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from India Insight:

And Then One Day: Naseeruddin Shah on his memoirs and life

It's difficult to hold back your surprise when Naseeruddin Shah, one of India's foremost art house actors, says the film industry doesn't interest him greatly. In a career spanning almost four decades, Shah has worked with Dadasaheb Phalke Award-winning director Shyam Benegal and James Bond actor Sean Connery, won acclaim for his movie roles and continues to dabble in theatre.

But Shah wasn't exactly a child prodigy. His grades were the poorest in class and his teachers thought he would "find it difficult to amount even to a small bag of beans," he writes in his memoir "And Then One Day."

It took him a long time to grow out of the conviction that he was a "complete idiot," Shah told me when I met him at The Oberoi, a hotel in central Delhi.

Shah, born in 1949 or 1950 (he isn't sure) in a small town near Lucknow, began writing "And Then One Day" because he "had nothing else to do" and continued as he found he enjoyed it though he is "still frightened of the computer." He discussed his autobiography and his life in an interview with India Insight.

from India Insight:

Movie Review: Daawat-e-Ishq

"Daawat-e-Ishq" is one of those infuriating films that seem to go on for ever, getting more monotonous by the minute. For a movie that is supposedly about food, there is surprisingly little of it on screen.

Instead, director Habib Faisal chooses to populate his movie with asinine plotlines, a lead pair whose romance is stone-cold, and characters who are neither funny nor interesting.

from India Insight:

Movie Review: Khoobsurat

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

If you are looking for a modern version of Hrishikesh Mukherjee's much-loved film of the same name, then Shashanka Ghosh's "Khoobsurat" may disappoint you.

Mukherjee's film was centred on Manju (incidentally the name of the main character’s mother in the remake), a rather effervescent heroine who steamrolls her way to everything and takes it upon herself to change the lives of a rather dull family.

from India Insight:

Movie Review: Finding Fanny

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

In Homi Adajania's version of Goa, there are winding pathways, crumbling mansions, and the sleepy village of Pocolim where "life doesn't pass you by, it passes you by at the pace you want it to."

There is an oddball cast of characters to add to the picturesque location, and some lovely lines. The setting is perfect for a road movie with quirky characters, but Adajania's film falters for want of a strong premise and its inability to see these characters and their story to some sort of a rightful conclusion.

from India Insight:

Movie Review: Mary Kom

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

At a crucial point in Omung Kumar’s biopic of MC Mary Kom, the boxer’s husband urges her to get back to the sport after giving birth to their twin sons. He eggs her on to train while he handles household responsibilities and in one scene, tells his wife to have a glass of milk to gain strength. Mary Kom stops him right there and says, “Don’t add any sugar, I am going to use Sugar Free.”

A still from "Mary Kom"Immediately, any empathy you were feeling for this character and her struggle is lost. Kumar’s retelling of one of India’s sports success stories is replete with such examples. Not only do they take away from the story’s authenticity, but also cheapen Mary Kom’s real-life struggle, reducing it to a hackneyed Bollywood script.

from India Insight:

Darshan Kumar says he is the hero of ‘Mary Kom’

darshanbhaiEven though he is not playing the lead in "Mary Kom", debutant actor Darshan Kumar calls himself the hero of the film.

Kumar plays Onler Kom, the on-screen husband of India’s best known female Olympic medallist - portrayed by Priyanka Chopra - and is on the lookout for "meaty" roles.

from India Insight:

Representing Manipur: Priyanka Chopra on playing Mary Kom

Priyanka Chopra is not a Bollywood actor who waits around for assistants to mic her up, set a TV camera's white balance and tell her where to look during an interview. When I met her on Tuesday at a posh hotel in Gurgaon, she used the paper I brought with my questions on it for the white balance, told the assistant how and where to set up the mic and opened a bottle of cough syrup, sparing the poor staffer who was struggling with it for her.

"I can get things done," she said. Indeed, the latest evidence that the 32-year-old superstar is telling the truth is her portrayal of Mary Kom, the Olympic medallist and five-time World Amateur Boxing champion who comes from the far-flung state of Manipur in India's northeast, an area that is far away from the heart of the country and home to many of its ethnic minorities.

from India Insight:

Movie Review: Raja Natwarlal

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

Kunal Deshmukh, going by his filmography, loves two things - Emraan Hashmi and cricket. After "Jannat" - a movie about cricket and match fixing - and the caper film "Jannat 2", director Deshmukh seems to have combined the storylines for his latest offering - a caper film about cricket starring Hashmi.

Raja Natwarlal"Raja Natwarlal" is a flimsily written and half-heartedly directed film, which falls short of its lofty ambitions because no one associated with it seems to have any concern for detailing or authenticity on celluloid.

from India Insight:

Interview: Rani Mukerji on playing “Mardaani” roles in Bollywood films

In 1997, when the top-grossing Bollywood films were a mix of fluffy romantic comedies and maudlin love triangles, a barely 20-year-old Rani Mukerji made her Hindi film debut playing a rape victim who is asked to marry her tormentor and faces innumerable challenges in her quest for dignity.

ranimukherjiRemembering that and the other films where she played a strong female character, a newly married Mukerji told India Insight she likes to strike a balance between what she calls substantial roles and those written only for entertaining fans. Her latest film "Mardaani," ("Masculine") produced by her producer husband, sees Mukerji in the role of a tough police officer out to bust a child-trafficking ring.

from India Insight:

Movie review: ‘Katiyabaaz’ transforms banal reality into gripping tale

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

In one of the many tragicomic moments in “Katiyabaaz” (Powerless), a woman earnestly remembers her gods in the darkness, mumbling something that roughly translates to “Dear Almighty, please bring back the light”. ‘Light’ here means electricity.

katiyaaHer prayer sounds absurd but her misery is real. As a resident of Kanpur, the invocation is probably made after several hours without electricity or even clean water in the sweltering and often lethal heat of a north Indian summer.

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