It’s no secret that every major streaming platform and television network dreams to have the next Game of Thrones as part of its portfolio. The fantasy series Shadow and Bone is Netflix’s latest attempt to capture the space that’s been left vacant ever since the popular HBO series completed its epic run. Shadow and Bone is based on the Grisha novel trilogy (the first of which is the 2012 novel ‘Shadow and Bone’) and the ‘Six of Crows’ novel duology (comprising the 2015 and 2016 novels ‘Six of Crows’ and ‘Crooked Kingdom’, respectively) by the Israeli-American author Leigh Bardugo.
It all began when Netflix acquired the rights to the rights to Bardugo’s ‘Shadow and Bone’ trilogy. Bardugo was quick to suggest to Netflix that the Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Eric Heisserer (known for his work on films such as ‘Arrival’, ‘Bird Box’, and ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’, among others) had earlier tweeted to her about his love for Six of Crows and that he is someone who could be approached for Shadow and Bone. When Netflix contacted Heisserer regarding the series, he was quick to tell them that he doesn’t see a substantial plot without the characters of the ‘Six of Crows’ duology. Heisserer’s strong stand compelled Netflix to buy the rights to just ‘Six of Crows’ and its sequel ‘Crooked Kingdom’but also to Bardugo’s 2017 novel ‘The Language of Thorns ‘and her collection of short stories also set within the Grishaverse. It was enough to convince Heisserer to make the show for Netflix.
Now, the Grisha novel trilogy tells the story of an orphaned mapmaker Alina Starkov (essayed by Jessie Mei Li) who discovers she holds the unique power to summon light as powerful as the sun that can provide Ravka (a fantasy kingdom based on the Tsarist Russian Empire) with its first real chance of destroying the Shadow Fold, a massive and malevolent miasma of permanent darkness inhabited by carnivorous winged creatures known as Volcra separating East from West Ravka for centuries. Interestingly, ‘Six of Crows’, which is nothing like it, revolves around a feisty and disreputable gang of criminals called the Crows led by their scheming leader Kaz (Freddy Carter) along with the stealthy spy Inej (Amita Suman), and the uber-cool gunslinger Jesper (Kit Young). In his unique adaptation, which he describes as “Oceans 11 in a Game of Thrones world,” Heisserer doesn’t employ the two storylines in parallel but chooses to blend them together. Netflix as well as Bardugo were both a bit skeptical about Heisserer’s approach until he revealed his ingenious plan to integrate Kaz, Inej, and Jesper into Alina’s storyline without fundamentally altering it and without compromising the characters of Kaz, Inej, and Jesper.
The end result is what can best be described as a gift of long-form storytelling. To his credit, blending the two storylines isn’t the only change that Heisserer introduces in his adaptation. He also plays with Alina’s origins. In the books, she is purely Ravkan, presumably white and conforming to the Ravkan demographics. In Heisserer’s adaptation, Alina is half-Shu with her mother having hailed from Shu Han, a country based on Mongolia and China. Heisserer’s awareness to the pressing need of breaking stereotypes in a bid to push for diversity ensures that the story’s main hero is half-Asian. The western fixation for a hero with white skin, blonde hair and blue eyes is deeply misplaced. Alina’s mixed heritage in series is also pivotal to connecting her story with the broader diversity of the ‘Six of Crows’ characters — Inej is Suli, a hybrid of Romani and South Asian heritage, while Jesper is from Novyi Zem, a stand-in for sub-Saharan Africa.
The world of Shadow of Bone is divided into ordinary people and the Grisha who are gifted with special abilities. Every child is tested by the Grisha Examiners who send those endowed with special powers to train in the Little Palace. At a young age, Alina is able to fool the Grisha Examiners in order to be with her childhood friend Mal (Archie Renaux). It is for this reason that she lives an ordinary live until her true powers are finally revealed. Her mixed heritage further makes her inferior in the eyes of the Ravkans. When she is sent to the Little Palace to live with the other Grisha she continues to crave for a sense of belonging that has always eluded her. The presence of a writer named Christina Strain, who’s mixed Asian herself, helped Heisserer in finding the right voice for Alina. Other than the splendid world that’s on offer, it’s really the character dynamics that make Shadow and Bone tick. As I have already spoken about what the trio of Kaz, Jesper and Inej being to the table, I must at last draw your attention to the enigmatic General Kirigan (Ben Barnes) and his complex relationship with Alina as well as the deep bond Alina shares with Mal. Despite a slow buildup, the first season has opened up exiting possibilities for future seasons. Now, it remains to be seen for how long Heisserer can keep us hooked to Bardugo’s Grishaverse.
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SUNNY, AMEESHA EXPRESS GRATITUDE TO FANS AS ‘GADAR’ CLOCKS 20 YEARS
Sunny Deol’s ‘Gadar: Ek Prem Katha’ clocked 20 years on Tuesday and the star thanked the audience for making his film ‘an event’.
The 2001 film, that also starred Ameesha Patel in the lead, became an instant hit. The Anil Sharma directorial did not just impress viewers but also registered huge numbers at the box office. The actor-politician took to Twitter to express gratitude to all his fans who made the film a ‘historic’ affair. Sunny tweeted a video song from Gadar, ‘Musafir Jaane Wale’, featuring him and Ameesha.
Sharing the video, he thanked viewers for showering the action love story with so much love. Sunny wrote, “We made a film, you made it an event! #20yearsofGadar, I express my gratitude to everyone who made our film historic.”
Taking to Instagram, Ameesha uploaded a series of posts recalling her acting stint on the project. In one of the posts, she shared a few unseen moments from the set and captioned: “Gadar…behind the scenes of the most iconic film that Bollywood has seen till date…thank you all for the love..20 years of Gadar.”
Released on 15 June, 2001, ‘Gadar’ was a romantic drama set against the background of India’s partition. The film also featured late Amrish Puri and Lillete Dubey.
On the occasion, Lillete too took to social media to remember her work in ‘Gadar’.
“15 June 2001…. 20 years since ‘Gadar’ opened on this day. And what a storm it created.Remembering the making of the film and especially my wonderful co-star who also came from theatre — the man with the deepest baritone Amrish Puri,” she wrote.
DECIDED TO PRODUCE ‘LAGAAN’ AS NO ONE WAS READY TO DO IT, REVEALS AAMIR
Superstar Aamir Khan is celebrating 20 years since the release of his iconic film ‘Lagaan’. The movie, helmed by Ashutosh Gowariker, was nominated for the Oscars and appreciated by critics and audiences alike. Reminiscing about the journey of making the film, Aamir recalled that no one was ready to back it. Ashutosh narrated him the film’s script a few times and he enjoyed it but was not ready to produce it initially as he did not want to dive into film production. Every time Aamir would meet Ashutosh he would bring up the film but was told that no one was ready to produce it. He finally took the plunge to produce it and act in it after listening to the script again in the company of his parents and ex-wife Reena who enjoyed the story.
A DOCUMENTARY ON SALIM, JAVED IN WORKS
NEW DELHI: A documentary titled ‘Angry Young Men’ based on the lives of legendary screenwriters Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar is in the works with superstar Salman Khan’s production banner SKF (Salman Khan Films) teaming up with Farhan Akhtar’s Excel Entertainment and Zoya Akhtar’s Tiger Baby Films. Indian film critic and trade analyst Taran Adarsh shared the news on his Twitter handle. “Salman Khan – Excel – Tiger Baby join hands… Salim-Javed Documentary… #SalmanKhan, Excel Entertainment (#FarhanAkhtar, #RiteshSidhwani) and Tiger Baby Films (#ZoyaAkhtar, #ReemaKagti) to make documentary on #SalimKhan and #JavedAkhtar… Titled #AngryYoungMen,” he tweeted. The collaborative project that will capture the magic of the era that Salim-Javed created together will be helmed by Namrata Rao. Famously called as Salim-Javed, the duo has scripted many commercially and critically accepted films ‘Patthar’, ‘Dostana’, ‘Seeta Aur Geeta’, ‘Sholay, Mr India’, ‘Don’, and many more.
AKSHAY’S ‘BELL BOTTOM’ GETS A RELEASE DATE
MUMBAI : As lockdown restrictions are gradually easing in several parts of India amid the decline in Covid-19 cases, the ‘Bell Bottom’ team has decided to release the film in cinemas. Taking to Instagram, Akshay Kumar on Tuesday shared that ‘Bell Bottom’ is scheduled to release on 27 July theatrically. “I know you have patiently waited for the release of ‘Bell Bottom’. Could not be happier to finally announce the release of our film. Arriving on the big screens worldwide. ‘Bellbottom’ on 27 July,” he wrote. The movie was earlier slated to release on 2 April 2021. However, it got delayed due to the second wave of Coronavirus.
Directed by Ranjit M. Tewari, ‘Bell Bottom’ has been touted as a spy thriller. Vashu Bhagnani, Jackky Bhagnani, Deepshikha Deshmukh, Monisha Advani, Madhu Bhojwani, and Nikkhil Advani have produced the project, that also features actors Vaani Kapoor, Huma Qureshi, and Lara Dutta Bhupathi.
‘Bell Bottom’ has always managed to lead the change from the beginning. Even last year, it hit the headlines for being the first Hindi film to be shot and completed during the pandemic with exemplary on-set Covid management. Akshay has several projects in his kitty including ‘Atrangi Re’, ‘Raksha Bandhan’, ‘Bachchan Pandey’, ‘Sooryavanshi’, ‘Prithviraj’, and ‘Mission Lion’.
ADITI GETS NOSTALGIC ABOUT HER TELUGU DEBUT FILM
NEW DELHI: Three years ago on Tuesday Aditi Rao Hydari made her big Telugu debut with ‘Sammohanam’ and left everyone amazed with her performance. An Indian Telugu-language romantic drama, ‘Sammohanam’ once again established Aditi has one of the most bankable and versatile Pan Indian actresses in the country. Hailed as a strong debut in Telugu cinema, Aditi was heartwarming in the film. Aditi exclaimed, “Firsts are always special. I heard this story over a phone call with (director) Mohan Krishna Indraganti. I loved the story and said yes immediately. There were lots of well-meaning people who told me to do a more typical big-ticket film as my first Telugu film. I loved ‘Sammohanam’ and I went with my gut and I’m so happy that I did.”
I WAS REJECTED FROM 250 AUDITIONS BEFORE ‘MARDAANI’: TAHIR
MUMBAI: Tahir Raj Bhasin recently revealed that he was rejected 250 times before he was signed on by Aditya Chopra for ‘Mardaani’.
Tahir said, “Anything that’s worthwhile takes time and this is something I understood when I first came to Mumbai. I was rejected from some 250 auditions over 3 years before Mardaani but I used this as positive fuel and feedback. It meant I needed to grow and growth came from workshops and hours of practice.” He added, “The improvements that came as a result of obstacles prepared me to be propelled when the time was right. Strength lay in getting hit and in the will to keep moving forward. Today’s world is all about that simple message. We have all been affected directly or indirectly by an unforeseen time and courage is to make ourselves better, fitter and stronger for the test of time to come.”
Despite the overwhelming number of rejections, Tahir never lost hope and believed he was destined to shine in Bollywood. He said, “To be honest, I never saw my initial time in Mumbai as a struggling phase. It was an aspiring phase. I was visualising a dream and aspiring to make it real and it’s the hardship and journey that make the successes worth celebrating.”
Tahir’s upcoming projects include ‘Looop Lapeta’, ‘Bulbul Tarang’, ‘Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein’, and ‘83’.
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