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Timely and combustible ‘The Comey Rule’ serves as a veritable primer on US politics

Murtaza Ali Khan

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If I were to ask you to pick your best scene ever in all of American television in the drama space, a lot of you would be tempted to either go with something from Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones. Some of you might go for The Sopranos, The Wire, or Mad Men. Others may pick a scene from Homeland or The Americans and so on. But, in my opinion, it’s really difficult to find a finer moment in the history of American television than when Jack Daniel’s American news anchor character Will McAvoy launches a lamenting tirade about the United States in the first season pilot episode of the 2012 HBO series  The Newsroom, a monologue that he ends by declaring that “America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.” Of course, it’s brilliantly written by one of the greatest American screenwriters Aaron Sorkin but it’s how Jeff Daniels delivers it that makes it so impactful and unforgettable. In the new Showtime series (available in India on Voot Select), Jeff Daniels is back in his element, this time playing the part of the former FBI Director James Comey who got fired by Donald J. Trump just five months after his inauguration as the 45th President of the United States of America. 

 A two-part event series based on Comey’s book ‘A Higher Loyalty’, The Comey Rule is both adapted and directed by Oscarnominated screenwriter Billy Ray. It stars another Emmy winning actor, Brendan Gleeson as President Trump. Now, its first part focuses on Comey’s appointment as the FBI Director by President Barrack Obama in 2014. Two years into his tenure, the FBI is plunged into two highly controversial cases. Comey’s decisions on both these cases would have a long-lasting impact on not just his career but also the course of history. 

The second episode mostly deals with the months that Comey serves as the FBI Director under President Trump. After Trump wins the US presidential election, a large section of Hillary Clinton’s supporters blame Comey for unjustly tipping the balance in Trump’s favour. Even as Comey deals with this, he must also find a way to work with Trump who demands “loyalty” from him. While Comey wants to maintain the neutrality his position demands, Trump wants him to be flexible in his dealings. This sets the two men on a collision course that ends with Comey’s ouster from the bureau. The series ends with a rather alarming note: “US Intelligence Agencies have now concluded that Russia is actively interfering with the 2020 US election, just as it did in 2016. The President has yet to acknowledge this finding.”

 The Comey Rule is both timely and combustible. It presents a riveting account the 2016 presidential election and its aftermath. It shouldn’t be seen as a biopic of one man, for it tells the story of two powerful and diagonally opposite personalities. However, it’s important to highlight that the series doesn’t take an objective point of view on the turn of events as it’s told from Comey’s point of view who from the word go was suspicious of Trump whose very company made him feel a little uneasy. And despite trying his best to be accommodative, he ultimately failed to live up to his standards of loyalty and got sacked unceremoniously. Gleeson brilliantly succeeds in bringing Trump’s domineering personality and peremptory nature to the fore. Every dialogue he delivers feels like a piercing needle. Daniels, on the other hand, is grit and grace personified as Comey. One can feel the weight he carries on his shoulders. The scenes he shares with Gleeson are some of the finest that you will see on television this year. The Comey Rule offers a gritty, realistic take on an insider’s journey through the corridors of power, where decisions capable of changing the course of lives of millions are taken within seconds, simply to open up possibilities that can yield political gains or negate the gains made by the adversaries.

 It’s all a game of one-upmanship where the likes of Comey act as pawns that get frequently sacrificed by those in seats of high power. With the 2020 presidential elections now just a couple of months away, the series can serve as a veritable primer on US politics for the uninitiated. Also, it proves to be a strong reminder of how small slipups can lead to major upsets in politics and so there are some important lessons to be learnt here for other democracies also.

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Uma Thurman finds love during lockdown

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 Actress Uma Thurman is dating architect Peter Sabbeth, whom she met on a beach because of a dog. Thurman and Sabbeth met by chance on the beach in Sag Harbor, New York, this summer, reports pagesix.com. “Peter had no idea who Uma was at the time. She was walking on the beach, known locally as Long Beach, near him, so he asked her to watch his dog while he took a swim. Uma said OK, watched his dog while he swam, and now, a few months later, they are madly in love and looking to buy a home together in the Hamptons,” said a source.

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VAANI HAS 3 BIG FILMS LINED UP

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Actress Vaani Kapoor has three big films coming up and says she cannot deny that 2020 has been great for her, work-wise. The success of ‘War’ last year has clearly triggered a flow of big offers coming her way. She has ‘Bell Bottom’, ‘Shamshera’ and ‘Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui’ coming up.  “I can’t deny that this year has been great for me. Work-wise it has worked for me. I’m happy to be getting opportunities like these. I guess life and God work in mysterious ways and I have been the busiest that I have ever been now,” said Vaani. She says she is not thinking too much and not putting in too much thought into it. “I’m just taking everything good in my stride. I’m just focussing on that and trying to give my best.” Vaani claims even when she was doing less films, it wasn’t like she was wallowing. “It was a conscious choice to be a part of few projects in the last six years because I wasn’t getting the kind of films I wanted to be a part of. Now luckily, the doors are slowly opening. Abhishek Kapoor’s film (‘Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui’) is a huge opportunity. I just want to do honest work and do it for the pure joy that I’m getting to do what I want to,” she said. Vaani’s last film, ‘War’ emerged a blockbuster last year. “Even though it was a small part, it was substantial and I got credibility for it. People gave me a lot of love. The song, ‘Ghungroo’, became so big. Of course, it had Hrithik Roshan, so it had to go big but it also worked in my favour! I think people did happen to take notice of me and here I’m doing these new, big films this year!” she said.

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KAVITA KAUSHIK HOPES TO ADD NEW TWIST TO BB14

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‘Bigg Boss 14’ wild card entrant Kavita Kaushik feels housemates of the ongoing season are not being real and copying popular contestants of the previous seasons. Kavita says she plans to bring a twist in the plot with her entry on the house. Asked what side of her personality the viewers would witness on the reality show, Kavita told IANS: “I can talk about the kind of person I am. I think I’m a fun person. I’m a funny person. I like to tease people. That’s my normal nature. In fact, people get offended saying that it gets too much.”

 “Honestly, I come from a small town and I have been teased a lot, so that is what I have learnt. That is what I do but in a good way and not a mean way. I hope my humour works. I hope it gels with people,” she added.

 The actress feels that even if she indulges in an argument or tiff, she would add something new to it. “After watching the show this year, I feel the contestants are trying to copy contestants of the previous seasons. I hope I am able to get something new. ‘Bigg Boss’ is known for its seasons and its contestants. This year, the show has not found its rhythm. I hope I can find it for the show,” she added about season 14 of the Colors show.

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HUGH GRANT WANTS TO DO A ‘NOTTING HILL’ SEQUEL TO PROVE ROM-COMS ARE A TERRIBLE LIE

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Hugh Grant, who has starred in films such as ‘Notting Hill’ and ‘Love Actually’, says he would like to do a sequel to one of his rom-coms, to show they are a terrible lie. “I would like to do a sequel to one of my own romantic comedies that shows what happened after those films ended,” said Grant, reports people.com. “Really, to prove the terrible lie that they all were, that it was a happy ending,” he added during a question-and-answer session for HBO.  

In ‘Notting Hill’, Grant plays London bookstore owner Will Thacker, who meets American actress Anna Scott (played by Julia Roberts) after she enters his store. The two then become a couple, and after overcoming many hurdles they have a happy ending with a baby on the way. “I’d like to do me and Julia and the hideous divorce that’s ensued with really expensive lawyers, children involved in (a) tug of love, floods of tears. Psychologically scarred forever,” he joked. “I’d love to do that film.”  

Grant starred in films like ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’, ‘Nine Months’ and ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’. “I don’t know why ‘Love Actually’ is still so popular,” the actor had said in December 2018, according to Bang Showbiz, although he admitted it’s “nice” that “everyone watches it at Christmas.”

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BEBO, LOLO REUNITE FOR A PROJECT

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The Kapoor sisters Karsima and Kareena on Tuesday shot together for a project. Karisma took to Instagram to share a boomerang video in which we see Kareena sitting on a chair while getting her makeup done and flaunting her baby bump. “Working with the sis always the best #sistersquad #behindthescenes,” Karisma captioned the post. Several other pictures and videos have been doing the rounds on social media. The sisters, however, did not give details on what they shot for. In the posts, Karisma and Kareena are seen twinning in the grey sweatshirt.

 Kareena, who is currently six months pregnant, recently came back to Mumbai after spending time with her husband, actor Saif Ali Khan, and son Taimur at Saif’s ancestral property in Haryana. She was in New Delhi to complete shooting for her upcoming film, ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’ with Aamir Khan, in Delhi.

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BIG B GETS NOSTALGIC AS SRK-AISH STARRER ‘MOHABBATEIN’ TURNS 20

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Aditya Chopra’s blockbuster romantic film ‘Mohabbatein’, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan completes its 20th year and the film’s choreographer Farah Khan opened up about how she creatively captured the essence of this love story for ages through her dance routines.  

 “Prior to ‘Mohabbatein’, I had done exactly one song in ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ which was ‘Ruk Ja O Dil Deewane’. It had become a huge hit. Then, I did ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’ for YRF. Yash ji was directing. I got to do the love song ‘Dholna’ and the mood song ‘Bholi Si Surat’. So, I was extremely thrilled when Adi told me that I was doing the whole of ‘Mohabbatein, which was Adi’s second film after ‘Dilwale’, so it was a huge deal!” Farah reminisces. Farah added,” ‘Mohabbatein’ marks the blockbuster on-screen Jodi of SRK and Aishwarya and they were coming together as a romantic pair after they played siblings in ‘Josh’”.

 Farah reveals how SRK was a pro to pick up her choreography with the utmost ease. “With Shahrukh, I had done tons of movies by then. So, all these kids (Uday Chopra, Shamita Shetty, Jimmy Shergill, Preeti Jhangiani, Kim Sharma and Jugal Hansraj) would do two to three months of rehearsals. And then, Shah Rukh would come and he would learn it in like five minutes because he never comes for rehearsals and he would just learn the steps in five minutes, and that was the amazing part of it!”

 About Aishwarya, Farah says, “Ash being a thorough professional, freezing in London, wearing a white lace saree, drenched, and she would not complain. Her and Shah Rukh’s chemistry is something else in the film and that whole poetry of Ek Ladki Thi Deewani Si I think that has become almost iconic because of how they did it.”

 Big B shared a video of the film on Twitter to celebrate its 20 years of release. In the caption, Amitabh called the film special and thanked fans for their love.

 Amitabh quoted one of his most famous dialogues from the film in the caption. He wrote, “Parampara, Pratishtha, Anushasan. ‘Mohabbatein’ is special for many reasons .. 20 years of this beautiful love story, a roller coaster of emotions. Eternally grateful for all the love you continue to shower.”

 “20 years of ‘Mohabatein’… wow,” wrote actress Kim Sharma in a nostalgia dipped Instagram post. The 40-year-old actress made her acting debut with ‘Mohabbatein’, which opened in theatres 20 years ago today. Sharing a montage of behind-the-scenes moments from the sets of ‘Mohabbatein’, Kim Sharma wrote: “Shocked how time has flown, overwhelmed that you guys remember, grateful for the opportunity, the accidental career, the prestige, the learning, but mostly for the love. Thank you for being so kind and encouraging me always. Can’t say I did much but you guys make it feel like a lot. How lucky for me.”

 Bollywood’s two megastars – Big B and Shah Rukh – came together for the first time in ‘Mohabbatein’. The film was a massive success at the box office and earned many awards. It was directed by Aditya Chopra.

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