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Pankaj Tripathi in Newton to Akshaye Khanna in Ittefaq – Bollywood’s breakthrough performances in 2017

This article is part of our 2017: A Year In Review series

As a year in movies, 2017 is likely to be remembered more for its controversies than as the year of memorable films.

Over the last few weeks, I have been thinking about my top films of the year, or the ones I would say are a must-watch: Newton, Lipstick Under My Burkha, Mukti Bhawan, Baahubali, Trapped, Anarkali of Aarah, Tumhari Sulu and Bareilly Ki Barfi were all good films.

Looking at this selection, it became clear that barring a few exceptions, 2017 took shape as the year when content trumped commerce and, as actor Rajkummar Rao said in an interview to Firstpost, the small town became the new Switzerland.

This year, big Bollywood stars were overshadowed by stand-out or breakthrough performances — by actors who had thus far been happy playing supporting cast or lead roles in independent films.

Here’s my (subjective) pick of some noteworthy and exceptional performances of the year.

As the schoolgirl Sandhya infatuated with her teacher, Shweta Tripathi brought out the innocence, insecurities and rebelliousness of a 15-year-old in Haraamkhor while also standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the powerhouse Nawazuddin Siddiqui.

Shweta Tripathi in Haraamkhor.

His physical transformation for survival drama Trapped was just the first in a career-defining year for Rajkummar Rao, who continued to build on a solid foundation of work with Bareilly Ki Barfi and Newton. While Behen Hogi Teri, Raabta and Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana did not add value to his filmography, Rao embraced all the characters with equal enthusiasm and proved to be an extremely busy actor with six releases in 2017 alone.

Rajkummar Rao in Trapped.

If Swara Bhaskar proved her singularity with Nil Battey Sannata last year, this year she played another complex character with impressive control. She wore the fiesty stage singer Anaarkali’s strengths, weaknesses and emotions on her blingy blouses in Anaarkali of Aarah and found able sparring partners in Sanjay Mishra, Pankaj Tripathi and Vijay Kumar.

Swara Bhaskar in Anarkali of Aarah.

This brings me to Pankaj Tripathi. If anyone has overtaken Rao’s tally for the year, it’s Tripathi. He chalks up seven titles in 2017. From playing Rangeela, the leader of the music troupe in Anaarkali of Aarah to the intoxicated, hearltess and haunted businessman Kehri Singh in Gurgaon to Bitti’s affectionate father in Bareilly Ki Barfi and the assistant commandant Atma Singh in Newton, he introduced a quirk to each part.

Pankaj Tripathi in a still from Newton. YouTube

Pankaj Tripathi in a still from Newton. YouTube

In the sensitive and touching Mukti Bhawan, Adil Hussain plays Rajiv, a son trying to make his aged father’s last days as peaceful as possible while juggling the mundane demands of his everyday life.

Still from the film Mukti Bhawan. Image via Twitter

Still from the film Mukti Bhawan. Image via Twitter

When I reviewed Half Girlfriend, in which Vikrant Massey played Madhav’s (Arjun Kapoor) roommate Sailesh, I singled out his act as “a single spark in dullsville”. Then as Shutu in A Death in The Gunj, Massey conveyed all the anguish of a withdrawn, timid and hurting young man.

Kalki Koechlin and Vikrant Massey in a still from A Death In The Gunj. YouTube

Kalki Koechlin and Vikrant Massey in a still from A Death In The Gunj. YouTube

Ratna Pathak Shah was quite the surprise in Lipstick Under My Burkha as Usha, a middle-aged widow who dares to explore supressed feelings and passions. She was endearing and you rooted for her.

The four ladies of Lipstick Under My Burkha.

While she had but a small part in Shankar Raman’s noir thriller Gurgaon, Shalini Vatsa got under the skin of the character of a long-suffering wife who has for too long been a mute spectator to patriarchal dominance.

At the other end of the spectrum of mothers, Seema Pahwa relished her parts as mother to prospective brides in both Bareilly Ki Barfi and Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, making the most of the wonderful dialogue ascribed to her characters. In the first she’s the parent worrying about her daughter Bitti’s wedding while in the latter she’s Sugandha’s mother as a couple and their families deal with a future grooms issues with erectile dysfunction.

Seema Pahwa in Bareilly Ki Barfi.

Another actor who had a good time with his role was Ravi Kishan. Playing the minister in Lucknow Central, he was funny and impactful in a brief part in the musical revolving around a band comprising of prison inmates.

Akshaye Khanna’s performance as Dev, a police investigator on deadline to solve a double murder, was the standout element in lacklustre thriller Ittefaq. Not only did he receive acclaim for this role, but also it left us wanting to see more of Khanna’s work.

Akshay Khanna in Ittefaq

Milind Dhaimade’s ode to Mumbai city, Tu Hai Mera Sunday came alive thanks to its ensemble cast comprising of Shiv Subramaniam, Barun Sobti, Jay Upadhyay, Avinash Tiwary, Nakul Bhalla, Vishal Malhotra and Shahana Goswami who play friends brought together by a Sunday game of football.

A still from Tu Hai Mera Sunday.

Raj Arjun’s interpretation of the mean father Farookh in Secret Superstar conveyed the oppressiveness in the household where a teenaged girl Insiya dreams of fame as a singing star. But another creditable performance in this drama was Tirth Sharma’s confident turn as Chintan, Insiya’s positive and supportive school friend.

Sanjay Mishra has created a brand of comedy that has been captured in films such as Dilwale and Golmaal Again. But as a blind old farmer desperate to save his debt-ridden family, Mishra made your heart melt in Kadvi Hawa as he imbibed the fatigue of a man in his twilight years.

Still from Kadvi Hawa

Still from Kadvi Hawa

And now it’s over to 2018 to top this list of striking performances and fine performers.

Disclaimers: This is a subjective list based on the Hindi language films the writer watched in 2017. The list appears in chronology based on release dates


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Diljit Dosanjh on picking projects in Hindi films: ‘Unlike in Punjab, I’m not in a position to choose roles in Bollywood’

A few years ago people would wonder whether a turbaned sikh guy could be a mainstream Bollywood hero but Diljit Dosanjh has put those doubts to rest. Not only is the singer-actor having back to back releases in Bollywood but is also being cast opposite A-list heroines. After making a promising debut and an earnest performance in Udta Punjab opposite Kareena Kapoor, he was seen with Anushka Sharma in Phillauri. In his upcoming release, Welcome To New York, he will be seen with Sonakshi Sinha and then with Taapsee Pannu in Soorma, a biopic on hockey player Sandeep Singh, which will hit the theatres in June. He is currently shooting with Kriti Sanon for Arjun Patiala.

Diljit Dosanjh. Image from Twitter/@diljitdosanjh

Diljit Dosanjh. Image from Twitter/@diljitdosanjh

Naturally, Diljit’s confidence has taken a boost. In his initial days, he would have probably wondered in self doubt when asked if there was a limitation to the kind of roles offered to him, but today he confidently states in a mix of Hindi and Punjabi, “Isn’t there a turbanator in every field? Sikhs are there in Navy, Army, the police force…there is no profession left where there is no sikh. So how can I have any such limitations?”

He further adds, “In the beginning when I started with music in Punjab and was keen on acting as well, people would dismiss me saying it wasn’t possible as no sikh had ever been seen as a Punjabi film hero and that I should be restricted to music. My first Punjabi film didn’t but I slowly started delivering hits, some of which even became top grossers. (Diljit has been appreciated for his versatile performances in Punjabi films like the Jatt & Juliet series, Punjab 1984 and Ambarsariya). Later, people said that I won’t be successful in Bollywood because I wear a turban, but my turban helped me get films here.”

Not easily accessible and also considered media-shy, Firstpost tracks him down on the sets of the singing reality show, Rising Star, where the jovial and happy go lucky jatt is the centre of attention. He is in the midst of young singers and some big names from the music industry – Shankar Mahadevan and Monali Thakur. Sporting a shiny yellow jacket and black turban, Diljit seems to be enjoying every bit of it. “I am enjoying both, acting as well as singing, I just wanted to do some good work which I am doing, let’s see where my life takes me. I enjoy each day of my life. Sometimes I have my mood swings but I still try to maintain a balance,” says the singing star, who candidly talks about his upcoming stage-show reality film, Welcome To New York which is based on an award show. “There are so many actors in it, and I, too, have a small part. But if you ask me the experience of doing the film, I really didn’t understand anything. I don’t know how they shot the film in so much chaos. I have no idea. It was difficult to shoot but I kept taking orders from the director and went on doing what I was told,” he laughs.

Known for his rustic charm and simplicity, Diljit might have a lot in the pipeline, but he isn’t someone who would succumb to stereotypes. He wants to do roles that are integral to the story. “I won’t do as many films now. It is just that I had lesser commitments and hence I can be seen in so many films. Last year I refused three to four films. If I don’t like anything I say no to it. Even in Punjab, I did just one film a year and I will follow the same in Bollywood provided I am offered one. I am in no hurry, no greed, as I am getting more than what I am capable of. I would like to use the remaining time on my singing and churn out more Punjabi films for my fans. I also have fans in the US, UK, Canada and I would like to continue doing stage shows for them. Whatever I have to say from my heart, I do it through Punjabi music,” he says without displaying an ounce of stardom.

“I enjoy making music more because there are no limitations as compared to movies. You have a team with who you gel and make music. But the film is not under your control. You listen to the story and script but what finally comes on the canvas could be different, whereas in music you can reject your own composition if you don’t like it and try something different. But films are huge projects; a lot of money is invested and directors have their own point of view,” he adds.

Secondly, Diljit says, he finds more freedom in the choice of movies back home. “I am not in a position to choose roles right now in Bollywood but in Punjabi films I have that choice. Producers are friends there but in Bollywood whatever is being offered I am taking up. My upcoming Punjabi film, Rangroot is on World War I which was something I was passionate about,” he says.

Considering the fact that Diljit never played any sport earlier in his life, one would expect the Shaad Ali-directed Soorma to be one of his most challenging roles of that of a hockey champion. Diljit says jokingly, “When I was a kid, I didn’t get the opportunity to play much sports as my parents would tell me to study. And now when I am getting paid to play so why not? (laughs) But I didn’t face any difficulty while shooting for Soorma. I didn’t have to do much training in the sport, I just had to play the game. I am very happy that in the second year of my acting career in Bollywood I got to do a biopic. Actually, I don’t find my work difficult. Just that when I am acting, I try to feel for the character I’m portraying but every take of mine tends to be different. I don’t treat myself as an actor who has a process, I perform with instinct.”

And even as Bollywood is showering love on him, Diljit prefers to meet people only for work as he doesn’t like “bothering people unnecessarily”. “I don’t stay in touch with industry folks much. I am here only to work. I never got work because of networking or meeting producers in parties. I don’t believe in PR,” signs off the endearing star.

Published Date: Feb 22, 2018 08:57 AM | Updated Date: Feb 22, 2018 08:57 AM


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The Joker origin film, directed by Todd Philips and produced by Martin Scorsese, to roll from 1 May


Feb,22 2018 09:29 23 IST

Los Angeles: Filmmaker Martin Scorsese’s untitled The Joker origin film is scheduled to start production in May.

Jack Nicholson as the Joker. Image courtesy: Facebook

Jack Nicholson as the Joker. Image courtesy: Facebook

The production house Tracking Board’s Jeff Sneider announced the news on social media. Sneider posted what appears to be a part of a press release which featured the project’s logline and listed a start date of 1 May, reports

The post, which was shared by him on Wednesday, also revealed the status of three-time Oscar-nominated actor Joaquin Phoenix, who was recently revealed to be in talks with the studio for the role of the Clown Prince of Crime, as “interested”.

Sneider, however, wrote that the details are subject to change. Details on the upcoming Joker origin movie’s plot are currently unknown though the film is set in Gotham City in the early 1980s and has more of the look of a gritty crime drama than comic book movie.

It is also said that the film will be separate from the DC Extended Universe in an effort to create new and unique storylines.

Acclaimed filmmaker Scorsese will serve as a producer for the project. Todd Phillips is set to direct the standalone film from a script he co-wrote with Scott Silver. Release date has not been locked for the Joker stand-alone film yet.

Published Date: Feb 22, 2018 09:29 AM | Updated Date: Feb 22, 2018 09:29 AM


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‘Beyonce needs to auto-tune’, says TV host Wendy Williams; Twitterati roast her for remark

Los Angeles: American TV host Wendy Williams has faced backlash from fans for criticising singer-actress Beyonce Knowles and saying she needs auto-tune.

Beyonce. Image from Twitter.

Beyonce. Image from Twitter.

Williams criticised the singer on her show on Tuesday, where she said, “There are only a few people who can sing raw dog and Fergie is not one, she needs autotune. Jennifer Lopez needs autotune. Janet Jackson needs autotune. Beyonce needs auto-tune.”

Her remarks sparked rage on social media. While one user tweeted, “Wendy Williams, Beyonce has autotune where?”; another posted along with a clip of Beyonce flawlessly hitting high notes during a live performance.

Another shared a clip of the singer at a cappella performance of ‘Halo‘ and wrote, “Wendy Williams: ‘Beyonce needs auto-tune to sing.”

Beyoncé the ONLY!! And I repeat ONLY bitch we got that sounds better than her studio recordings live. And NO I DONT want to hear about your out of breath ass, throat surgery needing, can’t hold a note for dear life faves!!!! I SAID WHAT I FUCKING SAID!!!!

— 💎 (@KnowlesCarta) February 21, 2018

With inputs from IANS.


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