HBO Max recently premiered a reunion show for the cast of the Harry Potter films titled ‘Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts’. It’s available in India on Amazon Prime Video. The special basically commemorates the 20th anniversary of the first Harry Potter film, the cinematic adaptation of J. K. Rowling’s first book in the Harry Potter series ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,’ with the cast reuniting to have new discussions and to share personal anecdotes, and experiences on the sets of the various films in the eight-part film series. ‘Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts’ also features interesting insights from the four directors who worked on the series viz. Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuarón, Mike Newell, and David Yates as well as other members of the creative team.
‘Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts’ takes us to the early days of pre-production on the first Harry Potter film that was marked by a great uncertainty pertaining to the casting for the lead parts, particularly the titular character of Harry Potter. In the year 2000, after a seven-month search, Daniel Radcliffe was finally discovered. The child actor had already established himself as an actor in the 1999 BBC television production of ‘David Copperfield’ in which he played the eponymous character’s childhood years. But, Radcliffe’s parents were hesitant at first as the idea of a long-term commitment to the film series must have sounded a little intimidating to them. Producer David Heyman finally succeeded in persuading Radcliffe’s parents to allow him to take up the part of Harry Potter. The same year British actors Emma Watson and Rupert Grint were selected from thousands of children who were enthusiastically auditioning to play the parts of Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, respectively. At the time, Grint was eleven years old and Watson ten and their only previous acting experience was limited to doing school plays.
Now, there is no denying that ‘Return to Hogwarts’ has its moments but it certainly could have been much better at so many fronts. I mean J. K. Rowling is hardly present. And all those bits that exist actually exist in isolation as she never really is physically present at the reunion (if that’s what you would like to call it). In other words, Rowling does appear, but it’s only through archival footage from 2019 rather than a new interview. This came amid rumours that she would not participate due to her controversial comments on transgender people, with stars such as Radcliffe, Watson, Grint and others speaking out in support of trans people. But, according to latest reports, it has emerged that Rowling was actually invited to appear on the special, but her team determined that the past footage was adequate. Regardless of what the reason is, I would have loved to hear her talk about her discussions with the various directors on the eight films as well as her long conversations with Alan Rickman (who essayed the part of Severus Snape), among other things.
It’s totally understandable that the film wants to focus on Dan, Emma, and Rupert and how they grew up literally on the sets of the Harry Potter films, but I strongly feel that there is a lot more to the Harry Potter films. Also, I understand that a lot of the actors have passed away but many of them are still alive. I must say that I dearly missed Michael Gambon (Albus Dumbledore), Maggie Smith (Prof. McGonagall), Jim Broadbent (Horace Slughorn), Brandon Gleeson (Mad-Eye Moody), David Thewlis (Remus Lupin), Emma Thompson (Sybill Trelawney), and Timothy Spall (though his character Peter Pettigrew is mentioned in the passing), among others. So, it is really a half-baked union at best.
However, for me, the best part of the special is the inclusion of Chris Columbus (who was the director on the first two films). It is unfortunate that Columbus never really got his due as Daniel Radcliffe rightly points out in the film. He was after all the spearhead of casting and everything else at the very beginning. But for some reason no one talks about him and what he achieved working with the young actors on Philosopher’s Stone and The Chamber of Secrets. Also, I particularly enjoyed the conversation between Gary Oldman (Sirius Black aka The Prisoner of Azkaban) and Daniel Radcliffe. How a young Radcliffe developed great chemistry working with a veteran like Oldman. I also liked the segment featuring Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange) wherein she reads out the letter Radcliffe wrote to her confessing that he had a big crush on her.
Overall, ‘Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts’ makes for an interesting nostalgic trip but one that leaves one wanting more.
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APPLAUSE ENTERTAINMENT BEGINS 2022 WITH A HAT-TRICK OF SHOW RELEASES IN JANUARY
Applause Entertainment has kick-started 2022 on a high note, with two back-to-back show releases. The Sameer Nair-headed content studio of the Aditya Birla Group started the year with a bang with ‘Kaun Banegi Shikharwati’ streaming on Zee5 and ‘Humble Politiciann Nograj’ streaming on Voot Select.
Now, Applause Entertainment is all set to score a hat-trick with Mohit Raina-fronted ‘Bhaukaal Season 2’, streaming on MX Player.
Interestingly, Bhaukaal Season 2 is Applause Entertainment’s 30th release since its inception, it is 10th offering on MX Player and also its seventh show to boast of a second season. The first season of ‘Bhaukaal’, which was released in early 2020, became a huge hit for its hard-hitting storyline based on a real-life super cop, Navniet Sekera. The second season of the show revolves around how this police officer in Muzaffarnagar, UP, busts the Dedha gang and brings law, order and peace to the region.
What makes this feat even more commendable is that Team Applause is constantly exploring different genres with every show. ‘Kaun Banegi Shikharwati’ produced in association with Emmay Entertainment, streaming on Zee5, is a story of a royal dysfunctional family featuring an ensemble of fantastic actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Lara Dutta, Soha Ali Khan, Kritika Karma, Anya Singh and Raghubir Yadav. The political satire, ‘Humble Politiciann Nograj’ produced in association with Firstaction Studios and Danish Sait, streaming on Voot Select, takes ahead the 2018 film with a new story running into 10 episodes. ‘Bhaukaal Season 2’ produced by Applause Entertainment in association with Baweja Studios Production has been eagerly awaited by the audience ever since it was announced post the release of its first outing.
DEEPIKA, ANANYA & SIDDHANT STARRER ‘GEHRAIYAAN’ TRAILER OUT NOW
MUMBAI: Directed by Shakun Batra, Amazon Original Movie ‘Gehraiyaan’ stars Deepika Padukone, Siddhant Chaturvedi, Ananya Panday, Dhairya Karwa as leads along with Naseeruddin Shah and Rajat Kapur in pivotal roles.
Gehraiyaan will have its World Premiere on Amazon Prime Video across more than 240 countries and territories on 11 February 2022. Directed by the very talented Shakun Batra, Gehraiyaan is a relationship drama that looks beneath the surface of complex modern relationships, adulting, letting go and taking control of ones’ life path.
Speaking about the film, Deepika Padukone said, “Alisha, my character in Gehraiyaan is extremely close to my heart and certainly one of the most challenging characters I have portrayed on screen. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to play a role that was fun and challenging at the same time.”
Ananya Panday said, “Shooting with the wonderful cast and crew of Gehraiyaan has been an absolute high point for me and I never wanted the shoot to end! There’s a certain realness to the story of Gehraiyaan; while the film dives into the complexity of relationships it also talks about the thrill of being in love, of discovering oneself and charting ones’ path.”
ALIA BHATT CLOTHES THE NEEDY
NEW DELHI: Pretty Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt, who will soon be seen in S Rajamouli’s magnum opus ‘RRR’, is now giving back to the community through a new initiative. She launched Ed-a-Mamma, a conscious clothing brand for kids, a while back and has now kicked off a ‘Buy1Give1’ initiative, which will provide basic clothing for underprivileged children. For this initiative, every purchase made on their website will be matched with a garment donated by Ed-a-Mamma for a child in need. Ed-a-Mamma has partnered with Goonj – a renowned NGO working across India that focuses on clothing as a basic, yet unaddressed need. Alia Bhatt said, “With Ed-a-Mamma, I set out to create a world that nurtures in children, a love of nature. Knowing full well that they will look after what they love. The Buy1Get1 initiative will be used to gift garments to children in need and we hope to make kids understand the joy of sharing with people who are less fortunate.”So while the actress’ career is flying high and she is busy with numerous films, Alia has not forgotten those in need.
SIDDHANT BRINGS A LUXURIOUS HARLEY DAVIDSON HOME
MUMBAI: Actor Siddhant Chaturvedi recently brought home a luxurious Harley Davidson Sportster S, making him the first person in India to have the bike.
The ‘Gehraiyaan’ actor took to his social media to share the news of the same with his fans and followers. The actor, who rose to fame with MC Sher from Gully Boy, has certainly come a long way in the matter of just 3 years, which is a rather remarkable feat.
On the work front, Siddhant is currently gearing up for Shakun Batra’s next ‘Gehraiyaan’. He also has ‘Phone Booth’, ‘Yudhra’ and ‘Kho Gaye Hum Kahan’ in the pipeline.
SONAL CHAUHAN TO PLAY LEAD IN AKKINENI NAGARJUNA’S THE GHOST
MUMBAI: Akkineni Nagarjuna’s ‘The Ghost’ is a much-anticipated film ever since its announcement. Earlier it was said that the Bollywood star, Jacqueline Fernandez was cast for the film however, the word on the block is that the talented Sonal Chauhan will be playing the lead opposite Nagarjuna instead of Jacqueline.
That’s right, Sonal Chauhan fans are in for a treat as they get to see their favourite actress on the silver screen. A source close to the film said “Makers felt Sonal Chauhan was the best fit for the lead role opposite Nagarjuna in ‘The Ghost’. They felt both the actors Sonal and Nagarjuna would make for a fine on-screen pair and that’s when they approached her. The two are definitely going to portray some great chemistry in the film.”
SALMAN TO FEATURE IN GURU RANDHAWA’S NEW SONG
MUMBAI: Superstar Salman Khan will be seen flaunting his acting skills in singer Guru Randhawa’s new song ‘Main Chala’.
Female vocals of the track have been lent by Lulia Vantur, and the female artist who will be featuring alongside Salman is Pragya Jaiswal. On Tuesday, Guru Randhawa took to Instagram and shared the update with his fans.
“Love will be in air with #MainChala! Song releasing on 22nd January. Stay Tuned,” he wrote.
He tagged Salman Khan and Pragya in the comments. Produced by Salma Khan, the romantic track will be out on January 22.
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