PRAKASH JHA DELIVERS ANOTHER BINGE-WORTHY CHAPTER OF AASHRAM SAGA - The Daily Guardian
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PRAKASH JHA DELIVERS ANOTHER BINGE-WORTHY CHAPTER OF AASHRAM SAGA

Murtaza Ali Khan

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MX Player Original Series Aashram, directed by the veteran Indian filmmaker Prakash Jha, introduced us to Baba Nirala, a self-styled god-man whose followers have blind faith in him and will do anything that he asks of them. The character, essayed by Bobby Deol, is depicted as a megalomaniac with an insatiable appetite for power. It wouldn’t be a hyperbole to call him the Kublai Khan of the world of god-men. Aashram Chapter 1 ends with Nirala predating on one of his female disciples as we are made to realise that the extent of his perversion knows no bounds. It’s a dark and diabolical world that he rules over like some puppet master capable of making everyone dance to his tune.

Aashram Chapter 2—The Dark Side, whilst a continuation of the Aashram saga, takes a departure from the freshman effort in that it now completely revolves around the Kashipur Aashram, the seat of Baba Nirala’s empire. In other words, the world in Aashram Chapter 1 is more spread out in comparison to Chapter 2—The Dark Side. The complex relationship between Baba Nirala and Pammi is effectively the central theme of the second chapter. Baba Nirala’s political influence is growing with each passing day. He is particularly popular amongst the youth thanks to Rapper Tinka’s commitment to the Aashram’s cause.

The second chapter of the Aashram saga takes us to much darker spaces as we become more aware about the dark truths of Baba Nirala and the illicit activities that take place in his Aashram under the watchdog of his aide Bhopa Swami. Ever since the narcotics raid in Chapter 1, Nirala has Tinka under his thumb. So, he keeps organising Tinka’s concerts to woo the youth. As a result, the youth now sees Nirala as this cool rockstar figure and they all look up to him. If that’s not enough, Nirala further controls them through his drug racket.

The focus of Aashram Chapter 2 is naturally on character development rather than expanding the universe. And, so, there is hardly any expansion in terms of the narrative. The things that were introduced in Aashram Chapter 1 undergo a natural progression in Chapter 2. In fact, most of the first chapter was a big flashback and it’s only towards the end of Chapter 2 that we finally return to the present day. Jha’s sophomore effort ends on a cliffhanger and so we can hope the canvas to grow wider in the next chapter(s). Surely, things are getting a bit claustrophobic now and the narrative is in the need to step out of the confines of Nirala’s Aashram and breathe. The cliffhanger ending also promises the same.

There is no denying that the Aashram saga belongs to Bobby Deol and Chandan Roy Sanyal. Deol presently finds himself in a very interesting space. What he is able to do through a dark and menacing character like Baba Nirala (a superb follow up to his turn in Class of ’83) is something that perhaps no other popular actor in the country can match right now. Those who are in their 40s can’t. Those in their 50s can’t. And those in the 60s surely can’t. So, he has a clear field here. Also, he is able to tread the dark spaces that none of the Deols have ever done, not even Abhay. And I really doubt if they ever will. The only reason that Bobby is able to do it is because of his absolute fearlessness. Had he not lost so much already over the years, he too would have been very hesitant to play a shady character like Baba Nirala (or even Dean Vijay Singh, his character in Class of ’83, for that matter). But as someone who has nothing to lose, Bobby Deol is proving to be a force to reckon with. It’s really a treat to see him evolve as a mature character actor with each new role. There is an air of understated menace with which Bobby plays Baba Nirala. Like when he says, “True devotees are inevitably blind,” he really makes us feel the weight of that statement.

As for Sanyal, he essays Bhopa Swami with an even greater menace. Bhopa and Nirala go back a long way and know each other’s dark secret’s very well. They are an unshakeable pair. While Nilara is the face of the Aashram, Bhopa is the one who does the dirty work. When they are alone, Bhopa even addresses Nirala by his original name. Other than these two performers, Chapter 2 also belongs to Aaditi Pohankar. Her portrayal of Pammi is a major highlight. It’s really a demanding part and Pohankar matches it with a courageous and meaty performance.

Overall, it can be safely said that Aashram Chapter 2 lacks the charm and enigma of Chapter 1. For, all the characters are now bare naked in front of us. However, Chapter 2 is certainly binge-worthy thanks to Jha’s brilliant direction and some superb performances on offer. What one now expects from the next chapter is some imaginatively brilliant writing with strong social commentary (that’s totally missing in Chapter 2) or else the series may end up imploding on its own weight.

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ACTOR VIKAS KALANTRI RELEASES A SHORT FILM ON LOCKDOWN

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MUMBAI: Vikas Kalantri is an actor, producer, director has done films such as Dil Bechara Pyaar Ka Mara, where he appeared alongside actor Mallika Kapoor. Vikas has made a short film on lockdown and how the entertainment industry has been hit.

Vikas spoke to The Daily Guardian about his short film. How did the idea came to you about short film ‘Work From Home’? Well I am not such a fan of work from home, but the situation is such that we have to abide by this. Hence I thought of putting my frustration and of a lot of people I spoke to out there for all to see and relate. Any specific challenge that you faced while shooting the film? Not actually as we had the equipments and everyone was shooting from their homes so no such challenge. Everyone has been dealing with the pandemic, how is it treating you? Well it’s a bit mentally exhausting, I believe in normal life, and seeing people go through what they are going through is not a good thing. Its getting exhausting & to be honest a bit tiring fatigue is setting in.

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CYCLONE TAUKTAE: KARTIK AARYAN URGES PEOPLE TO STAY INDOORS

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MUMBAI: Sending out a social message to spread awareness with a hint of humour, Kartik Aaryan, who frequently treats his fans with amusing social media posts, on Monday gave another reason to stay at home: Cyclone Tauktae. The star took to Instagram and posted an intriguing throwback picture from his teenage days. The picture sees a younger Aaryan dressed in a black T-shirt and matching wayfarers. The actor shared the picture and connected it with Cyclone Tauktae that has claimed the lives of many.

The actor wrote in the caption that the cyclone has given us one more reason to stay indoors amid the coronavirus pandemic. With cyclone Tauktae advancing over Mumbai, the ‘Pati Patni Aur Woh’ star captioned the post, “#Tauktae One more reason to stay inside.” Celebrity followers including Kiara Advani and more than 3.1 lakh followers liked the post within 53 minutes of it being posted.

Scores of fans chimed into the comments section as they left red heart and laughing with teary eyes emoticons in appreciation of the post. The cyclone storm that originated over the east-central Arabian Sea has turned into an extremely severe cyclonic storm, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) stated. Time and again, Kartik has used his social media platforms to create awareness about public service announcements.

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5 ACTRESSES WHO STOLE THE SHOW WITH THEIR KNOCKOUT PERFORMANCES

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Over the last couple of years, a significant shift has been witnessed in the Indian cinema. While once it was believed that only a male star can turn a movie into a blockbuster, today this formula doesn’t exist anymore. Being at the forefront now, Bollywood actresses are taking up strong and meaty roles in order to be ultimate voice of change. Celebrating these powerful women, we list down 5 top actresses who stole the show with their knockout performances over the years.

1. YAMI GAUTAM

Ever since her dreamy Bollywood debut with ‘Vicky Donor’ in 2012, Yami Gautam has managed to strike the right chord with the audiences. In her career spanning over eight years, Yami has successfully established herself as one of the most versatile and talented actors in the industry today. The diva is being credited for various potent performances including ‘Kaabil (2017)’, ‘Uri: The Surgical Strike (2019)’, ‘Bala (2019)’ and her recent release ‘Ginny Weds Sunny (2020)’. Meanwhile, ready to take box-office by storm, Yami Gautam has 8 releases lined up this year. Taking a note of her recent performances, the diva seems to be in no mood to stop and continue surprising cinelovers with her breakthrough performances. Yami’s upcoming projects include spooky adventure comedy ‘Bhoot Police’, ‘Lapata’, ‘A Thursday’ and ‘Dasvi’.

2. PRIYANKA CHOPRA JONAS

Destiny’s favourite child and a celebrated name globally, Priyanka Chopra Jonas has been breaking glass ceilings for the longest of time. Her global superstardom is proof that she’s unstoppable and why she enjoys a massive fanbase. In her two-decade long Bollywood career, Chopra has delivered several pathbreaking performances including ‘Aitraaz (2004)’, ‘Fashion (2008)’, ‘Kaminey (2009)’, ‘7 Khoon Maaf (2011)’, ‘Agneepath (2012)’, ‘Barfi! (2012)’, ‘Mary Kom (2014)’, ‘Dil Dhadakne Do (2015)’, ‘Bajirao Mastani (2015)’, ‘The Sky Is Pink (2019)’ and latest global release ‘The White Tiger (2021). The National and Filmfare Award winning actress will be next seen in ‘Matrix 4’, ‘Text For You’ and ‘Citadel’.

3. ALIA BHATT

Hailed as one of the most bankable new age actors in the industry today, Alia Bhatt is known to be a directors favourite. Over the years, Alia has delivered some extraordinary performances in her career. Right from Imtiaz Ali’s ‘Highway (2014), ‘Udta Punjab (2016)’ to Gauri Shinde’s ‘Dear Zindagi (2016), Meghna Gulzar’s ‘Raazi (2018) and Zoya Akhtar’s ‘Gully Boy (2019)’ – Bhatt has surprised both, the critics and the audiences with her every performance. After making her debut with ‘Student of the Year’ in 2012, the multi-talented actress has grown to become a household name in a span of just eight years. Her upcoming releases include Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’, ‘Brahmastra’, S. S. Rajamouli’s ‘RRR’ and Karan Johar’s ambitious project ‘Takht’.

4. ANUSHKA SHARMA

Known for always giving something new to the audiences, Anushka Sharma has time and again won hearts with author-backed roles. The actress who turned producer with ‘NH 10 (2015)’, one of her most impactful on-screen characters, has delivered various powerful performances including ‘Sultan (2016)’, ‘Sui Dhaaga (2018)’ and ‘Zero (2018)’.  Anushka  will be next seen in the biopic of the former captain of the Indian women’s cricket team, Jhulam Goswami.

5. TAAPSEE PANNU

Think Taapsee Pannu and you know we are talking about a stellar performer. The Filmfare Award winning actress made a lot of noise with her 2020 release ‘Thappad’  which undoubtedly is her most potent performance. She is also known for her performance in films like ‘Saand Ki Aankh (2019)’, ‘Manmarziyaan (2018)’, ‘Mulk (2018)’ and ‘Pink (2016)’.

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SCARLETT JOHANSSON GETS SLIMED BY HUSBAND

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WASHINGTON: American actor Scarlett Johansson’s husband Colin Jost interrupted the actor’s acceptance speech by dumping green slime on her head. The actor received ‘Generation Award’ honour’ at the ‘MTV Movie & TV Awards’ on Sunday as she commemorated her almost three-decade-long career in the film industry.

According to People magazine, midway through the ‘Black Widow’ star’s acceptance speech, husband Jost dumped green slime on her head — a prank that happened to be inspired by the wrong award show. She tells her fans while appearing virtually from home, “This award is made possible by all of you, in fact. And it’s because of that that it’s so meaningful to me.”

Johansson goes on to introduce a clip from ‘Black Widow’ when the goo falls on her head. “What the f***!” she shouts, as Jost says with a smile, “MTV! ‘You got slimed!’

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HUMA QURESHI SHARES BTS THROWBACK PICTURE FROM ‘ARMY OF THE DEAD’ SETS

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WASHINGTON: Huma Qureshi on Monday treated fans to a BTS throwback picture from the sets of her Hollywood debut in zombie heist film from Zack Snyder titled ‘Army of The Dead’. The star hopped on to Instagram and posted a picture as she posed in a haphazard and distorted hotel room. In the picture, Qureshi is seen seated cross-legged as she observed the hugely destroyed room. The star is seen donning an all-black ensemble – a black shirt and black denim, and a pair of brown shoes. By having a look at the room one can reckon that a couple of zombies wreaked havoc at the place. Showcasing what she terms the ‘Hollywood Glamour,’ Qureshi captioned the post as, “Me just hanging out on the set of #ArmyOfTheDead waiting to check-in at the Zombie Hotel surrounded by zombie entrails.. You know just regular on set Hollywood Glamour.” She added, “#glam #hollywood #hollywoodglamour#bts #throwback .. And that is @ella_purnell aka Kate hidden behind my giant shoe..This spectacular film is playing on the BIG Screen (select theatres) in the US right NOW!! So everyone in the US watch it now ..and rest of us get to see it on @netflix @netflix_in on the 21st of May #netflix #zombie #zombies.”

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GAUTAM GULATI GETS CANDID ON NAILING THE MENACING LOOK TO PLAY GIRGIT IN RADHE

Uday Pratap Singh

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There are characters that come to you once in a lifetime, and Girgit from Radhe is just that for actor Gautam Gulati. Ever since the movie released, his phone has been ringing off the hook on what a good job he has done when it comes to playing the villain. Incidentally, all of Gautam’s favorite characters till date have been the ones that are either all out negative or have negative shades. So, when the dream role of Girgit came his way, he knew exactly what nuances to add in order to enhance the character further such as the smile, something that can be so genuine but in the case of a negative role, it must give you chills down your spine and that is exactly what Girgit succeeds in doing.

Gautam affirms, “I watched several shows on OTT platforms to just gauge and see how to nail the negative character shades right from the look to the expressions and more. And then I added my own shades to Girgit along with Salman sir’s conviction and that is how the character was brought to life. The tattoo and haircut was also conceptualised and decided by Salman sir. The action scenes did require a lot of training, and it has surely paid off.” the transformation was tough, time consuming and mentally draining, but when you see the results that are now visible, we know it was totally worth it!

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