Sting operation by Cobrapost exposes how Bollywood celebs are ready to tweet propaganda for cash

Sting operation by Cobrapost exposes Bollywood celebs ready to tweet propaganda for cash
Sting operator Cobrapost's founder Aniruddha Bahal on how he roped in Bollywood actors to secretly endorse political parties on social media, for cash
Sonil Dedhia (MID-DAY; February 20, 2019)

Bollywood and politics have often been accused of being strange bedfellows. In a development that sent shockwaves across the industry yesterday, investigative website Cobrapost alleged that "nearly three dozen" Bollywood stars were willing to secretly promote political parties on social media in exchange for cash. Dubbed as Operation Karaoke, the sting operation — videos of which were made public online — saw the reporters reach out to various celebrities, posing as managers from a fictitious PR agency.

The operation that was apparently conducted last year saw Sunny Leone, Vivek Oberoi, Sonu Sood, Shreyas Talpade, Padma Shri awardee Kailash Kher and Mika Singh, among others, agreeing to accept their fee in cash, in exchange for posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram endorsing the Central Government, BJP, and other political parties. The messages were to be shared over a period of eight months in the run-up to the general elections.

Aniruddha BahalTalking to mid-day, Cobrapost editor Aniruddha Bahal said that the idea germinated early last year: "The reporters came up with the idea as they were listening to a lot of anecdotal evidence regarding this phenomenon."

Question him why they didn't put A-list stars under the scanner, he says, "We met them mostly through agents who had briefed actors beforehand. So we went where the agents took us. We weren't targeting anybody. The fees were fixed and nearly all of them agreed to a black money arrangement. Many of them wanted money in advance before meeting."

Vidya Balan, Arshad Warsi, Saumya Tandon and Raza Murad turned the offer down.

Rs 75 lakh per month 90 per cent in cash
Sunny Leone - Rs 75 lakh per month; 90 per cent in cash

Rs 80 lakh per month 85 per cent in cash
Vivek Oberoi - Rs 80 lakh per month; 85 per cent in cash

Rs 75 lakh per month 90 per cent in cash
Shakti Kapoor - Rs 75 lakh per month; 90 per cent in cash

Rs 30 lakh per month 90 per cent in cash
Rohit Roy - Rs 30 lakh per month; 90 per cent in cash

Rs 2 Lakh (plus GST) per tweet
Baba Sehgal - Rs 2 Lakh (plus GST) per tweet

Salman Khan to kick-start Dabangg 3 next month?

Salman Khan
Hiren Kotwani (DNA; February 20, 2019)

Salman Khan, who is currently working on his Eid release Bharat, has already lined up his next film, Dabangg 3. The third instalment of the successful franchise has been in the news since the time of its announcement.

Now, we have learnt that the superstar will don the khaki for his role as Chulbul Pandey on March 26. A source says, “Salman is expected to complete his portions for Bharat in the next few weeks. He’s keeping a buffer of a few days in case he needs to shoot any patchwork.” The source further adds, “The launch of Dabangg 3, which was previously scheduled for April 4, has now been advanced to next month. Salman will kick-start the movie with a shoot at Mehboob Studios in Bandra. His entire family will be present for the launch.”

Dabangg 3’s earlier launch dates
Initially, Salman Khan had reportedly planned to launch Dabangg 3 on September 16 last year. According to sources, he later decided to complete Bharat first. Then, it was supposed to kick off on April 4.

Shahid Kapoor debuts as producer with the Dingko Singh biopic?


Natasha Coutinho (MUMBAI MIRROR; February 20, 2019)

 Mirror has learnt that Shahid Kapoor is turning producer with Raja Krishna Menon’s next directorial. Based on the life of legendary Manipuri boxer Ngangom Dingko Singh, the sports biopic also features the actor in the titular role.

The film, which was initially to take off in January this year, is currently in the scripting stages with plans to take it on the floors later in the year. Shahid is co-producing the film with Raja.

According to a source close to the development, Shahid owns the rights to Dingko Singh’s story and he got Raja on board to direct it. “Now, they have joined hands to produce the film. It will be shot primarily in Manipur, besides Delhi, while an international schedule is also being planned,” the source added, attributing the initial delays to several rewrites. “It’s a difficult script to write, so it has taken time, but it will go on the floors this year. Raja is currently putting the research together with his writers.”

Dingko Singh, with whom Shahid has spent some time last year to understand his life, is one of the most outstanding boxers India has produced. At 19, he won a gold medal at the Bangkok Asian Games in Thailand in 1998.

Born in the remote village of Sekta in the Imphal East District, Manipur, Singh fought adversities right since the beginning. Unable to raise him due to poor financial conditions, his parents had to leave him in an orphanage. Another jolt followed when he was diagnosed with bile duct cancer in 2017. The father-of-two had to sell his house in Imphal to pay for the treatment, which included 13 rounds of chemotherapy.

The boxer, who was awarded the Padma Shri in 2013, now works as a coach at the SAI Special Area Games (SAG) Centre in Khuman Lampak, Imphal and trains around 150 boxers in the 12-14 age group.

Shahid has been shooting for Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s Kabir Singh with Kiara Advani in Mumbai and Delhi. For the Dingko Singh film, he starts boxing lessons in Mumbai under the guidance of a professional soon. The 37-year-old actor, when contacted, chose not to comment.

I am thinking that perhaps I could qualify for the title of Sequel Man-Anil Kapoor

Anil Kapoor
Meena Iyer (DNA; February 20, 2019)

At 62, Anil Kapoor’s spirit is infectious and his charm undeniable. While promoting his Friday release Total Dhamaal, the actor said, “Even as we speak, I am thinking that perhaps I could qualify for the title of Sequel Man.”

He laughed and added, “There are so many of my films that have the definite possibility of being made into successful franchises. For eg, for some reason, the sequels to Mr India (1987) and No Entry (2005) haven’t taken off. Welcome (2007) has had two successful instalments. People keep asking me why I haven’t agreed to a sequel for Nayak: The Real Hero (2001) because this socio-political drama has so much relevance even today and will definitely lend itself to a mind-blowing second part.”

Anil exclaimed that he was proud of the fact that he was a part of the Race franchise. Now, he is excited about Total Dhamaal that he has just joined.

“Indu (Indra Kumar) didn’t have to say much to convince me to get on board. I am happy to team up with Madhuri (Dixit-Nene) with whom I have done 18-odd films and of course, with Ajay (Devgn) as well as the rest of the cast which includes Riteish (Deshmukh), Jaaved (Jaaferi) and Arshad (Warsi). We had the most fun shooting this film and today I feel happy to be in the last leg of the promotions as well. Some movies just make you happy. Total Dhamaal is one of them,” he signed off.


The actor in No Entry; As the protagonist in Nayak: The Real Hero; As the patriarch in Race 3

Me and Madhuri Dixit both are available for more films. We can come as a package deal-Anil Kapoor


Roshni Olivera (BOMBAY TIMES; February 20, 2019)

It seems almost impossible that an on-screen pair can weave the same magic like they did 20 years ago. But Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit-Nene have actually managed to pull that off with ease. The duo, who is seen on TV shows these days promoting their new film Total Dhamaal, have made viewers sit up and gape at their striking chemistry, even as they sway to Dhak Dhak Karne Laga and their other hit songs from the 90s. In a fun chat with Bombay Times, the two talk about reuniting on the big screen after almost two decades, how they have maintained their friendship over the years and what’s common between them. Excerpts...

Anil, was it total dhamaal working with Madhuri after 18 years?
Anil: Actually, it’s a little more than that; I think we last faced the camera together 19 years ago. Yes, it was total dhamaal with Indra Kumar (director) being there and the three of us coming together after Beta. It was a lot of fun with the entire star cast. Madhuri has worked before with most of the actors, be it Ajay (Devgn), Arshad (Warsi) or Jaaved (Jaaferi). The whole vibe was very good. It didn’t feel like we were shooting after such a long gap. Also, Madhuri and I have kept in touch over the years.
Madhuri: I remember he had come to Denver. He visited me when my kids were small. We had so much fun shopping...
Anil: Your husband (Dr Sriram Nene) bought me a pair of boots.
Madhuri: Yes, Denver is known for boots — the cowboy kind of boots.

Madhuri, when you learnt that Anil is paired with you in this film, did that make you more comfortable and sure about taking on this project?
Madhuri: Absolutely! When Indu ji (Indra Kumar) came to me with the script, I loved it. I asked him who would play my husband and he said he would be approaching Anil ji. I said it would be great to have all of us in this kind of a mileu.
Anil: I will let out a secret today. Before we signed on the dotted line, Madhuri and I were in touch over this and we kept asking each other, ‘What do you think about this? It’s sounding great’. And then, we both decided that we should do it. Yes, Madhuri and I are coming together after a long time, but this is an ensemble film, where there are 12 people and all have equal roles. That’s the beauty of this film.
Madhuri: We also felt that it would be perfect if the two of us did this film. It would not make sense for anybody else to pair with either of us.

According to you, what’s the one thing that hasn’t changed about the other?
Anil: The most important thing is, she is humane. She has been the same since the time I first met her. From within, she has not changed as a person at all. She looks so beautiful because from the inside, she is calm, happy and relaxed. Her smile has not changed at all, likewise, her dancing remains unchanged after all these years. When I see her dance, I feel the same magic. The only thing that is different now is that she has two beautiful children and a great husband.
Madhuri: I don’t think Anil has changed either. Of course, with everything that’s happening on social media, he has turned quite savvy. I was surprised because he is usually reticent, but now, he is out there and ready to experiment on that level. Otherwise, I can see he has the same drive to work hard and succeed. He has the same energy and manages to get everyone going. We were on a TV show sometime back, where he just took the reins in his hands and said, ‘Come on everyone, let’s make this more enjoyable’. With Anil, what you see is what you get. There are never any layers; he is honest and straightforward. What he says is what he means, always. What he said about me just now is exactly what I would say about him. It’s all about keeping the child within you alive. I feel the same as I did years ago. I can’t believe I have kids who are that big. I look at them and say, ‘Really?’
Anil: God has been kind. When you look at your journey in terms of your personal or professional life, you know that you are blessed. These things make a lot of difference because kabhi kabhi journey mein utaar-chadhaav zyaada ho jate hain and that can take a toll on a person. What’s common between the two of us, I think, is that we have always had our priorities right. Sometimes, you have to make a sacrifice in your professional life if you feel that priority has to be given to your personal life. I would do that. She is also like that. The way she got married, decided to move to the US, it’s remarkable. Around that time, she did Pukar (2000), which was appreciated, then Devdas (2002) — one of the biggest hits. It’s not easy leaving behind all the glamour and the hustle-bustle.

What was it like when you visited her in Denver?
Anil: It was not just a house, it was a home. It was quiet, peaceful and pure. They were leading a beautiful life away from everything. To be honest, I could do it for a week or 10 or 20 days maximum. After that mujhe lagega ki ab Mumbai ka crowd chahiye.
Madhuri: But I was very happy and loved it. I enjoyed that phase of my life.

Anil, when you first heard that Madhuri was getting married and shifting base, how did you react?
Anil: It didn’t come as a surprise to me because it was just a matter of time. I think that she tied the knot at the right time.
Madhuri: I remember when I met him (Dr Nene), I felt, ‘This is it’. Anil and I were promoting Pukar in those days.
Anil: And most questions asked to both of us were about her marriage. Maine kaha thoda Pukar ki bhi baat kar lo yaar.
Madhuri: Yeah, I remember that!

Both of you have acted in 17 films together. What was the rapport like?
Anil: There was mutual respect for each other. At least I respected her. Did you, Madhuri?
Madhuri: (Laughs!) Of course. That was mutual.
Anil: I got along with her parents and had been to their home many times. We have had meals together and also, I specifically remember the poha I had at her place. Madhuri and her family would also visit my home. There was a certain connect between all of us. Ghar mein aana jaana tha.
Madhuri: It’s a friendship that lasted even after I left from here.
Anil: Talking about 17 films, I remember while we were doing those films, we were very competitive as well.
Madhuri: Koi bhi scene mein koi bhi shot chodne ka nahi! I would be like Anil ji ne mere se accha kiya, now I have to do this better than him.
Anil: All the directors were in love with her, so I had to put in double the effort. I would try to charm my directors, but that wouldn’t work. They would take more time to light up her close-ups.
Madhuri: That’s the case with any heroine...
Anil: Aapka kucch zyaada tha! On a serious note, Madhuri really helped me with my dancing.
Madhuri: He is being very modest; he has his own style of dancing.
Anil: My dance is very Chembur...
Madhuri: Yes, that charming Chembur flavour (laughs!)
Anil: For me, dance is all about having fun and going with the feel of the music. I would go with the rhythm rather than focus on the choreography.
Madhuri: Some of the dances were sensuous. But the innocence with which Anil did it gave the whole sequence a beautiful effect.

Unlike all those films, which were about love and romance, Total Dhamaal is an out-and-out comedy where both of you play a couple that’s constantly fighting. What kind of prep went into this?
Madhuri: I had to be myself, get my absurdity right. The scenes here are very different because nobody talks like that and you have to make it look convincing. I love these kind of comedies.
Anil: In these kind of films, you have to be spontaneous and instinctive because it’s all about timing. For the first time, I am playing a Gujarati character. So, my prep was to get the dialect right, match up to Madhuri and look as fresh as her.
Madhuri: He would tell me, ‘I’m going to be there in the next schedule, you better come prepared’.
Anil: We play a couple, who has a 14-year-old child. In real life, I have a daughter (Sonam K Ahuja) who is 33. So, I had to work out everyday for this film. The idea was to look convincing.
Madhuri: Luckily, I have a son who’s 13. But I agree that the physicality has to look right.
Anil: Otherwise, people can make fun of you. Trailer mein logon ko pata chal jaata hai.

After this outing, are the two of you looking forward to doing more films together?
Anil: We are both available, writers and directors please make a note. We can come as a package deal!
Madhuri: Two for the price of one...
Anil: No, no aisa nahin hoga and I’m sure you won’t agree, too. Jokes apart, we would love to work together. It’s up to the filmmakers. We would be more than happy even if they are first-time directors, who have something interesting for us.
Madhuri: Yes, anyone who can present us differently.

Is there any film of another on-screen couple that you think the two of you would have done really well?
Anil: All of them!
Madhuri: (Laughs!) I have never really thought of it like that. When I watch a movie, I just watch it like an audience.
Anil: Actually, there are films that Madhuri has done with Salman, Aamir and Shah Rukh, where I think that they were the best choice. Whether it’s Hum Aapke Hain Koun (1994), Dil (1990) or Dil To Pagal Hai (1997); they are irreplaceable. They look so convincing. I can’t imagine myself there.

Madhuri, according to you, which are Anil’s best performances?
Madhuri: There are many. I loved his performances in 1942: A Love Story (1994), Kishen Kanhaiya (1990) and Eeshwar (1989). Even Woh Saat Din (1983), I couldn’t believe that an actor could perform like that in his first film. Among our films, I would say Beta (1992) and Pukar.

Anil, which ones would you choose from her repertoire?
Anil: She was brilliant in Pukar. There are many, but I was mesmerized by her performance in Hum Aapke Hain Koun as well. That, according to me, made her one of the finest leading ladies on celluloid. That film is for posterity and even after 100 years, you can pull out any close-up and it will be timeless.

Given that yours turned out to be one of the biggest hit pairings on screen in Bollywood, it’s interesting to note that your first film together actually didn’t take off....
Anil: We did one song for the film titled Bajrangi, but it didn’t take off. We then did Hifazat (1987), which did average business, though one song, Batata Vada, became very popular.
Madhuri: N Chandra was editing the song from Bajrangi, and at that time he was also planning to make Tezaab (1988). He saw me in the song and decided to cast me in Tezaab. Sometimes, things happen for the best.

Anil says that this is the best phase of his life in terms of the way he feels and the work he is doing. How would you describe this phase of your life?
Madhuri: I have enjoyed every phase of my life. This is new and there are some good roles out there. I have my family, it’s wonderful to watch my kids growing up and I am enjoying time with my husband.

Is Dr Nene looking forward to watching Total Dhamaal? Has he watched the funny trailer showing Anil and you fighting?
Madhuri: Yes and after watching the trailer, he said, ‘'Thank God, you are not like that in real life.’

I even begged Mrinal Sen, Aparna Sen to cast me-Anil Kapoor


Avinash Lohana (MUMBAI MIRROR; February 20, 2019)

After collaborating with Indra Kumar on five films, starting with Mohabbat (1985), and more than a dozen with Madhuri Dixit, the last being Rajkumar Santoshi’s Pukar (2000), Anil Kapoor reunites with the duo for Total Dhamaal. And while he admits that nothing has really changed with them, he did something new this time in the film which surprised even his family.

“I played a Gujarati for the first time with help from Indu ji who is one himself, and attended a workshop to play the part convincingly. My family thought I’d lost it, doing workshops for an Indra Kumar film as if I was prepping for Christopher Nolan or Steven Spielberg,” guffaws Anil, admitting that after diving into it, he realised it wasn’t an easy role to play despite the laughs.

CGI was also relatively new for the actor. “I’ve done a lot of stuff on the blue screen earlier, but not so extensively. This was another first for me,” he acknowledges, pointing out that he had worked with most of his coactors, except for Riteish Deshmukh and Arshad Warsi. He will be reuniting with Arshad for Anees Bazmee’s Pagalpanti. “I leave for London to start shooting on Friday,” he informs, looking forward to meeting John Abraham, his Welcome Back co-star, and Mubarakan co-star Ileana D’Cruz. “Ileana is a lovely girl. Also, this film is true to the Anees Bazmee-style which is unique, like a Manmohan Desai or Prakash Mehra film. A total masala entertainer, it should be a lot of fun,” he beams.

In the last few years, Anil has done a lot of out-and-out comedies. He admits that he has enjoyed the genre, situational comedies in particular, since the beginning of his career. “While out-and-out comedies are fairly recent, my earlier films, including Mr India and Woh Saat Din had a lot of laughs. Padmini (Kolhapure), Nilu Phule and I had a great time shooting for the latter,” he reminisces.

Anil also reminds you that he had worked with Hrishikesh Mukherjee in Jhooth Bole Kauwa Kaate and had done Chameli Ki Shaadi with Basu Chatterjee at a time when out-and-out comedies weren’t the trend. “I am a huge admirer of these directors and wanted to work with all of them. I even begged Mrinal Sen and Aparna Sen to cast me, another mainstream star may not have done it, but I wanted to learn from them,” he explains.

The actor also believes that age can’t restrict one from doing a comedy, citing the examples of American actors Ben Stiller and Steve Martin from the 1991 comedy Father of the Bride. “It’s not easy to make people laugh, but you can get away with it with the right timing,” Anil avers.

Speaking of Mr India, buzz is a sequel is in the works. “We haven’t cracked a story yet. I’m a part of several franchises, but I’m not making a sequel for the heck of it, ditto for Boney (producer-brother Boney Kapoor). Also, both Sriji (co-star Sridevi) and Amrish Puri saab are irreplaceable,” he reasons.

Meanwhile, he is gearing up for the Abhinav Bindra biopic, in which his son Harsh Varrdhan will play the titular role while he essays the Olympian shooter’s father Apjit Bindra. “The script is still being worked on, we’ve seen two-three drafts but are still waiting for the right one which will make everyone happy. The film requires a lot of workshops which we will start once the final script is locked,” says Anil.

The third instalment of the Race franchise failed to impress. Anil begs to differ, saying, “It did pretty well. When I did Part Two, some said it was not like the original, by the time we reached the third instalment, they were saying ‘after the success of one and two’. I promise you whenever we make Race 4, they will say ‘after the success of one, two, three’.”

Anil who so far has been answering every question candidly, clams up when asked about the Hindi adaptations of American shows Prison Break and Modern Family that he had announced. He doesn’t wish to talk before it’s time. He also refuses to divulge details on the next season of 24. “We will talk about it when the time is right,” he signs off. 

I don’t know if I am replacing Navjot Singh Sidhu on Kapil Sharma’s show permanently-Archana Puran Singh

The actress talks about the controversy around Navjot Singh Sidhu & Kapil Sharma
Tanvi Trivedi (BOMBAY TIMES; February 20, 2019)

While there are reports claiming that Archana Puran Singh has replaced former cricketer and politician Navjot Singh Sidhu on The Kapil Sharma Show, the actress says nothing has been finalised yet.

Kapil, too, came out in support of Singh and said that while he is with the government, banning or replacing Sidhu is not the solution. Since then, ‘Boycott Kapil Sharma’ has been trending on Twitter and not just that, fans have asked Salman Khan (producer of the show), to take strict action against Kapil for this.

We spoke to Archana about the entire controversy and she said, “Clearly, social media has become so big today that one has to be very careful before commenting or expressing their opinion on any issue.”

‘It is important that people’s sentiments are not hurt. Whatever you wish to express should be expressed in a responsible manner. I don’t know if I am replacing Sidhu permanently. I had shot for two episodes because he was busy with his political commitments. In the past too, many times when Sidhu had other commitments, I had stepped in for him on the show. Kapil and I go back a long way; I have known him from the time he was a participant on Comedy Circus. Kapil, his entire team and the channel are family for me. So, when your family needs you, you can’t say no to them. If the channel and makers want me to step in, I will do so,” says Archana.

Meanwhile, Kapil Sharma has been criticised on social media for supporting Sidhu and saying that banning or replacing him is not the solution. Ask Archana about this controversy and she says, “I would not like to express my views on what happened and whether someone should have commented on the current situation in the country, but I have a strong stand. Whenever our country is in conflict with any other nation, I will strongly stand by what my country, the government, the Prime Minister and opposition leaders feel is in the best interests of the nation. And this is not because the concerned person has said something, this is my belief that I will not have any other stand but to support my country.” 

I don’t watch Slumdog Millionaire, it’s embarrassing-Rubina Ali


Former child star Rubina Ali on life after leaving Mumbai streets ten years ago to attend the Oscars when the film went on to win eight awards
Daily Mirror (BOMBAY TIMES; February 20, 2019)

On Oscars night next weekend, all eyes will be on Olivia Colman, the 45-year-old British actress being tipped for Best Actress glory for her role as Queen Anne in The Favourite. It will be a remarkable night for Colman, but nothing compared to Rubina Ali’s experience on the Hollywood red carpet ten years ago.

Slumdog Millionaire star Rubina was ten, when she left India and her tiny shack of a home in the Mumbai slums, to go to the 81st Academy Awards in Hollywood, where all eyes were on her as Danny Boyle’s film won eight Oscars.

A decade on, instead of rubbing shoulders with the stars in LA next Sunday, Rubina, 20, will be watching it on TV in her one-bedroom flat in Bandra West, just across the railway line from the Bandra East slum where she was born.

Rubina says, “The Oscars was just unforgettable. It was one of the most amazing days. But sometimes it feels like a dream — I was so young. I was very happy to meet all the Hollywood stars and to experience the red carpet. I never imagined that would happen in my life.”

Wide-eyed Rubina played the young Latika, who falls in love with Jamal, played by Dev Patel. Recalling her trip to LA, Rubina, now a student and part-time office worker, says, “I remember I didn’t like the US food. Dev Patel used to feed me with his hand — pizza and burgers — but I like Indian spicy food, I didn’t like the continental food.”

‘SLUMDOG STOLE MY CHILDHOOD’

Rubina was living in a tiny brick-and-corrugated-iron hut in the slums with dad Rafiq, stepmum Munni, two brothers and two sisters, when a friend heard that US film producers were looking for slum children for a Hollywood film.

Rubina, whose biological mother, Khushi, had walked out of the family home when she was four, was paid an upfront fee equivalent to around £624 now, a huge figure compared to her father’s £110-a-month wage as a carpenter.

Danny Boyle later formed the Jai Ho Trust to help Rubina and Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail — the only other slum kid in the film — and pay for a good education and a flat for each of them.

She says, “Uncle Danny has been wonderful. He has supported me so much. He paid for my education and came to visit me every year. I’d go to visit him at his hotel and he’d ask me about my life. He has helped me a lot. He is very kind and loving to us. I love him too.”

The two children went to an English school in plush Bandra West, and when they turned 18, they received an undisclosed sum from the trust plus the deeds to their flats.

Speaking to the team as she revisits the slums where she once lived and where the movie was filmed, Rubina says, “I grew up much quicker because of Slumdog, though. The film stole my childhood. My mother and father didn’t know much, they’re not educated so they had no idea how to handle the fame and attention. It was too much for them.”

She says the film also brought her ‘fake friends’ as she found herself to be a target for opportunists, who tried to take advantage of her success. She and her family were offered free food and clothes, but when the interest in the film started to subside, so did the offers. Rubina says, “Everyone wanted to be my friend after the film. People would buy me gifts and clothes and feed me, but then they disappeared. Before Slumdog there was no one, then there were so many people and then, there was no one again. They wanted to be famous because I was famous.”

‘SOME PEOPLE STILL RECOGNISE ME, BUT NOT AS MUCH AS THEY USED TO’

Rubina’s 15-minutes of fame took a toll on her already-strained family. There were stories of her mum fighting with her stepmum, she fell out with her father and even moved in with her aunt and uncle for a while. Rubina says she saw a lot of ‘deceit’, but refuses to elaborate. Her brush with Hollywood fame has left her guarded, struggling to trust people.

She says, “Now I live a simple life. I don’t have many friends and I don’t drink alcohol. I saw a lot of fake people soon after Slumdog, so I am very wary of people. I don’t like being with a lot of people, I’m not very trusting. I’m alone quite a lot and I quite like that. I don’t want people to use me and harm me.

“Some people still recognise me, but not as much as they used to. Soon after the film, everyone used to call my name and sing Jai Ho at me, but not as much these days.”

It’s a sad statement for a young woman of 20. But Rubina has been on a rollercoaster few could imagine.

Her first home in the slums was destroyed to make way for a railway line the year the film came out and her second home was burned to the ground in 2011, the fire destroying all her Oscar memorabilia and the baby blue dress she wore on awards night.

She moved into the flat at the age of 13, where she now lives. Many of her family still live in the slums, and as she shows us the area where she once lived, she admits that, despite the atrocious conditions, she misses the community spirit she once shared.

Rubina says, “I often go back to the slum to see my uncle and family. It looks different now, so I don’t feel emotional when I go there, but it was once my home. I miss how it was, the home I had. I loved my neighbours and close family nearby. We were a close community —everyone was so nice, but it’s gone now.”

Of course, the film has given her plenty of opportunities, too. She now studies art and literature at Mumbai University and works parttime in an office.

‘I LIKE BOTH HOLLYWOOD AND BOLLYWOOD, BUT I DON’T WANT TO LIVE OVERSEAS’

Rubina, who was a runner on the 2013 movie Belle, still wants to be an actor and insists that, overall, the Slumdog experience was wonderful. She says, “It’s my dream to be an actor and I want to make it come true. I know my family is very proud of me.”

She says, “I like both Hollywood and Bollywood, but I don’t want to live overseas. I want to stay in Mumbai, so I guess Bollywood will be my future. If I become a successful actress as an adult, I now know to be careful with people. I’m prepared for the fame now. Once you get attention, people appear out of nowhere.”

She wants to share the same advice with other young stars, like Sunny Pawar, who was 11 when he went to the Oscars after starring with her old friend Dev Patel in Lion (2016). Rubina says, “I’d tell Sunny to make sure his family have guidance to make the right decisions and make the most of the opportunities. All the fame, that world, it’s very different from our normal lives.”

Rubina had a lot of that support from Danny, a lifeline she will always be grateful for. But while she still looks forward to his visits, she admits she hasn’t seen Slumdog in a while. Speaking of the film that changed her life, Rubina says, “I don’t watch it, it’s embarrassing. I play the role of a beggar, so it’s quite embarrassing to watch. I laugh when I see myself.”

Taapsee Pannu replaces Parineeti Chopra as face of a popular chips brand?

Taapsee Pannu and Parineeti Chopra
DNA (February 20, 2019)

Taapsee Pannu has been having a good run at the movies. With some terrific performances in Pink (2016), Mulk (2018), Manmarziyaan (2018) and now the upcoming thriller Badla (March 8) whose trailer looks promising, her career graph has been on the rise.

Meanwhile, Parineeti Chopra has had to lie low for some time now. Despite the comedy franchise Golmaal Again (2017) doing wonders at the box office, the actress hit a roadblock especially after (Namastey England, 2018) came unstuck. However, she is gearing up for her March release, the historical, Kesari, in which she teams up with Akshay Kumar.

Having said that, there are certain brands, who have got slightly impatient with PC’s slow turn at the movies. And, one of them has decided to replace her with Taapsee.

Says a source, “A popular chips brand was looking for a new face and they zeroed in on Taapsee. They have already shot for their first ad together last month. The team wanted a complete makeover and someone whose energy matched with theirs. While Parineeti was the face of the brand for years, they didn’t renew her contract this time around.”

Of course, several brands are known to be myopic and they constantly play musical chairs with celebrities. Nothing too alarming, we say. What goes up also comes down and vice versa.

Shanaya Kapoor working as assistant director on Janhvi Kapoor's next ahead of her Bollywood debut in 2020?


Sanjay and Maheep Kapoor’s daughter Shanaya is serving as assistant director on cousin Janhvi’s next, makes her acting debut next year
Natasha Coutinho (MUMBAI MIRROR; February 20, 2019)

Sanjay and Maheep Kapoor’s daughter Shanaya, who is gearing up for a launch as an actress next year, has already started her prep. Mirror has learnt that the 19-year-old aspiring actress is on-board cousin Janhvi Kapoor’s next, the Gunjan Saxena biopic, as an assistant director and is currently in Lucknow with the film’s team.

A source associated with the project reveals, “The team will be shooting in Lucknow for the next two weeks before moving to other locations. While Shanaya has made up her mind about being an actress, her parents wanted her to experience life behind the scenes first. She had been making regular rounds of Karan Johar’s Andheri office to work on the project.”

The film is directed by debutant Sharan Sharma, who has earlier assisted on Ayan Mukerji’s Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani and KJo’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil.

While her launch is a way off, Shanaya already has several social media fan clubs dedicated to her and is a hot favourite with the paparazzi. The teenager graduated from school only last year, and is close friends with Student of the Year 2 debutante Ananya Panday and Shah Rukh Khan’s daughter, Suhana, who is also a debutante-in-the-making.

Mirror had reported earlier (December 3), that Janhvi has started prep for the biopic with lessons in basic flying and on the workings of the Indian Air Force.

Gunjan, one of the first Indian female helicopter pilots to be posted in Kargil, had evacuated injured soldiers during the 1999 war. She is also the first woman to be feted with Shaurya Chakra, a gallantry award presented for valour, courageous action or self-sacrifice while not engaged in direct action with the enemy.