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Prem Nagar: Rajesh Khanna-starrer may not have recall value of Anand, but is worth revisiting

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Editor’s note: When was the last time you watched a film, just because you stumbled upon on it, or heard someone mention it in passing? We’re so used to reviews, previews and a barrage of recommendations — it almost feels like it is impossible to enjoy watching a film without it being topical. And so, here’s a column we’re introducing — Films, Just Because — where we talk about films, just because.


In the pantheon of memorable Rajesh Khanna films, Prem Nagar (1974) is rarely mentioned in the same league as an Anand (1971) or Haathi Mere Saathi (1971) or Amar Prem (1972)Unlike the instant classic status of Anand or the high romance of Amar Prem or the fun of a Haathi Mere Saathi, Prem Nagar might not have a ready recall value but this later success of Rajesh Khanna still remains worth remembering and even revisiting.

Poster for Prem Nagar

Poster for Prem Nagar

A remake of producer late D Ramanaidu’s Telugu blockbuster Premnagar (1971) [later remade in Tamil as Vasantha Maligai, 1972], the Hindi version, too, was a huge hit. Looking back, one might credit Rajesh Khanna glorious run at the box-office for the film’s success but that isn’t entirely true. Like the earlier versions that featured top box-office draws such as A Nageswara Rao in Telugu and Sivaji Ganesan in Tamil, the Hindi version had one of the biggest stars in the lead. But by the time the Hindi version materialised, Rajesh Khanna wasn’t the same phenomenon that he had become following a string of 17 hits starting with Aradhana (1969). The interesting thing about the film was that the original Telugu version was the film on which D Ramanaidu had pegged his future. After having undergone financial losses on a few films, D Ramanaidu had decided to quit filmmaking altogether if Premnagar flopped. The success of the film gave him a new lease of life and the legendary producer — who was honoured with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2009 — ended up producing over 150 films across 13 Indian languages, which is a Guinness World Record.

Besides being a special film for the producer, Prem Nagar was very close to Rajesh Khanna. The superstar had never shied away from portraying roles that were slightly off the regular path and Prem Nagar featured him as a decadent prince, Karan, who happily idles away his life as a playboy. Karan helps an air hostess, Lata (Hema Malini), from being molested during a flight and makes her his personal secretary. Lata transforms the debauched Karan and the two fall in love but this alliance isn’t acceptable to Karan’s mother, who finds Lata too plebeian for her liking. The two undergo a period of trial and are finally reunited after much drama.

While Karan isn’t completely dark or without misplaced redeeming qualities, Hindi cinema heroes weren’t expected to play such characters. Even though one can see similar shades in Shammi Kapoor’s role in Rajkumar (1964), where he plays a foreign-returned prince posing as a loud lout to unearth the identity of those scheming to dethrone the king, Prem Nagar’s Kamal doesn’t have a ‘reason’ per say to be a womaniser. In fact, Shammi Kapoor’s Prince (1969) is closer in spirit to Kamal but even in Prince the hero, an irresponsible alcoholic womanizer, undergoes a transformation when he fails to rattle a priest with his power. Rajesh Khanna had a knack for playing flawed characters like Karan with just the right amount of grace that would make them endearing. It is also a typical Rajesh Khanna film where the heroine has a well-etched role and in spite of being the hero he doesn’t hog the spotlight.

Prem Nagar was one of the last big hits that Rajesh Khanna enjoyed before the Angry-Young-Man juggernaut. Khanna had a good year in 1974 but the success of Prem Nagar along with Aap Ki Kasam and Roti as well as the critical acclaim of Aavishkaar couldn’t undo the doubt about his box-office prowess thanks to a string of six successive flops after 17 consecutive hits. Besides being a hit, Prem Nagar was also special for Khanna as it featured his favorite song ‘Yeh laal rang‘ sung by his ‘voice’ Kishore Kumar. It’s ironic that even though Khanna was a close friend of RD Burman, it was his father SD who ended up composing his favourite song. The film also initiated D Ramanaidu’s long innings in Hindi cinema and while he and Khanna reunited in Bandish (1980), it was Jeetendra and Anil Kapoor that he collaborated the most with.

Besides his favorite song, Prem Nagar also gave Rajesh Khanna a great memory that he would recall on many occasions. After watching the film Raj Kapoor is believed to have kissed Khanna’s hands and complimented him on the way he used them like swords in the climax. Years later, while being directed by the showman’s son, Rishi Kapoor, in Aa Ab Laut Chale (1999), Khanna couldn’t help but move his hands fervently in the climax except that junior Kapoor wasn’t impressed. The two almost came to a showdown with Rishi Kapoor shouting at ‘Kaka’ and instructing him ‘NOT’ to move his hands. Khanna completed the shot per instructions and reminiscing over Prem Nagar years later smilingly told his aides how Rishi had ‘sheathed’ his swords.


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Kevin Hart hints at rebooting Mrs Doubtfire after starring in Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle

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Kevin Hart might be enjoying the positive response to the Jumanji reboot, Jumaji: Welcome To The Jungle, where he is starring alongside Dwayne Johnson and Jack Black, but the internet might be alarmed by his latest musings, a Mrs Doubtfire remake as reported by NME.

Kevin Hart. YouTube

Kevin Hart. YouTube

“I’ll stay on the Robin Williams train and say that if I could jump into Mrs Doubtfire,” said the actor-comedian in an interview to CinemaBlend. “That was a very amazing performance on both ends for him. I think that’s one I’d love to get to play in,” said Hart.

A reboot of the beloved 1995 Robin Williams hit Jumanji, where the characters got sucked into the world of a board game and have to fight for their survival, had Kevin Hart joining a new adventure, where Jumanji is a video game in its 2017 avatar.

However, since Robin Williams passed away recently and has immortalized the character of Mrs Doubtfire, fans of the film might not take kindly to a contemporary reboot of the film. The role will indeed prove very challenging for any actor to convincingly place himself in William’s shoes.

Perhaps, Hart should stay content with the fate of Jumanji: Welcome to The Jungle and not worry about remakes of Robin William’s classics, and perhaps take a cue from fellow actor Jack Black who had chosen to pay his homage to William via less grander pronouncements.

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Ed Sheeran says he already has a James Bond track up his sleeve in case MGM wants one

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Ed Sheeran might have faced a surprising Grammy rebuff this year, but the British singer continues to ride high with two of his singles, one with Beyonce and another with Eminem, competing for the top spot just as the year is ending. Amidst all this excitement, the singer-songwriter has revealed that he already has a James Bond song ready to go in his kitty, in case they need him to do one, as reported by the Independent.

Ed Sheeran. Image from Twitter/@PopCrave

Ed Sheeran. Image from Twitter/@PopCrave

Sheeran appeared on The Late Late Show with James Corden and discussed the possibility of contributing a track to a future James Bond movie. “With Bond, I’ve had a theme tune written for about three years, just in case,” he said, as reported by the Indepndent.

Even though he has not been approached by the makers of the Bond franchise with such a request yet, he said that the song he has already prepared is good but refused to reveal its name fearing someone might steal it.

Sheeran also said in the same interview that he had used the same approach for his song with Eminem. “When we did a song together, I had the song planned. So with Bond, if ever I’m called I’ll be like ‘here you go’,” said Sheeran.

While a reluctant Daniel Craig had recently confirmed that he is once again playing James Bond in the next film, the now unofficial tradition of a reigning music star to lend a soundtrack to the iconic franchise will continue, but who will be the latest artist to bag this coveted opportunity is not yet known. Sam Smith did the honours in the previous Bond outing and was criticised for a weak track that he had claimed he came up with in 20 minutes.

Ed Sheeran sure seems better prepared if he gets a call to compose the Bond track that might even put the talented artist up for an Oscar, perhaps the only recognition eluding the superstar so far.

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Rose McGowan calls out Meryl Streep, other actresses for planning silent protest at 2018 Golden Globes

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Rose McGowan criticised Meryl Streep and other actresses for allegedly planning a silent protest against sexual harassment at the 75th Golden Globe Awards ceremony in January next year.

Multiple sources told People magazine about the protest being organised by prominent Hollywood actresses — including presenters and nominees and it was later confirmed by Claudia and Jackie Oshry on their show The Morning Breath.

Meryl Streep and Rose McGowan. Agencies

Meryl Streep and Rose McGowan. Agencies

However, McGowan was not particularly happy about the ‘silent’ nature of the protest. She took to Twitter to express her dismay.

She wrote: “Actresses, like Meryl Streep, who happily worked for The Pig Monster, are wearing black @GoldenGlobes in a silent protest. YOUR SILENCE is THE problem. You’ll accept a fake award breathlessly & affect no real change. I despise your hypocrisy. Maybe you should all wear Marchesa.”

She has since deleted the tweet.

McGowan, one of the first actresses to accuse fallen movie mogul Harvey Weinstein of rape, decried what she believed was a pervasive culture of sexual misconduct in Hollywood and urged women to fight back. After leveling her accusations against Weinstein, there has since been a torrent of allegations of sexual harassment, assault and rape against a man who had been one of the most powerful people in the film industry. The New York Times has reported that in 1997, Weinstein reached a $100,000 settlement with McGowan, then 23, after an incident in a hotel room during the Sundance Film Festival. As the scandal snowballed, McGowan has emerged as one of Weinstein’s most scathing critics.

When Extra asked Streep for a comment, she replied: “I don’t know. I’m not talking. You gotta tune in, don’t ya?”

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