Super filmi week: More power to Anushka Sharma!

Discovering what I love about Anushka Sharma’s ‘spirit’ on more than one occasion in my super-filmi week.

There used to be a time in Bollywood when even a popular actress would get all smug about a project simply because of the big star she was cast opposite and the number of songs she’d get to dance on.

Things have change significantly but the mindset hasn’t completely vanished. Some of our best leading ladies have appeared as pure eye candy sometime or the other.

And that’s what makes Anushka Sharma such a heartening presence in the film industry. Look at her career: even in a Patiala House or a Dil Dhadakne Do, where she’s not central to the story, her role has substance and a sparkling individuality.

Watching the trailer of her brand new offering as artist and co-producer, Phillauri only confirms the excitement she spawns.

Although the contents of the teaser remind me of I Married A Witch initially, a friend tips at The Corpse Bride, which I concede makes more sense. The Tim Burton animation about a man inadvertently slipping a ring on a dead girl’s finger is also inspired by Jewish folklore.

Déjà vu aside, Anushka’s sweet ‘n’ spooky turn around a plausibly petrified Suraj Sharma piqued my curiosity about Phillauri big time.

Tuesday
I am a huge fan of the dazzling contrasts Vishal Bhardwaj conjures through his compositions — idiosyncratic in their celebration or meditatively sublime.  But I cannot bring myself to care about his music in Rangoon.

There’s something so lazy and rehashed about its creativity.

The inadequacy is depressing.

Perhaps I’ll feel differently when experiencing them in context of the narrative.

At this point, I am just surprised at by how identical the droning bits of Bhardwaj’s Yeh Ishq Hai and Rahman’s Dil Se Re… sound.

Wednesday
There’s retro music playing on a Bollywood music channel.

There’s Anil Kapoor trying to win over Madhuri Dixit to the beats of Ek Do Teen in Tezaab, followed by Sunny Deol insisting on Meenakshi Seshadri confess her love for him in Ghayal‘s Pyaar Tum Mujhse Karti Ho and, finally, there’s Shah Rukh Khan looking for love while howling Koi Na Koi Chahiye in Deewana.

That they’re doing it publically, with a real-life crowd of star-struck onlookers, is what all the three songs share in common.

Happy, clueless, attentive faces, waving, gazing, pushing furiously through the swarm to catch a glimpse of their favourite or pop inside the frame — that single image sums up the magical impact of cinema on the common man better than any essay or book can. Too bad I don’t get to see it much any more.

Perhaps I could add it this to my fun piece on Things We No Longer See in Hindi Movies.

Thursday
It’s Amrita Singh’s birthday. 

To an entire generation, she’s either Arjun Kapoor/Tiger Shroff’s loud Punjabi mum or Saif Ali Khan’s ex-wife with whom she has two kids, a technicality that continues to serve as dramatic fodder for tabloid gossip.

Back in her heyday, she was rechristened ‘Mard Singh’ for her tough talk and physicality. Stereotyped in the slot of a boisterous belle in mindless action fare and hideous costumes, the underestimated and unexplored talent of Amrita Singh rarely got the chance to flex its comic chops or dramatic rigor.

Beyond the silky-haired, spoiled brat of Betaab, there’s so much to take away from her schoolgirl gusto in Chameli Ki Shaadi, her plucky girl-next-door believability in Saaheb, her attractive restraint in Sunny, her stunning sensitivity in Naam, her impressive show of authority and vulnerability in Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman, her gigantic, obsessive, scheming, insatiable ego in Aaina and her smooth grip of the master manipulator in Aurangzeb.

This is the Amrita Singh I know, like and celebrate.

Friday
It’s 9.30 am and I am at multiplex close home to catch the first show of Subhash Kapoor’s Jolly LLB 2. What a delight this sequel is!

Adding to the fun is an equally responsive audience inside the hall, clapping and chuckling away to glory — right from the opening scene where Akshay Kumar makes an entry to openly facilitate cheating in exams to the hilarious last scene, which you are better off discovering on your own.

Like I wrote in my review I truly enjoyed, ‘the pungency at which Jolly LLB 2 scorns at the intense rot eating up a noble profession without compromising on the inherent rascality of its titular character.’

Juggling mainstream and meaningful is something Naseeruddin Shah did fabulously in his days as leading man. The year he did Jalwa is also the year he came out with Ijaazat. But it’s only now that this approach — to have the best of both worlds — is more prevalent than ever thanks to the likes of Aamir Khan (Dhoom and Dangal), Kareena Kapoor (Udta Punjab and Bajrangi Bhaijaan) and, quite clearly, Akshay Kumar (Airlift and Housefull 3).    

Saturday
Recently, some media outlets implied that boyfriend and Indian cricketer Virat Kohli has financed Phillauri, Anushka Sharma’s upcoming home production in collaboration with Fox Star India. Obviously, she didn’t take it lying down and retaliated with an explosive statement.

Mentally whistled at the bit where she writes: ‘And the next time these same people come wanting to talk about ‘women-empowerment’ and ‘women in films today’ do remember this is what you do to ‘women in films’ who are trying to change the narrative and take charge of their own careers.’

Atta girl!  

These double standards irk me no end. Our psyche is so regressive and thinly veiled. As if an actress acquires some sort of privileged, profitable quality or turns royalty just because she married into an affluent surname or dating a formidable figure. All the more ridiculous when she’s a megastar in her own right and independently raking in the big bucks.

More girls need to assert themselves like Anushka instead of clinging on to this silly notion of power couple.

Sunday
I love collecting all sorts of trivia.

And so it’s cool to note Holland’s famous Keukenhof Garden provided a tulip-filled backdrop to Rishi Kapoor singing Bhanwre Ne Khilaya Phool to Padmini Kolhapure in his dad Raj Kapoor’s Prem Rog as well to his niece Karisma Kapoor in a dream sequence of the Sunny Deol vehicle, Ajay, 14 years later.

Ajay, however, was such a ghastly movie, it’s no surprise no one cares or remembers it.

This column was first published on rediff.com.

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2 Responses to Super filmi week: More power to Anushka Sharma!

  1. Pingback: Super filmi week: Long live Aamir’s Model School Pajamachaaps! » Sukanya Verma

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