Shooting for Bellbottom amid Covid-19 was surreal: Lara - The Daily Guardian
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Shooting for Bellbottom amid Covid-19 was surreal: Lara

Uday Pratap Singh

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Pooja Entertainment, the studio behind cult hits such as Coolie No. 1 and Hero No. 1, became the first production house to start shooting during the Covid-19 pandemic. The film in question is Akshay Kumar-starrer Bellbottom. Directed by Ranjit M. Tewari, the spy thriller is being shot extensively in Scotland and the young producers Jackky Bhagnani and Deepshikha Deshmukh ensured that the cast and crew felt totally safe on and off the sets. 

Shooting in the thick of a global pandemic sounds daunting but actress Lara Dutta recounts how the challenges during this unusual time were dealt with professionalism and personal attention. She says, “Initially, it was normal to feel a little anxious considering that Covid-19 cases are rising rapidly in India. But I felt immediate reassurance and confidence when I saw the many protocols in place and how correctly things were being handled. Ours was the first film to be shot after the lockdown but despite the nervousness, we were all eager to get back to work.” 

About the thrill of returning to work, she says, “When the shooting finally began, I was the first actor on the sets. To be part of the first film to be shot after the lockdown felt hugely gratifying. I felt grateful to be on a set where every single precaution possible was being taken, sanitisation was meticulous and the cast and crew were checked every day. Everything was secure, right from the food delivery on sets to the drivers who took us to and fro. Yes, we had to remove our masks during scenes but because we felt safe in a strictly regulated environment, we just wanted to do our job to the best of our abilities.” When asked what it was like to shoot in this kind of environment, Lara said, “It was a surreal experience and I hope this is not going to be the new normal.”

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AMITABH BACHCHAN SHARES POWERFUL MESSAGE ON ‘HOPE’

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MUMBAI: Megastar Amitabh Bachchan on Tuesday shared a powerful message on ‘Hope’ to encourage everyone to stand together for India and fight the deadly COVID-19 virus.

Big B never leaves a chance to motivate his fans and amplify the voices of different campaigns spreading awareness about the deadly disease. Taking to his Twitter handle, the veteran star shared a motivational video reciting a poem on hope and explaining how with hope and unity the pandemic can be defeated.

“Hope is not a strategy. The author meant to express the notion that actions are more than words. Yes, there is certain unassembled reasoning but, as many pithy saints say, hope is not a start- is often overused and we miss the very point of hope. Yes, hope alone is not a strategy, but when hope guides our actions, great things are possible,” he said.

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RADHE TO BE OUT ON OTT AND DTH ALONG WITH THEATRICAL RELEASE

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With the second wave of Covid-19 hitting the country, theatres and multiplexes were shut down again in most states and most big film releases were pushed ahead. So when the makers of Salman Khan’s upcoming film Radhe announced they will be releasing the film in theatres and on OTT simultaneously, it came as a shock to exhibitors who were already making a loss.

Radhe, which will be released in theatres and on OTT on 13 May, was sold to Zee Studios for Rs 230 crores, all rights included. This includes rights for music, satellite and theatrical release. The screenings of the film would also contribute to Zee’s revenue. While many feel that Zee and Salman Khan are committing a mistake by releasing the action movie amid the deadly second wave of Covid, others feel that the filmmakers are right in doing so.

When the announcement of the hybrid release of Radhe was made, Zee and Salman Khan had expected that theatres would be allowed to reopen by or before 13 May. However, given the Covid outbreak, many states where cinemas were functional have actually asked them to down their shutters.

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BLACK WIDOW SLATED TO RELEASE IN INDIA BY JULY 9

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NEW DELHI: The much-awaited Marvel superhero film ‘Black Widow’ starring Scarlett Johansson will soon release in India. The film is making its way to Indian theatres on July 9 this year.

Indian film critic and trade analyst Taran Adarsh shared the news on his Instagram handle on Tuesday. He shared a new intriguing poster of the movie and alongside the poster he wrote, “NEXT SUPERHERO SPECTACLE FROM #MARVEL… #BlackWidow – starring #ScarlettJohansson – to release in #India on 9 July 2021 in 6 languages: #English, #Hindi, #Tamil, #Telugu, #Kannada and #Malayalam… NEW POSTER…” The much anticipated Marvel flick was supposed to hit the big screens on April 30 in India, and May 1, 2020, in the US but due to the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic it got delayed several times.

‘Black Widow’ has Johansson reprising her role as Natasha/Black Widow, Florence Pugh is starring as Yelena, David Harbour portrays Alexei/The Red Guardian, and Rachel Weisz will be Melina. Johansson has played Black Widow, a major role in seven Marvel movies, tracking her evolution from a morally dubious Russian assassin to a world-saving Avenger.

In the upcoming film, pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Natasha must deal with her history as a spy and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger. What’s even more interesting is that viewers will witness the new Marvel villain, Taskmaster.

The movie is helmed by Cate Shortland and produced by Kevin Feige 

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RITU PHOGAT BANKING ON WRESTLING HISTORY TO GET PAST EXPERIENCED VETERAN BI NGUYEN

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In her upcoming bout against experienced veteran Bi “Killer Bee” Nguyen, Indian wrestling superstar Ritu Phogat will be relying on the skills that got her to the world’s largest martial arts organisation in the first place.

Ritu is scheduled to face Nguyen at ONE: DANGAL, a tape-delayed event from the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore that airs on May 15. “The Indian Tigress” has not made her game plan heading into this fight a secret. The 26-year-old will be looking to take Nguyen down and finish her on the mat.

“I think that Bi’s weakness is that her wrestling is not as strong and so my strength will be her weakness. Because of my wrestling history, I should be able to take Bi down effectively and I should be able to finish her off,” said Ritu in an official statement.

Ritu made headlines in 2019 when she announced she would be transitioning to the Circle.

A national icon from a famous wrestling family in her native India, Ritu made her ONE Championship debut two years ago, and has since racked up an unblemished win-loss slate, defeating her first four opponents in impressive fashion.

Meanwhile, Nguyen has had a rough go as of late. Ritu is confident she can continue her winning streak, and deal her Vietnamese-American foe another heartbreaking setback.

“Bi is a great fighter because she is more experienced. I have studied all her previous matches and her standing game has been extremely strong,” Ritu said.

“It will be a great watch for fans as it will allow them to find out if wrestling or striking gets the upper hand in this match,” she added.

ONE: DANGAL features a host of Indian martial arts stars, and aims to showcase the very best that India has to offer.

In the main event, Indian wrestling champion Arjan “Singh” Bhullar challenges Filipino-American superstar Brandon “The Truth” Vera for the ONE Heavyweight World Title.

Other Indian athletes scheduled for action include Gurdarshan “Saint Lion” Mangat and Roshan Mainam.

Ritu feels that while Nguyen’s experience does pose a threat, focusing on her own game plan and what she brings to the table will be enough to offset anything “Killer Bee” brings to the table. She vows to show fans just how much she has improved, and perhaps a new side to her game that fans have yet to discover.

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RASHMIKA MANDANNA SOON TO MAKE HER BOLLYWOOD DEBUT WITH MISSION MAJNU

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MUMBAI: Rashmika Mandanna will soon be seen in her Bollywood debut, Mission Majnu with Sidharth Malhotra. The director and producers share the reasons as to what made the actress their first choice for the film.

Director, Shantanu Baagchi says, “We were looking for a formidable actress with a fresh, beautiful face when we chanced upon some of Rashmika’s work. I was especially impressed by her nuanced performance in ‘Dear Comrade’. She also has the right mixture of innocence & beauty required for the role. It is a crucial role in the film that needed a sensitive interpretation of the character. I think there’s a very good chance Indian audiences will discover another movie star from the South.”

Producer Amar Butala expresses, “My first interaction with Rashmika was a zoom call in the midst of the lockdown when we narrated the script of Mission Majnu. It was remarkable to see her react to the script and how she picked up very nuance of her character even though we were on a video call! It’s been a pleasure working with her because she brings with her the solid experience and confidence of a big movie star, but also has the sincere energy of a newcomer! We look forward to Hindi film audiences discovering her in Mission Majnu.” Producer Garima Mehta, “The first thing you see in Rashmika is her dazzling smile and the sheer energy and charm that she exudes.  Since her debut film Kirik Party, later Geetha Govindham and Dear Comrade, she has grown into an exceptional and fine actor. We were sure she would bring alive her role in the film. Rashmika and Sidharth share a great on-screen chemistry in Mission Majnu and would surely be loved by her pan – India fan base. It’s exciting to see the freshness she brings to the screen.”

The actress’s impeccable work not only left the audience in awe but clearly, a team of producers and directors as well who signed her on for their film. Mission Majnu is Rashmika’s first foray into a spy thriller yet the team felt she was the perfect choice for the film because of her talent.

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GAL GADOT SAYS JOSH WHEDON ‘THREATENED MY CAREER’

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WASHINGTON [US]: Hollywood star Gal Gadot, during a recent interview, opened up and revealed her experience about working with ‘Justice League’ director Joss Whedon, against whom there are several accusations that recently came to light.

According to E! News, the ‘Wonder Woman’ actor, while speaking with an Israeli news channel for an interview she shared more detail about her experience with the director, who stepped in to film (and re-shoot) ‘Justice League’ after Zack Snyder exited the movie following a family tragedy. Gal had previously hinted that her experience with Joss “wasn’t the best one.”

However, she explained, “But I took care of it there and when it happened. I took it to the higher-ups.” But now, the 36-year-old star elaborated on her past remarks about the 56-year-old Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator. “What I had with Joss, basically, is that he kind of threatened my career and told me that if I did something, he would ensure that my career would be miserable. And I simply handled it on the spot,” Gal told the TV channel. The director has come under fire, with several actors from his projects coming forward with their own stories about working with him. 

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