Box Office India Trade Network
THE LION KING showed extraordinary growth as it collected 19 crore nett on day two. The collections are up over 70% on Saturday and this has never happened before that a film has grown 70% on Saturday which collected over 10 crore nett on the first day. It has happened for films under 10 crore nett but the lower you are then, there is more chance of higher growth.
The highest growth before THE LION KING was actually last week with SUPER 30 which made gains of around 55% and then there was TOILET - EK PREM KATHA which went up 52%. This is for films collecting more than 10 crore nett on day one.
The two day collections of THE LION KING are 30 crore nett and there should be further growth on Sunday with Monday telling how big this film can be. The plus for the film was that it showed huge growth in Mysore/Karnataka and Tamil Nadu which meant South had big gains. Nizam/Andhra and Kerala showed less growth. Mumbai made gains of almost 90% while Delhi/UP was up 80%.
The first two day collections of THE LION KING are as follows
Friday - 11,00,00,000
Saturday - 19,00,00,000
TOTAL - 30,00,00,000 apprx
A 50 crore nett weekend should be there for the film as Sunday should go up from Saturday but the huge Saturday growth could curtail Sunday growth a little.
Box Office India Trade Network
SUPER 30 showed extraordinary growth on Saturday as it collected 8.25-8.50 crore nett. The collections went up around 80-85% on the second Saturday. This takes the total of the film to 88 crore nett plus and the film has crossed KAABIL in just nine days though that film did not do much.
The film is continuing to put up the numbers in the metros with huge Saturday growth in Mumbai and Bangalore. As mentioned before, the film is very similar to GULLY BOY with similar type of ratios. The difference in the final business will be that GULLY BOY had an extended first week with Valentines Day release which is not a holiday but works as a holiday for Hindi films. Take the Valentines Day out and both films will be doing almost identical numbers.
The business of SUPER 30 till date is as follows.
Friday - 11,75,00,000 apprx
Saturday - 18,00,00,000 apprx
Sunday - 20,50,00,000 apprx
Monday - 7,00,000,000 apprx
Tuesday - 6,50,00,000 apprx
Wednesday - 6,00,00,000 apprx
Thursday - 5,75,00,000 apprx
Week One - 75,50,00,000 apprx
Friday - 4,50,00,000 apprx
Saturday - 8,25,00,000 apprx
TOTAL - 88,25,00,000 apprx
Rangoli can’t play the nepotism card with me; I’ve also struggled to reach where I am today-Taapsee Pannu
Taapsee Pannu opens up on being called a ‘sasti’ copy of Kangana Ranaut by her sister Rangoli Chandel; also the misogyny rampant in our films
Ankita Chaurasia (MUMBAI MIRROR; July 22, 2019)
From a scheming murderess to a 82-year-old sharpshooter and now a scientist—Taapsee Pannu can’t complain about the lack of diverse roles coming her way. The trailer of her upcoming film, Mission Mangal, shows her character, Kritika Aggarwal, tending to her ailing husband before heading to ISRO to help navigate India’s first and the world’s cheapest Mars orbiter in space. She reveals that director Jagan Shakti’s only brief was to keep it real. “Our film should be a true depiction of today’s woman who has perfected the balancing act,” she reminisces. Being a qualified engineer, certain terms sparked off memories of college. “Everyone else had their lines by heart,” she laughs.
Was doing a film with an ensemble cast, which includes Akshay Kumar, Vidya Balan, Sonakshi Sinha, Sharman Joshi and Kriti Kulhari, a deliberate choice after Badla in which she was pitted against only Amitah Bachchan for the most part of the film? She agrees, saying when she walked on to the set, it looked like a mela. “I was scared for Jagan, a first-time director,” she chuckles. “But every day thereafter was a party.”
Taapsee adds that another reason for accepting Misson Mangal was the opportunity to work with Vidya Balan, who she has been a fan of since The Dirty Picture and Kahaani. “She made me believe that you can be the hero of your own film. Her energy is infectious. I’ve told Sujoy (Badla director Sujoy Ghosh) and Vidya that I want to work with them, again and again,” she smiles.
And what about her Baby and Naam Shabana mentor, Akshay Kumar? “I know what to except when we’re shooting with Akshay sir. We’re both morning people—though he is a 4 am person and I am a 6 am one—and like to be on time. This time he had a rule that we should all have lunch together so every day, tiffin boxes from everyone’s homes were laid out on the table at exactly 12:30 pm and we would gather for a picnic,” she recalls, adding that since she couldn’t bring her own dabba, Akshay would get her food from his home.
The two actors will be splitting the box-office pie when Housefull 4 and Saand Ki Aankh clash at the ticket windows this Diwali. Taapsee is unfazed. “The franchise has its loyalists, ours is a smaller film in comparison, but since it’s a family entertainer, Diwali is a good date. One of the benefits of a festive release is that people will give both films a chance as they are in a celebratory mood,” she avers, adding, “You’d think our film about two old ladies would be boring, but it’s a fun ride with two badass gun-toting daadis.”
With two critically-acclaimed films out and two more to release in the coming months, the actress has her hands full. “I’ll have four releases next year too. I’m doing a Tamil film now, then, I’ll start Anubhav Sinha’s next, followed by Anurag Kashyap’s,” she rattles off. Quiz her on the Mithali Raj biopic and she reveals that though she’s yet to sign on, she’s excited about it. “I’ve never played cricket and am looking forward to the challenge. I’ve been following Mithali since she asked why women cricketers are always asked about their favourite male cricketers and not vice versa. That remark has stayed with me, as actresses, even we are first asked who our co-star is when we sign a film,” she reasons.
Taapsee goes on to explain that in an interview, she’d said that Kangana needs a “double filter” but in the same copy, she had also admitted that she herself needs a “brain-to-mouth filter”. “We are both opinionated and speak our mind which is a good thing except that sometimes it lands us in trouble. I had said it in a positive manner and not meant for it to be derogatory. In fact, I have often said Kangana’s an actor I look up to, my conscience is clear. It was weird to target me, that’s why it backfired,” she maintains.
She has an interesting reply to Rangoli’s jibe in the post that she is a “sasti copy” of Kangana. “I didn’t know there was a copyright on curly hair, which I was born with, and honest opinions. I’m not going to apologise for it. As far as being 'sasti' is concerned, Kangana claims to be the highest-paid actress, so I guess I am the 'sasti' version,” Taapsee quips.
While on the subject of opinions, Taapsee recently took a sly dig at Shahid Kapoor’s last release on the social media. “Kabir Singh (left) and Arjun Reddy are not the only films glorifying misogyny, there are several others too but not to this extent. That is one of the reasons why I do the kind of films I do, there should be a counter narrative too. I know I’ll never be able to match up to the numbers of this film but that won’t deter me. We are on the cusp of a change and I am not going to give up now,” she asserts.
There have been debates about how Kabir Singh is only a “flawed character” but the actress doesn’t buy it. “The problem is not showing flawed characters… The problem is when you glorify them and make what they are doing seem heroic. This character is so revered that whatever he does is not just accepted, it is celebrated,” she fumes.
Does she think the audience would be just as accepting of a female Kabir Singh? With a smirk, the actress retorts, “She was probably not a female Kabir Singh but Manmarziyaan’s Rumi Bagga was a flawed character too and ended up losing her love and getting divorced. The same misogynist people who didn’t see a problem with Kabir, booed Rumi. We aren’t oblivious to the double standards of our society,”
she sums up. However, the actress is quick to say that she doesn’t do films only to propagate a message. “Badla didn’t have one. I want the audience to get their time and money’s worth when they come to watch my film,” she asserts. On the personal front, she has recently purchased another three-bedroom apartment in Mumbai. “It has been a slow and steady growth. Coming from a middle class background, I have always been taught to be careful about money. My father still handles my investments so luckily that is being taken care of,” she signs off.
Chaya Unnikrishnan (DNA; July 22, 2019)
Hrithik Roshan is currently basking in the success of his latest release Super 30, which has him essaying a character inspired by mathematical genius Anand Kumar. Not only has he won rave reviews for his performance as the Bihari teacher, but the film also has done a business of approximately Rs 75 crore at the box office. Even as the movie is running in theatres, the teaser of his next, War, an action-entertainer, is out and the light-eyed actor’s beefed-up look has gone viral. Here, he tells us about the tough calls he had to take when Super 30’s director got embroiled in a controversy, the change in the release date, and how the outcome has brought him satisfaction and joy.
Is the success of Super 30 different for you than your other films?
The success of Super 30 somehow takes me back to the time when Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai had released. The emotions are similar to what I had felt back then.
Having said that, the success of any film will always be sweet and bring satisfaction and joy. The film went through quite a turmoil with controversy over the director, and later the release date. Did you get disheartened at any point?
There were some really tough calls that I had to take with regards to this film. Whether it was to put the film on hold when the #MeToo conversation came up for law to take its course or the decision to pre-pone the release date of the film. But I am glad that I took these calls. It is because of them that we are in a better place today. So, I would just say that all’s well that ends well.
How do you look back at the experience of shooting for the film?
Super 30 has been one of my most challenging films so far as the requirement here was to capture the soul of Anand Kumar. Before meeting him, I had a vision in my head of how he would be and I was hesitant to meet him at first because I did not want my idea of him to break. But, when I actually met him, I felt he only added beautiful colours to my vision. I had a great time shooting for the film with such talented people, especially, the 30 kids. They surprised and inspired me every day on set.
After this, you will be seen in the action-entertainer, War, in a beefed-up avatar. How much time does it take for you to change yourself physically for the character you play?
Fortunately or unfortunately for Super 30, I was allowed to cheat with my diet a little and the foodie in me loved every bit of it. Being able to have samosas, ice creams and everything that I was deprived of for years, guilt-free, was the best thing. But then came this whole phase where I pushed myself beyond my limits to get back into shape for the beefed-up character that I had to play for my other film. It took months of hard work and sacrifice to achieve that. It was definitely not easy, but I got to learn a little more about how much I can push myself.
Your look in War vs Super 30 has gone viral and sparked off several memes. Your reaction?
Some of the memes are actually very creative and funny. So, I enjoy them too.
Can you share your experience of working with Tiger Shroff?
I have had a blast shooting for this film with Tiger. Anything that I say about him will be less. My words won’t do justice to the kind of talent he possesses.
There are reports about you doing the Satte Pe Satta remake. This will be the second time you will step into Amitabh Bachchan’s shoes.
I am a huge fan of Mr Bachchan so whenever I will get a chance to step into his shoes, I’d be super excited. As for Satte Pe Satta remake, those are only reports as of now. When I sign my next film, I will tell the world about it. Until then, everything you hear is only a rumour.
What kind of film will you do next?
Right now, I am grateful and enjoying the sweet success of my film, Super 30 and gearing up for my second release of the year, War. But I will let you know about my next film soon.
What's in the run time: Did going beyond 2 1/2 hour length work for Bharat, Kabir Singh, Avengers: Endgame?
Ten films which went beyond the two-and-a-half hour length and stood to gain… or lose
Akash Bhatnagar (MUMBAI MIRROR; July 22, 2019)
A movie’s run time is tricky business. If it is too short, the audience may not get it, if it is too long, it could turn into a snore fest. So, most Hindi filmmakers play safe and keep it to two-and-a-half hours, but once in a while, surprises do crop up, be it the almost four-hour-long Lagaan or the hour-and-a-half Dolly Ki Doli. Currently on a record-breaking spree, Kabir Singh, is almost three-hour long, yet the audience is happily lapping up the dollops of misogyny. To cut a long story short, many filmmakers today are ready to gamble with the age-old maxim ‘the longer, the better’. Does the length of a film influence its box-office outcome? Trade experts analyse...
KABIR SINGH (2019) - 2 hrs and 53 mins
Director: Sandeep Vanga
Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Kiara Advani
Synopsis: A remake of the Telugu romance Arjun Reddy, the film follows an alcoholic surgeon on the path of self-destruction after his girlfriend leaves him.
Trade speak: Distributor Raj Bansal believes the runtime affects number of shows and this film could have upped its business by 10-15 per cent had it been 20 minutes shorter. “Long runtime erodes entertainment value and brings down collections, but that’s where content kicks in. The trade had not expected Kabir Singh to even hit the century mark, but people found it engaging and identified with Shahid’s angry young man with the result that even the most vitriolic criticism could not keep them away,” he reasons.
BHARAT (2019) - 2 hrs and 47 mins
Director: Ali Abbas Zafar
Cast: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Sunil Grover
Synopsis: A remake of the South Korean film Ode To My Father, Bharat traces the six-decade parallel journeys of independent India and the film’s eponymous character.
Trade speak: According to exhibitor Manoj Desai, the audience today finds it hard to understand and relate to the sacrifices made for India’s independence. “Partition is too out-dated for the Gen X and the film was a drag resulting in less than expected business. Salman should stick to action and romance, he is invincible in these genres and will rule for the next decade or two,” he adds.
KALANK (2019) - 2 hrs and 46 mins
Director: Abhishek Varman
Cast: Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt, Sanjay Dutt, Madhuri Dixit, Aditya Roy Kapur, Sonakshi Sinha
Synopsis: The period-romance unfolds against the backdrop of the Partition and revolves around star-crossed lovers.
Trade speak: Distributor Raj Bansal believes that despite a stellar cast, Kalank failed to impress as it lacked depth; also, characters were not well defined and their world too alien. “Sanjay Dutt and Madhuri Dixit’s reunion didn’t add to the narrative, with the former barely there and the latter largely ineffective despite her all-pervasive presence. Even Varun and Alia’s love story was insipid. So despite opening with a bang, it ended on a whimper,” he explains.
AVENGERS: ENDGAME (2019) - 3 hrs 1 min
Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johannson, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo
Synopsis: In the aftermath of the destruction caused by Thanos, the Avengers team up with their allies to reverse the damage.
Trade speak: Kamal Gianchandani of the PVR chain of theatres, says that it is the audience’s love and loyalty for the franchise and its characters that pulled them in. “The film offered spectacular visuals and action sequences, so people didn’t mind sitting through three hours. Also, in this case the runtime did not restrict the number of shows due to the number of screens allotted in India,” the exhibitor avers.
RANGEELA RAJA (2019) - 2 hrs 42 mins
Director: Sikander Bharti
Synopsis: A comic flick about twin brothers, where one of them decides to bring the other’s life on track.
Trade speak: Industry veteran and founder of Mumbai’s first multiplex chain, Fame Adlabs, Balkrishna Shroff believes Govinda’s time as a lead actor is over. “Script and all other factors were secondary, this film did not have star appeal to begin with. The runtime didn’t matter because there was no audience,” avers Shroff, adding that Govinda is still a talented actor but should do roles complementing his age.
PADMAAVAT (2018) - 2 hrs 44 mins
Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Cast: Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, Shahid Kapoor
Synopsis: A period drama revolving around Maharani Padmavati, Raja Ratan Singh and Alauddin Khilji and how she performed jauhar to protect her honour.
Trade speak: Kamal Gianchandani, of the PVR chain of theatres, believes that irrespective of its length, SLB’s storytelling, his ability to extract strong performances and his music is a big draw. “The combo of an exceptionally talented director and characters played by phenomenal actors in a brilliant film is what worked for Padmaavat,” explains the exhibitor.
KAALA (2018) - 2 hrs 42 mins
Director: Pa Ranjith
Cast: Rajinikanth, Nana Patekar
Synopsis: Kaala is about the Nellai/Tirunelveli-based Tamils who live in Mumbai.
Trade speak: Industry veteran Balkrishna Shroff says Rajini’s appeal is limited to the South. Also, since the multiplex audience doesn’t care for action films, numbers were affected. “Kaala was made for a different market. The Hindi dubbed version was only for extra revenue,” he adds.
RACE 3 (2018) - 2 hrs 40 mins
Director: Remo D’souza
Cast: Salman Khan, Anil Kapoor, Jaqueline Fernandez
Synopsis: A family of criminals deal with loyalty issues while planning their next heist.
Trade speak: Trade analyst Komal Nahta reasons that a 2-hour film can feel like a 4-hour one if the script is bad. “Makers depended on only Salman’s charisma to pack in the crowds. That’s where Race 3 failed,” he asserts.
THUGS OF HINDOSTAN (2018) - 2 hrs 44 mins
Director: Vijay Krishna Acharya
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Katrina Kaif, Fatima Sana Shaikh
Synopsis: An adventure-thriller about a man’s love for his country and another’s lust for power.
Trade speak: Exhibitor Manoj Desai believes that dearth of originality has hit Bollywood with Thugs... being a prime example. “The story ceased to interest post interval. The makers failed to extract anything from Amitabh Bachchan and Aamir Khan, a pity given the actors they are,” he says.
ZERO (2018) - 2 hours and 44 mins
Director: Aanand L Rai
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma, Katrina Kaif
Synopsis: Bauua Singh who is vertically challenged aims to broaden his horizons and find purpose in life.
Trade speak: Trade analyst Komal Nahta describes Zero as a “flawed script” so even the holidays didn’t help. “SRK’s string of failures can’t be blamed, it wouldn’t have worked with any actor given the overload of sadness. No film fails because it’s ‘too long’ but because it’s ‘bad’,” he asserts.
Crediting Lootera for changing the game for her, Sonakshi Sinha talks about how her upcoming films strike a balance between content and commerce
Sonil Dedhia (MID-DAY; July 22, 2019)
After Khandaani Shafakhana, Sonakshi Sinha has her plate full with Mission Mangal, Dabangg 3 and Bhuj: The Pride Of India. It is easy to see how her outings belong to diverse genres — if the August 15 release is a sci-fi drama, the Dabangg franchise is as mainstream as they come, and the Ajay Devgn-Sanjay Dutt starrer, a larger-than-life war offering. But before you think it's a conscious move, Sinha says that she is simply fortunate that filmmakers trust her with such varied characters.
"Over the years, filmmakers know the kind of roles that will suit me. When I started out, I was the quintessential Hindi film heroine, and the only films that were offered to me were masala entertainers. But after Lootera (2013), the perspective changed. My character in Bhuj... is a strong woman. Vicky Donor (2012) and Shubh Mangal Saavdhaan (2017) dealt with sex-related issues and were fantastic scripts. But for the first time, a story on a similar issue is being narrated in Khandaani Shafakhana from a female protagonist's point of view. So, it's an interesting time in my career."
The actor is upbeat about Mission Mangal as much for its subject as for it being a female-led project. "It celebrates the spirit of womanhood. It was a moment of pride to be associated with the film." She is quick to add that the third edition of Dabangg, which reunites her with Salman Khan, holds a special place in her life. "It is because of Salman Khan that I am here today. He never asked me if I wanted to do Dabangg; he just told me that I am doing it. After that, there was no looking back."
Director Sabbir Khan’s next film, which brings together Abhimanyu Dassani and Shirley Setia for the first time, promises a good dose of action, comedy and romance with an emotional story at it’s core
BOMBAY TIMES (July 22, 2019)
A few weeks ago, we had reported that Sony Pictures International Productions and director Sabbir Khan will be coming together for an action entertainer. We now have it that the film will be titled Nikamma.
Interestingly, the movie will introduce a fresh pair to Bollywood — Abhimanyu Dassani — son of actress Bhagyashree — and singer Shirley Setia, who is popular on social media. Abhimanyu won appreciation for his debut film Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota in 2018, and this film will mark Shirley’s debut in Bollywood. Touted to be a complete entertainer, Nikamma is in line with Sabbir’s big action entertainers — Heropanti and Baaghi — and promises action, comedy, romance and emotions that will find a connect with the audience.
Sabbir, who launched Tiger Shroff and Kriti Sanon in Heropanti, says, “I am always going to try and introduce new talent to the industry and I am excited to present Abhimanyu and Shirley. They are a breath of fresh air and remind me of the zest that Tiger and Kriti had in their debuts.”
Vivek Krishnani, Managing Director, Sony Pictures Entertainment, India, adds, “Nikamma is part of Sony’s larger plans, where the studio is focussed on introducing new talent to the industry — backed by strong content and talented filmmakers — as it mounts an impressive slate for 2020. We are glad to associate with Sabbir, who has such a successful track record of creating big-scale entertainers.”
Talking about being a part of the project, Abhimanyu says, “The belief that Sabbir sir and Sony Pictures have shown in me is exhilarating. Also, this genre brings a whole new set of challenges that are very exciting.”
Shirley, who is excited to make her debut with the film, adds, “I couldn’t have asked for a better launch and I am glad that my first foray into Bollywood is a prestigious association with an international studio and Sabbir Sir, who has successfully launched such good talent in the industry.”
The makers have already wrapped the first schedule of the film, and a song and a few scenes have been shot on a huge scale.
Nikamma, produced by Sony Pictures International Productions and Sabbir Khan Films, is scheduled to release in the summer of 2020
Rachana Dubey (BOMBAY TIMES; July 22, 2019)
Varun Sharma forms a solid part of the supporting cast of all his films and has managed to carve out a space for himself in Bollywood. He’s popularly addressed as Choocha, the name of the first character he had played on screen. Year 2019, has been busy one for the actor; he’s been shuttling between sets and slipping in and out of various characters. Varun will be seen in three distinctly different films in the next few months, starting with Arjun Patiala that opens this week. Over to the actor:
Year 2019 has been a busy one for you; three of your films — Arjun Patiala, Khandaani Shafakhana and Chhichhore — are ready for release and Roohi Afza is being shot right now...
As a teenager, I used to read celebrity interviews in which people would often say, ‘I have a few good films in my kitty’. I feel very happy that today, I, too, can say that. I do have a few interesting films in my kitty. I will always cherish the year 2019 in my life because I’ve literally lived out of a suitcase, travelled from one set to another and played such a variety of characters, which is a dream for any actor.
Your first release this year is Arjun Patiala, a spoof comedy set in Punjab. It’s a popular genre in the West, but relatively new to Bollywood. Does it make you nervous?
I agree that it is a new genre for Bollywood and is something that has worked well in the West. I am a fan of films like Scary Movie and Deadpool, which are popular in that genre. Comedy can be a lot more fun if you try something unique. With Arjun Patiala, we’re not making fun of any other film or the police department or a community. We’re just making fun of our own film. We’ve used some common industry jargons, which infuse a lot of humour in various situations in the film. If this one works, trust me, there will be many more films in this genre.
You play a buddy cop, Onida Singh, in this film. It’s an addition to your list of quirky character names like Choocha in Fukrey, Sexa in the upcoming Chhichhore. How different is this one from your previous characters?
Onida Singh has a back-story. His parents couldn’t buy a TV and instead had a son, who they named after the brand. It’s different from all my past characters from the word go. I’m really lucky that I get some whacked out names for my characters in films, which is one of the reasons why they are remembered by the audience. Like I’m called Sexa in Chhichhore. I really like such character names. I’ve met a lot of quirky people while growing up in my home city, Jalandhar. I’ve stayed in those Punjabi colonies and hung out with some really funny people. I love it when I get to play quirky characters on screen that have peculiarities.
The week after Arjun Patiala, you have another comedy film, Khandaani Shafakhana releasing, which revolves around a girl and her tryst with running a sex clinic in Punjab. The trailer reminds you of Ayushmann Khurrana’s Vicky Donor...
Khandaani Shafakhana tries to break taboos around sex. We’re not aiming to clear the air on a particular problem related to sex. We’re basically trying to open conversations around it. We want people to speak up if they have a problem. Sometimes, not knowing enough about sex can lead to bigger troubles. We just want people to be okay to talk about sex. It’s dangerous to not know about it. In this film, I play Sonakshi Sinha’s supportive brother, who is such a vella; he’s busy trying to grow his hair. This film is special for me because Mrighdeep Lamba directed me in my first film (Fukrey) and this is his first outing as a producer.
It’s a general perception that men can’t have sex problems, and even if they do, it’s far harder for them to address it and deal with it. This also comes from a misconstrued idea of machoism. While growing up in Punjab, did you ever have a conversation pertaining to sex with your elders?
I’ve seen sex clinics tucked inside lanes near bus stands and stations; I’ve crossed them but never entered any of those clinics. It’s true that we don’t talk about sex. I didn’t get any sex education when I was growing up. Our conditioning was such that we could never discuss it even with our peers. Desires and problems had to be tackled at a very personal level. We had to educate ourselves on matters relating to sex on our own. Urban cities are a lot more progressive, because kids here are often given sex education at the right age. It’s true that men don’t believe that they can have sexual disorders. Sometimes, when people know they have a problem, they hide it from their spouse, which leads to broken marriages and chaos in their marital lives. In an entertaining way, we’ve only tried to tell people that it’s essential to talk about sex.
Sometimes, just talking about sex-related topics helps in understanding the subject better and coping with problems, if there are any. Right?
Look, even though we believe that we are a progressive society at large, we read sexologist’s columns in newspapers but never tell anyone that we’ve read it. We fear that people will judge us. When I have kids, I would like to keep a line of conversation on this open, because I want them to have frank chats with me about their problems when they face hormonal havocs.
You have been playing funny characters in all your films so far. While this is your forte and you seem to enjoy it, are you only being offered comic characters in movies because filmmakers think that you have cracked it in this genre?
I won’t ever stop working in comedy films because all the comedies that I’ve worked in are different from each other. I have done many comedies, but none of my roles are repetitive. Yes, I want to try other genres and I’ve really wanted to do that for a long time. But that does not mean that I will steer away from comedies in the bargain. I’ve done theatre where I did only serious roles and from the very first film, I’ve only done funny characters. It’s tough to make people laugh and I realised that after my first film. I also felt that I have it in me to make people laugh. It gives me a beautiful feeling when I do that. Of the offers that come my way, 80 per cent are for comic characters and the remaining 20 per cent are a mix and often don’t work out. The actor in me wants to try new genres, but I guess I’ll have to wait.
Do you ever fear that people will find it difficult to accept you in a serious role?
If I do it correctly, they will accept me. I am often asked me if I am scared to be typecast in this space. People don’t hesitate to call me a comedian. I am not a comedian; I am an actor who excels in a specific genre. I’m in no hurry to pick up a serious character and prove a point to anyone. The day I am convinced about a part that I like, I will take the plunge. But I will not tear away from a genre that has worked well for me so far. Finding acceptance is an issue and a challenge that every actor faces. Our personality traits show up in all the characters we portray on screen. The only constant in my life is the effort that I put in to register every character I play.
Sunil Grover on how his brand of humour has helped people de-stress and combat chronic depression
Himesh Mankad (MUMBAI MIRROR; July 22, 2019)
Sunil Grover started his career in the ’90s alongside late comedian Jaspal Bhatti in the TV show Full Tension. Little did he know that over the years, he would not only go on to become one of the most loved comedians of our country, but also help people overcome severe tension and chronic depression.
When the actor was in Dubai recently, prepping up for a live stage performance, a lady walked up to him, surprised him with a hug and a warm “thank you” for getting her out of depression. “As an actor, one doesn’t realise the impact one has on the lives of others because we’re mostly working in a closed environment like a studio. But it’s beautiful when you see the smiles you bring to the faces of people,” Sunil admits.
The actor who was last seen in the Salman Khan period drama Bharat, reveals that this wasn’t the first time this has happened to him. “A few days ago, I was waiting to catch a flight in the airport lounge when a lady came up to me and confided that she used to have 100 mg of depression pills, the dosage has now gone down to 10 mg because of my TV shows and live acts. Over time I have realised that humour de-stresses people. For me, comedy’s a medicine and the one who makes you laugh, a pharmacy,” he asserts.
From Rishi Kapoor to Akshay Kumar and Varun Dhawan, actors across generations have admitted that the toughest thing for an actor is to make people laugh. “Yes, comedy is difficult and being a comedian is tough,” he acknowledges. Ask him on how he got into comedy, and he replies, “It comes naturally to me, but I had to constantly polish my skills. As a child I used to mimic family members and teachers and slowly started taking part in interschool competitions and before I knew it, it had become my profession,” he smiles.
The 41-year old actor goes down the memory lane to talk about the stage act that changed his life. “I decided to become an actor at a very early age and remember participating in a competition when in the eighth grade. I had to limit my performance to seven minutes but didn’t keep track of time. I didn’t even hear the warning bell because I was only focused on the people sitting in front of me who were laughing uproariously. I was disqualified as I was on stage for 12 minutes, but I consider that my biggest victory as I could hold the audience for such a long time,” he recalls, adding that that’s when he realised the power of humour. “I still remember that character’s name, Mariyaal Singh Pisaddiram.”
Sunil recently posted a picture on Instagram with the caption “D3” sparking off speculations that he had signed Salman’s cop-drama, Dabangg 3. The actor laughs off the rumour, saying, “I was trying to rectify my Vitamin D3 deficiency by standing in the sun.”
Manoj Pahwa and Seema Pahwa get candid about the appreciation they are receiving for their work
Deepali Singh (DNA; July 22, 2019)
She was a delight to watch as the mother who is obsessed with her daughter’s wedding in 2017’s Bareilly Ki Barfi as well as Shubh Mangal Saavdhan. He was talked about for the poignant portrayal of a Muslim man accused of terrorism, in last year’s Mulk and as a police officer with a dark side in Article 15. But ask Seema Pahwa and Manoj Pahwa if they were pleasantly surprised by the appreciation from the industry and they reply, almost in unison, that they would have, had they not been prepared for it. “Iski taiyyari toh bohot saalon se ho rahi thi,” says Seema with a smile.
The couple met each other in Delhi, where they were part of the same theatre group. While Seema became a household name with her role as Badki in 1985’s popular soap Hum Log, her husband was noted for playing Bhatia in 2001’s comedy show Office Office. Post marriage and two kids, the couple moved to Mumbai in 1994 to continue their work in television, films and theatre. Like Seema says, more than three decades of work has brought them to this juncture.
CONTENT IS KING
The couple attributes their recognition to the kind of films being made now. “Content has become hero now, and when the story takes precedence, then the characters become important,” believes Manoj. The result then is the casting of good actors for those roles. “Ab vaisa daur chal raha hai. In content-driven films, characters ubhar ke aate hain. That’s why films like Bareilly Ki Barfi, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, Mulk and Article 15 are appreciated,” he states.
While it may not have been a big deal for the Pahwas, Seema is glad that her son Mayank and daughter Manukriti — both National School of Drama grads — saw the appreciation coming their parents’ way. “For years, they had been seeing us work, but nothing much was happening. We’re happy, industry ne ma-baap ki izzat rakh li!” she laughs.
Manoj’s last two films saw him in serious and intense roles, while Seema’s recent movies have explored her lighter side. Ironically, such roles were exactly what they were not known for. Seema’s image as the serious Badki was so impactful that once a director turned away from her while narrating a comedy script to her husband! “But we are theatre actors and we have done so many different kinds of roles on stage. It’s just that we got typecast in films that were being made earlier,” reasons Manoj, who has usually been the one making the audience laugh.
The role reversal of sorts has been a pleasant change for them. Of late, directors are approaching them with different kinds of roles. “Now, I am being offered characters that were actually meant for him!” exclaims Seema, citing films like Ferrari Ki Sawaari and Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, where the roles were originally written as male characters and offered to Manoj. “As long as the money is coming to our house, it’s fine!” Manoj laughs.
SUPPORT FOR EACH OTHER
Over the years, the couple has been each other’s support through thick and thin. What about criticism? “Oh, yes, we don’t share the kind of relationship where you only have to say good things about each other. We discuss each other’s work and if need be, criticise it as well,” shares Seema. “There are some films of mine that neither my wife nor my children are interested in. That’s criticism without even saying a word! There are some that even I don’t tell them about. Bolke gaali thodi khaani hai!” Manoj guffaws.
With both their children into the performing arts too, there are often some healthy discussions over dinner. “They learn from our experience and we also get updated about what appeals to the youth of today. That check is good for us and our experience is valuable for them. God has blessed us with this combination of young artistes and senior actors,” says the doting mother.
The actress is now ready with her directorial debut, Pind Daan, which she has written as well. The cast reads like a who’s who of talent, including Naseeruddin Shah, Konkona Sen Sharma, Vinay Pathak, Supriya Pathak and Vikrant Massey among others. Is Manoj in it as well? “Of course, inko kaise jaane deti!” Seema grins, as Manoj cuts in jokingly, “Maine toh bhaagne ki poori koshish ki thi!”
HONING THEIR CRAFT
Over the years, the couple has also kept its relationship with theatre alive and can often be seen in plays by Naseeruddin Shah’s Motley theatre group. For Manoj, theatre is like a paathshaala, which keeps them refreshed and raring to go, while for Seema, it’s the instant response she gets from the audience which makes being on stage so special for her. Working with a stalwart like Naseer, too, has been a blessing for them. “Where else would we find someone who still corrects us, who can tell us even today that we’re not doing it right? There is still so much to learn and it’s a wonderful process that keeps you on your toes as an actor,” Manoj adds.
While Seema and Manoj are acting in a couple of plays in the ongoing Motleyana Festival at Prithvi Theatre, next Sunday is a Pahwa Special as all four of them are involved in story-readings. Seema will read a story by Ismat Chughtai, Manoj, one by Saadat Hasan Manto and their daughter Manukriti is reading a story written by their son Mayank. “When the brochure came out, I sent my son a picture of the same (Mayank is learning filmmaking in London) and told him he should feel proud of himself. After all, Naseer saab liked the story so much that he’s put it in the same bracket as Ismat and Manto,” says the beaming father.
The Pahwas certainly seem to be enjoying their share of success. And rightly so!