A new beginning

Pallavi Sharda is making news for being the new Ranbir girl in Besharam. But contrary to what the credits declare it is not the debut film of the Indian-Australia actress. Pallavi was seen opposite Manoj Bajpayee in Dus Tola and was also part of ensemble cast in Love Breakups Zindagi. Pallavi sees it as her start in the commercial Bollywood. “It is an old school masala film and I am playing a patakha,” emphasising not to go by the promos. She says she fed off the energy of Ranbir Kapoor and has not been sidelined by the Kapoor family in the film. “I was cast after a series of auditions by Abhinav (Kashyap). I got interested because I like mainstream fare and it can make good use of my dancing skills,” says the trained-Bharatanatyam dancer.

Pallavi says she took a break from film career after Dus Tola because she had signed Vaibhavi Merchant’s musical Taj Express. “With the musical I travelled to different parts of the world and had no time for films for about two years.” Her academic parents studied at IIT and hold senior positions at Australian universities but Pallavi is quick to emphasise that her father is from Punjab and her mother is from Delhi. “I understand the region and the language. And studying at IITs doesn’t mean you can’t have a personality,” she shuts out any attempt to get judgmental. However, after tasting the masala, Pallavi promises to showcase a new side with her next film. “It is a period romance where I am cast opposite Ayushmann Khurana.”

The debate continues

After Film Federation Of India’s letter to the producers and director of The Lunch Box questioning their intentions to constantly criticise the jury’s decision to send The Good Road as the Indian entry to the Oscars, director Ritesh Batra has apologised through a letter. “If an apology is what you demand, you have it. Both you and the jury have my wholehearted apology,” says Batra in the letter addressed to Suparn Sen, Secretary General, FFI. On the various points, including Batra hinting at corruption in the process of selection on his Facebook page, raised by Sen, Batra says, “There was no intent to hurt anyone, but rather to participate in the vigorous debate that this decision ignited in the public domain…I sincerely hope that the annual reactions to our Academy selections from the national press, and this year from even the international press, prompt a new policy for the selection. Sir, please use your good offices to give us a transparent, objective process with a public and not a secret jury. It is a direct and humble request, not a criticism.”

Life in the coffin

Debutante’s Veena Bakshi’s The Coffin Maker is all set for an Italian premiere at the 13th River to River Florence Indian Film Festival this November. Set against the authentic and seductive spirit of a Goan Village, The Coffin Maker is being described as a poignant tale about a reluctant coffin maker who learns about life from a very unusual and mysterious source. After John Day, the film brings together Naseerudin Shah and Randeep Hooda. Randeep has been a student of Naseer at his theatre group. Veena says it’s a constant battle of wits between the two protagonists in a mental game that transports the inspirational film to a very different level. While Naseer plays the title role, his wife Ratna Shah Pathak is essaying the role of his screen wife Isabelle. The film will also see his good friend Benjamin Gilani with whom he founded the theatre group Motley Productions. Producer Bharat Vijan calls it captivating and elevating cinema with the beauty of hope, love and the human spirit.

Dressed to cross

Cross-dressing is nothing new to Bollywood. After every few years, a big name turns into drag queen for a fun song or comic sequence. However, there are few actors who have attempted wholesome characters of transgender in a serious or sinister tone.

Be it Sadashiv Amrapurkar in Sadak, or Nirmal Pandey in Daayra or for that matter Ashutosh Rana in Shabnam Mausi, their portrayal of a male in a female body has withstood the test of time. Now Ravi Kishan is trying something similar in Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Bullet Raja.

He will be seen donning a woman’s look for a particular scene in the movie, where for the first time he will be seen in a green and pink choli along with a lot of jewellery, including bangles, earrings and necklace. Ravi, who has given some strong performances in the last few years, says, “I have never done something like this before and I would give all the credit to Tigmanshu for this. He makes it so easy for an actor thanks to his sheer clarity. I liked taking up the challenge and I hope the audiences will love my new ardhnarishwar avatar.”