My Meetings with Film Actors

During my stint as a journalist, I had the pleasure to meet many bigwigs of Indian Film Industry. It was always fun to observe and analyze them in person. At that time, I had thought of putting all that in writing. Today, I have managed to write about some of those meetings. Read on!

Amitabh Bachchan ( Book Launch event) – He was charismatic, humble but closed. I saw Amitabh Bachchan, the hugely successful actor rather than Amitabh Bachchan, the person. It was difficult to see beyond his carefully polished demeanor – typical Libran trait! What was really nice about him was his gallant, charming manners. Considering his family background…it’s expected from him! But the most outstanding thing was the awe he inspired and the connect he had with crowd. Also, it appeared that he did not take success for granted. He seemed truly grateful for the overwhelming attention. Or was it all just an act?

Aamir Khan – He was the first celebrity we interviewed at our office. He had come to promote one of his films. And I was on cloud nine for the opportunity to interview him. Unlike Amitabh Bachchan, his personality was not amazing. He looked small and approachable. But what was really wonderful about him was intelligence. Nothing escaped his eyes as he scanned the studio and studied everything in detail. Some of our questions took him by surprise, but he maintained his composure. His focus was to promote his film and that was it. He smiled politely, talked gently and looked far younger than he was but…one got the feeling that he was a real tough guy. His brain was working overtime exploring opportunities while he exchanged pleasantries.

Kareena Kapoor – I met her during an event promoting a cosmetic brand. And what an event it was! She looked better in person than she looks onscreen. The first feeling I had on seeing her was that she really believed that she was a queen, destined to rule hearts. A wave here, a flutter there, reveling in adulation and admiration, but hungry for more. But one rude question from one of the journalists, rubbed her the wrong way. Her rouge stained red cheeks, colored even deeper, eyes flared and hair got tossed even more. She gave her piece of mind there and then. The best thing about her – She is always Kareena Kapoor no matter what! The event came to an end soon after as she left fuming.

Katrina Kaif – Well, when she entered the office for a film promotion, there was complete chaos. I saw gentlemen behaving like gully boys to catch a glimpse of the diva, who wore a business suit to perfection. She was beautiful undoubtedly and oh so, professional. The masque of professionalism never left her face. She hardly smiled and answered in a matter of fact way. Attention stayed on her looks and people had no interest in knowing the person.

Sanjay Dutt – What was striking about Sanjay Dutt was he had no pretenses about him. He was friendly and easy going. I really wondered why this non complicated looking person lived such a tumultuous life. Probably the upcoming biopic (Sanju, Ranbir Kapoor as Sanjay Dutt) would unravel some of the mysterious about him.

Vidya Balan – I did not met her directly but transcribed her uncut interview. She appeared wise, witty and intelligent. In those days, she was dealing with criticism over her figure and dress sense. And she still had to prove her acumen as an actress. Now that I see her, I think she has finally accepted her body type and developed her own dress style.

Kangana Ranaut – Again I did not meet her in person. But her uncut interview did make me think about her being quite flighty. Her answers were immature and vague. But now when I see her on TV, it is a huge transformation. Somewhere along her career, she has found her confidence and the courage to speak her mind.

I also met a lot many actors but not as famous as the above mentioned. And then there were quirky, fascinating authors too. Someday, I’ll write about them. Meanwhile, if you enjoyed reading kindly share the post.

Images courtesy Google

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Sridevi – My Muse

When I was a kid, Sridevi was my favourite face. The actress was everywhere – on magazine covers, newspapers and advertisements. And how I loved to draw her! My sketchbook had a lot of rough sketches of the beauty. She was an artist’s dream with large vivacious eyes and gorgeous demeanor. Her sudden, accidental death by drowning has left all her admirers in deep shock. Now, after so many years, I sketch her one last time as a tribute to her. #RIP Sridevi

Nepotism Sucks!

There are thousands of talented artists all over India, who have been struggling to make it big in the film industry. But eventually, they fail to shine because the arch lights are always on star kids and those with ‘right connections’. They elbow out everybody else. And the recent crassness deliverd from the IIFA 2017 stage by director Karan Johar, actors Saif Ali khan and Varun Dhawan, as they ganged up against Kangana Ranaut, shows their agressive attitude against the ‘outsiders’. They yelled – ‘Nepotism Rocks’ sounding high and mighty. 

But if we, the cinema goers, take away the lights and their surnames from them, they do not stand a chance even as decent human beings.

I hope some law comes up to check this nepotism menace so that the deserving get their due. And the standard of our Hindi films improves. It is because of nepotism that we lose out on international stage. 

Do have a look at the list below to recall the extent of nepotism in the Indian Film Industry. This is how they gained entry in films –


Karan Johar via Yash Johar

Varun Dhawan via David Dhawan

Saif Ali Khan via Sharmila Tagore

Salman Khan via Salim Khan

Aamir Khan via Tahir Hussain

Tiger Shroff via Jackie Shroff

Hrithik Roshan via Rakesh Roshan

Ajay Devgan via Veeru Devgan

Ranbir Kapoor via Rishi Kapoor

Shahid Kapoor via Pankaj Kapoor

Arjun Kapoor via Boney Kapoor

Sanjay Dutt via Sunil Dutt, Nargis

Abhishek Bachchan via Amitabh Bachchan

Sooraj Pancholi – Aditya Pancholy, Zarina Wahab

Ladies


Kareena Kapoor via Randhir Kapoor, Babita

Shraddha Kapoor via Shakti Kapoor

Sonakshi Sinha via Shatrughan Sinha

Alia Bhatt via Mahesh Bhatt

Sonam Kapoor via Anil Kapoor

Athiya Shetty via Suniel Shetty

Kajol via Tanuja

And the list is swelling. Looks at the instagram follows of would be star kids! Some of the aforementioned actors like Aamir Khan, Kajol are talented but most of these are useless, fake people – pompous with low IQs!

Exceptions like Akshay Kumar, Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, Irrfan Khan, Nawazuddin… have made it on their own. But they are just a handful and even they have to appease the nepotistic dons. Kangana called a spade a spade, therefore she has been a target since by the likes of Mr Johar.

We repeat, Mr Johar and the likes… Nepotism Sucks! That’s the very reason why our films lack originality.

Images via Google

Padmavati and Rajput Women – warriors behind the purdah!

While I whole heartedly criticise the vandalism and attacks on the eminent director-producer Mr Sanjay Leela Bhansali as well as actors associated with it, I earnestly hope that the film ‘Padmavati’ does not show the Rajput queen – Rani Padmini in a dishonourable light.

She is revered as a Veerangana (courageous lady) by not only the Rajput clan but all of India. More than her resplendent, flawless beauty, it was her fierce stance to defend her honour that made Rani Padmini into a legend. Do you remember the lines from the famous song – ‘Aao Bachon Tumhe Dikhayein…’ (Jagriti) –
“Yeh Hai Apna Rajaputana Naj Ise Talavaro Pe, Isane Sara Jivan Kata Barachhee Tir Kataro Pe.

Yeh Pratap Kaa Vatan Pala Hai Aajadee Ke Naaro Pe, Kud Padee Thee Yaha Hajaro Padminiyan  Angaron Mein”

The last line here says it all! Thousands of brave women like Rani Padmini performed Jauhar (mass sacrifice) and jumped into fire to protect their honour from enemies.


Rajput men have a special place in the history of India and great warriors like Maharana Pratap, Rana Sanga, Prithviraj Chauhan, Veer Kunwar Singh etc have been a part of this clan. But Rajput women were no less.

Fed on stories of great, courageous leaders since childhood, they upheld honour and valour in the highest regard. True, they observed purdah (veil) but that did not mean they meekly followed male authority. They had immense self respect and pride in lineage and tradition. These women were warriors in thought and spirit from behind the purdah. They were often well educated and would learn all the battlefield skills from the very start.

Even the commoners were skilled in warfare. These ladies were no damsels in distress, they could cook as well as kill with the same expertise.

The legendary story of Hadi Rani underscores the lofty ideals and pride of a Rajput lady. She cut her head when she felt that her husband was so much enamoured by her beauty that he was reluctant to go to the battlefield.

According to wikipedia, “When Maharana Raj Singh I (1653–1680) of Mewar called Hadi Rani’s husband to join the battle against Aurangzeb, the Sardar, having married only a few days earlier hesitated about going into battle. Rajput honour being what it is, he had to join the battle regardless of his reservations. He asked his wife Hadi Rani for some memento to take with him to the battlefield.

Thinking that she was an obstacle to his doing his duty for Mewar, she cut off her head and put it on a plate in her dying moments. A servant covered it with a cloth and presented it to her husband. The Sardar, devastated but nevertheless proud, tied the memento around his neck by its hair. He fought bravely, making Aurangzeb’s army flee.” (Source: Wikipedia).


Another rebel of sorts was the devotee Mira bai, who drank poison in the name of her God Krishna but did not compromise with her ideals. Then there were Rani Durgabati, Rani Karnavati, Rani Chanderi who like Rani Padmini refused to submit to enemies and committed Jauhar (mass sacrifice) to defend their honour. They preferred to die rather than be defiled by blood stained hands of intruders.


These brave women have left hand prints for posterity to remember them. It must have taken unimanigable courage to go through the act but it was better than being brutalized by the enemy.

For Rajput women of yore, committing adultery even in dream, thought, word or under any circumstance was unacceptable. So, they preferred death. This is precislely the reason why Mr Bhansali should tread these lines carefully.

I am hopeful that Mr Bhansali will do justice to Rani Padmini in his film ‘Padmavati’ so that our kids get a new understanding of the words – Honour, Pride, Valour and Integrity.

After Kangana’s Coffee with Karan….

Seething with anger, Mr Karan Johar sat in a luxurious room post his ‘Koffee with Karan’ episode with the arrogant actress Kangana Ranaut. He had been contradicted and slammed on his own famous chat show by a little actress, who was weaker than him in every way. She had no ‘godfather’ in the Hindi film industry, she was not the daughter of a renowned filmmaker or celebrity, she had far lesser contacts and connections than him, and less wealth in comparison to him.  Although, red faced after being called a ‘movie mafia’, Karan had tried to maintain his composure, making it all light and good humoured but the cracks had shown on the show…

Breaking his reverie, the phone buzzed! It was his favourite actress. “How could she, the shabby thing, speak to you like that Karan.You poor thing, I know you must be really mad….and did you hear her disgusting accent….what’s wrong with her….,” the actress purred. Karan spoke his heart out for the next ten moments. The staff in the next room could make out that the boss was indeed in a very bad humour.

“The down market thing, needs to be taught a lesson….,” another favourite whatsapped him. By this time, the media and twiterrati were having a gala time at the expense of poor Mr Johar. The man had been stumped at his own ‘masala’ show! The media sided with Kangana, who had chided Karan for his nepotism and tendency to act as the owner of Bollywood.


 The Hindi film industry is indeed brimming with actors and actresses with less talent and more contacts. All the top notch actors are sons and daughters of celebrities – Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor, Sonakshi Sinha, Shraddha Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor, Varun Dhawan, Tiger Shroff….to name just a few. Ms Ranaut had won this round of applause.

Mr Johar reacted subtly in his next episode of ‘Koffee with Karan’ with Kapil Sharma. “What would you do if you wake up as Kangana Ranaut?,” he asked the comedian. “I would delete my emails,” Kapil Sharma replied sheepishly. And then both laughed nonsensically, insinuating at Kangana and Hrithik’s affair! But the humour fell flat. 

By this time, more than half of the industry sided with Karan Johar, they needed to be in his good books. Ms Ranaut was always an outsider, a nobody, despite having talent. She had also dared to pick up fights with other prominent goliaths like Roshans and was said to be arrogant and rude. 

Karan struck again! While speaking on the sidelines of an event at the London School of Economics, he hinted that Kangana may not have understood the meaning of the word nepotism, that he was fed up of seeing her play the ‘woman card’ and ‘victim card’ and that if the actress had such a problem with the way  industry worked, she was welcome to leave.


That day, watching Karan’s vengeful speeches, Kangana smiled inwardly! She knew most of the industry people would refuse to work with her now. She had irrepairably damaged her career by being loud and clear but…what made her smile was…atleast she had managed to hit back in some way. She knew that she could be called names and dirty allegations might be made against her but she was here to stay! It was time for her to react again! She straightened her back and strided confidently albeit towards an uncertain future.

(Disclaimer – This is a dramatised version of the ongoing battle between Karan Johar and Kangana Ranaut. It is partly factual and partly fictitious. Images courtesy Google.)

From Mad Man to Mountain Man

Dashrath Manjhi sat viewing the mighty mountains surrounding him. They were the barriers, the hurdles, who had played with the lives of so many of his loved ones.

The mountains arrogantly stood between his village, Gehlaur and the nearest town blocking medical and other facilities. And not long back, the love of his life had slipped from one of these rocky terrains, leaving him alone.

He wanted revenge now! It was his will against the daunting mountains. Angrily, he took out his hammer and chisel and began to hurt the mountains. 

The villagers called him mad. But he just stopped listening. For twenty two years, he single handedly struggled against the mountains. 

Finally, he succeeded in carving a path 9.1 metres (30 ft) wide and 110 metres (360 ft) long through a hill 7.6 metres (25 ft). The distance between his village and the town got reduced from 55km to 15km.

Today, the world knows him as the noble Mountain Man!

(The picture reminded me of the poor labourer Dashrath Manjhi from India, who spent his entire life doing a noble task. His life has inspired many documentaries and films as well as stories.  In August 2015, a Hindi movie Manjhi – The Mountain Man, based on his life got released and was well received.)


(This is my entry to the flash fiction challenge, Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers hosted by the lovely Priceless Joy. We are given a photo prompt and approximately 75-175 words with which to create our stories. This challenge is open to all who would like to participate. Please CLICK HERE for more. Thank you Grant for the image!)

The Pink Panther


Sheila waited nervously in the lobby. Soon, she was to be called in for the interview. Looking down at her plain clothes and worn out sandals, she thought, “Will they even consider me?” The other candidates looked so stylish!

But she was not the only one, who was out of the place at the huge Film Design studio. 

Placed in the middle of life-like paintings of Cherubs, Nymphs and landscapes, was a huge photograph of a pink diamond against a black background. It just did not fit!

Her turn came and the overbearing boss threw a question without even looking up, “I saw you checking out the diamond picture in the lobby. If you were me, what would you name it? 

“The Pink Panther,” Sheila answered.

“Why,” he asked with interest.

“First, because the diamond in the picture is flawed just like it was in the film ‘The Pink Panther’.” 

“And second,” she paused looking around at the posters of Aishwarya. “Your favourite star was in that film.”

Sheila nailed the job!

(This image reminded me of the series of films -‘The Pink Panther’. In the film, a flawed pink diamond is used as major plot device. Famous Indian actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan acted in the movie. Find her picture below from the film ‘The Pink Panther’. She will soon be seen in a new film ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’)

(Image courtesy Google)

This is my entry to the flash fiction challenge, Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers hosted by the lovely Priceless Joy. We are given a photo prompt and approximately 75-175 words with which to create our stories. This challenge is open to all who would like to participate. Please CLICK HERE for more. Thank you Jade M Wong for the image!