‘Kaagaz’ marks Satish Kaushik’s emphatic return to direction - The Daily Guardian
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‘Kaagaz’ marks Satish Kaushik’s emphatic return to direction

Murtaza Ali Khan

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Films based on real events have tremendously grown in popularity in recent years as far as Bollywood is concerned. Amongst these, the most popular ones, of course, are the biographical films, also known as biopics. Now, the sudden increase in the number of biopics has surprised one and all. It’s not that such films weren’t made earlier but today they are being made at an unprecedented rate. Now, while it is difficult to single out one particular biopic that started this trend, it is impossible to overlook three films whose success undoubtedly helped usher in this trend: The Dirty Picture (2011), Paan Singh Tomar (2012), and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013). 

 Now, the overwhelming success of Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, in particular, started the trend of a specific kind of biographical films called sports biopics. Other than sportspersons, traditionally, biopics were mostly made about famous leaders, celebrities, and dreaded gangsters among others. But these days there are no such restrictions and as a result of which the horizons are widening. The latest Satish Kaushik directorial Kaagaz, made for ZEE5, is perhaps the best example of this. Kaagaz is based on life and struggle of Lal Bihari Mritak, a farmer from a small village in Uttar Pradesh, who was declared dead on official papers by his opportunistic uncle who wanted to usurp his property.  

 Kaagaz is essentially presented by Kaushik as a satirical commentary on the flawed system of land resources in India and the disasters associated with it. Lal Bihari, who was officially declared dead between 1975 and 1994, had to fight with the Indian bureaucracy for 19 years to prove that he’s alive. During his long struggle, he became the leader of many other people who suffered a similar fate at the hands of the corrupt and incompetent system. To fight for the cause, he added ‘Mritak’ (which translates to deceased in English) to his name and founded Mritak Sangh, an association of dead people, to highlight other cases like his. In a bid to prove that he is alive he even contested in the 1989 elections from Amethi against Rajiv Gandhi—the 6th Prime Minister of India. 

 Finally, in 1994, Mritak succeeded in getting his official death annulled after a long legal struggle. Interestingly, Kaushik acquired the rights to Lal Bihari Mritak’s story back in 2003. But just like Mritak had to wait for almost two decades to get justice, Kaushik too had to wait for nearly two decades to release the film. Kaagaz is produced under the banner of Salman Khan Films and Satish Kaushik Entertainment Production. The film begins and ends with Kagaaz Poetry, recited by Salman Khan, which beautifully explains the hidebound nature of the Indian bureaucracy. 

 Over the last few years, Kaushik has been working with the Haryana state government to regulate the existing policies to attract more film producers to the state. With the endeavour to develop the local film industry in his home state of Haryana on the lines of Punjabi, Bhojpuri, Bangla, and Marathi industries, Kaushik produced a Haryanvi film Chhoriyan Chhoron Se Kam Nahi Hoti  back in 2019. The film revolved around a Haryanvi girl who must fight the deep-seated patriarchy to become an IPS officer. Now, Kaagaz marks Kaushik’s return to direction after a hiatus of over six years. And it’s nothing less than an emphatic return to form for the veteran filmmaker who is known for making films such as Prem (1995), Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehte Hain (1999), Hamara Dil Aapke Paas Hai (2000), Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai (2001), Badhaai Ho Badhaai (2002), and Tere Naam (2003). 

 As a matter of fact, it is Kaushik’s taut direction that elevates Kaagaz above its source material. A veteran of over a 100 films, Kaushik, more than anyone else in the Hindi film industry, understands the importance of telling a compelling story. And being a seasoned actor he also understands the actors’ sensibilities really well. It shows in each and every frame of Kaagaz. During the last couple of years or so we have hardly seen anything refreshing from Pankaj Tripathi. Fortunately, Kaagaz comes to his rescue at just the right time. And with a veteran like Kaushik at the helm, Tripathi succeeds in delivering his best work since Newton (2017). Essaying the part of Lal Bihari Mritak, Tripathi goes through an entire gamut of emotions. One hopes that Tripathi stays away from run-of-the-mill projects that fail to do any justice to his prodigious acting talents.

 To Kaushik’s credit, he also succeeds in eliciting top-notch performances from his other actors which include the likes of Monal Gajjar, Mita Vashisht, and Amar Upadhyay. Also, Kaushik plays a very interesting part in the film — that of the lawyer who guides Mritak during his long legal battle. Kaagaz is a poignant film that tugs at our heartstrings. Kaushik reminds us what he is truly capable of achieving as a cinematic storyteller. Perhaps, he is finally ready for Tere Naam 2.

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Rana Daggubati salutes jawans this Republic Day with a heartfelt post

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New Delhi [India], January 26 (ANI): Ace actor Rana Daggubati marked the occasion of the 72nd Republic Day by penning down a heartfelt note, saluting the braveheart soldiers of India.
The ‘Baahubali’ actor extended his warm wishes to the ‘jawans’ by sharing the heartwarming letter on Instagram.
“MY SALUTE TO THE JAWANS AND A HEARTFELT THANKS FOR THEIR WARM WELCOME
This Republic Day, I am filled with a renewed sense of respect for our country’s armed forces,” Daggubati’s post read.
The 36-year-old actor then shared that the “feeling” of respect has “lingered on” with him after he spent some time with the BSF troops in Jaisalmer for a documentary with Discovery Plus.

“And this feeling has lingered on with me ever since I spent time with the troops of the country’s Border Security Force IBSF) at the Murar post in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. As civilians, we barely know the lengths our soldiers go through to serve the country,” he wrote.
“And I must say, I was extremely fortunate and honored to have been given an opportunity to spend some time with and train with the BSF, for an exciting documentary titled Mission Frontline on Discovery,” he added.
The ‘Dum Maaro Dum’ actor also expressed gratitude for the “warmth and support” with which the soldiers helped him in his training for the project.

“I am grateful for their warmth and support that made me feel like one of them, a part of their family, as they motivated me at every step of the training. I underwent physical training that had me running with weapons and backpacks to firing live rounds,” the 36-year-old actor wrote in the post.
“And it got me thinking of the kind of physical, mental, and emotional investment it takes to be part of the forces; with no option but to be excellent at it. The stakes are high. The pressure is high. And the work never ceases, even for a moment,” he added.
In the rest of the post, the ‘Ghazi’ actor continued heaping praises on the soldiers of the country.
“Our soldiers stand at the border, guarding us from whoever and whatever might want to cause us harm. They stay away from thei loved ones, so we can live blissfully with ours. They train am fight under the blazing hot sun and in the bitter cold of the night, so we can enjoy life,” Daggubati wrote.
“They stand true to their motto of ‘Duty unto Death’. On guard and at service all the time, our soldiers are the human border safeguarding the country’s people, constitution and sovereignty. It is these heroes who deserve every bit of our praise and gratitude,” he added.
He ended the letter by urging everyone to celebrate the “Republic India” by remembering the soldiers with a “little prayer” and by sending love to the “true heroes.”
“This January 26, while we celebrate the ‘Republic’ India that vests the power to the people, let’s also remember to say a little prayer and send some love to these true heroes, our Jawans at the border, who guard our borders and protect the nation,” he wrote.
“Join me as I salute these incredible men and women, this Republic Day. My dear Jawans of the Border Security Forces, I thank you for everything that you do to keep India safe! You fill my heart with pride. Jai Mind! In your debt forever! Your fan, Rana Daggubati,” he added.
Several Bollywood celebrities including Amitabh Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra, Kangana Ranaut, among others, also took to social media to extend Republic Day greetings to their fans and followers.
Republic Day is celebrated in India every year on 26 January to commemorate the day the Constitution of the nation came into effect. Though we gained independence on August 15, 1947, nascent India did not have its own laws which were drafted and finally adopted in the year 1950. (ANI)

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Here’s when 2021 Billboard Music Awards will air

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Washington [US], January 26 (ANI): NBC has finally announced the date for the 2021 Billboard Music Awards, which are going to be held just seven months after the delayed 2020 Billboard Music Awards took place.
The award ceremony, which is usually a star-studded event, will air on May 23 on NBC at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT, reported Variety. The company has kept the rest of the details about the ceremony under wraps.
The other details including the host, performers, nominees, and the ceremony venue will be announced at a later date. The honorees are determined by their performance on the Billboard charts, and the ceremony is expected to feature live performances, unexpected collaborations, pop culture moments and the granting of the annual ICON award.
The 2020 Billboard Music Awards were originally slated to take place on April 29 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, however, it was pushed indefinitely due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
As per Variety, the award show ultimately took place on October 14, with American singer-songwriter Kelly Clarkson serving as host from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Garth Brooks received the Icon Award at the event, while Killer Mike received the inaugural Change Maker Award.
American rapper Post Malone walked away as the big winner, taking home nine awards including Top Artist, Top Male Artist, Top Billboard 200 Artist, and Top Billboard 100 Artist. Meanwhile, singer Billie Eilish bagged three awards, including Top Female Artist, Top New Artist, and Top Billboard 200 Album for her debut ‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go’.
Nominees and winners at the award show are based on fan interactions with music, including album and digital song sales, streaming, radio airplay, touring, and social engagement, tracked by Billboard and its data partners.
The Billboard Music Awards kick-started in 1990, though there was a period between 2007 and 2010 when the ceremony was not held. (ANI)

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Samuel L. Jackson sports ‘Avengers’ mask while receiving COVID-19 vaccine dose

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Washington [US], January 26 (ANI): In true Nick Fury style, Hollywood actor Samuel L. Jackson brought his superhero friends along with him to get vaccinated for the novel coronavirus by wearing an ‘Avengers’ themed face mask.
According to People Magazine, the ‘Pulp Fiction’ star wore an Avengers face mask while he received his initial dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at The Forum in Inglewood, California.
Samuel took to Instagram and posted a photo of himself wearing the mask along with a caption that read, “At The Forum getting that 1st jab!!”
The face-covering featured cartoon images of some of the heroes including the insanely popular fictional character — the Hulk and Captain America. The actor added the hashtags, “look out world bout to bust back out,” “vaccine spring,” and “go gitch yours I got mine,” to the photo caption.
The 72-year-old actor qualified for the shot as California’s Governor, Gavin Newsom moved the state into Phase 1B of vaccine rollout on January 13, allowing people who are 65 and older access to the vaccine, as per People Magazine.
It is unclear which brand of the injection the actor received, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allowed emergency use authorization for two COVID-19 vaccines, one made by Pfizer and another by Moderna. Both vaccines require a wait of either three or four weeks before the second dose, which brings the vaccine protection up to around 95 per cent.
Jackson is now a part of the growing list of public figures and celebrities that have gotten the immunization. As per People magazine, last week, former Governor of California and ‘The Terminator’ star, Arnold Schwarzenegger documented himself receiving his first dose. (ANI)

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Demi Lovato to star in NBC comedy ‘Hungry’

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Washington [US], January 26 (ANI): American singer and actor Demi Lovato is returning to her TV roots! The star will feature in a comedy project titled ‘Hungry’, which is in the works at NBC.
The 28-year-old singer is all set to headline the upcoming project which follows friends in a food issues group “as they help each other look for love, success, and the perfect thing in the fridge that’s going to make it all better,” reported Variety.
The network has given the show a put pilot commitment, which means if it does not air as a series, it will premiere as a special at least. Lovato will executive produce and star in the series, with ‘Frasier’ and ‘Will and Grace’ fame producer Suzanne Martin helming the show.
‘Will and Grace’ star Sean Hayes will also executive produce under his production company. Lovato guest-starred alongside Hayes in the ‘Will and Grace’ revival last year.
Aside from her stint on the American sitcom ‘Will and Grace’, Lovato has starred on several TV shows in the years since ‘Sonny With a Chance’. She was in two episodes of ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ and guest-starred as Dani, Santana’s (Naya Rivera) love interest in four episodes of ‘Glee’ in 2013 and 2014. She also appeared as a patient in one episode of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ in 2010.
According to E! News, the singer has been vocal about struggling with and recovering from bulimia. She also sought treatment for her eating disorder during a 2010 rehab and has been open about her subsequent relapses. In March 2020, she spoke to American comedian Ellen Degeneres about a period where she felt like her life and her food were controlled by her team.
“My life, I just felt, was so–and I hate to use this word–but I felt like it was controlled by so many people around me,” she had said earlier.
“If I was in my hotel room at night, they would take the phone out of the hotel room so I couldn’t call room service. Or, if there was fruit in my hotel room, they would take it out because that’s extra sugar. We’re not talking about, like, brownies, and cookies, and candies and stuff. It was fruit,” she added.
Lovato has since hired American media proprietor Scooter Braun as her manager. He will also serve as an executive producer on ‘Hungry’. (ANI)

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PM Modi sports special Jamnagar Paghdi on 72nd Republic Day

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New Delhi [India], January 26 (ANI): On the occasion of the 72nd Republic Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sported a special Jamnagar turban as a part of his traditional attire during the celebratory Parade.
Continuing his annual tradition of sporting special traditional turbans during Republic Day celebrations, PM Modi wore a red headgear with yellow dots, gifted to him by the royal family of Jamnagar, Gujarat. Along with the turban he was seen wearing his traditional kurta, pajama, and gray jacket along with a face mask.
The royal family of Jamnagar holds special respect globally. In one of the defining acts of humanity during World War 2, the king of Jamnagar, Maharaja Jam Saheb Digvijay Singh, had saved 1000 children from Poland during World War 2. Poland still cherishes this gesture of Jamanagar’s erstwhile King.
The PM had also extended greetings to the nation on the special occasion. “Wishing all the people of India a Happy RepublicDay. Jai Hind!” PM had tweeted.
Modi’s sartorial choices have made headlines on many occasions – from his headgears for Republic Day celebrations to the suit printed with his name – he surely knows how to stand out. For his maiden Independence Day address as the PM in 2014, he had opted for a Jodhpuri bandhej turban in bright red colour with green at the tail.
Republic Day is celebrated in India every year on 26 January to commemorate the day the Constitution of the nation came into effect. Though we gained independence on August 15, 1947, nascent India did not have its own laws which were drafted and finally adopted in the year 1950. (ANI)

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TISCA CHOPRA SET TO DIRECT A ‘NICE, TIGHT MURDER MYSTERY’

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MUMBAI: Actress Tisca Chopra is all set to start shooting her debut directorial feature film, a murder mystery, later this year. “I guess a feature film was just waiting to happen, since I write as well. This came about quite naturally. I am really excited. It is a nice, tight murder mystery told in a very unusual style,” she told IANS. “The script for my directorial feature has been ready for almost a year now and we were ready to shoot in January last year. I hope to shoot it this year in winter because the story is such that it needs to be shot in winter. So, fingers crossed we will shoot it this year,” she added. What encouraged her to direct a full-length feature film? “As an actor, you are always telling other people’s stories. You are part of helping other people fulfill their vision. When you move forward, you also want to sometimes tell your own stories,” she pointed out. What was the trigger that prompted her to give filmmaking a serious thought? “Necessity is the mother of invention. Nobody was making that kind of story and I wanted to make. So, I decided to make it and it did so well,” she said, adding: “People like stories and ultimately what we are, are stories. Stories about ourselves in our own head.” On the acting front, Tisca will start shooting for a new series titled Fear in February. While she is tightlipped about details, she says: “My role will require a lot of physical effort from my side in terms of hardcore physical training and changes in terms of diet, because it requires me to have a lean look

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