A FLAWED BUT EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCE REPLETE WITH JOY, HOPE, FAILURE AND FRUSTRATION - The Daily Guardian
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A FLAWED BUT EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCE REPLETE WITH JOY, HOPE, FAILURE AND FRUSTRATION

Murtaza Ali Khan

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Sometimes stories can bring places to life. That’s precisely what TVF’s new series ‘Aspirants’ succeeds in doing. It manages to present West Delhi’s Old Rajinder Nagar, the famous hub of UPSC aspirants, in all its glory. As an uncommitted UPSC aspirant myself (as I was always inclined towards cinema and the arts), I never really got a chance to experience the vibes of Old Rajinder Nagar even though I used to hear a lot about the place from my peers and still do from my juniors. It won’t be wrong to call it the Kota of UPSC preparation (some even go to the extent of calling it the Mecca of UPSC preparation). The iconic neighbourhood offers a wide array of leading coaching institutes, libraries that are functional 365/24/7, tea and samosa points as well as comprehensive study materials for all subjects. Every year thousands of aspirants come here to prepare for the UPSC but only a handful succeed in cracking the country’s premier examination.

A primary character (a failed UPSC aspirant turned teacher) in the first episode of the five episode series proclaims to a new batch of students, “Old Rajinder Nagar is the home to countless tales of emotions, aspirations, failures and frustrations. If you get the time then look at it from the heights. You will discover a sea of unlimited dreams.” Aspirants is about the past and present of three friends, Abhilash (Naveen Kasturia), Guri (Shivankit Parihar) and SK (Abhilash Thapliyal), who are UPSC aspirants. While the past follows their struggle to crack the examination while living in Old Rajinder Nagar during 2012-13, the present examines their lives and failures six years later as we learn that only one of them (Abhilash) eventually succeeded in cracking the exam. While Guri now runs a shoe factory in his hometown, SK teaches UPSC aspirants in Old Rajinder Nagar.

But why is the UPSC exam so tough to crack? “Because once you get selected you will have the task of running the world’s biggest and most complex democracy,” SK tells his students. He also talks about three qualities needed to crack UPSC (it is often wrongly assumed that cracking UPSC is same as getting qualified for the Indian Administrative Service, for only the top rankers qualify for IAS): patience, perseverance, and dedication. In SK’s words, “This is not a normal race. This is a marathon. You need to be the tortoise as the rabbit doesn’t win here.”

While watching Aspirants one gets a feeling that the subject deserves a more wholehearted examination. Perhaps the best thing about the series is that it encourages aspirants to let go of the negative mindsets. It also reminds us that life doesn’t end with UPSC. For, there is a whole world out there waiting to be explored. Often the desperation to crack the exam emerges out of the peer pressure and the urge to impress those around us. And usually it’s this desperation that makes the job even tougher for the aspirants.

Now, many comparisons are being drawn between Aspirants and Kota Factory (the earlier TVF series about IIT aspirants) even though the latter unfolds is in a far more realistic space. The former, on the other hand, despite the intended realism, isn’t devoid of Bollywood-esque tropes. Also, Aspirants is far more bleaker in comparison to Kota Factory. And it makes sense. For, when one fails to qualify for IIT one still has hope. But when one fails to crack UPSC often one has no backup left as already one has moved into one’s late 20s or early 30s. So it is a make or break situation of sorts if things are not planned properly which is more often the case. Just as a senior aspirant called Sandeep Bhaiya tells Abhilash, “Plan B is for losers,” before acknowledging how wrong he really was to not have a Plan B in place. There is a beautiful slo-mo sequence at the end of the penultimate episode. The results to the UPSC prelims are out and all the students are running to see if they have qualified or not. And suddenly it starts to rain and while everyone has an umbrella only Sandeep and Abhilash symbolically don’t. For, they are the only ones without a Plan B.

Aspirants is a fun watch with some nice emotional moments and is very relatable if you have ever taken any competitive exams in India. It’s certainly not as bad as most critics have proclaimed it to be. Also it’s not as great as some fans are calling it. The performances and dialogue, however, do elevate it. Sunny Hinduja is just perfect as Sandeep Bhaiya—a truly immaculate demonstration of mastery over a character in the realistic space. Naveen Kasturia, Shivankit Parihar and Abhilash Thapliyal are also superb in their roles. Namita Dubey, Kuljeet Singh, and Bijou Thaangjam also deliver memorable performances. The final episode nearly ruins the series as the makers fail to take a stand. The episodes of Aspirants are impregnated with embedded marketing (product/service placements) which after a point gets a little too much. But it’s something that perhaps can be overlooked as all the five episodes are made available for free on YouTube.

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Lifestyle & Entertainment

AS ‘TADAP’ TEASER UNVEILED, SUNIEL ROOTS FOR HIS SON AHAN’S DEBUT

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MUMBAI: Suniel Shetty’s son Ahan Shetty is all set to make his acting debut opposite Tara Sutaria in the film ‘Tadap’.

On Tuesday, the makers unveiled the teaser of the film. The teaser gives us a sneak peek into the world of Ishana and Ramisa, portrayed by Ahan and Tara respectively and establishes their characters well. While Ramisa is seen at the picturesque location of snow-clad mountains, Ishana, on the contrary, is spotted in a rugged macho avatar with his bike.

Sharing the teaser of his son, Suniel took to Instagram and wrote, “A glimpse of my heart for the world. A teaser of what I’ve loved. A humble tease of what is to come #Tadap – a little at a time. So excited for my son @ahan.shetty & his teaser of #Tadap. Give him as much love as you gave me.”

Produced by Sajid Nadiadwala and directed by Milan Luthria, ‘Tadap’ will be out in cinemas on 3 December.

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EMRAAN OPENS UP ABOUT PARALLEL LOVE STORY WITH HORROR GENRE

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MUMBAI: Ahead of the release of his horror film ‘Dybbuk’, Emraan Hashmi opened up about his connection with the particular genre. “I feel I have a parallel love story with this genre. I personally like horror films and hence starring in ‘Raaz 2’ and ‘Ek thi Dayaan’ was like a dream come true for me. A wave of horror films will always be there in the industry and Horror should be consumed like this (‘Dybbuk’),” he said. Emraan also urged filmmakers and actors to come forward to create more horror films in the industry.

“I feel yet in our country and industry, this genre hasn’t been completely explored yet. Not many films are made. I really wish more and more stars come forward to do horror films. Also because I know the success ratio of this genre is a lot more,” he added.

Talking about ‘Dybbuk’, the film also stars Nikita Dutta and Manav Kaul in prominent roles and is all set to release on 29 October on Amazon Prime Video.

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‘JONAS BROTHERS FAMILY ROAST’ TO STREAM ON NETFLIX

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WASHINGTON: Streaming giant Netflix is all set to come up with a comedy special ‘Jonas Brothers Family Roast’, which features none other than musicians brothers Nick Jonas, Kevin Jonas, and Joe Jonas.

Touted as a celebration of “the universal truth that no one can get under your skin quite like your own family”, ‘Jonas Brothers Family Roast’ will include sketches, songs, games and special guests all meant to tease the brothers about their lives and careers, reported Variety. Pete Davidson, Niall Horan, Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias, John Legend, Lilly Singh, and Jack Whitehall will make special appearances in the special. Also, Saturday Night Live’s Kenan Thompson will host the show.

On Tuesday, Nick took to Instagram and shared a teaser video to announce the launch of the show. “Someone teach @joejonas how this works… The Jonas Brothers Family Roast will be available on @netflix,” he captioned the clip.

 ‘Jonas Brothers Family Roast’ is scheduled to release on 23 November 23.

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WITNESS COP SALMAN AGAINST GANGSTER AAYUSH IN ‘ANTIM’ TRAILER

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MUMBAI : The makers of the Salman Khan, Aayush Sharma-starrer film ‘Antim: The Final Truth’ unveiled the action-packed trailer of the film on Monday.

The film also marks the debut of Mahima Makwana. The trailer comes loaded with pumping action, highoctane background music, and much more. The nearly three-minute-long trailer opens with Salman Khan, who plays the role of a cop, in his first-ever Sardar persona.

The trailer also gives the audience a good peek into the transformation of Aayush’s character, the nemesis of Salman in the movie. Aayush plays the role of an aggressive, dreaded and territorial gangster. Both Salman and Aayush had to undergo significant physical transformation to play their characters in the film, and the trailer shows precisely that. Laden with thrilling action, in the trailer, Salman Khan comes out as a ruthless, no-bars-held cop who will stop at nothing to rout out crime.

‘Antim: The Final Truth’ is directed by Mahesh Manjrekar, produced by Salma Khan and is presented by Salman Khan Films. The film will be globally released in theatres by Zee Studios on 26 November.

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SHARVARI’S PRIYANKA CHOPRA MOMENT

Uday Pratap Singh

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Gorgeous debutant Sharvari, who will be seen in the family entertainer ‘Bunty Aur Babli 2’ playing the role of the new Babli, is over the moon about her Priyanka Chopra moment on the sets of the film. When Sharvari donned a metallic gold bikini and dazzled the crew with her sass and curves on the Abu Dhabi beach, she reminded us of Priyanka’s stunning onepiece bikini sequence in ‘Dostana’ that had stopped the heartbeat of the audience. Sharvari says, “I was the happiest person on set the day I shot this scene. Growing up, the image of Priyanka Chopra walking out of the sea in her golden bikini in ‘Dostana’ was etched in my mind. She is the queen of sass and cool, she looked drop-dead gorgeous.”

She adds, “Ever since I decided to become an actor, I have secretly wished for a sequence like that to be in. And it’s a really sweet coincidence that ‘Bunty Aur Babli 2’ script had a sequence of me coming out of the sea in a stunning bikini. I just couldn’t believe it!”

Sharvari exclaims, “So, on the day of the shoot, I was thrilled and confident to pull this off. I was in good shape and had the best crew to shoot this. I was seeing my wish come true. I hope I have pulled off the scene well because someone like Priyanka Chopra had absolutely nailed it and set benchmarks of how to do a great bikini sequence with so much oomph.”

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ARSHAD TO BE SEEN IN TURBANED LOOK IN NEW FILM ‘BANDA SINGH’

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MUMBAI: Arshad Warsi will be seen donning a turban in his new film ‘Banda Singh’.

On Monday, Arshad took to Twitter and shared the first official poster of the movie. In the image, he can be seen sporting a turbaned look as he poses with actor Meher Vij. “Really excited to become #BandaSingh for you all. All we need is your blessings,” Arshad captioned the poster.

As per a statement, ‘Banda Singh’ is a survival story of a man and his family, set in North India and based on true events. It is helmed by Abhishek Saxena.

Abhishek said, “I have been looking for a script like this to direct since a long time as my earlier two films Phullu and Saroj Ka Rishta were on social issues but Banda Singh is about survival. I am quite thrilled to go on floors and roll the film with Arshad, Meher and rest of the cast.” ‘Banda Singh’ will go on floors in mid-November.

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