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Ask anyone in Bollywood, and you would probably get the same reply on Ayushmann Khurrana. When it comes to this versatile actor for entertainment, picture abhi baaki hai.
Ayushmann goes into 2020 with seven straight successes spread over the past few years, ranging from hits to superhits. 2019 saw one superhit, “Dream Girl”, and two hits, “Article 15” and “Bala”. The year continued a glorious run that has also comprised “Bareilly Ki Barfi”, “Shubh Mangal Saavdhan”, “Andhadhun” and “Badhai Ho”.
Ayushmann has brought an important change into the Hindi film industry. He has proved that a successful star need not compromise on quality of his cinema and performances in order to entertain and reach out to maximum people and ensure hits at the box-office.
In 2020, he has “Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan” coming up first. The comedy on homosexuality is spin-off of his 2017 hit “Shubh Mangal Saavdhan”, and is directed by Hitesh Kewalya.
His other film in 2020 as of now is “Gulabo Sitabo”. The film stars Amitabh Bachchan with him for the first time, and his directed by Shoojit Sircar, who brought him into Bollywood with the brilliant “Vicky Donor” in 2012. The film is a tongue-in-cheek account of the daily struggles of the common man, using the folk art of puppetry.
When it comes to Ayushmann, the success we have seen so far just seems like a preparatory phase in his bid to move to the level of glory. The actor’s USP has been setting off disruption in whatever he does – with release patterns, the roles he chooses and the projects he opts for. In 2020, he will continue reorganising the definition of Bollywood stardom with his quirky roles, as his line-up of the year seems to underline.
In the 12 months coming up, Ayushmann will establish Bollywood’s new definition of superstardom – one that banks on content and characters and has nothing to do with glamour and six packs, unlike in the past.
DEEPIKA PADUKONE’S CHHAPAAK TURN
At the title song launch of her new film “Chhapaak”, Deepika Padukone insisted the film, an unflinching account of an acid attack survivor, was not really a risk for a top mainstream star like her.
She was probably understating facts. For one, not many superstar heroines in Bollywood have ever stepped out of their comfort zone of perfection to attempt such a drastic makeover, and portray such a grotesque face of realism.
From her ejhakaas’ gyrations in “Lovely” to the “Chhapaak” act in her upcoming release is a radical image overhaul for Deepika.
Irrespective of its box-office show, the Meghna Gulzar film will radically reorganise how mainstream Hindi cinema imagines its leading lady. More importantly, it also marks a progression for the leading lady as an entrepreneur. With this film, after all, Deepika, along with Meghna, has turned producer. While the Hindi film heroine turning to filmmaking is not new, the absolutely unconventional “Chhapaak” signals a very special turn.
The film shows that the Bollywood heroine has somewhere managed to find her feet firmly on the ground now, in the (still) male-dominated Hindi film industry after all these decades. She is now finally ready to finally tell the stories that she wants to, on her own accord and not driven by the need to get into Bollywood power lists or make a quick moolah.
The Bollywood heroine has been getting a few noteworthy solid roles in recent years. With a strong role like “Chhapaak”, Deepika makes a case for taking the image of the mainstream heroine beyond body beautiful, while imagining heroine-oriented scripts.
This is important to understand in the Bollywood context, where the biggest hits are still about hunky heroes waging a CGI-loaded formulaic war of machismo. Maybe, “Chhapaak” cannot change that reality overnight, but the fact that the film has become a talking point even before release shows Deepika Padukone has made a start somewhere with her debut production assignment in mainstream Bollywood cinema.
THE SOCIAL MEDIA SUPERSTARS
Superstardom is no longer just about box-office success. Instagram and Twitter have created a breed of stars such as Priyanka-Nick, Sonam Kapoor and Sonakshi Sinha who manage to keep wooing fans on a daily basis despite the fact that they actually haven’t had much of real success at the box-office in a while.
Almost every celebrity uses social media to promote their films, but many use the platform to share a glimpse of their personal lives among fans. Even the biggest superstars such as Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar today owe a significant part of their popularity to social media. From sharing fitness videos to giving a sneak peek into their family life and expressing love for everyone from close ones to fans, our stars are more visible on the social media screens than the big screen.
Not only this, many celebrities have created personal applications or Youtube channels in order to develop a personal touch with fans. Alia Bhatt, Kartik Aaryan, Jacqueline Fernandes and Shilpa Shetty are among many others who have their own YouTube channels on which they can be seen chronicling their daily routine activities and other interesting events. Shah Rukh Khan may not have had a release in over a year now, but the media-savvy superstar intelligently uses social media to remain the eternal newsmaker. Recently, he conducted an ‘ask me anything’ session on Twitter wherein he was seen responding to his fans’ queries.
Younger actors – especially small screen stars who arrive in the industry from outside — have often said that their getting work these days depends a lot on their social media presence, that unless you are active on Twitter and Instagram, you often stand to lose out on roles. Clearly, being an actor is no longer merely about acting or glamour anymore, in the era of cyber frenzy!
THE DIGITAL ENTERTAINERS
From Netflix placing big bets on India, to Amazon Studio strengthening its slate and foraying big screen production, to the much-anticipated launch of Disney Plus in India, 2020 will be a critical year for service providers, with the OTT platforms turning into a battleground for entertainment.
The various players who are vying for supremacy in the area of digital entertainment are not only looking to stealing the march on each other, in the process they are also redefining how entertainment is served to the consumer.
The digital platforms, after all, are adding star power by roping in veteran A-list stars. No longer are original web shows and films only about actors who struggle to get a break in films. Hosting digital concerts with big names attached to such gigs, bringing movies onto the streaming services within a few months of theatrical release and reviving cancelled shows on fan demand – all of these have helped OTT platforms set up an all-encompassing entertainment space of their own.
In fact, internationally, the digital platform has also started dictating the feature filmmaking process. Amazon and Netflix are both into producing full-fledged feature films. The logic is that gradually, these digital platforms hope to wean away the lion’s share of big screen audiences, and hence they want to dictate content of cinema, too, so that the content remains compatible for OTT as well. This year, Netflix and Amazon will continue making big-budget movies and taking them to the big screen, with the trend expected to come to India soon.
In 2019, OTT platforms paved a ‘digital’ route to the future with diverse and intriguing content, and 2020 will be a year to take big leaps.
Netflix will be pumping in Rs 3000 crore in original shows and films specifically made in India. Amazon Prime started the year with a bang by announcing Kabir Khan’s ambitious project “The Forgotten Army: Azaadi Ke Liye”. Hotstar crossed 400 million downloads, and registered double growth in installs in 2019, and addition of Disney Plus library this year will up the numbers, turning around the whole streaming game in India.
It is evident that OTT platforms will continue to change the rules and create new ways of entertainment. But the question is how soon before it changes the TV and film industries of India?
HOLLYWOOD’S FEMALE SUPERHEROES
It’s going to be the year of female superheroes. The majority of superhero movies in 2020 will narrate stories of female superheroes, or at least have very strong female superhero characters, giving a feminist touch to the superhero universe.
The year will start with actress Margot Robbie coming back as Harley Quinn in “Birds Of Prey”. She will come with her gang Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s huntress, Jurnee Smollett-Bell’s Black Canary, and Rosie Perez’s detective Renee Montoya.
Marvel Studios’ “Black Widow” will also be redefining the superhero universe with women power in focus. The film will bring back Scarlett Johansson in the avatar of Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow as she traces her past to solve the puzzle of her life, in her first solo adventure as a superhero. It marks the beginning of Marvel’s Phase 4. The film is slated to release in India on April 30, 2020 — a day before its release in the US.
Actress Gal Gadot will also be back as Wonder Woman with edgier action for a new battle with new villains. The much-awaited “Wonder Woman 1984”, a sequel of the megahit 2017 DC film, is one of the most anticipated films of 2020, as it is dubbed to start a “new era of wonder”.
Then the superhero universe will be super-powered with “The Eternals”, with Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, and Gemma Chan coming together to tell a tale about super-powered beings The Celestials and their villainous adversaries The Deviants in a war set millions of years ago.
It will not only be the year for women in front of the camera, but behind the camera as well. All the major superhero movies have been directed by women — “Birds of Prey” by Cathy Yan, “Black Widow” by Cate Shortland, “Wonder Woman 1984” by Patty Jenkins and “The Eternals” by Chloe Zhao.
There’s also “Mulan” — a story of a warrior woman, Maisie Williams’ horror film “The New Mutants” which is set in the superhero genre and Milla Jovovich’s fantasy action thriller “Monster Hunter”. (IANS)
As weather cleared up in Uttarakhand, Char Dham Yatra restored on Friday with more than 16,000 devotees resuming the pilgrimage from the Rishikesh camp.
According to sources, road leading to Badrinath has been repaired and helicopter service has also resumed.
Meanwhile, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami visited Dungi village and met families of people who were missing after the landslip incident, and consoled them.
Dhami assured them of all possible assistance. Two people from the village are still reported to be missing.
Pilgrims were seen leaving from Rishikesh Char Dham Bus terminal and Haridwar bus station for the pilgrimage since morning.
As per the state government, various departments -- Devasthanam Board, police are assisting the pilgrims.
Police Chowki Yatra Bus Terminal, Rishikesh, was announcing passenger-information via loudspeaker.
Free RT-PCR tests of pilgrims were being conducted at Rishikesh bus terminal.
Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board's media in-charge Dr Harish Gaur said pilgrimage was on in Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, while for Kedarnath, helicopter service was also available.
Though the weather was cold in all dhams, thankfully there was no rain, he added.
Portals of the temple in Badrinath will close on November 20, Gangotri on November 5, while that of Kedarnath and Yamunotri on November 6.
Uttarakhand floods, triggered by a major downpour from October 17 to 19, have claimed 65 lives so far, 3,500 people have been rescued while 16,000 evacuated to safety.
Seventeen teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), seven teams of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), 15 companies of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and 5,000 police personnel have been engaged in rescue and relief operations.
The state has already been provided with Rs 250 crore Disaster Fund which is being used for relief works.
To prevent spread of the diseases, the Central and state governments have decided to send medical teams to the affected areas.
Snapped power lines will be restored at the earliest, the government assured.
The state government said that as soon as alert for heavy rainfall was issued, the Incident Response System was activated at state and district levels, and pilgrims were halted at safer places. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: Uttarakhand, India, Char Dham Yatra, PushkarDhami, Rishikesh.
The Centre has continued the Naga peace talks with the Isak-Muivah faction of National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) leaders, but negotiations face roadblocks as the Naga leaders are adamant in their main demands for a separate Constitution and flag.
The sources aware of these developments said that the Centre was hopeful that a successful solution of the six decades-long peace talks would arrive at a logical conclusion, but in the recent statements, Naga leaders have accused the Centre of offering post-solution options.
Sources quoting the stand of Naga leaders said that NSCN's stand was loud and clear that it would not follow the forbidden route to the Naga solution that was linked to foregoing the Naga national flag and Constitution, which is the face of the Naga political struggle and identity.
The Naga leaders have also said that the Centre has been using divisive policy and flattery in the name of finding the Naga political solution when the matters heated up.
When the Centre resumed the peace process in September this year and sent the former special director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) A.K. Mishra as the Ministry of Home Affairs' emissary to the rebel outfit's chief negotiator and general secretary T. Muivah, he assured him (Muivah) that the peace talks would be initiated under the original framework signed in 2015, a source in the Naga rebel group said.
"Here we are talking about the Naga national flag and Yehzabo (Constitution), the two issues that are holding up the Naga solution under the ongoing Indo-Naga political talks in Delhi.
"The chequered history of the Indo-Naga political issue is clear enough before us, with accords and agreements that were never meant to be implemented in letter and spirit", an important office-bearer of the rebel outfit said while criticizing the governments' stand.
Accusing the Centre, he further accused the Centre of persuading the Naga people again to accept whatever is being offered to hurry up the Naga talks.
On the invitation of the Centre, the senior leaders of the NSCN-IM including T. Muivah arrived in the national capital on October 6 this year to hold another round of talks with the Centre.
Both, the Centre and the Naga leaders had indicated their keenness on resolving this long pending issue by the end of this year in an amicable manner.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sharma, who is also chairman of North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), and Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio had been actively involved in the resumption of the peace talks and taking it forward to a logical conclusion.
Soon after the transfer of Nagaland Governor R.N. Ravi, who was appointed as the Centre's interlocutor for the Naga peace talks on August 29, 2014, to Tamil Nadu, the peace talks resumed on September 20 in Kohima when the Centre representative met the Naga leaders and invited them to visit Delhi for further rounds of peace talks.
The NSCN-IM and the other outfits entered into a ceasefire agreement with the Government of India in 1997 and over 80 rounds of negotiations with the Centre have been held in the past in successive governments. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: Nagaland, India, Constitution, Politics, Flag.
The series decider for the Test series between England and India will now be played at Edgbaston from July 1 next year, said the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday. India is currently leading the series 2-1 before the fifth Test at Old Trafford was cancelled hours before the start due to concerns over COVID-19 outbreak in the tourists' camp.
"The fifth match of the LV= Insurance Test Series between England Men and India Men has been rescheduled and will now take place in July 2022. The match, which was due to take place last month at Emirates Old Trafford, was called off when India were unable to field a team due to fears of a further increase in the number of Covid-19 cases inside the camp," said an ECB statement.
"With India leading the series 2-1, the concluding fifth match will now take place from July 1, 2022, at Edgbaston, following an agreement between the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)," added the statement.
ECB also said that due to the rescheduled Test, the white-ball series between England and India will now start six days later than originally planned. The T20I series will begin on July 7 at Ageas Bowl with Edgbaston and Trent Bridge hosting the second and third matches respectively on July 9 and 10. It will be followed by the ODI series starting on July 12 at The Oval followed by Lord's and Old Trafford hosting the second and third ODI on July 14 and 17 respectively.
"Ticket holders do not have to take any action as all tickets will remain valid for the equivalent rearranged matchday at their host venue. Host venues will communicate the new fixture details to ticket purchasers and the options available to them, including the timeframe for requesting a refund if they are not able to attend the new match day," further said the statement.
"We are very pleased that we have reached an agreement with BCCI to creating a fitting end to what has been a brilliant series so far. I'm very grateful to all the venues involved for the cooperation they've shown in allowing us to reschedule this match. I'd also like to thank Cricket South Africa for their support and understanding to allow these changes to be possible," said Tom Harrison, the CEO of the ECB.
"We would like to apologise again to fans for the disruption and disappointment of September events. We know it was a day that so many had planned long in advance. We recognise that accommodating this extra match means a tighter schedule for the white ball series. We will continue to manage our players' welfare and workloads through next year while we also continue to seek the optimum schedule for fans, players and our partners across the game."
"I am delighted that the England-India Test series will now have its rightful conclusion. The four Test matches were riveting, and we needed a fitting finale. The BCCI recognizes and respects the traditional form of the game and is also mindful of its role and obligations towards fellow Board Members. In the last two months, both BCCI and the ECB have been engaged in discussions and our efforts were aimed at finding a suitable window. I thank the ECB for their understanding and patience in finding an amicable solution," said BCCI Secretary Jay Shah. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: India, Britain, BCCI, Test Match, Cricket.