Sunday, April 13, 2014

WHAT’S BREWING BETWEEN ARHAAN AND MANSI?

WHAT’S BREWING BETWEEN ARHAAN AND MANSI?


    The cat is out of the bag, finally. Speculations have been rife about the relationship status of actor Arhaan Behll and his coactor from Mann Ki Awaaz Pratigya, Avantika Hundal. It was even heard that the two had split. Reason: He is said to be ‘very close’ to Mansi Shrivastav, who is paired opposite him in Do Dil Bandhey Ek Dori Se. 
    Interestingly, Arhaan and Mansi didn’t hit it off instantly. The two barely saw eye to eye during the initial days of the shoot. But cupid struck in due course and the two are inseparable now. 
Says a source close to the couple, “Everybody on the show is aware of their relationship. They spend quality time together during the shoot and after it wraps up.” 
    However, the actors refuted the rumour. Arhaan said, “While Avantika holds a special place in my life, Mansi is just a co-actor. There is nothing brewing here.” Mansi added, “I am not dating Arhaan. I am in a relationship and will reveal the guy’s name when the time is right.” Avantika did not respond to our calls.

Arhaan Behll


Mansi Shrivastav


Avantika Hundal

I was more emotionally sound till she passed away, Arjun Kapoor

I was more emotionally sound till she passed away


Arjun Kapoor

Arjun Kapoor, 28, looks more like his mother Mona, but is a spendthrift and emotional like his father, Boney. His mother was a movie buff, who always wanted Arjun to do a Dharma romcom, as he loved Karan Johar’s brand of cinema. While her wish has come true and Arjun plays the lead in 2 States, she is not alive to see it. Arjun opens his heart. Excerpts: 

Talk about your father Boney Kapoor? I look like my mother, but behave like my father. My father is a genuinely nice guy and very generous to anybody and everybody. He likes to live life kingsize and he doesn’t know any other way and I love that about him. He is as emotional as I am, but his emotions are more visible than me. Learning from his mistakes, I am more guarded. The fact that he is emotion
al leads to more problems at times than solving problems. You can call him at 3 am and he will be there. He gets emotional about me also and what makes him most proud about me is the fact that I have made it on my own. I, too, am very proud to be his son and he knows that. Whatever I do, I am representing him in this profession. I always wanted to make my mark and make him proud. His BB status when Ishaqzaade released was ‘Father of Arjun Kapoor.’ It’s very easy to use what happened between my parents as a crutch to ruin my life. I could have been just sitting around, sulking and grumpily feeling how life had dealt me a pathetic game and I had to fold. But I have battled my way through reasonably well and he likes the fact that I am independent and yet go to him if I need advice and always keep his thought process in mind. 

Is it cathartic shooting Tevar with your father in Agra? This is the most amount of time I have spent with him at a stretch. I have never lived with him and so, this is extremely special for me that he is in the next room as mine. My equation with him has only grown stronger with this film. My most favourite time is when he is with me on set, seeing me take a shot. What I love about him is that he is a person who gives you a lot of privacy, be it before I became an actor and even now, when he can interfere far more. Since we did not live with him, he didn’t know that I carry my food from the hotel on shoot or whether I work out before or after or how I don’t get out of my room post shooting or how much masti I do on set. Work is our bonding factor. 

Let’s talk about your mom? My mother was the nicest person in the world. I still have people coming to me to say how she was so warm, generous and kind-hearted. She never washed her dirty linen in public. She always maintained her equations with people. She had an equation with all the family members. She made a selfless choice by not shifting out of my grandparents’ house, as she wanted us to live with our family and having a wholesome environment. And we got so much love and care, which is what will sustain us for the rest of our lives. She never lived with negativity. If she would have, then, it would have festered through me and I wouldn’t be sitting in Agra shooting Tevar for my father. I represent her at many levels. She was clear that whatever happened with her will not influence how we are with him. She wanted to be independent and put all her energy to becoming that. And that was commendable as she started only at 35. Till my parents were together, she was not working, but post their separation she had to fend for herself. She had learnt being around my father and post their separation, started a five-floor TV studio in Goregaon with my nani and mausie, which, after she died, they run. I also know for a fact that our father has always been there for whatever we needed as kids, even though he has been through his own ups and downs and made his choices. 

What did your mom want to correct about you? She saw my appetite for working hard when I had to and knew that laziness was not inherently part of my daily structure, but just something I went back to be in my comfort zone. She knew my sense of responsibility, but allowed me to be my own person. So today my success, my failure, my discovery of myself, my misgivings about me as a person, is because of what I have done in these 28 years. She liked that I was emotionally pretty sensible and dealt with it reasonably 
well, otherwise I could have made life hell for her and for my father. She always told me, ‘You have been good kids and the least of my problems.’ She said that she needed to be concerned about us, but never worry about us. Today, I am a very independent, emotional person. If anyone knew my emotions, it was only my mother. She understood even before I could speak. I grew up knowing that my mom anyway had to deal with a lot, so I never wanted my baggage to be anyone else’s and always handled my own shit. She was my friend and I miss her every moment, but more in good moments. Bad moments I know anyways I would have dealt with myself. When I went to Ishaqzaade in a normal hall and people came and took pictures of me, I wished she had been there to see that. I wanted my mother to see that she had brought me up well enough and that I could survive. She was discovered in the third stage of cancer and when I look back, I can only wonder what hell she must have gone through to put me through that ease of shooting in Lucknow. She was undergoing chemotherapy, losing her hair and taking care of herself. And she had survived all that and celebrated her birthday on February 3 and then suddenly, she collapsed in front of me in my arms on March 25. Her cancer had spread to the brain and even though doctors had told us that she had six months, she died all of a sudden. Four months into her illness, nobody knew that she had cancer till my grandfather passed away, as she didn’t want to tell anybody. Just my nani, mausie, Anshula and I knew. She didn’t want it to come out and it didn’t. She was a very strong person. 

Who do you love the most in the world? My sister Anshula. I am such a closed person in terms of my emotions, but my way of showing my emotions is to be doing things for her, rather than saying it. She understands me more than anybody else. She almost puts herself second, seeing the struggle I have had to go through to reach wherever I am. For her, my work is more important, my feeling emotionally correct is more important, my not feeling troubled is more important. She thinks I don’t notice it, but I know that. She is a very sorted girl. I was always my mother’s strength and Anshula, her emotional weakness, as she never got our father at all. My mom knew that since I had faced the storm with her, I would be able to handle life better than Anshula. My father, too, was more protective about her and is more attached to her. I am sorted versus the practicality of life, but my emotional fulcrum is totally messed up, as I lost my backbone. I can’t discuss it with anybody, as no one can solve it. I can’t make peace with it. I just have to live with it for the rest of my life and find happiness in 
the daily aspects of my life, be it my work, taking holidays or my friendships. The reminder of her not being there is a constant. My room is next to hers. It’s something you can’t forget or let go. Her room is exactly the way it was when she was there. Every time I walk in, I see her room and for me, she is there at home. When I am away, it is easier for me to deal with it than when I am at home. That is also one of the reasons I have this burning desire to keep working. I don’t want to sit at home. She used to work and come back home. I was useless and jobless and would all the time be at home, hanging out in her room. There was a cupboard in her room, where she would stock all the goodies and knick-knacks, which you should otherwise not eat. She kept it there, as she knew that I would not barge into her room late night to eat. The goodies would be taken out when guests came and then put back. 

Have you come to terms with your father’s second family? I am resilient like my mother and have the ability to face any kind of storm. For my mother, being emotional was her strength, whereas in my father’s case, it is his weakness. He feels that the choice he made is his emotional choice and he has to carry it on his shoulder everyday. He has two more children and has another wife. I was a very happy fat kid. Eating was my way of release, so I would just go to McDonald’s and just sit and eat. Even in school, when I could not face the uncomfortable questions asked, I would hide and eat. Eating was my escape. Sanju chacha was most concerned about me as he saw me everyday just wasting my time eating, watching movies, not moving my ass. My mother lived in my grandparents’ house for our sake, but for my father’s family, it was not that my mother was the only one and they respected his second wife, too. So for me as a child, it was not all hunkydory accepting that my father’s family had accepted his choice. I have tried to put it behind me, but it takes you time to come to peace with yourself. Of course I am vulnerable, but it’s not something I flaunt. I was more emotionally sound till she passed away. I am an emotional mess now. Earlier I knew that whether I did something right or wrong, I could have gone back to her and asked. Now I can go back to nobody. My mother, without voicing it, had been furious that I had dropped out of Class XI. She wanted me to go abroad, to explore life, to become a more well-rounded person. I still plan to do something about it in the future as I can’t go at this stage in my life. The independence my mother wanted me to get then is what I have got now. It’s quite ironic that she had to go away for me to discover it.

Arjun Kapoor


Arjun Kapoor

Taapsee Pannu and Akshay Kumar play secret agents in Neeraj Pandey’s next

Taapsee Pannu and Akshay Kumar play secret agents in Neeraj Pandey’s next



    Neeraj Pandey’s last film Special 26 with Akshay Kumar was critically acclaimed, apart from it doing well at the box office. We were the first to tell you that Akshay had been finalised in Neeraj’s next film, that too is a thriller. We have now learnt that there are two actresses in the film, one of which will be the Chashme Baddoor actress Taapsee Pannu. Both Akshay and Taapsee will play undercover agents. The other role of Akshay’s wife is yet to be cast and Neeraj is considering several options for the same. The film is yet untitled, will go on the floors end of May and will be shot in Nepal and Istanbul to begin with. We will continue to remain undercover to report details of the film as we lay our hands on them.

Akshay Kumar


Taapsee Pannu

Want to sit on the coveted Iron Throne?



Want to sit on the coveted Iron Throne?



    Mumbaikars who have long followed the first three seasons of Game Of Thrones can now get clicked on the coveted Iron Throne at High Street Phoenix, Lower Parel today and participate in the fun and games and win merchandise. This initiative is a celebration of the Indian premiere of the latest season of Game Of Thrones, which launches here within a week of the US, premiering tonight at 9 on HBO Defined. 
    The show is about rival families spinning a web of conspiracy, treachery and betrayal, driven by politics and an insatiable desire to control the Iron Throne. In a world where the lust for power is eternal, kings, queens, knights and renegades scheme and slay for the coveted throne. Men wage wars to do what you are invited to do today — stake claim to it. 
    HBO Defined and HBO Hits are two premium 100% ad-free channels offering Indian audiences home movie entertainment experience with the best of Hollywood and the channel’s original series.

A still from 
Game Of Thrones


The Iron Throne is in Mumbai today

SHREYAS TALPADE TO DEBUT AS PRODUCER IN BOLLYWOOD

SHREYAS TALPADE TO DEBUT AS PRODUCER IN BOLLYWOOD



Shreyas Talpade


    When Shreyas Talpade returned to acting after releasing his first co-production Sanai Choughade (2008) — under his home banner Affluence Movies Pvt. Ltd — many looked at it as a one-off indulgence. However, the actor says he took a break from production only because he did not want to invest his time and money on any passing script. The selfimposed break is over now and Shreyas is returning as an independent producer with another Marathi movie, Poshter Boyz, which is slated to release in July. 
    Also, after dabbling in Marathi cinema, he is keen to touch base with “the rest of India”. “I am as much a part of the Marathi industry as Bollywood and I owe it to myself and my fans to finally 
make a Hindi film,” says he. He elaborates, “I have chosen two scripts. We will take a call on which will be made first in a couple of weeks. Both the movies are content-driven family entertainers. I want to explore various genres. We are currently in discussion with an A-list actor and hope to kick-start production by end of this year.” So, will he act in it? “That’s not been decided yet. I may act in one or both of them depending on the role,” he answers.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

WRITING 2 STATES HELPED ME FORGIVE MY FATHER - Chetan Bhagat

WRITING 2 STATES HELPED ME FORGIVE MY FATHER - Chetan Bhagat



    Chetan Bhagat, 39, loves taking on challenges, is grounded and is happy that he is able to straddle many worlds, be it writing, Bollywood or being a motivational speaker with equal ease. He is open and communicative and lives for his family. Being a popular artiste, he also aspires to change things in his country. He is the only Indian author, 
whose every work has been made into a film. Ahead of his next book being made into a film 2 States, he spoke to Bombay Times about his turbulent relationship with his father, his love for his mother and what he loves about Tamilians. Excerpts: 

Chetan Bhagat


Talk about the idea of writing the book 2 States? I am a Punjabi, born and brought up in Delhi. I was always a curious kid, who was good at two things — maths and 
telling jokes. In typical Indian middle-class fashion, they tell you to forget about the jokes and focus on maths. And that’s what I did. Today, I make a living out of my jokes and storytelling. I went to Army Public School and was not a particularly bright student and scored just 76% in Class X. That is when I decided to take on the challenge and got through, first, IIT Delhi and subsequently, IIM Ahmedabad, where I met my Tamilian wifeAnusha. Post completing my MBA in 1997, I worked first for Goldman Sachs and then Deutsche Bank, first, in Hong Kong, and the last one year in India, but left them to do fulltime writing in 2009. Writing was my hobby, but I never thought that I could have been a career writer. I wrote three books while I was at the bank, when I met a French journalist friend and he said to me, ‘In all three books of yours, the relationship between the protagonist and the father is dysfunctional. In Five Point Someone, one guy doesn’t like his parents, the other guy has a paralysed father and the third guy has a strict father, in One Night @ The Call Center, Shyam is underconfident and his parents are always fighting. In The 3 Mistakes Of My Life, the father has deserted him and even Ishan’s father slaps him and he has a bad relationship with his father. So he told me, ‘You have a very turbulent relationship with authority. To us French people, it’s shocking that you have written three bestsellers and are still doing a job. This bank job is a surrogate father. You get that security and authority figure here, but you are rebelling by writing books on the side. You need to deal with the father issue. That will free you as a writer.’ It hit me and I decided to tackle it. I was scared as a typical middle-class person of leaving a secure investment banking job to be a writer. My income would drop by 95%. My wife, who was and continues to be a banker, coincidentally got transferred to India and with her, I came here. I continued at the bank for a year, but knew that I couldn’t manage to do my job and writing together so finally quit to take on full-time writing and first wrote 2 States, which to me essentially is a father-son story. A lot of people, including Anusha, felt that marrying between communities was not an issue anymore and that people would not be interested. But I was convinced that it was a very big issue and it’s still a very big issue. The truth is that kids can elope and marry, but they don’t want to do that. They want their parents to agree and smile on their wedding day. There is a line in the book, where the boy says, ‘I don’t want you to just tolerate me, I want you to accept me.’ I have met hundreds of couples who are going through that. I met a sardarji who became a heart patient because his daughter wanted to marry a Keralite. He read the book and not only consented to his daughter’s marriage but at the wedding, there was a food stall, a dessert stall and a 2 States stall. He gave everybody a book as he said, ‘The community is going to ask me why I agreed so, I wanted them to read it. I wanted to see my daughter happy, but the community would have judged me.’ 
Talk about your father? I don’t like abuse of power and somewhere down the line, I felt he was not fair to my mother. She did a lot for him, the family, the in-laws, but she never got her due and it was a life lived just like a lot of Indian women who do that. When I was very young, I didn’t realise it but by the time I was a teenager, I started realising and resented it. I was always a rebel. My father being in the army was authoritarian and would deny her simple things like meeting her family, as it would make her happy. Maybe, it was a result of his own inner frustrations, but he would not give her freedom and I had to write 2 States a) to understand where my father was coming from and b) to forgive him. It was difficult for me to forgive him, but 
2 States helped me forgive my father. 
Have you forgiven him? He lives in Delhi and I rarely meet him. I last met him at a family function two years back. Even if not forgiven completely, there is no anger in me today and at least I have reached a stage of indifference. I am still working on it. I have a disproportionate influence today, so I can say these things and I am sure he has his own side. I love my mother the most in the world and know that she has brought me up in hard times. Her relationship with my father was always turbulent and still remains like that. But today, they are separated and she is the happiest I have ever seen her. A lot of time has passed and I’m not looking for an apology as her life cannot be undone, but I try and make her as happy as I can. So, for instance, I bought her a house in Mumbai and am so happy that she is able to see all this for me. When I read about 2 States still being there on Arjun Kapoor’s mother’s shelf, I can’t even imagine how he must be feeling. I asked him what was 
the most challenging part of doing the film and he told me how he relates to those emotions of pain in the relationship between him and his father, where the relationship is very close and yet there are unmet expectations from both sides. 
What attracted you to your wife Anusha? She genuinely is a very simple and yet intelligent person with a very pure heart. I anyway get turned on by articulate, intelligent women. A partner who is intelligent can really help. Being a Punjabi, where would I get a girl from IIM-A? And I like the whole poise that Tamilians have, though sometimes, of course, I feel they are too dry. She never wants to ride my fame and is happy to be Anusha Bhagat who works in a bank. 
What does it mean in real life for a Punjabi boy like you to get married to a Tamilian girl like your wife? When Punjabis are happy, they will start dancing. Tamilians don’t dance for fun. For them, it’s a form of art. You will not see people dancing at 
Tamil weddings, but you can’t have a Punjabi wedding without dance. If a Punjabi is sad, you will have a Punjabi aunty expressing her emotions clearly and can even beat her chest for it, whereas for a Tamilian, emotion is taboo and you are expected to suffer. There is no word for fun in Tamil. Anusha comes from a very simple and steady emotional state of family. I was looking at that stability and lack of turbulence and she was looking at that little bit of excitement. And that's what 2 States is. It’s not about two communities, but also about hum kis tarah ke logon ke saath zindagi bitana chahate hai. 
The book has a happy ending, where the father of the boy accepts his choice of marrying the Tamil girl. Did your father agree to your marriage in real life? Parents are important to all Indian kids. They want to get married, but they also want the blessings, want them happy and want the whole family taam-jhaam to go with their marriage. For me, too, my father mattered and still matters, but in real life, my father did not come for my marriage. After that, he even came and visited us and now it is in neutral gear. I have always been a rebel and it has always been hard to control me. My profession and my fatherhood has however really healed me to an extent that I was able to write a happy ending for 2 States. And today, I have accepted the ending of 2 States as my reality. For my father, the driving thing was control and not the South Indian factor. It was an assertion that the boy chose the girl for himself. It came to a point where I was scared to be a father and, of course, now after having my twin sons, I realise how I was unneccesarily scared and I share a great relationship with them. For me, this is all a healing journey. People often wonder why my books connect. They are ordinary stories, ordinary language, everything is ordinary about them and yet they wonder what makes them connect. And the answer is that there is genuine pain in each of them. While my mother is proud of me and knows that I am a responsible person, she feels that, sometimes, I react too emotionally to things. But I know that I am far more emotional than any man I have met. I often joke that I am half a girl and maybe, that is what makes me a good writer as I am very perceptive of people and very intuitive. There is that yin and yang in me, that male and female that exists in me. With 2 States releasing next Friday, I am tense because it’s not just another of my books being made into a film. It’s too personal and I know it won’t be made again and again, so I hope it has been done rightly.

Chetan Bhagat


Sunday, February 2, 2014