Bobby Deol as Baba Nirala steals the show - The Daily Guardian
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Bobby Deol as Baba Nirala steals the show

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A stunning achievement to portray the ‘not so good’ picture of powerful people who mishandle religion for their ulterior motives, Ashram delivers a beautiful yet brutally honest depiction of caste division in society.

The first scene of the web-series helmed by Prakash Jha opens with a young girl brutally hitting her hostel warden to flee, which creates doubts in the mind of viewers as the scene leaves a question mark over yearning for freedom. The story goes into flashback and we are introduced to a wrestling match between two girls, Savarna belonging from highclass society and Pammi from Dalit section. The match creates a fuss as it clearly portrays the indifference and biasness towards the Dalit girl. Then there›s a scene where the higher class society beat up a bunch of Dalit people just because they took a ‘Baaraat’ from their colony.

Director Prakash Jha has shown the caste oppression, wherein the lower class is always suppressed and looked down upon. Babaji (Bobby Deol) who is not a ‘godman’ but a ‘conman’ is now introduced to the audience. He essays the role of a calm and composed guru with a devoted set of disciples. Baba Nirala is a popular and wealthy guru who helps the needy. Guru is no God. Then again, there›s a flashback scene and we are introduced to a girl who is being brutally stabbed by four goons of Babaji and thrown in a jungle. The interesting twists and turnover of events are what makes this web-series gripping and worth watching.

The mystery behind the dialogue, “Once you come to the ashram, you can never go back” needs to be decoded. Also, sit back and relish the romantic chemistry between a head constable and a doctor. But the turnover of events without any signal is definitely eye catchy and builds up the interest.

The narration and theme are beautifully penned. The theme is strong and impactful. A binge-worthy series is incomplete without a stellar cast and power-packed performances. Bobby Deol is the centre of attraction as he plays Babaji and keeps the audience intrigued. Aditi Pohankar has done an excellent job as a small-town girl. Darshan Kumaar and Tushar Pandey have done complete justice to their roles.

Aashram is streaming on MXPlayer.

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DIANA SHOOTING IN ABU DHABI FOR HER UNTITLED-NEXT

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MUMBAI: With the teaser of ‘Adbhut’ and the release of her first Malayalam film, Salute, on the horizon, Diana Penty has all our attention right now. After treating us with some scenic, Instagram-worthy content from Shimla recently, the actress has now jetted off to Abu Dhabi for her next project. Taking to her Instagram handle, Diana posted a stunning image of the city of Abu Dhabi. The caption wrote, “Woke up to this beautiful view of Abu Dhabi.” While there hasn’t been any official announcement yet, our sources have revealed that she is shooting her soon-to-be-announced film in Abu Dhabi.

A source revealed, “Diana Penty has a packed calendar with back-to-back shooting slates this year. Currently, the actress is working on an untitled project in which she plays an interesting character and audiences can expect a surprise in a never-seen-before avatar.” From the looks of it, cine lovers and Diana’s fans are in for a treat as she has a number of interesting, diverse projects in the pipeline. The actor makes her Malayalam debut in “Salute” starring alongside Dulquer Salmaan, but what has most people intrigued is the supernatural thriller, “Adbhut”. 

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TAAPSEE’S ‘SHABAASH MITHU’ TO HIT THEATRES IN FEBRUARY 2022

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MUMBAI: Marking legendary India’s Test and ODI skipper Mithali Raj’s birthday, Viacom18 Studios on Friday announced the release date for ‘Shabaash Mithu’, a biopic on the star, featuring Taapsee Pannu in the lead role. The movie is all set to hit the screens worldwide on 4 February 2022. ‘Shabaash Mithu’ is the coming-of-age tale of women’s cricket in India as witnessed by the most successful woman cricketer the country has ever seen. The film chronicles the highs and lows, setbacks and moments of euphoria of Mithali’s life with Taapsee essaying the titular role. Also seen in the film will be the talented actor Vijay Raaz in a key role.

‘Shabaash Mithu’ has been shot across domestic and international locations to aptly bring alive Mithali’s iconic journey and her meteoric rise to the world stage. Directed by Srijit Mukherji with the script written by Priya Aven, the movie is produced by Viacom18 Studios. 

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ALI FAZAL BAGS NEW HOLLYWOOD FILM ‘KANDAHAR’

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MUMBAI: After ‘Death on the Nile’, actor Ali Fazal has bagged a pivotal role in a new Hollywood film titled ‘Kandahar’.

The film is being directed by Ric Roman Waugh, who has previously helmed films including ‘Angel Has Fallen’, and ‘Felon’. Popular Scottish actor Gerard Butler leads the cast as an undercover CIA agent called Tom Harris.

‘Kandahar’ is based on the screenplay developed by Ric Roman Waugh with former military intelligence officer Mitchell LaFortune. The story is based on Mitchell’s experiences at the Defense Intelligence Agency in Afghanistan.

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KARTIK EXPRESSES HAPPINESS AFTER ‘DHAMAKA’ SUCCESS

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MUMBAI: Actor Kartik Aaryan is on a roll. His latest release ‘Dhamaka’ has been making waves.

Since its release, ‘Dhamaka’ has been trending in the Top 5 Non-English Films worldwide on Netflix. It is also trending in the top 10 in films in 10 countries on the streaming platform. Talking about the same, Kartik said, “I am extremely happy to see the response to my performance in Dhamaka. I was looking for a role that was something different from what I had done before and this was exactly that! Dhamaka is a unique story of ambitions and how far one will go to change their life. It will compel you to always think while making decisions that ‘aap ne apni zindagi mein kya khoya, aur kya paaya’. To see the international level where this story travelled – with it trending in the top 10 films in more than 10 countries including UAE, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and many more along with it trending in the Top 5 NonEnglish Films worldwide on Netflix is simply mindblowing.”

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‘BOB BISWAS’ REVIEW: ABHISHEK BACHCHAN’S CASTING AS BOB LEAVES A LOT TO BE DESIRED

Murtaza Ali Khan

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We first got introduced to the character of Bob Biswas in Sujoy Ghosh’s 2012 film ‘Kahaani’. An insurance sales agent who moonlights as a contract killer, Bob came across as a rather uncanny yet believable character. Brilliantly portrayed by Saswata Chatterjee while combining an equal dose of eeriness and dark humor, the character became an instant favorite. And, after years of anticipation, Sujoy Ghosh in collaboration with Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment has finally come out with a full-fledged film for ZEE5 based on Bob and with Abhishek Bachchan essaying the part instead of Chatterjee. The film, directed by Diya Annapurna Ghosh, also stars Chitrangada Singh, Paran Bandopadhyay, Ditipriya Roy, Purab Kohli and Samara Tijori in the pivotal roles.

Almost all origin stories are weighed down by expectations and comparisons. The fans of the original of course are keen to watch it and yet at the same time they are usually a little wary. Sometimes the high expectations and the emotional attachment to the original can also make them overly critical in their scrutiny of the new offering. The best origin stories are always mindful of two things, above everything else. First, there has to be enough on offer for the fans of the original as one certainly doesn’t want to antagonise or alienate them. Second, it should also be able to stand on its own for the benefit of new viewers as one obviously wants to grow your viewership. Often the worst origin stories fail on both these counts.

Now, Bob Biswas is neither a great origin story nor a particularly bad one. The film has its moments but it is also flawed in so many ways. Speaking of the film’s strengths, Sujoy Ghosh’s screenplay stands out for its great attention to detail. Although, the storyline is nowhere near as fascinating as ‘Kahaani’ or ‘Badla,’ there are enough twists and turns to keep the viewer hooked until the end. Paran Bandopadhyay’s performance as Kali Da is a major highlight of the film. Here’s is a fascinating character that deserves a spinoff of its own. Purab Kohli also delivers a memorable performance. Ditipriya Roy and Samara Tijori are also solid in their respective roles.

The Bob Biswas from ‘Kahaani’ is a cold-blooded killer who doesn’t hesitate before pulling the trigger regardless of who the victim is. He has no remorse in even pushing a pregnant woman onto the rail tracks. His only credo is to fulfill the mission that he is assigned. And Saswata captured the character’s mannerisms so well in ‘Kahaani’. Now, there is no denying that Abhishek Bachchan is an earnest actor. Regardless of what his detractors say, he takes his work very seriously. And the same is true of his portrayal of Bob. In fact, this really is the farthest he seems to have pushed himself till date in a bid to make his Bob as identical to Saswata’s as possible. But, the trouble is that a well-known actor like Abhishek Bachchan may never play an out-and-out bad character. And it’s not just the case with Bollywood. In Hollywood also we have actors like Tom Hanks who wouldn’t play out and out bad characters. During the golden age, there were James Stewart and Cary Grant who wouldn’t play killers.

Now, even when Abhishek plays a killer in say ‘Breathe: Into the Shadows,’ the character’s outrageous villainy has to be balanced using an alter ego. Similarly, his Bob has to have a redeeming quality. In the film, we meet Bob who is a family man. He dearly loves his wife and children. Yes, he is an assassin but he refuses to kill a woman who is trying to fight the drug mafia. Therein lies the rub. For, the moment you associate those redeeming qualities, he ceases to be what he is supposed to be—a remorseless killer. Bob Biswas is Bob Biswas because he is a killing machine. He isn’t supposed to think or feel before carrying out his missions. And, so, Abhishek Bachchan’s casting as Bob leaves a lot to be desired.

Interestingly, in his defense, Sujoy said that he wanted to steer clear of ‘Kahaani’. And yet the manner in which he ends the film, deliberately connects Bob to Vidya Balan’s thread from ‘Kahaani’. Another problematic aspect of ‘Bob Biswas’ is the weak chemistry between Bachchan and Chitrangda Singh who essays the part of Biswas’ wife. Also, the film is not really a proper origin story in that it doesn’t take us to the very beginning of Biswas’ journey; we only meet him mid-way. It certainly would be an interesting exercise to explore Biswas’ true origins, starting with his childhood. Perhaps, Sujoy has a few more films for the ‘Kahaani’ franchise in his mind.

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‘I WAS DEEPLY MOVED’: AKSHAY LAUDS TEAM ‘CHHORII’

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MUMBAI: Superstar Akshay Kumar on Friday gave a shout-out to the whole team of recently released Amazon Prime Video film ‘Chhorii’ for bringing out the social issue of female feticide in a subtle way through powerful storytelling and strong narrative.

While the audiences are catching up with ‘Chhorii’, it most certainly caught the eye of Akshay, an actor who has been a frontrunner towards highlighting social issues predominate in society through his films. Akshay took to his social media, to share a video that rightly so, highlights what women have been doing and achieving. Akshay wrote in his post, “As father to a girl who is my lifeline, I was deeply moved, and equally concerned, about this. Kudos for taking up this sensitive topic, @vikramix @Nushrratt @Abundantia_Ent . Power to you.”

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