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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FORMAT OF PRIYANKA’S NEW SHOW, THE ACTIVIST, CHANGED
WASHINGTON: After facing huge backlash, Priyanka Chopra Jonas’ new series ‘The Activist’ is now being reconfigured. As per Variety, the makers have shifted its five-episode format to a one-time documentary special. Many social media users slammed the show for being tone-deaf and insensitive. CBS and producing partners Global Citizen and Live Nation issued this statement, “The Activist’ was designed to show a wide audience, the passion, long hours, and ingenuity that activists put into changing the world, hopefully inspiring others. But it has become apparent the format of the show distracts from the vital work these incredible activists do in their communities every day. The push for global change is not a competition and requires a global effort. So we are changing the format to remove the competitive element and reimagining the concept into a primetime documentary special (air date to be announced), it will showcase the tireless work of six activists and the impact they have advocating for causes they deeply believe in. Each activist will be awarded a cash grant for the organisation of their choice.”
CHRIS PRATT TO BANKROLL ‘STRANDED ASSET’
WASHINGTON: Hollywood star Chris Pratt is all set to produce the action-comedy ‘Stranded Asset’, which is written by Sam Richardson and Jen D’Angelo.
According to Variety, the upcoming film reunites the trio after their successful collaboration on ‘The Tomorrow War’, which Pratt executive produced and starred in alongside Richardson. D’Angelo was the on-set writer for the sci-fi feature. Pratt will produce ‘Stranded Asset’ through his Indivisible Productions banner. Sam Richardson will also star in the film. More details of the project have not been announced yet.
TABU TO STAR IN VISHAL BHARDWAJ’S FILM ‘KHUFIYA’
MUMBAI: Tabu is all set to work with ace filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj again in ‘Khufiya’, which will release on Netflix.
Based on an espionage novel ‘Escape to Nowhere’ by Amar Bhushan, ‘Khufiya’ is a a spy thriller. Excited to reunite with Bhardwaj, Tabu shared on Instagram, “Expect nothing but sheer thrill. Excited to announce my re-uniting with @vishalrbhardwaj for #Khufiya. Coming very soon on @netflix_in. Khufiya is a one of a kind project, extremely close to my heart and I am excited to be a part of this gripping spy thriller. As always, it’s a delight working with VB (Vishal Bhardwaj) again, and feels like homecoming.” ‘Khufiya’ is a story about Krishna Mehra, an R&AW operative who is assigned to track down India’s defence secrets. Bhardwaj is trying to create an edgy espionage film that contrasts the slow burn of intelligence and surveillance work with deep-rooted emotional conflicts.
BIG B MISSES PRE-PANDEMIC ‘SUNDAY DARSHAN’ WITH FANS
MUMBAI: Waving to fans gathered outside his Jalsa residence used to be megastar Amitabh Bachchan’s Sunday morning routine. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, Big B stopped the ritual. Taking to Instagram on Wednesday, Amitabh took a stroll down memory lane and expressed his sadness on not being able to meet his well-wishers. “Thank you well wisher .. yes .. when will those Sunday well wishers at Jalsa return,” he wrote. Alongside the note, Big B posted an image of himself surrounded by imaginary fans and he was seen embracing them as the human connection has gotten a bit lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, on the work front, Amitabh is busy hosting the new season of ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’. Speaking of films, he will be seen in ‘Good Bye’, ‘Brahmastra’, and ‘The Intern’ remake.
JACQUELINE GETS CANDID WITH ARJUN ON ‘BAK BAK WITH BABA’
MUMBAI: Arjun Kapoor recently invited Jacqueline Fernandez on his digital chat show ‘Bak Bak with Baba’. Arjun questioned Jacqueline on crushes, food, and how she tackles trolls on social media. Talking about her first crush, Jacqueline said, “There was somebody in school but I can’t name him. I also had a huge crush on Leonardo DiCaprio after watching ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Titanic’ and Ricardo from ‘Backstreet Boys’.” Arjun asked her “How important is food to you?” She shared, “though I feel it’s nice to celebrate with food as everyone enjoys it, there was a phase in my 20’s when I did turn to food and that was late at night. I lived alone so it was like cake, ice cream, anything crispy. I did have a terrible relationship with food and then went starving for a week and that’s really bad. So, now it’s about knowing that I don’t need to turn to it, tomorrow is another day and we will get through it.”
ANANYA, SIDDHANT & ADARSH BAG NEW FILM, ‘KHO GAYE HUM KAHAN’
MUMBAI: Ananya Panday, Siddhant Chaturvedi, and Adarsh Gourav will be seen sharing screen space in Excel Entertainment and Tiger Baby’s new film ‘Kho Gaye Hum Kahan’.
Young, fresh and relevant, ‘Kho Gaye Hum Kahan’ is a ‘digital’ age story of three friends in the city of Bombay. The film is written by Zoya Akhtar, Arjun Varain Singh and Reema Kagti, produced by Zoya Akhtar, Reema Kagti, Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar. The film will be the directorial debut of Arjun Varain Singh featuring the young and talented Siddhant Chaturvedi, Ananya Panday and Adarsh Gourav. While Siddhant became a household name (MC Sher) after the success of Zoya Akhtar’s ‘Gully Boy’, fans are excited to see the talented actor share screen space with Ananya. It would also be interesting to see Adarsh in the mix, whose last breakout performance in the Netflix film ‘The White Tiger’ garnered immense praise and appreciation.
On the occasion of writer-producer Reema Kagti’s birthday, Excel Entertainment & Tiger Baby have launched the poster and video—announcing the release of their next theatrical project, ‘Kho Gaye Hum Kahan’ in 2023.
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