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Dilip Kumar Sahab’s health is stable: Saira Banu

Veteran actress Saira Banu shared a social media post updating about her husband, ailing Bollywood legend Dilip Kumar’s health.

Dilip Kumar was admitted to a Mumbai hospital after complaining of breathlessness.

In her statement shared on Dilip Kumar’s official Twitter account, Saira Banu assured netizens that the 98-year-old is stable and would be discharged soon.

Her statement reads: “Past few days my beloved husband, Yousuf Khan, has been unwell and recuperating at a hospital in Mumbai. Through this note, I want to thank all of you for keeping him in your prayers and for all the love and affection. My husband, my Kohinoor, our Dilip Kumar Sahab’s health is stable and doctors have assured me that he should be discharged soon.”

Requesting netizens to not pay heed to rumors, the actress further wrote: “I urge you not to believe in rumours. While I ask you to pray for Sahab’s health, I am praying that the almighty keep all of you safe and healthy during this pandemic.”

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The Family Man 2: Binge therapy in pandemic times

Season two of Raj and DK’s much-hyped spy thriller series starts with a bang and ends with a bang (literally, in both cases), and also creates scope to leave a teaser about season three right in the end. Most of what goes on in between, over nine episodes, is guaranteed to give you bigger and sleeker entertainment than the first time around, though it may not necessarily seem as original.

“The Family Man 2” crafts its fictional action drama referencing subcontinental socio-politics. Mainly centred on the Sri Lankan Tamil rebel movement, the plot incorporates an Indian Prime Minister concerned about China’s need to gain strategic advantage in Indian Ocean and Pakistan’s swing towards ultra-Right as necessary mentions.

As the season opens, Manoj Bajpayee’s Shrikant Tiwari has quit his job as a special agent and taken up a nine-to-five occupation. He is struggling at the workplace more than he did with guns and gore, while dealing with a much-younger manager who is ever ready to unleash pep talk on the importance of not ending up the “minimum guy” in office.

It’s the “new world”, a friend tries explaining the corporate culture, prompting a hapless retort from our middle-aged hero. “New world? Same governments. Same wars. Same terrorists. Pakistan and ISI…” Shrikant trails off wearily.

Series creators Raj and DK have used politics as an undercurrent in the narrative, as the base for taut suspense. The screenplay sets up the portrait of Sri Lanka’s civil war spilling into India, as the country’s premier tells the Indian PM (Seema Biswas) that Subramanium Panivel (Srikrishna Dayal), “a wanted man of our country”, is not only hiding in Chennai but also rallying support for elections. He adds that France and the UK are considering giving official recognition to Lanka’s Tamil ‘government’, which operates in ‘exile’ from London.

For the Lankan head of state, crushing the rebellion is a matter of pride. For the Indian PM, this seems like a good chance to keep Sri Lanka from signing a pact with China that would give the latter a strategic control over Indian Ocean.

Fine acting from the entire cast — notably Bajpayee and Samantha Akkineni as the arch antagonist Raji — is an asset, as a solid technical crew bring alive some well-canned action sequences and suspense.

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In ‘Sherni’ I play a woman of few words but many dimensions: Balan

The trailer of the Vidya Balan-starrer “Sherni” has been unveiled. The actress says the film, which is slated to release on June 18, deals with a sensitive topic that touches upon respect, mutual understanding, and co-existence, not just between man-animal, but between humans as well.

“Ever since I first heard the story of Sherni, I  found the world fascinating and so far removed from my own. Also the character I play, Vidya, is a woman of few words but many dimensions,” Vidya said.

The film will see Vidya as an upright forest officer who battles social barrier set by the patriarchal society and lackadaisical attitudes within her department.

“The film deals with a sensitive topic that touches upon respect, mutual understanding, and co-existence, not just between man-animal, but between humans as well,” the actress said.

“Sherni” is directed by Amit Masurkar, who earlier helmed “Newton” and “Sulemani Keeda”.

Speaking about working on this unconventional entertainer, Masurkar said: “‘Sherni’ is an intricately-layered story, exploring the complex issues of conflict between humankind and animals. Vidya Balan plays a mid-level forest officer who despite obstacles and pressures, works with her team and local allies to preserve a balance in the environment.”

The film also features Neeraj Kabi, Vijay Raaz, Sharat Saxena, Mukul Chadda, Brijendra Kala and Ila Arun in supporting roles. 

The film is scheduled for a digital release on Amazon Prime Video.

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‘A Quiet Place Part II’ sees $48 million in 1st weekend in N America

The much-hyped horror thriller “A Quiet Place Part II” seems to have breathed life back into the North American box office, after Hollywood film business was paralysed over most of the past months owing to the pandemic. The Emily Blunt-starrer has recorded a $48 million opening weekend from Friday to Sunday, marking the biggest three-day theatrical haul so far in the Covid era.

The post-apocalyptic drama is a sequel to the 2018 global blockbuster “A Quiet Place”, and is directed by Blunt’s actor-filmmaker husband, John Krasinski. According to variety.com, the film opened across 3,726 venues and, with Monday being Memorial Day, is expected to end up with a four-day collection of around $58 million.

The sequel has been produced at a budget of $61million, which is a substantial rise from the $17-million cost tag of the first film released only three years ago. “A Quiet Place Part II” was originally scheduled for a March opening last year and the decision of the producing studio, Paramount Pictures, to risk holding onto release for well over a year seems to have paid off.

Among other recent theatrical releases from Hollywood, “Godzilla Vs. Kong” saw an impressive weekend despite opening amidst the pandemic. The film raked in $32 million in its three-day weekend upon release on March 24, and has so far grossed $98.3 million at the US box office.

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We need to stay positive: Salman Khan

Mumbai: Bollywood superstar Salman Khan has shared words of encouragement for fans facing various crises amidst the ongoing second wave of the Covid pandemic.

“I would just like to say that we all need to stay positive and hold the fort until these bad times pass. This is a phase and it shall pass. I know all of us are going through very critical times, we must have faith and help each other in whatever way we can,” Salman said.

Meanwhile, he is excited about his popular “Dabangg” avatar of Inspector Chulbul Pandey getting an animated avatar on the small screen. “Dabangg: The Animated Series” will be created keeping in mind his young fans.

“‘Dabangg: The Animated Series’ is an adaptation and reimagination of ‘Dabangg’. The action-comedy series chronicles the day-to-day life of police officer Chulbul Pandey, who stands in the face of evil to keep the city safe. He is joined by his younger brother Makkhi, who, new to the police force, attempts to emulate his older brother in every sticky situation,” Salman said.

Quizzed if he is lending his voice to the lead character of Chulbul Pandey, the actor replied: “Unfortunately I am not lending the voice to the character in the animated series, but fans wouldn’t be disappointed because the voiceover actors have done a fantastic job.”

Backed by Cosmos-Maya and Arbaaz Khan Productions, “Dabangg: The Animated Series” streams on Disney+ Hotstar VIP.

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It’s so bad that if you’re safe, you feel guilty: Javed Akhtar

Veteran lyricist Javed Akhtar feels that it is time to stand together with the people struggling amid the Covid-19 crisis, and appreciates his son, actor Farhan Akhtar for doing his bit.

“Today, people are so worried, tensed and harassed. I never imagined that I’d see my country in this condition,” says lyricist Javed Akhtar with dread, adding that the raging second wave Covid-19 crisis has left him reeling with survivor’s guilt.

At the moment, he’s isolating with his wife, actor Shabana Azmi at his house in Khandala, Maharashtra.

“There are big houses here, which are separate from each other. There are lawns in front of the house as well. So, people can comfortably restrain themselves within that house. All the groceries and items come on the gate, and are sanitised. The whole staff is tested, and all of them are negative thankfully. So, we’ve done all kinds of security,” he was quoted as saying.

However, he’s quick to add that all this doesn’t keep the stress and worry away.

“The news these days is so disturbing. It’s sad that if you’re safe, you feel guilty. Some time back, I was talking to Shabana that we’re feeling safe here, but look what all is happening outside,” confesses Akhtar, 76.

Despite such anxious moments, the veteran writer-poet is finding his strength to go on with the will to help people.

“We are doing whatever we can do, without putting ourselves in danger, because if tomorrow I get Covid, it’ll not help anyone. I can be of help as long as I’m healthy, so, we’re doing whatever is possible,” says Akhtar.

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Juhi Chawla files suit against 5G implementation in India

Actress Juhi Chawla has filed a suit against the implementation of 5G in India. She says that while she is not against technology and uses it as well, she feels that its important to address the problems it causes to the environment.

“We are not against the implementation of technological advancements. On the contrary, we enjoy using the latest products that the world of technology has to offer, including in the field of wireless communications. 

“However, whilst using the latter kind of devices, we are in a constant dilemma, because after doing our own research and studies regarding the RF radiation from wire-free gadgets and network cell towers, we have sufficient reason to believe that the radiation is extremely harmful and injurious to the health and safety of the people,” she said.

The actress’ argument revolves around the belief that if the telecommunications industry’s plans for 5G come to fruition, no person, no animal, no bird, no insect and no plant on Earth will be able to avoid exposure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to levels of RF radiation that are 10x to 100x times greater than what exists today. These 5G plans threaten to provoke serious, irreversible effects on humans and permanent damage to all of the Earth’s ecosystems.

These 5G plans threaten to provoke serious, irreversible effects on humans and permanent damage to all of the Earth’s ecosystems, she said.

Chawla said if the telecommunication industry’s plans for 5G come to fruition, “no person, no animal, no bird, no insect and no plant on Earth will be able to avoid exposure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to levels of RF radiation that are 10x to 100x times greater than what exists today”.

Keywords: Javed Akhtar, Bollywood, Covid, coronavirus, Shabana Azmi, Farhan Akhtar

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Milestone’: Nuanced cinema for a select few

Ivan Ayr’s second feature film opens to nothingness. A black screen stares at you for nearly 30 seconds, almost preparing you for the immersive experience ahead. It is as if Ayr lets you absorb a bit of the bleakness that would seem to define his protagonist Ghalib’s life over the next 98-odd minutes.

Ghalib is a truck driver, portrayed with understated angst by Punjabi actor Suvinder Vicky (he was Joginder in “Chauthi Koot”, for ready reference, among other impressive roles). As the narrative opens, Ghalib is asked to load goods in his vehicle by the depot supervisor. He tries telling he has a bad back, but doesn’t argue on being ignored.

It is a trait we spot in Ghalib repeatedly, as the plot unfolds. He takes a lot of pasting without arguing — yet that’s only when it comes to himself. For, Ghalib instinctively tends to fight for friends and co-workers, too. In his introverted way, he is ready to stand up for a colleague who gets attacked by the labourers’ union or an aging driver who is sacked by the owners because he can no longer see clearly at night.

The storyline (Ayr and Neel Mani Kant) takes time developing Ghalib as a character, and to let the audience understand the character’s mind. This is important because Ghalib rarely speaks or expresses, and one way this is achieved is by letting Angello Faccini’s camera stay with Ghalib in almost every frame of the film (indeed, you would be hard-pressed to recall a single scene in this film without Ghalib). It is a style reminiscent of Ayr’s treatment in his debut feature film, “Soni”, where he used the cinematic idiom to let us fathom how his protagonist, the lady cop Soni (memorably essayed by Geetika Vidya Ohlyan), is given to bursts of rage while struggling to cope with a sense of emptiness in her life.

In “Milestone” (also known as “Meel Patthar”), Ghalib doesn’t give in to rage. Rather, he seems withdrawn in a shell even when he is in a crowd. It is a shell that Pash (Lakshvir Saran), a new young recruit at the transport company, tries to crack. Pash is almost star-struck by Ghalib, but the latter has no doubt that the youngster has been assigned as his helper because the owners plan to eventually replace him some day. The situation is a silent comment on how the employer is increasingly becoming an expendable asset, no matter the dedication shown.

For Ghalib, his struggle to survive life’s ruthless vagaries is compounded by the fact that he mostly always tries to keep everyone happy by doing the right thing. It is apparent in the way he gives in without much of a debate when he is directed by the ‘mukhia’ of his ‘pind’ to “compensate” his in-laws for the death of his wife. The loss of his wife is the plot point that singularly drives the melancholy about Ghalib’s existence, we will gradually realise as the screenplay moves.

“Milestone” is nuanced cinema. The film demands an amount of participation on the part of the viewer, as layered storytelling draws you into Ghalib’s intricate world of silences. It is your film if you cherish the aesthetics of the moving pictures.

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Lady Gaga recalls trauma of being raped

Grammy and Oscar-winning singer Lady Gaga has opened up about her trauma of being raped, while speaking on Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry’s series “The Me You Cant See”.

Appearing in the first episode of the five-part series, Gaga remembers being 19 when a producer threatened to burn her music if she didn’t take her clothes off.

“They didn’t stop asking me, and then I just froze, and I just — I don’t even remember,” the 35-year-old singer recalls, according to a report in usatoday.com.

She says she isn’t comfortable naming her assailant, adding: “I do not ever want to face that person again.”

Gaga first spoke about her sexual assault in a 2014 radio interview with Howard Stern. She opened up about her PTSD diagnosis in 2016.

On “The Me You Can’t See”, she says her pain manifested in a physical way. “And then I was sick for weeks and weeks after, and I realised that it was the same pain that I felt when the person who raped me dropped me off pregnant on a corner, at my parent’s house, ’cause I was vomiting and sick, ’cause I had been being abused. I was locked away in a studio for months,” Gaga recalls.

“I had a total psychotic break, and for a couple years I was not the same girl,” she says in the series.

“Even if I have six brilliant months, all it takes is getting triggered once to feel bad. And when I say feel bad, I mean want to cut, think about dying, wondering if I’m ever gonna do it,” Gaga points out, adding: “You get frustrated with yourself, ‘Why am I not getting better? What’s wrong with me?’ And you know what, there’s nothing wrong with you, but there is something that’s not firing right.

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