing Inc, 125 Central Park North, PH4, New York NY 10026. T: 212-725-7833 F: 212-889-3250 E: stardustmagazine@aol.com

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We love Salman Khan sab ka bhaijaan (bhaijaan for all) except for iluia Vantur, Katrina Kaif, Jacqueline Fernandes, Waluscha Desouza and a whole host of beauties with no duties apart from looking at Salman with awe and wonder. Anyway, during the lockdown period, the Sultan carted Jacqueline and Waluscha to his farmhouse in Panvel and recorded a song ‘Bhai Bhai’. The visuals were amazing – brawny Salman, sexy girls, picturesque farmhouse… as for the song, well, Salman could you just stick to acting please? 3


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Our fave fanged one Akshay Kumar, however showed his spirit of professionalism. On the first day, when lockdown was eased, he left the safety of his posh home and went to the studio to shoot a social awareness film. The topic? Stay home stay safe!

Someone who is happily enjoying staying at home is the gorgeous Katrina Kaif. She and sister Isabel are giving the world tutorials on how sweeping the floors is really done. And guess what, dressed in skimpy shorts and sexy tees, the duo is sure enough teaching a lot of drooling men the art of jhadu-pocha.

Sonam Kapoor in the meantime is showing off hubby Anand Ahuja’s palatial home in Delhi in a series of insta posts. We did know our Anil Kapoor’s ladli thought of herself as the princess of Bollywood, but we can now see, she lives the life of one too. Good for her!

Another brawny and sexy guy is our David Dhawan’s chokra Varun. He’s been quite the good Samaritan and has been helping the dancers of his films with money and essentials. Of course, he does have his PR to announce it rather loudly. But that’s not a problem, we say, he’s got his heart in the right place. After all, not too many actors are bothering about their fellow artiste. 5


Another do-gooder is the brilliant Vidya Balan. She’s been spreading awareness of corona as well as quietly donating PPE for the doctors and nurses. Don’t forget her film ‘Shakuntala’ will be out soon enough too. So we can see the amazing actor do her bit onscreen too.

Poor Karan Johar… He’s become the soft target in Bollywood. Anybody who has any grouse or woes always tends to point fingers at the “flagbearer of nepotism” KJo. Last we heard was that all this negativity has got to him and he is on the brink of a breakdown. Come on Karan, just drink some ‘Koffee’ and get a bitchy discussion on the outsiders and the fashion losers for your next talk show… that will cheer you up!

Who is having maximum fun after the lockdown has eased is li’l Taimur. Dad Saif and mum Kareena found some ‘chill’ time and decided to show their cute munchkin Mumbai city. So from Marine Drive to Chowpatty to Bandra, they merrily drove around sight-seeing Maximum city. Nice to catch up on family time, right?

Another one catching up on family time is Saif’s daughter Sara Ali Khan. She and her brother Ibrahim are having a blast on social media with their hilarious ‘knock knock’ jokes. No wonder, mum Amrita seems to have greyed in the last three months the kids have been staying home. 6


Sushant Singh Rajput’s untimely demise has shaken a lot of people. Amongst them is rumoured ex-Kriti Sanon. Kriti put up a long sentimental post for the late actor almost admitting she loved him dearly. Poor girl – it took her a tragedy to say what was locked up in her heart.

But there are these two love birds who even after almost two years of holy union look as if they are still joined in the hip. Yes, we are talking about the gorgeous Deepika and Ranveer Singh who are having a blast cooking, baking and spending quality time together. These two definitely give us some couple goals.

Ranveer Singh by the way is quite a jodu ka ghulam. The intrepid Ayushman Khurrana woke up one fine day as cheerful as a lark and so thought he’d do some masti by going live with his friends. He called up Ranveer who had just woken up but the minute Deepika’s man saw he was live, he chickened out saying, ‘Your Bhabhi is calling me’. The wifey knows best, ya Ranveer?

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Talking about Ranveer, we cant help but talk about Arjun Kapoor who is indeed in fine shape. He is either seen regularly exercising at home or playing with his dog. But the one moot question on everybody’s lips is where is arm candy Malaika Arora. We don’t see her either liking Arjun’s post or commenting. Hmm… is there trouble in paradise?

Talking about paradise, Hrithik’s exwife Sussanne has made her ex-hubby’s house her lockdown den. Yes, she has moved into Hrithik’s house so that the kids have both their mum and dad together during these trying times. How cute… wish more couples would be as matured as them.

Tiger Shroff and Disha Patani’s cat ‘n’ mouse games have kept us guessing. And, how! Though we’ve heard loud whispers of them breaking up and moving on… a li’l bird told us that Disha has been staying at Tiger’s house this entire lockdown period. Hmm… so? Are they back? No they are not? Quite a confusing duo! 8


Like Sidharth Malhotra and Kiara Advani or is it Tara Sutaria. At Sid’s building parking spot reserved for his cars exclusively, one at times sees Kiara Advani’s swanky car. Other times, one can spot Tara – after all, Sid is her neighbour. Ask Sid and he says they discuss the script… really, what script?

Where is Jacqueline Fernandez? The last we spotted her was at Salman’s farmhouse but after that she’s gone MIA. She can’t have flown home as flights have all been stalled. So where could she be? By the way, she’s made her entry into the OTT world already with Shirish Kundra’s Mrs Serial Killer. Maybe she’s on the prowl for some more OTT thrillers. No worries, we will find out!

Vicky Kaushal seems to be on the prowl too. He’s got himself some snazzy binoculars and has been training his sight westward. Is he looking for one Ms Kaif by any chance?

Kartik Aaryan too seems to be enjoying the lockdown. He’s busy giving himself the much-needed ‘me time’ by sitting and staring at the skies from his balcony as long as the sheep and cows. When the going gets tough, Kartik sits back and chills. Way to go!

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Bollywood, unfortunately, is having a bad 2020. We lost the amazingly brilliant Irrfan Khan, the legendary Rishi Kapoor, the young and awesome Sushant Singh Rajput, music guru Wajid of Sajid-Wajid fame, the iconic Saroj Khan, ace comedienne Jagdeep and so many others. Too sad. Their loss has created a huge void in the film industry. May their souls rest in peace.

Another shocker is the news that Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Aaradhya have tested positive for Covid-19. Rekha’s building too has been sealed as one of her security guards have tested positive too. And now Anupam Kher’s mom has tested positive for the virus too. Please take care. 2020 sure is a bad year for the world especially Bollywood.

Cat’s Crown

This month goes to... Another reel to real hero is Sonu Sood. He’s helped more than 90,000 migrants and guess what, though some of the political parties turned spoilsport and put a spanner in the good work, he still did his bit for society. Kudos to this man! 10


Is Nepotism Killing

Bollywood? Sumita Chakraborty looks deeper into the ‘one happy family’ façade that Bollywood presents to reveal the rotting truth that’s plagues the film industry. Bollywood has always portrayed itself as one big fat happy family for years… like one of those Sooraj Barjatya films hamesha soppily saath saath. So even though there were those occasional whispers that the so-called truce and good friends act by two superstars are just that – an act. …Or Bollywood’s bonhomie ‘we are good friends’ facade between heroines, actors, directors, filmi families hide many an ugly tale of steamy affairs, nasty fracas or scandal ‘n’ shame… still the film industry carries on like they are a huge khandaan of happy souls Until Sushant Singh Rajput’s horrific suicide opened up a rusty can of squirming worms that Bollywood from aeons was trying to sweep under the carpet. Of course, the fiery Kangana Ranaut had not only addressed the white elephant in the room a couple of years ago, she also spilled the beans about Bollywood’s closeted “closed door policy for outsiders”. Kangana had at that point belittled the so-called “flagbearer of nepotism” Karan Johar on his own show ‘Koffee

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With Karan’, making him pout in sheer disdain and of course, later blacklist her from all his social gatherings. All the Kapoors and Bhatts followed suit and did the same – though they mouthed sweet nothings to the media about the firebrand ‘Manikarnika’ actor, in reality, they cold-shouldered her too. But of course, the indefatigable Kangana continued fuming and letting out her steam via her sister Rangolis’ vitriolic tweets but of course, to no avail. It was like Shakespeare’s famous lines ‘told by an idiot full of sound and fury’. So Bollywood’s fiefdom continued to reign supreme and the perennial story of the haves and have-nots continued. The star kids were served everything – from the best films, big banners, meaty lead roles, hefty endorsements to magazine covers - on a golden platter while the outsiders had to make do with the leftovers which are barely anything. Of course, there was a rumble of dissatisfaction from the outsiders, but it always fell on deaf ears.


re.c qua tS Ka

Sushant at that point was offered Bhansali’s Galiyon Ki Ram Leela which he had to refuse simply because of an airtight contract so that later went to Ranveer Singh, a Yashraj favourite. Another film Chetan Bhagat’s Half Girlfriend which even announced Sushant in the lead later went to Arjun Kapoor – the reason being the same contract. Was that a conspiracy or just luck, one doesn’t know? Sushant too didn’t really say much at that time. Though five years ago, he had quoted an author and sociology professor Larry Kersten on nepotism. His post read, “We promote family values here almost as often as we promote our family members.” …This says it all.

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However, after Sushant’s suicide, whispers became more vociferous. People averred that he was a victim of nepotism and perhaps, the whimsical star refused to be tied down and so took this extreme step. At that point he was locked up in a threefilm contract with Yashraj Studios, and so when lucrative offers poured in for the super talented actor, the studio mughals supposedly put their foot down and refused to let him go. Paradoxically supposedly, the rules were bent rather conveniently for another star-kid from their own stable.

Sushant Singh Rajput’s horrific suicide opened up a rusty can of squirming worms that Bollywood from aeons was trying to sweep under the carpet. 12


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“

Nepotism should stop... people are dying and these big shots are still not understanding the effect. -Pallavi Inder Kumar

�

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What happens in Bollywood isn’t nepotism, it’s gangism. – Shekhar Suman

The boiling cauldron of outrage in social media, however reached its zenith point as people trolled Alia Bhatt, Arjun Kapoor, Ayush Sharma, Sonakshi Sinha claiming they all were a product of nepotism. Salman Khan too was targeted and trolled for launching Ayush Sharma. Ananya Pandey was ridiculed for bagging awards even though Sushant’s film Chichore was so much better than her debut film Student Of The Year 2. Overnight, Karan Johar’s followers decreased by lakhs and so did Alia and Arjuns. Sonakshi Sinha unable to take the caustic comments deactivated her twitter account. Poor Karan Johar who now had a huge ‘Nepotism’ lettered figuratively on his forehead suddenly found his proteges and filmstars friends distancing themselves from him. Hurt, he unfollowed all on social media and then even resigned from the MAAMI film committee on which Deepika Padukone presided as chairperson. And though she requested Karan to stay on, he refused point-blank. So is this huge hamesha saath saath front Bollywood put out hide much more that it reveals? If you look at it superficially, - you can always see Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan go buddy buddy in front of the cameras. Or even from the younger lot though people had said there were problems between Hrithik Roshan and Tiger Shroff during the making of War, on the social media they sound like blood brothers joined in the hip and more. Is this all sham? Perhaps or perhaps not…. But it is a fact that the ugly face of nepotism has clawed an angry raw aching sore plaguing the industry. And the boiling pot of bitterness threatened to pour over. Shah Rukh Khan who himself was an outsider to the industry, suddenly found himself targeted. One had never heard any discordant tales about him before. Strangely for the first time, social media was

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abuzz when the late Inder Kumar’s wife Pallavi posted “These days everyone is talking about.. Nepotism... Just like Sushant Singh Rajput, my husband late actor Inder Kumar achieved his fame on his own. He was at a peak in ‘90s. Before he passed away, I still remember he went to 2 people big shots asking for work as help. Just for the record he was already doing small projects. But he wanted to do big movies just like he started. He went to Mr Karan johar, I was there too. In front of me all happened. He made us wait outside his van for 2 hrs. Then his manager Garima comes and says Karan is busy. But we waited and wen he came out, he says Inder keep in touch with Garima at the moment there is no work for you. We phoned… she picked up saying there is no work at the moment... after that Inder was blocked.” “The same behaviour was given to Inder by non-other than Mr. Shah Rukh Khan... He met Inder and said he will call you in a week. At the moment, there is no work. This all happened on the set of Zero. Later was even asked to keep in touch with his manger Pooja... she did the same wat Garima did.... Can one imagine and believe that there has not been any work available in these two production houses?” Pallavi further wrote, “Karan Johar has said many times he works with stars... well my husband was a star ... still people remember him by his work. Why is it so difficult for these big shots to help talented people? What are they scared of? Or we can just say they are bad human beings... pretending to be nice. Nepotism should stop... people are dying and these big shots are still not understanding the effect. Government should take strict action against such people.”

Many of us chose the harder path and believed in sheer talent and merit - Vivek Oberoi 16


I managed to get out of my father’s shadow. – Tiger Shroff

Shekhar Suman further reveals, “Sushant had made a successful transition from TV to films. There was Shah Rukh Khan 30 years back, now it was a boy from Bihar who managed that. His very first film did 100-crore business, but he never got any acknowledgement or award. I’ve been told that this eventually took a toll on him.” He added, “Nepotism happens in government jobs where people help their family members supersede others. In Bollywood, there’s free entrepreneurship. Whoever brings money has all the rights to make films with their family, friends or anyone. What happens in Bollywood isn’t nepotism, it’s gangism. There’s a cartel, a syndicate, mafia… They control the industry and decide the fate of new talent. It’s a gang of vested interests so that their production houses grow.” Manoj Bajpayee too had once said in an interview, “Let me start with this, the world is not fair. I have been saying this since 20 years that as an industry we celebrate mediocrity. Forget about industry, as a nation we celebrate mediocrity. Something is lacking somewhere -- in our thought process, our value system. When we see talent, we immediately want to ignore or push it away. This is the value system of ours which is so deplorable,” Johnny Lever’s daughter, the effervescent Jamie however believes,

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We have as many examples of nepotistic failures, as we do of ‘outsider’ successes. – Anubhav Sinha

“There’s favouritism, no nepotism in Bollywood.” On the other side of the coin, Tiger Shroff says, “Being my father’s son, there’s an added pressure of being a star’s son. People think it’s very easy for us. I won’t lie, in a way to get a little attention it helps. It’s easier for people who are from the film industry but it’s double the effort to make it on our own. I managed to get out of my father’s shadow.” Vivek Oberoi, who is the son of actor Suresh Oberoi, too reacted to being called ‘nepotism born’ with a tweet. “Many of us chose the harder path and believed in sheer talent and merit. It feels unfair when people make uninformed comments like this, one such comment can brush away years of struggle and perseverance.” Anubhav Sinha scoffs at the outrage nepotism had incurred. He sums it up with a tweet, “Whatever be the internal politics of Bollywood, like the basic idea of this country, it rises miles above religion and caste. Don’t let that be corrupted please. We have as many examples of nepotistic failures, as we do of ‘outsider’ successes.” …This debate on nepotism perhaps can go on for aeons. But the crux of the matter is that will Bollywood get away with this unfair treatment meted out to outsiders or will Sushant Singh Rajput’s suicide be the lesson that will change things in the glitzy world of films. Amen to that!

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Get Snappy

Sidhaarth 19


“I was an

outsider in Bollywood too! Sidharth Malhotra talks to Rishira Ganguly about being an

outsider in films, how he evolved as an actor and his other projects.

You have been groomed as a Dharma Production boy and from there, you went on to make a name for yourself in the industry. So what exactly went into the making of Siddharth Malhotra, the movie star?

Wow! Well, that’s tough to summarise in a few lines but, yes I’ve evolved quite a bit. I was groomed by Dharma for Student Of The Year. I was supposed to play the outsider, a small-town boy in it and I was more or less that – an outsider with no contacts in the film industry so I guess I gelled well with my character. That’ because I was an outsider too! In Jabariya Jodi, I played a small-town boy with a Bihari accent so I guess I have come a full circle, playing different avatars with far more blend and far more colour. I have learnt a lot, made a few mistakes but still, I’m here and raring to go.

Malhotra 20


You have worked with Parineeti Chopra in Hasee toh Phasee and Jabariya Jodi and you seem to share an easy bond. Tell us something about your equation with her.

How has the journey been in Bollywood? Over the years, I have learned the ropes gradually. Way before I became a actor, I started as an assistant director and that’s when I learnt the technicalities of film making. Now as an actor, I keep learning with every film. I have explored a new character with every film of mine. In fact, no two films of mine or two characters of mine are similar. So yeah… I am genuinely happy about my journey. How do you choose your films? Is it the script or do you focus on your character? It’s everything… film, director, banner, producer, script, character. For instance, I chose Jabariya Jodi because of the character

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first of all, the story, the setting… it was definitely something that I haven’t done before. I found that so exciting that I had to be a part of this story! Likewise, none of my films have been the same – if the script and my character excites me, I do the film and that has been my conscious decision. Do you consciously try to be different? I have always tried different things in every film. In fact, I ty to reinvent myself with every film… some times, it works, other times I just try harder.

Its lovely to work with Pari after Hasee toh Phasee after many years. People really loved our film Hasee toh Phasee. It was my second film, Pari’s I think, third film, and definitely, we have grown as actors, as individuals, as personalities but yet, we still have that comfort with each other and with comfort, comes a lot of ease, whether its knowing each other’s habits or ways of functioning. With Pari, it’s always a fun ride! Our Punjabiyat comes out though she speaks much better Punjabi than me. I have lost practice over the years (laughs) and she helps me with it… Most of the times I go to her for Punjabi advice. I think both of us enjoy exploring a new zone and on the way, have a lot of fun. How much has your personal life influenced you to take up scripts? There is nothing of that sort. I believe that your personal life gives you material to add to your performance and characters on screen but does not really influence your choices.

learnt a lot, made a “Ifewhavemistakes but still,

I’m here and raring to go.


“With Pari, it’s always

a fun ride!

Bollywood seems to be seeping into the digital segment a lot nowadays with Netflix, Amazon Prime Originals and other OTT platforms. Any plans of diving into the digital segment? I have no plans of getting into Netflix or Amazon right now. I’m very happy with the films that I am doing right now with my line up of movies whether its Jabariya Jodi, whether it’s Marjawaan, whether its Shershah and so on. I’m getting to play wonderful characters onscreen and will be entertaining people for many, more films, the digital platform can wait. Tell us about your projects. My line up after Jabariya Jodi is Marjawaan, which is Milap Zaveri’s directorial film. It’s me and Ritesh (Deshmukh) coming back after Ek Villain. It got Tara Sutaria, Rakul Preet…. It’s a very interesting ensemble. It’s a love story… it’s an action (slash) love story, as you would call it. It has got a lot of emotion onto it but again, action or a character that I haven’t done before so its completely keeping the masses in mind. I thoroughly enjoyed my time working with it. I knew Milap from before and (have) obviously worked with Ritesh in the past so it was a wonderful experience and after that I go into Shershaa which is Captain Vikram Batra’s biopic and life story and I am in the midst of shooting (for) that. It’s got Kiara Advani in the female lead.

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Star Say

Parineeti Chopra

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“

I think we will not have another Priyanka Chopra for another hundred years.

�


P

arineeti Chopra in conversation with Manpreet Kaur Hora talks about her upcoming film, friendship with Sidharth, her sister Priyanka Chopra and the kind of movies she wants to do next... You and Sidharth Malhotra are a great pair... how is it working with him? It’s been lovely actually. We are friends and we did two lovely films together. We know each other and that’s about it. How has your rapport been with your other costars? Who was the best to work with? Sanjay Mishra who played my dad, I worked with him in Golmaal, we really bonded in our music sessions, we used to sing together and chill together. I told Balaji that they must cast Sanjay Mishra because I had a blast working with him in Golmaal and thankfully, they agreed and they also thought that he was a great choice for my dad in the film and I am so glad that I got to shoot so much with him, learn so much about films, cinema and

I will be singing in future as well.

theatre. He has so much experience and hence there is a lot to learn from him.

How different is it to work in an ensemble cast film? It is not different actually, it is almost exciting for any other actor because there are so many actors in one frame, in one scene and there is so much give and take between costars. It almost becomes like a family, you are working with them for so long that it was a blast shooting with them. Do you think you’ve been duly credited for your work in the industry? Who am I to say that? Most important thing for me is the love that fans give you and the acceptance. In that I’ve been lucky and I think I am nobody to judge whether I should get credit or not.

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What gets to you the most about being an actor? Sometimes, the lack of privacy. There is no moment which is completely yours, it is always shared with the world and people. You are used to certain amount of privacy so you really need to learn and adapt but I always say it is a very small price to pay for being the love of the industry. Are you planning to take music seriously, will you be singing for the movies in future? Yes for sure that is definitely the plan I already started with Kesari and Meri Pyarri Bindu and I will be singing in future as well. As an actor what do you prefer - critical success or commercial success? I think if any actor can choose that let me know because I don’t think anybody can choose between the two. You want every film to be loved and want critical success and you want commercial numbers as well and there are many films that get both so I think the bifurcation is made only by the media, actors will always want both.

All I do is learn from her (Priyanka Chopra’s) experience because ideally, she is the best that we have!

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I always wanted to do a sports film.

You took a break in between. What was that break all about? That break was in 2015, I think we should move on from that now it’s been five years. Did belonging from a filmi family give you an extra edge in the industry? I don’t think that I am from a filmi family. A filmi family is where most of your family members are associated with some department in the industry, I have one sister, who is extremely successful. I don’t count it as a filmi family it’s just the two of us from our family. All I do is learn from her experience because ideally, she is the best that we have and I think we will not have another Priyanka Chopra for another hundred years. What I can do is take advantage of the fact that she is my sister and I can take as much advice I want. You worked for Manchester United’s, do you still follow them - you watch their matches? They were my employers, I am not a big football fan, and I don’t have much knowledge about football. They were my employers and I still think of them like that. What kind of genre would you prefer working on now? I always wanted to do a sports film which I am working on next, Saina Nehwal biopic and also I want to do a dance film. What are the upcoming projects you are working on? I am doing Saina Nehwal biopic and this is exactly what I was looking for and to do something which I have never done before and show the audience that they have never seen before. So I am excited to take on and then I am also excited to do thriller which I am doing in ‘The girl on the train’ so my next two films are the kind of films I always wanted to do and I am very lucky that I was offered those films.

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Exclusive

What drove Sushant Singh Rajput over the edge? 27


Sumita Chakraborty finds out more on Sushant Singh Rajput’s shocking ‘suicide’. …He could have easily been the next superstar of Bollywood. A bit of a paradox because the Hindi Film Industry is never very kind to people outside its realm. But he managed to bust all preconceived notions and made a headway to the top. His last film Chichhore did tremendous business. Ironically in this film, Sushant talks about the perils of suicide. So his film career was coursing alright. Of course, there were obstacles… too many of them. But this young Turk had the attitude and the talent to face anything and everything, yet one sombre morning, he was found hanging dead in his bedroom. 28


I knew the pain you were going through. - Shekhar Kapoor

…That’s right we are talking about the curious case of Sushant Singh Rajput who looked as if he had the world at his feet. So why did he have to end his life or is there much more to this case than that meets the eye? What was eerily strange was that just a week before on June 8, 2020, Sushant’s ex-manager Disha Salian jumped from the 14th floor of her building and ended her life. She was just 26 and he was just 34. Let’s go back to that unfortunate day on June 14, 2020 when it all started. At about 2 pm, the nation was shocked to learn that Sushant Singh Rajput was dead. Tv channels screamed ‘breaking news’ as the ticker pulsated every minute with Sushant Singh Rajput’s suicide news. Was this some kind of disgusting joke or a false rumour? After all, day in and day out one hears of fake death news about celebrities. But no, to everyone’s horror, the police confirmed that it was truly Sushant Singh Rajput who was found dead in his Bandra, Mumbai apartment. According to reports, Sushant supposedly had got up early in the morning, had some juice, played a video game and then went back to his bedroom and locked the door. At that point supposedly, a friend and two house helps were at his place. At about 11.30, when the house help knocked at the door and found no answer, he thought Sushant was sleeping or busy. Later the friend and house help tried again. By then, they were worried so called up Sushant’s sister in Goregaon who rushed to his building. They got a locksmith and managed to open the door only to find

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him hanging. The cops arrived and Sushant was pronounced dead – they said it was most probably suicide but of course, the post-mortem result was awaited. The post-mortem report later confirmed Sushant had died due to suffocation. The aftermath… Sushant’s fans were engulfed in grief. Soon enough, the grief turned into outrage. What made Sushant Singh Rajput take this drastic step? They cried out vociferously. In fact, as Sushant’s body was being taken, fans and media people trooped in despite the lockdown due to coronavirus. In Patna, at Sushant’s home, the media rushed around interviewing Sushant’s relatives. Out of which one of his uncles said on TV that he refused to believe that Sushant had committed suicide, he insisted it was “murder”. But there were too many theories floating around about Sushant’s suicide. First to the nation’s horror, somebody had clicked Sushant’s pictures after he was brought down from the fan where he hung. The net was ablaze with gruesome pictures of Sushant’s dead body barely few hours after his death. What was worse was many Youtubers started posting those pictures and it had become viral. Then it became eerie when some youtubers and vloggers claimed that Sushant’s fingers were moving after he was brought down and pronounced dead. Some people started crying foul play. Mumbai police started investigating the case. But of course, they do that for a person’s untimely death more so a celebrity. Supposedly, they interviewed more than 34 people who were either close to him or had worked or interacted with him. Rhea Chakraborty, Sushant’s girlfriend cum

He was a disturbed soul. – Mukesh Bhatt 30


manager was interviewed by the police for nine hours supposedly. Amongst the people interviewed were Sushant’s friends Mahesh Hegde and Sandip Singh, Mukesh Chhabra and of course, Sanjay Leela Bhansali who made the startling claim that he had been considering Sushant not just for one film (Galiyon Ke Ram Leela) but also another three films but couldn’t sign him on because of unavailability of dates. Sushant was bound in a contract with Yashraj Studios for three films and the contract was as watertight as Fort Knox. People insisted that Sushant was extremely frustrated by this contract. Shekhar Kapoor who had signed Sushant for his film Paani for Yashraj which later got shelved because of Shekhar’s differences with the studio insisted he knew about Sushant’s problem and tweeted, “I knew the pain you were going through. I knew the story of the people that let you down so bad that you would weep on my shoulder. I wish I was around the last 6 months. I wish you had reached out to me.

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What happened to you was their Karma. Not yours.” Insiders added to this by claiming that Karan Johar and his clique had cold-shouldered Sushant and so when Karan Johar tweeted a long post on how he should have been there for Sushant, he was trolled mercilessly and called a “hypocrite” and other unsavoury names. Then again the net was filled with viral rumours that perhaps Sushant had a financial setback because of his inability to sign new films. He was staying on rent of 4.5 lakh in a posh building in Bandra and had always put his best foot forward during any global economic or social crisis. His family, however rubbished this saying he had enough money to be comfortable. But perhaps it was not just professional and financial woes that Sushant was suffering from. Supposedly, he was going through intense mental trauma and had been consulting a psychiatrist for the last six months.


I have never met Disha Salian in my life. - Sooraj Pancholi

Producer Mukesh Bhatt insisted that he knew things would go this way for Sushant was a “disturbed soul” and was “going the Parveen Babi way. Writer Sucharita Sengupta, who worked with filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, had said in an interview that “Mahesh had advised Rhea Chakraborty to leave Sushant Singh’s company. As he felt this (Sushant) is another Parveen Babi’.” Adding, “Sushant came to Bhatt Saheb looking for a role in Sadak 2. He could speak on cinema as well as quantum physics. Bhatt Saab recognized the sadness behind Sushant’s constant diligence. This was exactly what he saw in Parveen Babi. He knew that there was no cure except medicine.” Supposedly, Rhea was trapped due to Sushant’s rapid depression, she tried her best so that Sushant would take his medicines, but he refused. What was strange was that there were rumours floating around long before Sushant died allegedly linking Rhea Chakraborty with Mahesh Bhatt. Their (Rhea and Mahesh Bhatt’s) behaviour at the press conference of their film also fuelled these rumours further causing people to say that Rhea had broken up with Sushant. But insiders pooh-poohed that Rhea had not broken up with Sushant. They said that Rhea was still living-in with Sushant the entire lockdown period. The reason Rhea went home was because Sushant’s sister was coming to his place. Then there was another set of stories floating around that the psychiatrist Sushant

was seeing claimed he missed his ex-girlfriend Ankita Lokhande but that story was proved false as the good doctor insisted later that he hadn’t been interviewed by the police as yet. Another theory floated around was fuelled by a tweet by some page of @justiceforsushantsinghrajput that insinuated that ex-manager Disha Salian was pregnant with Sooraj Pancholi’s baby and Sushant was saving her from him. Something Sooraj Pancholi instantly rubbished and blasted into smithereens with an official statement, “I have never met Disha Salian in my life. I heard of her only after Sushant’s death.” Disha’s family too in an official interview condemned this kind of ‘fake’ news. …Too many rumours floated volatilely like fire on the net. So much so politicians from Bihar and Kolkata including Roopa Ganguly demanded a CBI probe into Sushant’s death. Why would such a charismatic intelligent guy who had won the Physics Olympiad as a student do this, his fans aggressively asked? He was this intelligent actor who wanted to touch the stars and the moon literally – supposedly, he had bought an area on the moon for fifty lakhs which he would gaze at on his telescope. So why would such a promising actor despite the many frustrations coming his way, end his life? It wasn’t as if he had no films in hand. The 34-yearold actor had signed some good films including a romcom with girlfriend Rhea for Rumi Jaffrey. So what went wrong? Why did such a brilliant actor end his life or is there more to it… We don’t know but perhaps the investigative officers will come out with the reason behind Sushant Singh Rajput’s ‘suicide’ soon. But for now, Bollywood has lost one of its most promising actors. Will they ever get over the loss? Rumoured ex gf’s Sara Ali Khan, Kriti Sanon and Ankita Lokhande are still undoubtedly distraught. So are girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty and Sushant’s best friends. …And of course, the entire nation. May the supremely talented Sushant Singh Rajput rest in peace.

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In Focus

Sonu Sood “

When people sometimes say… my work for the migrants is for some political reason, I totally ignore them.

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I

n an honest heart-to-heart chat with Sumita Chakraborty, Sonu Sood, who is being hailed as the ‘messiah of migrants’, reveals why he went out of the way for the migrants, the inspiration behind his social endeavours, films and more. I’ve known Sonu Sood for long and all these years, I’ve seen him doing numerous humanitarian work – whether it was generating awareness for acid victims or helping the truly needy. He has always been humble, understated and a little shy of talking about his numerous social endeavours. But today, thanks to “corona”

and the ongoing migrant problems… the spotlight has finally shown his “real” side. Sonu at the risk of his own life, was the only Bollywood hero who jumped into the fray to help the migrants reach home safe and sound. He dipped into his own pockets to sponsor their travel across India to their homes through road, rail or air. Not a single tweet from the migrants went unanswered by him. In fact, he even acted as an arbiter in a migrant’s troubled marriage or wiped the tears of a distraught soul. No wonder today, Sonu Sood is being called the “real hero” of Bollywood. In a candid conversation, Sonu reveals his innermost turmoil’s, thoughts and more. Read on…

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I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing the smiles on their (migrant’s) faces who wanted to be reunited with their families. Sonu, we’ve seen you do such wonderful work by helping the migrants go home. You’ve worked tirelessly for them earning accolades from people like Barkha Dutt and the entire nation. While people are running scared, what made you decide to do this without fearing for your life? The daily routine of sending the migrants back home is still on. Maybe the load has lessened as I have already sent almost 90,000 migrants back home all across India – from Jammu Kashmir to Kanyakumari, Orissa, Assam, Bihar, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand to so many other places. It’s the most satisfying experience ever and I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing the smiles on their faces who wanted to be reunited with their families. So it was really special.

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Bigger films will have to wait a bit but I’m hoping things will normalise by September-October.

touching and a great recognition. And if the migrants want to come back, I will be there for them and of course, I will help them come back. I have always done social work as it is my duty but the pandemic made me come out in the open. It’s not about recognition.

You have faced criticism too. In fact, some people have insinuated that you were doing this for political reasons. What is your take on this? When people sometimes say, it’s for some political reason, I totally ignore them. I haven’t read the articles they have written because my reason to help the migrants was because somebody needed to come forward and tell them how important it is to have faith in God and to believe someone is there to help you. I truly believe that is the reason I came to Mumbai years back. The Government has done its job very well but I think there was some kind of lag that has happened. I wish we could have done much more for the migrants. I wish the inter state buses should have started when the migrants were walking back. I wish a little we could have saved more lives. Aren’t you scared of the virus? What about your family? I don’t get much rest. I am with the migrants for 10-12 hours and yes, even I fear the virus because I have a family and I come back home every day. I keep sanitising my hands. I don’t touch anything from outside. Yes, my family too is very worried about me and I keep promising them I wont go the next day but I break my promise and go back. There are many heart-breaking stories. People have lost their families – lost their father and they couldn’t go for the last rites. People were stuck in Australia – I got them from there too. Pregnant women were stuck on the roads… and I made sure they reached home safely. A special gift was that one of the pregnant ladies named her son ‘Sonu Sood’ after me. That was very

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When will Bollywood start? I think shootings will start in August. People are starting smaller films. Bigger films will have to wait a bit but I’m hoping things will normalise by September October. People will have to learn to live with corona until the vaccine is out. We must take proper precautions. In shoots, you tend to have crowds…. This has to be monitored and proper social distancing needs to be taken. What lesson have you learnt from the lockdown? Well that no matter how busy you are, there is something called giving back to the society. You must come forward to help the needy no matter how rich or poor you are. Also, that it is important to spend time with your families. This lockdown is a great learning curve which teaches you the importance of family. What is the next project in the pipeline – I believe its one with Amitabh Bachchan, can you tell us about this project? No there is no project with Mr Bachchan sir. Koi film nahin hain at the moment though I’d love to work with him. I have worked with him in one film but fingers crossed, I hope some more are in the pipeline. What has been the driving force behind your career choices? My inspiring force has always been my parents. My mother and father have always told me that no matter what happens, stay focussed. And that has kept me going on during my difficult times. Now my family – my wife and kids who always support me. Im really thankful to God who has given me such a beautiful family who always support me no matter what.

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You have had your share of hits and duds. How do you cope with failure?

All the paperwork is completed on PV Sindhu and we were going to start but the lockdown happened.

I have seen my share of failures and success but I think failures teach you how to be stronger in life. So films come and go… they become successful… some times they don’t… it shouldn’t matter. You just have to work harder in life and move on to the next. This is what I’ve been doing all these years and this is how I have survived. You had announced about making a biopic on PV Sindhu sometime back. What is the status of it? All the paper work is completed on PV Sindhu and we were going to start but the lockdown happened. Once it ends, we will announce something big. What about the OTT field?

I’m restructuring my life and want my second innings to be different.

I have some incredibly good offers coming from the OTT segment too. I just have to decide which one should be my debut in it. I’m sure something very special is on its way, so keeping my fingers crossed. OTT is an important phase and I’m sure it will be a parallel platform in coming times. What’s next for Sonu Sood?

I have some incredibly good offers coming from the OTT segment too.

I have my film Prithviraj coming up. Also, I have a film with Chiranjeevi sir and another Telugu film. Of course, there are other Hindi films too. Yes, I’m getting many hero roles. This is going to be my new innings. I’m restructuring my life and want my second innings to be different. I want to do what people want me to do. Today, the lockdown has taught us to do what we dream of and no matter what the problem is we need to gear up and face it. It has also taught us to help others. For instance, if we have a single kitchen if an extra meal is cooked there, nobody will go hungry in our country. We need genuine good people who care about the needy to join politics… as you did. Would you consider a career in politics? (Ha Ha) Maybe, someday!

Photographs: Lovdip Singh

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Frills ‘n’ fancies are indeed trendsetters. Not only do they look uber stylish, they are also rather funky ‘n’ fun. So this fashion season - though we are shut down in a lockdown situation - have fun with ruffles ‘n’ frills with our gorgeous fashionistas. Sumita Chakraborty picks the hautest styles amongst our Hot heroines.

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Sonam Kapoor

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Arjun Rampal goes out for a dinner date with his daughters

Sara Ali Khan and Kartik Aryan seen together

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Diva Sonal Kapoor at a fashion event

Neelam and Sameer spotted at an event

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I don’t think I’ll be quitting Bollywood - this is the only place I will be whether I succeed or fail!

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Rishira Ganguly grills Shreyas Talpade to find out more about Bollywood and it’s quirks. Though you are a powerhouse performer, you are considered as one of the under-rated actors of Bollywood. Why do you think you’ve got this tag? (Laughs) I don’t know… I guess I must be lacking in some other department probably… maybe in marketing. I’m a good actor but maybe not a great marketer and that could be one of the reasons I’m considered “under-rated”. But I guess it’s always a good space to be in where people think that you have potential and it is not being used. So, I guess I’m waiting for that day where there will be some filmmaker who will tap my potential and abilities fully someday.

S hreyas Talpade

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After your debut film Iqbal and Dor, we haven’t seen much of your serious side? Why? I’ll tell you what happened after Iqbal and Dor… I was considered more of a serious actor … So I was typecast as more of a serious actor at that point in time and then after that there was a huge wave of multi-starrer comedies being made like all these franchises that we have today of Golmaal or Dhamaal or Housefull. I was called for an audition for one of the successful franchises today and the director very categorically told me, ‘You are a very serious actor, I don’t know how good you’ll be in comedy’ and he didn’t really cast me at that point in time. So, I took it up as a challenge to prove people wrong, I had to prove (to) people that I could do comedy equally well as I could do serious and that is the time Rohit Shetty gave me a break with Golmaal …and that actually changed a lot of things for me. People got to know that I could do comic roles well and that’s how I got cast in more comedy films …but then suddenly people forgot the fact that I have done some serious films as well. Now I think, it’s a challenge for me to prove that I am a serious actor as well. An actor must prove at every point in time to the audience that he is versatile. Whenever they consider ki acha yeh kar sakta hai ki nehin kar sakta, that is the time you’ve got to reinvent and prove that yes, you can do that too. You’re mostly casted in an ensemble cast like Golmaal series or Houseful. We don’t see you in lead or solo starrers? Why? Golmaal is actually more of a family entertainer. The first Golmaal was something that I loved to and after that the entire team was more like a family so whether it is second, third, fourth, fifth, eighth… whatever it is, Golmaal, we have to be a part of, because we love to be a part of that franchise. Houseful was something that I did because my friend Sajid Khan wanted me to help him out at that point in time. He was actually a little stuck with the casting and he had already announced his shooting dates, So he requested me if I could help him out

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I’m a good actor but not a good marketer.”


in Houseful 2. As far as the other films are concerned, there have been a couple of solo starrers which unfortunately didn’t really work at the box office. Films like Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal or Bombay to Bangkok didn’t really work big time at the box office so that’s the reason people don’t know more about them. Films which worked were Houseful 2 and Golmaal series so people know me more because of those films. But I guess it just a matter of time… I need just that one film which people connect to, and then I’ll be back in the race of solo films. How was it working with Ajay Devgn and Rohit Shetty for the Golmaal series? It’s always fun to work with these guys. They are known as big time pranksters Ajay bhai especially. A lot of incidents kept happening for example we were doing the photo-shoot for Golmaal Again and we had these firecrackers during the shoot and I remember I was a little tired because of my continuous back-toback shoots. So before my shot, while chatting with Parineeti, I happened to doze off a bit. Meanwhile Ajay Bhai very stealthily came from behind and burst a cracker right behind me and that completely startled me. So these kind of things are very regular on the sets of the Golmaal series. But what is most amazing is the kind

of chemistry that all of us share, the kind of bonding that all of us have. I think that is very evident in the film too. People connect with the films because somewhere they connect with the friends in those films and they connect because we have that kind of chemistry between all of us. With the film Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, a lot of people have started talking more openly about the depiction of the LGBT community in films. You have cross dressed for your role in Paying Guests. Do you think that the LGBT community needs more representation in films? Of course, we are pretty much openly talking about this now, however, earlier things were considered taboo. But now, not only films but the audience too have accepted this and they’re pretty open about the whole thing. It’s not only films, if you look at web series also, almost every series has some aspect of the LGBT community and they discuss it pretty openly, especially series like Made in Heaven. So when we have filmmakers like Zoya Akhtar handling a particular subject in a very aesthetic manner, things work better.. If you were re-scripting your favourite role from any of your films, which character would you do it on?

I have been lucky to work with various directors from different schools of film making - right from Nagesh Kukunoor to Farah Khan to Rohit Shetty to Sajid Khan to Shyam Benegal sir and a lot more who have tried to get the best out of me in each film. So, I don’t think I would really want to re-script… Yes! In terms of screenplay and storytelling maybe certain films have gone wrong or not really appealed to the audience in the manner that we expected it to so in that aspect, I would like to change… But I guess my personal characterization? No I don’t think I would really like to change anything in that department because the directors have told me how to portray the character and I have tried to portray it to the best of my ability. In fact, people don’t have any complaints about my performance but yes, they may feel something is lacking in the story or screenplay which didn’t really appeal to them but not with the character per se.

…I think, it’s a challenge for me to prove that I am a serious actor.” 48


The audience is always right. So if they didn’t like my film there must be something wrong.”

Your film Setters had a brilliant storyline but the critics did not like it? Why? Yes! I completely respect their opinion. If they felt like that then there must be certain things which didn’t really appeal to them. People felt that in the second half of the film things maybe got a little repetitive or a little monotonous. I feel the audience is always right. They will go and watch a film only if they connect with it. So if the film didn’t have those kind of numbers at the box office then yes, there was probably something wrong. It’s our duty to make sure that we accept it gracefully and make sure that we don’t repeat the same mistakes in the next film. You are appreciated for your impeccable comic timing, do you enjoy this genre? Comedy is something that I enjoy personally. My very close friends also know that I tend to crack jokes when I am with them. That is one of the reasons why I am

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chosen for comedy scripts. Apart from that, as an actor personally, I prefer doing varied roles so that’s why I was very excited about my role in Setters which was one of the first grey characters that I’ve portrayed on screen. So I was really excited and I really wanted that film to work. As an actor, you always want to keep varying your roles otherwise you will get bored of doing the same thing over and over again. You once tweeted about leaving Bollywood, why? (Laughs) No no no… that was actually one of the challenges in one of the reality shows that Kunal, Tusshar and I were a part of a reality show as guests. There was this one segment where the two challenged me that let’s see if you can tweet something like this - I’m leaving Bollywood. So, I took up the challenge and I tweeted this and some people felt that I was genuinely quitting. I don’t think I’ll be quitting Bollywood - this is the only place I will be - whether I succeed or fail. Regional films are not given so much importance as commercial cinema. Why do you think the Indian audience is attracted towards the glitz and glamour of Bollywood more? The reach of Bollywood is worldwide though certain regional films is also seen worldwide for example Tamil and Telegu films are appreciated around the world. Sitting in Mumbai,

we are not really aware of the kind of reach that those films have but they have phenomenal fan following and reach worldwide, even in places like Japan and China. But other regional films, have pretty limited market. For example, Marathi films the market is mostly in Maharashtra. Now it is growing with certain films like Sairat doing well at the box office. Sairat did almost 100 crores which was unheard of for a Marathi film. It showed the kind of potential that the Marathi film can achieve. But it’s a gradual process so we need to give it that kind of time and we need to make sure that we encash on the success of a particular film and build it up from there. So, it’s a huge responsibility but there are a lot of fantastic film makers in regional cinema and they are trying their best to give it that kind of platform and commercial success that it deserves. How different do you think is the Marathi film industry from Bollywood? There’s not much of a difference. The only difference is in the budgets. A Hindi film definitely has more budget, even a medium budget Hindi film will make around four to five crores but a good Marathi film will still have a budget of around 3 to 3.5 crores. When you select a particular script, you always think of the budget for a Marathi film and then if it goes over a particular figure, you decide to just hold it back and maybe not do it.


Will we see more of your directorial side after your film, Poster Boys? Yes, you will! I am working on a particular script right now and hopefully, if things go well then I might direct a film next year. How was it working with Sunny Deol in Poster boys as well as in Bhaiyaaji Superhit? Wonderful! He’s a sweet guy to work with. I have been a huge fan of Sunny paaji right from the time of Betaab and Ghayal. We’ve grown up watching his films so it was a huge honour for me to direct him in Poster Boys. I think he is one of the most obedient actors. Though he has a filmography (of) maybe more than what my age is but still he was very patient with me. He would give me that kind of respect that a director deserves and he would never really interfere or question my ability. That gave me a lot of confidence to do what I was doing. So, I had a great experience working with him and Bobby!

The web is a fantastic platform for film makers. It’s a great bridge between TV and films.”

How do you balance your personal and celebrity life? I guess everybody does that in some way or the other so I have been pretty chilled out all along. I’ve always given priority to my family and I never really wanted to lose out on my identity. As an actor, there are odd working hours, you keep travelling, you are not there for most of the family functions but whatever time we have, we try and spend it with the family. So, I think my family, my wife also know the fact that if I’m in town, then yes, I’m going to be there but if I am shooting, then I’m completely immersed in my work. As long as your family understands you it makes a lot of things very simple and easy You recently did a web series called Baby Come Na with Alt Balaji. How different is the experience of working for the digital media than working in Bollywood?

The web is a fantastic platform for film makers. It’s a great bridge between TV and films. There are certain things which you cannot do on TV and there are certain scripts which are too lengthy for films. So, I think web is that medium that gives you that platform where you can experiment with the scripts and experiment with the characters and can be a little more indulgent and do what you really want as you visualise it. There are no limitations and luckily, there is no censorship as well. Film makers can go all out and do exactly what they want. What are some of the future projects you’re currently working on? I am most probably going to be doing a horror comedy which is yet untitled and then I will do one biopic film. Post that, I will be producing one film in Marathi and also planning to do one web series this year. But apart from that, I am writing a film which I will be directing.

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Wild Encounter

Unfortunately, I’ve faced the casting couch quite a bit too!

Elnaaz Norouzi Elnaaz Norouzi is an Iranian-German actor better known as the gorgeous Zoya from the Netflix blockbuster Sacred Games talks to Sumita Chakrbaorty about films, the casting couch, love ‘n’ lovers and being cheated on…

You became an actor because…? …It was my childhood dream to become an actor. The film you absolutely loved working on… My current one - which I can’t talk about yet since it isn’t announced and unfortunately, because of corona we won’t be releasing it yet... But it was so much fun. But otherwise, I had a blast working in Sacred Games! The character you thought suited you to the ‘T’: Zoya and Jameela!

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The most wonderful thing about being an actor is…. You sometimes get to pretend to be a badass for a living - specially in action scenes. And also you grow a thick skin from constantly dealing with rejection! What is the worst possible thing about being an actor… You have to actually study and do a lot of homework... which lots of people don’t understand when you have to cancel a few gatherings or can’t attend a party because you have a 4 a.m. call time! What are the three most essential things you carry along with you all the time? Tooth brush, deodorant and mouth freshener. What in a man/ woman turns you on? I find it super sexy when a man is confident and calm. Those men don’t have to do much to get my attention. What in a man/woman turns you off? When they overdo it, to get my attention, talk too much or brag about their wealth and status. What’s the mantra to impress the opposite sex according to you? Just be yourself! I can’t stress it enough... being yourself and authentic is the best thing one can do... One can always tell when someone is putting up a show or isn’t themselves.

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Have you ever been hit on by the same sex? That’s so weird. I have never been hit on by a woman! When was the last time a guy or a girl chased you? Or you chased someone? In 2019, I was chased a bit *smile* but when I like someone I don’t need to be chased... Which is the most awful one-liner you have come across or used till date? “Hey girl, are you German? …Cause I wanna be Ger-man ! “ …And yeah I’m kinda German A situation you felt awkward in? I once went for a meeting with my agent and the producer was so not talkative. The meeting took three minutes and we spoke about the weirdest things because he wouldn’t talk much... so awkward! Have you ever drunk dialled anyone? I think I have... but it’s been super long! Bollywood’s dreaded casting couch has reared its ugly face many-a-times. Have you faced it? Well, unfortunately, I’ve faced the casting couch quite a bit too. It was a horrible situation and feeling but I’ve always auditioned and got my roles and I will always continue doing it this way... there shouldn’t be any other way to get a project. As an actor, your three most valuable strengths and three biggest weaknesses? 1. I get to access and play around with emotions. 2. I’m always optimistic 3. And I’m super persistent My weaknesses are that that I’m still a little impatient and impulsive and I fear inactivity!

]i__

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As a person, your three most valuable strengths and three biggest weaknesses? 1. Decisive: I enjoy challenges, I’m super fun and loving. 2. I’m quickly bored by routine, too critical on others, too blunt. If marooned on an island, which actor would you want to be with? And why? I would want to be with Leonardo di Caprio. First, he is insanely good-looking, second, I’m sure he’d know how to survive and third, I want to marry him. In a relationship would you be a daunting or a chilled out partner? I’m a pretty calm and easy person to deal with. But I also believe that it always depends on your partner as well. Some people always like to poke - but then again that wouldn’t be an ideal partner for me. I like harmony.

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Have you ever been cheated on? Yes I have... pretty early in my life. I was around 18/19 when I got to know that my boyfriend who I was dating since I was 16 was sleeping with a friend of mine since years. Well, it was scaring and it is hard for me to trust men again... but I also know that not everyone is the same! When you love someone… When I really love someone, I want to spend my day and night with that person. I like to do things for that person since my main love language is acts of service and then quality time... I feel like spoiling the person rotten. What is the first thing you notice in the opposite sex? Hands. A mans hands are the first thing I notice. What’s your take on open relations? It’s great to see that many people can do it and are okay with it but I wouldn’t be able to be in an open relationship. Then why be in a relationship at all? Which is the strangest place you’ve made out in? A forest, and the weather was freezing! What would you want to be known as? The girl who never gave up no matter what obstacle came her way. The girl who fulfilled every single dream of hers. What’s your perfect date like? A calm date, a dinner where one can have a nice conversation and get to know each other, great food, lots of laughter and comfort. If you had to describe yourself, what would it be… I’m a very helpful person and I love to see the people around me be successful. I’m not envious but I would also go to every extend to achieve my goals. I’m goofy and mad and I love hard.

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I’m Honoured To Have Been The Voice For The Song Sahid Kapoor Has Performed on.

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Anjana 63

Sukhani


These are a few of my favourite things! Anjana Sukhani was last seen in the blockbuster Good Newwz. This gorgeous actor has already made her mark in several Hindi and Telugu films including the laughathon Golmaal Returns. Of course, Fear Factor: Khatron Ke Khiladi saw her exciting adventurous side. Watch out for more on this multi-talented heroine. I love: I love life. I am blessed to be alive and complete. I don’t hate anything as such . I hate: Gossip. I am afraid of: I am afraid of losing my loved ones . I am superstitious about: Time . I like it when: It rains. I love the monsoons, especially in Mumbai. It is romantic here . My biggest fear: Is the same as what I am afraid of . My strength: My family again. I am super blessed to have amazing friends in life . My weakness: Food and travel . My sex appeal: My overall personality and my attitude towards life and people . My fantasy: My fantasy would be to be on the beach. I think I won’t elaborate on that . My hero: My hero would be my grandfather, my nana, Mr Jawahar Amarnani . My Spice: My spice has to be green chillies. I love green chillies . My favourite bedroom line: “Switch off the lights honey” or “Switch on the lights honey” I like it in the lights . My biggest asset: As an actor would be very natural and easy with the camera . My passion: Travelling. It’s kind of my weakness sometimes. I think . My greatest necessity: Sleep. My favourite possession: Would be the first house that I bought. It took a lot from me to have that house and I am very proud . What tires me most: I don’t like to bitch about people and talk negatively about people . What touches me most: A kind heart is above everything else. If you have a kinder heart and empathize and sympathize, I think everything is achievable in life . “Stardust” to me is: Is a sprinkle of a star. It actually means so aptly . My birthday: Well I am a Sagittarian. My birthday is on the 10th of December. If I were to be born again I would love to be born a Sagittarian . I love my birthday so much . 64


Web Star

“Many actors were skeptical about the audiences’ reaction when we first ventured into the digital medium.”

Karan Anshuman

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The

creator of the iconic Mirzapur and Inside Edge series tells Sumita Chakraborty why he dared to risk his filmi career to create web-series before anybody else had thought of it in India.

He is the one who is actually the pioneer of the web-series revolution in India. The creator of Inside Edge and Mirzapur, Karan Anshuman is indeed the enfant terrible of the film industry – the passionate film love who dared to try out something different. Guess what, the risk he took paid off, And, how! Read on as Karan Anshuman talks about pioneering the web era, films and more.

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You are the chosen one… the pioneer who kick-started the digital wave way back in 2014… What prompted you to step into this medium? Did you foresee it becoming so big in the future? I’ve always enjoyed good international television. Given the two-and-a-half-hour time constraint, most films these days whittled down to formula; however, new age television courtesy Amazon Prime, HBO, and Netflix has reinvented story-telling with deeper characters and extended story arcs. Some of the best Hollywood talent including actors and writers in Hollywood have transitioned from films to produce cutting edge content here. By 2014, with the traditional barriers removed and with no pressure of box office numbers, streaming giants have given creators a platform open to innovation and disruption. It was only a matter of time that India would catch on. I just had happened to be in the right place at the right time. Inside Edge was an idea I had at hand which wouldn’t last the traditional TV model nor be contained in a film. And Amazon Prime, that had just entered the market, was the perfect platform to showcase it on. I think it was always evident that streaming would become big. The concept of television by appointment has lived well past its due-by date. Your debut film Bangistan was a black comedy satire. On hindsight, do you think if released today, it would have been received better? I think if Bangistan was to be released today, a couple of things would be different. Firstly yes, I do feel the audience has definitely matured when it comes to appreciating comedies and satire that go beyond slapstick and the relevance of the film is greater than ever before. Secondly, I think now I would have probably done a lot of things differently. It was my first film, and from there to now the learning curve has been immense. I am still proud of the film though and the message it delivers.

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Mirzapur has received a lot of rave reviews. How has the response been? Is there a Mirzapur 3 in the pipeline? Is there an Inside Edge 3 in the pipeline? The first season of Mirzapur received an astounding response and let’s not jump the gun on 3 even before 2 is out. Inside Edge season 2 came out recently in December, the response has been hugely positive with universal acknowledgement that it was even better than the first season, which was my only goal as showrunner. Yes, there are plans for a third season in the pipeline. Overall the response received from both the shows has been creatively satisfying. Where do you see this medium going in the future? Do you think it’s easier dabbling in this medium because there is no censor board? As I said earlier, this medium has been instrumental in redefining our traditional form of storytelling that’s been here for hundreds of years. This is just the beginning, going forward I see this taking different shapes and forms. Right now digital is the buzzword, soon it’ll be VR, maybe then holograms? Who knows, we might just plug something into our heads and for a Matrix-like experience. Needless to say it’s an exciting time to be a storyteller, we could go anywhere from here in terms of the medium, but the world is always up for engaging in a good story. Yeah sure, at some point you might have AI telling those stories better than humans can but for now it’s just us. The streaming space explosion has given us a very good insight into the abundance of creativity and untapped potential available.

You’re also an author with Kashmirnama. Are you planning to digitize this into a webseries too? That’s the goal. What are your fav web shows other than yours? Huge fan of the recent HBO shows Succession and Watchmen. Of the Indian shows I’d have to say Family Man and Delhi Crime. What are your future projects? I’m setting up a couple of new shows in varied genres. You moved on to the web space with Inside Edge and Mirzapur. What were the challenges you faced when you first started? Were the actors then a little skeptical about this medium? Many actors were skeptical and cagey about audiences’ reaction when we first ventured into this medium. So yes one of the first few roadblocks that we faced was that of putting together a cast for Inside Edge. It was the first big Indian show that would go on an OTT platform and we were pretty lucky to have the likes Vivek Oberoi and Richa Chadha, who were confident and open to trying out this new medium. After the success of Inside Edge was there for all to see, of course, casting was much smoother and I think everyone understood the potential of streaming.

Regarding the second part of the questions, as creators we always subject ourselves to self-censorship in deciding what should and shouldn’t go on screen and if anything we do is too gratuitos. Needless to say, the absence of a censor board has set us free from the shackles of a traditional approach to writing and filming.

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Starry Look

Pin-up Gal! The stylish and sassy, Ananya Pandey gives Sumita Chakraborty her trend-o-meter on style, beauty and fashion.

Ananya Panday styles herself, inspired by Project Runway Season 18 streaming on Discovery Plus 71


Hot and trending, 21-year-old Ananya Pandey has become the pin-up gal of the nation after the success of her films Student Of The Year 2 and Pati Patni Aur Woh. We met up with her at the glossy launch of Fastrack Perfumes of which she is the brand ambassador, and grilled her on her fashion sense and more.

Ananya Dos

Dos

Here’s presenting the very fashionable, fun and funky Ananya Pandey…

Repeat and revel. Who says repeating your outfit is not done? Hello, that’s so passé. Wear whatever makes you feel comfortable and happy and yes, damn the fashion ‘nay’ers, go ahead ‘n’ repeat your outfit if you feel so.

Mix ‘n’ match your ensembles: This party season, have fun by mixing and ‘n’ matching your outfits. Find your prettiest outfit in your closet and mix ‘n’ match the accessories. They don’t really have to be colour coordinated. Just have fun! I love funky, blingy style so I always have a bit of colour, bling and funk in my look. Rules? There are no rules: I used to say no to neons but it’s become so big, now they are my favourite. So never say no to anything

Makeup mantra: You need to look like ‘you’ …so basic is beautiful. Always keep your makeup handy especially your mains like primers, foundation, concealer, eye palette, lipsticks, mascara and eye pencil.

Perfest Essence: I love perfumes and since I am the Fastrack girl, I love their perfumes which are packaged so funkily in the shape of speakers. My personal fave? I love Fastrack’s Solo which is a unisex perfume but I love the tangy scent and I love men’s perfume. I am glad I am the Fastrack girl since I think the perfumes appeal to the youth. I am quirky, fun and sassy and the perfumes are just like that.

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No patience so go with the pace: My millennial patience is absolutely zero. I want everything done ‘now’. So I make sure everything in terms of grooming is ready for me. ‘My Time’ is quality time: I always make sure that I have my ‘me-time’ before I head for an event or party. I apply a face mask with all the magic ingredients from my kitchen larder. Blast on the music and just lie down chilling. And voila, I come out looking fresh and chilled out. My fashion statement: It’s okay to make mistakes. I don’t look like this all the time. In school I had chicken legs and wiry hands. My team puts in a lot of effort to make me look the way I am today. I actually think perfect is boring. So be yourself. It’s okay the occasional wart, pimple or blemish won’t make the world end, it just makes you look human. Be confident: I am more confident and that shows in whatever I wear. Otherwise I am the same as what I was last year. Of course, now that I have seen myself on screen, I know what looks good on me so I work on myself a lot more. But if you ask me, I am still the same though I have become more confident and carry off any look that I am comfortable in. I get inspired by: The women in my family. My mom started working after the age of 40. She started her own business. She used to take care of my sister and me before that. She started doing something she really loved and I truly believe age can never be a barrier and she’s proved that. Another lady is my daadi - Dr Snehlata Pandey. She is 80 plus but she’s iconic. So yes, I am an amalgamation of all these beautiful ladies.

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Stardust July 2020