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Amitabh Bachchan: 75 and ‘not out’ of filmdom

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Amitabh Bachchan

New Delhi, Oct 10 : Age is just a number for Amitabh Bachchan, who turns 75 on Wednesday. His work diary is already spilling into 2019, but he remains firmly “not out”, continuing a glorious journey that has lasted over four decades.

In an industry where roles are seldom written for veteran actors, Bachchan is experimenting with looks, characters and themes with an enthusiasm and passion of a newcomer.

“When he comes on the set, he is always in character. I never feel like I’m directing Mr Amitabh Bachchan. I feel I am directing the character,” Umesh Shukla, who is working with the “living legend” in “102 Not Out”, told IANS.

“When he steps out of his vanity van, he comes out in the type of mood that is required for a scene and makes the atmosphere like that. It’s fun to work with him,” added Shukla, who has cast veteran actor Rishi Kapoor as a 75-year-old and Bachchan as his 102-year-old father in the movie.

Another challenging role that Bachchan has taken up is in “Thugs of Hindostan”, which will see him in an armoured look with a heavy beard. His co-star Aamir Khan, who will be sharing screen space with Bachchan for the first time, has been a long-time admirer.

“His aura, action, every nuance of his acting was such a fulfilling experience in cinema,” Aamir said of watching Big B’s films in theatres in his younger days.

But as he rings in his milestone birthday, Bachchan wants no celebrations.

He is off to the Maldives for a vacation with wife Jaya, son Abhishek, daughter Shweta, daughter-in-law Aishwarya and granddaughter Aaradhya. And he will be back to work soon.

“A small and peaceful family time is more than enough for me,” Big B had once said.

Film historian S.M.M. Ausaja, whose forthcoming book “The Bachchans” retraces the journey of what he calls the “premier family of Bollywood”, said Bachchan’s “extraordinary” success is a “spectacular example of talent and luck”.

“If you’re very talented and low on luck, you’re Naseeruddin Shah. Or if you’re low on talent and high on luck, you’re Jeetendra. In Mr Bachchan’s case, it has been the right mix. He was unconventional in looks and amidst a string of actors for whom it was the romance genre all the way, he was like a whiff of fresh air. His mannerisms and style were his own,” Ausaja told IANS.

Having started with a role as one of the seven protagonists in “Saat Hindustani”, Bachchan next featured in the Rajesh Khanna-starrer “Anand” and did a few more films. But it wasn’t until the 1973 movie “Zanjeer” that he came into his own.

“There was no stopping him then,” Ausaja said, pointing to some of his “sensitive films” like “Ek Nazar”, “Mili” and “Abhimaan”, as well as hits like “Deewaar”, “Sholay”, “Mard”, Naseeb”, “Namak Haraam”, “Kabhie Kabhie”, “Don”, “Hum” and “Shahenshah”.

In 1978, he was at the top of his game with movies like “Muqaddar Ka Sikandar”, “Trishul”, “Don”, “Kasme Vaade”, “Ganga Ki Saugandh” and “Besharam” doing well.

A near-fatal injury on the sets of “Coolie” in 1982 led him to take a break from films and he ventured into politics from his native Allahabad. He contested the Lok Sabha election on the Congress ticket in 1984, but didn’t continue his political journey for long.

He found himself named in the infamous Bofors scandal, but was cleared of the allegations 25 years later and remains apolitical even though he associates himself with issue-related social campaigns for the government once in a while.

Until 1988, when “Shahenshah” was released, Bachchan — son of legendary poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan — was in top form.

“Post-‘Shahenshah’, his fall began when directors started presenting him as larger-than-life characters in films like ‘Toofan’ and ‘Jaadugar’. He endured a lot of flops and other problems until the start of the millennium when he came up with the television show ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ in 2000. In fact, Mr Bachchan was named ‘Star of the Millennium’ at the worst phase of his career.

“But then, after ‘KBC’, his meteoric rise began and he started playing his age on screen and reinvented himself with every project — be it ‘Sarkar’, ‘Baghban’, ‘Bunty Aur Babli’, ‘Paa’, ‘Black’… His popularity is a binding factor for the country,” Ausaja said.

For someone who was considered too thin and too tall to fit in the Hindi film industry, Bachchan’s run in showbiz — to many — is what dreams are made of.

He failed when he launched Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Ltd in the 1990s, but his acting acumen has taken him places.

Bachchan has earned epithets like “Angry Young Man” and “Shahenshah”, and has won the love of fans who throng the gates of his house in Mumbai every Sunday to meet him.

Shukla said Bachchan must be still working 14 to 15 hours a day. “It’s commendable at his age. He is always on his toes and I have never seen him tired…”

“Sometimes we have to tell him to take it easy. He says, ‘No, I’ll do it’. That’s his spirit,” Shukla said.(IANS)

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Paradise Papers: The “loot” of Nation’s Wealth by the “ultra-rich” of the Country

India ranks 19th out of 180 countries in Paradise Papers.

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One of the largest belongs to Mukesh Ambani.
One of the largest belongs to Mukesh Ambani. Wikimedia Commons

By Salil Gewali

India boasts of having one of the largest and expensive modern mansions in the world – second only to the palace built by Sultan of Brunei. That belongs none other than a filthy rich Mukesh Ambani. But very contrastingly, India has also often been disgraced for its maximum number of citizens who spend their nights, their weeks, their months and years in the open pavement even in the cutting cold of the winter. Yes, the country bears the burden of the largest number of poor people in the world – approximately 276 million people live below poverty line. What a vast difference between the haves – the super-rich, and the have-nots.

The “loot” of nation’s wealth by the “ultra-rich” of the country had been going on quietly until the German newspaper brought out to the open the details of Paradise Papers from Appleby, the Bermuda-based legal service provider. Needless to say, for the ultra-rich, the name of the game is “tax planning”, offshore finance, the creation of off-shore entities, et al. In the eyes of our authorities, it is about “deemed lapses in corporate governance, alleged fund diversion, irregularities in disclosure norms,” and so on. One wonders, in this scenario, what is at stake for the common man?

  As for the common man, his humble “paradise” is being looted; his God-given right to share his due is throttled. His children’s chances to come up in life, if at all there are any, are choked. His right to a “fair living” is gradually drifting apart. Because the very means of his life is plundered by a few ultra-rich. On a wider outlook, at the national level, the country’s wealth is burgled and robbed. Then who are these plunderers?

There are more than 700 of them from our country in the disclosed list of having Paradise Papers– the disclosure is still incomplete – of Paradise Papers. Very funnily, these names include persons, who the common man relies on, worship, holds in high esteem and vows to give his life for. Film star Amitabh Bachchan, who is often worshipped, Union Minister of State  Jayant Sinha, BJP Rajya Sabha M.P., R.K. Sinha, Corporate tycoon Vijay Mallya, Corporate lobbyist Niira Radia, Harsha Moily, son of former UPA Minister Veerappa Moily, Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt’s wife Dilnashin, son of former UPA powerhouse and Central Minister P. Chidambaram, former Union Minister Sachin Pilot, and several others who is who of India’s Corporate world, politics, and other fields. Interestingly, What more? Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain, Lord Ashcroft, the most prominent British politician, U.S. Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, Shakira, Madonna and notoriously disgraced Harvey Weinstein, for his sexual wrongdoings and so on and so forth.

In spite of strict regulations in every country, it would be interesting to know, how these celebrities, politicians, multinationals, and the ultra-rich individuals are hiding Paradise Papers. I’m not wrong that rules in every country have built-in loopholes. In other words, rules of every country have provided loopholes to the cunning and crafty to circumvent them. And we have got them in abundance. The very fact that our country ranks 19th out of 180 countries in Paradise Papers is certainly not something that we can cheer about.

 The wealthy form shell companies, “foundations”, and “trusts” as a cover to hide their money from tax authorities. They form “offshore” accounts that are handled by law firms specializing in these “offshore’ expertise. To the world, their forceful argument is “offshore” banking which is legal. But, this is practiced by only the ultra-rich to evade tax. They take advantage of the legal loop-hole by taking shelter under the tax treaties by our Government.

  But frankly speaking, will they ever be able to “use” that wealth? I don’t think it’s possible in the practical world. They can’t even see, touch and feel their wealth they have once dispatched. Not even after 500 years, they can use it if they ever could live.  Because these super-rich people already have countless wealth which is in their various kind of treasury vaults.  Is it not the paradise of illusion then?

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter @SGewali.

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Manoj Bajpayee is an amazing actor and a team player on set: Sidharth Malhotra

Sidharth Malhotra on Thursday treated his fans to a question and answer session over Twitter.

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Actor Sidharth Malhotra
Actor Sidharth Malhotra. Wikimedia Commons

November 7, 2017: Actor Sidharth Malhotra, who will be seen sharing screen space with Manoj Bajpayee in “Aiyaary”, says the National Award winning actor is amazing and a team player.

Sidharth Malhotra on Thursday treated his fans to a question and answer session over Twitter.

A user asked the “Student Of The Year” actor about his experience working with Manoj in “Aiyaary”.

Sidharth replied: “He’s an amazing actor and a team player on set.”

“Aiyaary”, set in Delhi, London and Kashmir, revolves around two strong-minded Army officers having completely different views, yet right in their own ways. It is a real-life story based on the relationship between a mentor and a protege.

Presented by Plan C and Jayantilal Gada (Pen), the project is produced by Shital Bhatia, Dhaval Jayantilal Gada, Motion Picture Capital.

When asked about the development of the film, Sidharth replied: “Awesome. Excited to show it in a few months.”

Sidharth, 32, also described his “Brothers” co-star Akshay Kumar as his “brother from another mother.”(IANS)

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Padmavati Controversy: Rajasthan Government will form a committee to Watch Padmavati

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Rajasthan Government will form a committee to Watch Padmavati
Padmavati movie poster. Instagram

Jaipur, November 10, 2017: The Rajasthan government plans to set up a committee to watch Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s forthcoming controversial movie “Padmavati”.

“Modalities in this direction will be worked out soon. The committee will watch the movie and will identify the scenes in the film that may hurt the sentiments of the public,”  Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria, Rajasthan government told IANS.

“What has to do after that… Do we have to talk to the filmmaker… It will only be decided after watching the film. Moreover, what we can do on our level will also be decided after the committee watches the film,” Kataria said.

While the Rajasthan government may set up a committee, it is not immediately clear whether Bhansali will screen the movie for it as by law, only the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has the right to certify a movie.

“Padmavati”, which attempts to tell the tale of the valor of Rajputs with the backdrop of the 1303 siege of Chittorgarh, is scheduled to release on December 1.

It is embroiled in controversy over the conjecture that it distorts history by showing a dream romance sequence between Rani Padmini and invader Alauddin Khilji — a claim rubbished by Bhansali.

Still, organizations like Shri Rajput Karni Sena and Sarv Brahmin Mahasabha to go up in arms against the release of the movie, while BJP leaders have been making statements and appeal to stop its release.

“They are trying to defame Padmavati by distorting historical facts. It is not acceptable,” an activist of Karni Sena said.

In the wake of the controversy, even film distributors in Rajasthan are wary of releasing the film in the state.

On his part, Bhansali has clarified that the movie, featuring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor, has nothing which can hurt anyone’s sentiments.(IANS)