India Insight

For Oscar-winning Tanovic, Emraan Hashmi’s “serial kisser” tag didn’t matter

When Danis Tanovic chose Bollywood star Emraan Hashmi to play a Pakistani whistle-blower in his new project, the Oscar-winning Bosnian film-maker wasn’t aware of the actor’s notoriety as Indian cinema’s “serial kisser”.
Tanovic eventually watched some of Hashmi’s Bollywood hits and found it funny that the actor had such a different image in India.

“Here he comes with a bunch of luggage and in front of me he came as a man, as an actor,” said the 45-year-old director, describing Hashmi as a “very calm, decent guy.”

In “Tigers”, an Indian-French production that premiered at the Toronto film festival last week, Hashmi plays a young Pakistani salesman who exposes the harmful effects of the multinational infant formula he’s peddling.

“It’s a story that has been happening since 30-40 years and it is still happening today,” said Tanovic. “Thank God not much in India but there are many countries that suffered. It’s basically talking about corporate responsibility versus profit,” he told India Insight in an interview.

Tanovic is not that well known in India, except as the director of “No Man’s Land”, a dark comedy about the absurdity of war that trumped India’s entry “Lagaan” to win the best foreign language Oscar in 2001.

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.

Conscious about whether his hair was in place and regretting that he didn’t put on some make-up, Kumar met me at a Gurgaon hotel to talk about Chopra and the film.

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.

The decision to cast Chopra in the role of Kom has led to accusations that the film’s producers preferred to go with a bankable star rather than another actor from Manipur or elsewhere in the northeast, and has prompted a new round of discussion about the nation’s marginalizing of people from this region. Chopra discussed this and other aspects of playing Kom in our interview.

A Minute With: Rajat Kapoor on ‘Ankhon Dekhi’

Over the past decade, film-maker Rajat Kapoor has found a niche for himself in Bollywood, writing and directing movies that rely more on unusual plots than glamorous movie stars.

His latest film, “Ankhon Dekhi”, has actor Sanjay Mishra playing a man who refuses to believe anything that he hasn’t experienced himself. The film opens in Indian cinemas on Friday.

Kapoor, 53, spoke to Reuters about “Ankhon Dekhi” and why he doesn’t work with Bollywood movie stars.

Ashutosh gears up for Chandni Chowk race; talks about ‘biased’ media

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

Aam Aadmi Party’s Ashutosh might have been a TV news host, but now he talks like an experienced politician. “I am enjoying” being on the other side of the microphone, the former managing editor of Hindi news channel IBN7 told India Insight during an interview in which he discussed his decision to stand for Parliament.

It probably won’t be easy. He is taking on Kapil Sibal, a Congress party veteran and influential government minister. Sibal, a two-time member of the Lok Sabha from central Delhi’s Chandni Chowk constituency, has a knack for landing in controversies. From trying to police social media to trashing a popular upsurge against corrupt politicians in 2011, he often has become a target of public wrath.

Ashutosh, who goes by a single name, said the media is being manipulated by political parties and corporations to make sure that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi wins the prime minister’s race in May. Regarding his own former media company Network18, which accepted a large investment from Reliance Industries in 2012 in a complex deal, he had little to say. Nevertheless, he shared his thoughts on how he sees the media now that he is on the other side of the camera. Here are edited excerpts from the interview.

A Minute With: Ali Abbas Zafar on ‘Gunday’

Film-maker Ali Abbas Zafar made his Bollywood debut in 2011 with “Mere Brother Ki Dulhan”, a romantic comedy that was among the biggest hits that year.

For his second film as director, Zafar has switched genres to make what promises to be a dark and gritty 1970’s period film set in Kolkata about a pair of coal bandits and a cabaret dancer.

Gunday”, which opens in cinemas on Valentine’s Day, stars Ranveer Singh, Arjun Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra in the lead roles. Zafar spoke to Reuters about the movie and the challenges of filming a period thriller.

“Levels of corruption have gone down drastically in Delhi” – The Arvind Kejriwal interview, part 3

(This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced without permission)

By Frank Jack Daniel and Sruthi Gottipati

Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi’s new chief minister, stormed to power in the national capital in December on an anti-corruption platform.

His Aam Aadmi Party, or “Common Man’s Party”, uses a broom as its symbol to suggest it is sweeping the dirt out of politics. Kejriwal, a bespectacled former tax collector, spoke to Reuters in a wide-ranging interview a month after getting the top job, from the same modest apartment he’s lived in for the past 15 years. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of the third and final part of the interview.

(“Allow us to make mistakes, allow us to learn” – The Arvind Kejriwal interview, part 1)

“People need to be allowed to do business” – The Arvind Kejriwal interview, part 2

(This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced without permission)

By Frank Jack Daniel and Sruthi Gottipati

Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi’s new chief minister, stormed to power in the national capital in December on an anti-corruption platform.

His Aam Aadmi Party, or “Common Man’s Party”, uses a broom as its symbol to suggest it is sweeping the dirt out of politics. Kejriwal, a bespectacled former tax collector, spoke to Reuters in a wide-ranging interview a month after getting the top job, from the same modest apartment he’s lived in for the past 15 years. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of the second part of the interview. Reuters will publish the third and final part on Sunday.

(“Allow us to make mistakes, allow us to learn” – The Arvind Kejriwal interview, part 1)

“Allow us to make mistakes, allow us to learn” — The Arvind Kejriwal interview, part 1

(This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced without permission)

By Frank Jack Daniel and Sruthi Gottipati

Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi’s new chief minister, stormed to power in the national capital in December on an anti-corruption platform.

His Aam Aadmi Party, or “Common Man’s Party”, uses a broom as its symbol to suggest it is sweeping the dirt out of politics. Kejriwal, a bespectacled former tax collector, spoke to Reuters in a wide-ranging interview a month after getting the top job, from the same modest apartment he’s lived in for the past 15 years. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of the first part of the interview. Reuters will publish parts two and three over the next few days.

On Monday night — surrounded by idols of the deity Ganesh (known in Hinduism as the remover of obstacles), books on Mahatma Gandhi and the translated Quran, activism awards, plastic flowers, and of course  a broom — Kejriwal sipped a glass of warm water for his bronchitis as he spoke.

India won’t have misfortune of having Rahul Gandhi as PM: AAP’s Kumar Vishwas

By Sankalp Phartiyal and Aditya Kalra

The Aam Aadmi Party’s Kumar Vishwas, who plans to challenge the Congress party from the Gandhi family’s bastion in Uttar Pradesh, said it would be unfortunate if Rahul Gandhi became India’s prime minister.

Vishwas’s remarks came as Gandhi suggested in a rare interview published on Tuesday in the Dainik Bhaskar that he was ready to be prime minister if the Congress returns to power in the 2014 general election due by May.

“I don’t think that India has the misfortune of him (Rahul Gandhi) ever becoming prime minister,” Vishwas said in a telephone interview from Amethi district. “The direction in which the country is headed right now … things will only get worse (if Gandhi becomes PM).”

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