Hollywood filmmaker JJ Abrams to produce new ‘Star Trek’ movie
HollyWood|: A new ‘Star Trek’ movie is in the works with director-producer JJ Abrams attached to bankroll the project. As per Variety, ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ co-executive producer Kalinda Vazquez is set to write the script for the upcoming movie for Paramount Pictures. Vazquez will become the first woman to write a ‘Star Trek’ feature. There are no details yet on the nature of Vazquez’s approach, including whether it would include any previously established ‘Star Trek’ characters. But Vazquez is not new to ‘Star Trek’ writing. Earlier, she has written episodes for the Trek TV series that stream on Paramount Plus. In 2019, she wrote ‘Ask Not’, an episode of ‘Star Trek: Short Treks’ in which Capt. Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) tests a Starfleet cadet. In 2020, Vazquez wrote the teleplay for ‘Terra Firma, Part 2’, an episode of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ set almost entirely in the Mirror Universe. Along with her work on ‘Trek’ and ‘Fear the Walking Dead’, Vazquez has written on episodes of ‘Runaways’, ‘Once Upon a Time’ and ‘Nikita’. She is also currently writing a Marvel comics run about America Chavez, the first Latinx LBGTQ Marvel superhero to get their own title series. She is reportedly also developing an adaptation of the sci-fi novel ‘Roadmarks’ for HBO with George RR Martin. Vazquez’s ‘Star Trek’ project is the latest in a string of ‘Trek’ features still under development at Paramount. In 2017, Quentin Tarantino partnered with Abrams and Bad Robot on a prospective feature ultimately written by Mark L Smith though Tarantino’s commitment to direct the project appears tenuous at best. In August last year, Paramount also decided to pause work on a ‘Star Trek’ feature from writer-director Noah Hawley, after Emma Watts stepped in as studio president. Hawley told Variety that his project would ‘start from scratch’ with a new set of characters who have an explicit link to the established ‘Trek’ canon.
Bollywood: Sara Ali Khan wishes brother Ibrahim with special birthday cake
BollyWood|: Bollywood star Sara Ali Khan wished Ibrahim Ali Khan on his birthday while keeping her little brother’s interests into consideration. The ‘Coolie No 1’ actress took to her Instagram stories on Friday and shared a video, in which a massive football-hemed cake can be seen, designed in the colours of English Premier League club Chelsea. Sara Ali Khan posted a picture of brother Ibrahim's birthday cake. Image Credit: instagram.com/saraalikhan95 The actress also posted a slider of images with her brother along with a caption that read: “Happy Birthday Iggy Potter. I promise to always make you the best coffee, stalk you to come with me to the beach, feed you with pyaar [love], irritate you always, force you to pose even as a new born, ensure you to countless swimming laps, make you lose at badminton, be the worst google maps navigator and tell the best knock knock jokes.” Kareena Kapoor Khan, who is married to Sara and Ibrahim's father Saif Ali Khan, also shared a sweet note for Ibrahim. Taking to Instagram Stories, she posted a recent picture of him and wrote, “Hey good looking. Happy birthday handsome.” Kareena recently gave birth to her second baby boy with Saif. Meanwhile, on the work front, Sara will be next seen in Aanand L Rai’s ‘Atrangi Re’, co-starring opposite Akshay Kumar and Dhanush.
John Krasinski’s ‘A Quiet Place 2’ gets new release date
HollyWood|: Good news for fans of ‘A Quiet Place’ as they will get to see the sequel in theatres earlier than expected. ‘A Quiet Place Part II’ is opening early now, on Memorial Day weekend in the US, this year. As per Variety, Paramount Pictures has pushed up the release date of the sequel by several months, moving the film from September 17 ahead to May 28. It took the spot previously occupied by Mark Wahlberg’s action-thriller ‘Infinite’, which was relocated to September 24. Actor John Krasinski, who has helmed the sequel, took to his Twitter handle to confirm the news, writing, “They always say good things come to those who wait. Well... I think we’ve waited long enough. A QUIET PLACE PART II MEMORIAL DAY.” ‘A Quiet Place Part II’, also starring Emily Blunt, has been moved around numerous times amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The movie was originally slated to release last March, but those plans were scrapped at the last minute as COVID-19 first started to spread in the United States. Paramount even held a splashy red carpet premiere for ‘A Quiet Place Part II’ in New York City on March 8 last year, days before the country was forced to almost entirely shut down. The schedule shift comes a week after Paramount announced intentions to shorten the theatrical window, with plans to put ‘A Quiet Place Part II’, ‘Mission: Impossible 7’ and other upcoming films on the nascent streaming service Paramount Plus after 45 days on in the cinema halls. Apart from directing, Krasinski has also written ‘A Quiet Place II’. It features original cast members including Blunt, Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe. Series newcomers include Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou. In ‘A Quiet Place Part II’, the surviving members of the Abbott family — Evelyn (Blunt) and her children, Regan (Simmonds), Marcus (Jupe), and a newborn baby continue living in silence to hide from creatures that hunt sound, this time while facing the terrors of the outside world. ‘A Quiet Place’, which released in 2018, scored big with critics and went on to earn an Academy Award nomination for best sound editing, along with several Critics’ Choice nominations. The movie went on to gross $340.9 million (Dh1.2 billion) worldwide on a $21 million budget, making it one of the year’s biggest success stories for an original film. The 2018 film revolves around a family forced to survive in a world with monsters that hunt by sound.
Sushant Singh Rajput case: Drug agency files 12,000 page chargesheet
BollyWood|: The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) is all set to file a whopping 12,000-plus page charge sheet against at least 33 persons, including film actress Rhea Chakraborty, her brother Showik and others in the Bollywood drug case arising out of the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, officials said on Friday. The charge sheet, to be filed before a Mumbai Special Court, follows two cases registered by the NCB after an intimation from the Enforcement Directorate, which was probing the financial angles in Sushant’s death on June 14 last year. An NCB team with trunk-loads of the voluminous charge sheet and other papers reached the Special NDPS Court in Mumbai to file it before a Special Judge. Showik and Rhea Chakraborty. Image Credit: IANS According to senior NCB sources related to the probe, the drug law enforcement agency will be filing the first charge sheet running in over 12,000 pages against around 33 accused till date. Besides Rhea, the girlfriend of Sushant, and her brother Showik, NCB sources said the late actor’s ex-manager Samuel Miranda, his house help Dipesh Sawant, drug peddler Anuj Keshwani, from whom commercial quantity of drugs (LSD sheets and marijuana) were first recovered, figure in the charge sheet. There are two foreign nationals Agisilaos Demetriades, the brother of actor Arjun Rampal’s South African girlfriend and model Gabriella Demetriades, Kshitij Prasad, a former executive producer connected with Dharma Productions and two college students who are said to be the last mile peddlers, who are named. However, senior officials remained tight-lipped on the issue and declined to come on record. In August last year, the NCB Mumbai had registered two cases related to the drugs angle which emerged in the investigations into Sushant’s death. The NCB had arrested Rhea and Showik, and several other persons in September last year, creating an upheaval in Bollywood circles. The Chakraborty siblings and several other accused are currently out on bail. On the morning of June 14, 2020, Sushant, 34, was found hanging at his duplex rented flat in a posh building in Bandra, triggering a massive furore in Bollywood and political circles. Read more Sushant Singh Rajput case: Arjun Rampal to be summoned again by NCB in drugs probe Celebrity suicides: How Indian stars are paying the price of fame Subsequently, the NCB questioned several celebrities, including Sara Ali Khan, Shraddha Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Rakul Preet Singh, Karishma Prakash, and had nabbed comedian couple Bharti Singh and Haarsh Limbachiyaa, who are now bailed out. Simultaneously, the NCB has gone hammer and tongs after the drugs mafia in Mumbai with a series of seizures and arrests from Mumbai and surroundings in the past six months. The Maharashtra government has repeatedly demanded that the CBI should make public the findings of the probe into Sushant’s death — whether it was suicide or murder — in public interest.
Bollywood actress Gauahar Khan’s father Zafar Ahmed Khan dies
BollyWood|: Gauahar Khan’s father Zafar Ahmed Khan has died, the actress has confirmed in an Instagram post on Friday. “My Hero. No man like u, ever! My father has passed to the ever after as an angel. Alhamdulillah,” Gauahar wrote alongside a picture of her dad on Instagram. The actress had been posting regular updates as her father was in hospital in Mumbai for an unspecified ailment. Her tribute went on to read: “His passing away was a testament to his beautiful life n the best soul he was. Forever My Pappa. I love you oh so much. I am sooooo much of you Pappa. N yet can never ever be even a percent of your magnanimous personality. #MyForeverShiningStar.” On Thursday, Gauahar posted a picture of herself holding her father’s hand at the hospital. “Oh Allah bless my father,” she wrote. The actress also shared images from her wedding in December, where she’s seen with her father and other family members. Gauahar’s husband Zaid Darbar earlier shared a picture with his father-in-law asking people for their prayers. “Please keep my father in law in your Duaa’s. Allah give him the best of health. Ameen! He’s the coolest man I know . Alhamdulillah,” Darbar wrote. Darbar and Gauahar got married in a traditional nikah in Mumbai on December 25 and later hosted a reception attended by celebrities.
Bollywood: Fatima Sana Shaikh to star in Hindi adaptation of Tamil hit ‘Aruvi’
BollyWood|: Bollywood actress Fatima Sana Shaikh is set to star in the Hindi adaptation of the 2017 Tamil hit film ‘Aruvi’. Indian film critic and trade analyst Taran Adarsh shared the news on Instagram. He wrote, “FATIMA SANA SHAIKH IN #TAMIL REMAKE ... #FatimaSanaShaikh to star in #Hindi adaptation of #Tamil film #Aruvi ... Directed by E Niwas ... The film — not titled yet — is produced by Applause Entertainment and Faith Films [Viki Rajani] ... Filming begins mid-2021.” The film will be helmed by filmmaker E Niwas, who is a recipient of the Indian National Film award for ‘Shool’ (1999). The upcoming movie will see Shaikh portraying the fiery, eponymous character made memorable by Aditi Balan in the Tamil original. Speaking about the forthcoming movie, Shaikh said, “I am so thrilled to do the remake of ‘Aruvi’ and really looking forward to diving deep into the skin of the character. I am really glad that Applause Entertainment and Faith Films have come together with E Niwas to make this great content and I am really excited to embark on this journey.” E Niwas also commented on the film and said, “‘Aruvi’ is not just a story of a hero. It’s a triumph over the labyrinths of life. It’s totally euphoric and a privilege to explore one of the most beautiful cinematic characters I have come across. Fatima Sana Shaikh is an absolutely befitting choice, and I am super excited to collaborate with Applause Entertainment and Faith Films.” ‘Aruvi’, which released in 2017, garnered huge critical acclaim and went on to become a massive box office success. The social satire also went on to widely travel across prestigious film festivals, winning accolades and cult status along the way. Lauded by viewers and critics alike, ‘Aruvi’ was the rare commercial entertainer that also held a mirror to society, with its sparkling commentary on consumerism and misogyny, among other prevalent issues. As a character, Aruvi was heralded as a progressive, postmodern symbol of feminism, and her radical journey through the film was a spellbinding, sucker punch to the gut. The film followed the story of Aruvi, a middle-class girl, who was thrown out of her house after her family accused her of having brought shame on them. Later, as she tries to survive on her own, she must overcome several challenges.
George Clooney, 'Billie Holiday' win at AARP's 'awards for grown-ups'
HollyWood|: ‘The United States vs. Billie Holiday,’ ‘Minari,’ ‘Da 5 Bloods’ and ‘One Night in Miami’ are among the films AARP is honouring at its annual Movies for Grownups Awards, the non-profit organisation said Thursday. Director Lee Daniels’ ‘The United States vs. Billie Holiday,’ starring Andra Day as the jazz singer, was named best picture, while the Korean American family drama ‘Minari’ got best intergenerational film. Spike Lee’s Vietnam-themed ‘Da 5 Bloods’ picked up best buddy picture and Regina King’s ‘One Night in Miami...,’ about the fictional meeting of Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, Cassius Clay and Jim Brown, got best ensemble. Andra Day stars in ‘The United States vs Billie Holiday’ from Paramount Pictures. Image Credit: Takashi Seida via AP “We focus on films made by and for grown-ups,” said Tim Appelo, the film and television critic for AARP, a group that focuses on issues affecting those over 50. “When we started this a couple of decades ago, it was hard to find first movies about people of our age. I’m very pleased to see that we’ve got a bumper crop of movies and performances to choose from this year.” George Clooney is being honoured this year with the career achievement award. The 59-year-old both directed and acted in his most recent film, ‘The Midnight Sky.’ “He’s the Cary Grant of our day, but he’s also a fast-rising director,” Appelo said. “He’s perfect because he’s just a slam dunk argument against ageism.” Jodie Foster too is singled out for her supporting performance in ‘The Mauritanian,’ for which she also won the Golden Globe this week. Appelo said that the 58-year-old has said that she’s glad to be her age and is looking forward to playing characters in their 60s and beyond. “That’s a big theme of ours, that life opens up after you turn 50,” Appelo said. Aaron Sorkin is a double honouree for writing and directing ‘The Trial of the Chicago 7.’ The top acting awards went to Sophia Loren, for ‘The Life Ahead,’ and Anthony Hopkins, for ‘The Father.’ ‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’ and ‘The United States vs. Billie Holiday’ are two films Appelo said are particularly significant because of their historical value to a 50-plus audience. He also noted that this year included several important and nuanced depictions of Alzheimer’s, including in ‘The Father’ and in ‘Supernova,’ with Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci, which was named best grown-up love story. For the first time the organisation is also recognising television shows and performances. Catherine O’Hara took best actress for ‘Schmitt’s Creek,’ Mark Ruffalo got best actor for ‘I Know This Much is True’ and ‘This Is Us’ was named best series. Netflix’s ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ got best limited series. The virtual awards show will be broadcast by Great Performances on PBS on March 28.
Phish guitarist to found substance abuse treatment centre
Music|: Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio plans to start a substance use disorder treatment centre in Vermont, where the band was formed in 1983. Anastasio, who is now 14 years sober, announced Thursday that his Divided Sky Foundation has purchased a building for the non-profit centre in Ludlow. “Like so many people in America and so many in Vermont, I became addicted to opiates,” Anastasio said in a statement on his website. “I was extremely lucky to have access to care, and I know how important it is to be part of a recovery community. I’m grateful that we can help provide that opportunity for others.” The centre is tentatively scheduled to open by the end of this year. Anastasio raised funds for the purchase through his virtual concerts last fall from New York City’s Beacon Theatre. Fans contributed more than $1.2 million (Dh4.4 million). The centre has not yet been named and will be managed by Ascension Recovery Services, according to his website.
South Korea’s BTS named best-selling global artists of 2020
Music|: K-Pop sensation BTS, whose catchy, upbeat songs have won legions of fans around the world, have scooped the 2020 Global Recording Artist of the Year Award from IFPI, the recorded music industry representative body said on Thursday. They are the first non-Western artists to win the top spot. The seven-member group had a hugely successful 2020, becoming the first Korean pop act to reach No 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, with English-language single “Dynamite”, and securing its first major Grammy nomination. The band, who debuted in 2013 and have fronted the K-Pop drive in the United States in recent years, were also named entertainer of the year by Time magazine. “BTS are a global phenomenon. They have had another outstanding year, releasing three albums, and continually finding creative and engaging ways to share their story with the world,” IFPI Chief Executive Frances Moore said in a statement. “They truly show the power that music has to bring joy and happiness to people the world over.” IFPI said the award takes account of an act’s worldwide performance in digital and physical music formats during the year. American songstress Taylor Swift came in second in the IFPI Global Artist Chart while Canadian rapper Drake was third.
Next 'Fast & Furious' movie delayed until June
HollyWood|: Comcast Corp's Universal Pictures has delayed the debut of the 'Fast & Furious' movie 'F9' by one month until June 25, the company said on Thursday, the latest shift by Hollywood studios trying to gauge when moviegoers will return to theaters. Universal also postponed the release of animated movie 'Minions: The Rise of Gru' by one year until July 2022.
Why Prince Harry fears Meghan Markle will suffer like Princess Diana
HollyWood|: Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have a lot to say about their former life — and as with anything to do with the royal family, the world is waiting to hear everything. The couple, who got married in 2018, will speak to famed TV star Oprah Winfrey on March 7 about their decision to break away from royal life, and how Buckingham Palace and the British press played a big part in it. In teasers of the interview, Harry invokes his late mother Princess Diana, while Meghan talks about “falsehoods” spread about them. Days prior to this tell-all talk, Meghan has been hit with allegations of bullying staff — which she has denied — and an investigation into the claims has begun. Prince Harry with Princess Diana in 1987. Image Credit: AP It’s a complex and fraught affair, which many have likened to the days of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, who died on August 31 at age 36, the same age that Prince Harry is now. Ahead of the interview, we examine the parallels between Harry and his charismatic but troubled mother, and the stormy relationship between Harry, Meghan and the media. But first, a primer on Harry and Meghan’s courtship and marriage: In this file photo taken on November 27, 2017 Britain's Prince Harry and his fiancée US actress Meghan Markle pose for a photograph in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace in west London following the announcement of their engagement. Image Credit: AFP July 2016: Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle meet on a blind date set up by a mutual friend. Meghan said in a BBC interview: “I didn’t know much about him, and so the only thing that I had asked her when she said that she wanted to set us up, was, I had one question. I said, ‘Well is he nice?’” They meet on two more dates in July and then Harry invited Meghan to join him on a trip to Botswana. October 31, 2016: After a few months of dating quietly, the romance hits the headlines, when an anonymous source tells the British tabloid Sunday Express about Harry’s new girlfriend. November 8, 2016: In a statement, Prince Harry confirms Meghan is his girlfriend and condemns press coverage of her. He says he fears for her safety and says press coverage crossed the line and used “racial undertones” in its stories. His comments remind many that his mother, Princess Diana, had died in a car crash while being pursued by press photographers. It was the first time a UK royal has issued such a statement. September 6, 2017: Meghan opens up in a cover story of Vanity Fair magazine about her relationship with the prince saying, “At the end of the day I think it is really simple. We’re two people who are really happy.” September 25, 2017: Harry and Meghan are photographed together for the first time when they are holding hands during tennis competition at the Invictus Games in Toronto. November 2017: Meghan says she’s quitting her acting role in the US television series ‘Suits’ and moves to England. November 27, 2017: It’s official. The couple’s engagement is announced. Harry and Meghan then appear for photographers on the grounds of Kensington Palace, and Harry says he’s “over the moon.” January 9, 2018: Kensington Palace confirms that Meghan has shut down her social media accounts in line with royal tradition. The American closed her Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. March 12, 2018: Meghan makes her first public appearance with Queen Elizabeth II. She joins the queen and other senior royals at the Commonwealth Day service at London’s Westminster Abbey. April 25, 2018: Meghan appears for the last time in the US television series ‘Suits’ and bids farewell with an on-screen wedding during the season seven finale. May 19, 2018: The couple gets married in a grand royal ceremony at Windsor Castle. Their wedding was a lavish ceremony in Windsor Castle and was heralded as a sign of a more modern monarchy. (Harry broke tradition by marrying not only an American, but a divorcee who is of African-American decent when he married Meghan. She was also an actress. This caused quite a stir, especially from the traditionalists.) October 15, 2018: Meghan and Harry announce their pregnancy. Kensington Palace announced the news on social media with a statement saying: “Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are very pleased to announce that The Duchess of Sussex is expecting a baby in the Spring of 2019.” May 7, 2019: The couple’s first child is born. The couple bucked royal tradition by declining to say where the baby was born and opting not to come out to pose with the newborn just hours after the birth. May 10, 2019: New parents Meghan and Prince Harry present their two-day-old son to the world and reveal his name: Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, pose for a photo with their newborn baby son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, in St George's Hall at Windsor Castle in Windsor, west of London on May 8, 2019. Image Credit: AFP January 9, 2020: Harry and Meghan say they plan “to step back” as senior members of Britain’s royal family. Harry and Meghan intend to become financially independent and to balance their time between the UK and North America. “After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution,” the statement said. “We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the royal family and work to become financially independent while continuing to fully support her majesty the queen.” March 31, 2020: The couple officially drop his-and-her “royal highness” from their Duke and Duchess of Sussex names because they are no longer working members of the family. They plan to repay taxpayers for renovations made to their home near Windsor Castle and give up public financial support. August 14, 2020: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle move into a new family home. Real estate agents and tax records point to a seven-acre estate in Santa Barbara County, according to The Los Angeles Times. November 25, 2020: Meghan reveals that she had a miscarriage in July, giving a personal account of the traumatic experience in hope of helping others. Meghan described the miscarriage in an opinion piece in The New York Times, writing that “I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second.” February 15, 2021: Meghan and Harry are expecting their second child, their office confirms. A spokesperson for Prince Harry, 36, and Meghan, 39, said in a statement: “We can confirm that Archie is going to be a big brother. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are overjoyed to be expecting their second child.” In a black-and-white photo of themselves, the couple sat near a tree with Harry’s hand placed under Meghan’s head as she lies on his lap with her hand resting on her bump. February 19, 2021: Buckingham Palace releases statement confirming that the couple would not return as working members of the family. March 2, 2021: Oprah teases an exclusive interview with Meghan and Harry, in which Prince Harry reveals the memory of his late mother, Princess Diana, who had to find her way alone after she and Prince Charles divorced. The interview special is scheduled to air on March 7 on CBS and the following day in Britain. — Inputs from AP Harry vs the British press: A brief history FILE - In this Saturday, May 19, 2018 file photo the newly married Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, leave Windsor Castle in a convertible car after their wedding in Windsor, England, to attend an evening reception at Frogmore House, hosted by the Prince of Wales. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are to no longer use their HRH titles and will repay £2.4 million of taxpayer's money spent on renovating their Berkshire home, Buckingham Palace announced Saturday, Jan. 18. 2020. (Steve Parsons/pool photo via AP, File) Image Credit: AP The only way you could possibly be surprised by Harry’s recent comments that the British press were “destroying” his mental health, would be if you hadn’t been paying attention to anything he’s said in the past two decades. At 36 years old, Harry has had a long, tenuous, no-love relationship with the British tabloid media and has often discussed his disdain for them in the staunchest of terms. It stretches all the way back to the heavily publicised passing of his mum, Princess Diana, whose death was partially attributed to paparazzi pursuing her vehicle. But, Harry was only 12 at the time. Once the Duke of Sussex was old enough to speak for himself, it seems, he rarely held back. “I don’t like England that much” In this file photo taken on May 05, 2008 Prince Harry marches before receiving a campaign medal for his army service in Afghanistan from his aunt Britain's Princess Anne at Windsor. Image Credit: AFP When Harry was 23 years old in 2008 — far before Meghan entered the picture — he explicitly expressed his feelings on the press. He had been serving in Afghanistan for 10 weeks at the time. “I don’t want to sit around at Windsor because I just generally don’t like England that much, and it’s nice to be away from all the press and the papers and the general [expletive] that they write,” he told Reuters. These frank admissions continued for years — especially after the Sun published nude images of Harry in 2012 while he was in Las Vegas. Harry the following year, again serving in Afghanistan, said his distrust of the press goes way back, alluding to mum Diana. “I think it’s fairly obvious how far back it goes — to when I was very small,” he said. Despite this, he couldn’t help but read what the press had to say about him. “My father always says don’t read it, everyone says don’t read it, because it’s always rubbish. I’m surprised how many in the UK actually read it. Everyone’s guilty for buying the newspapers, I guess, but hopefully nobody actually believes what they read. I certainly don’t,” he said. “But of course I read it, because if something’s being written about me, I want to know what’s being said. All it does is just upset and anger me that people can get away with writing the stuff they do, not just about me, but about everything and everybody,” he added. Phone hacking scandal, explained Britain's Prince Harry Image Credit: Reuters Harry also alluded to the long-running phone hacking scandal that involved the now-defunct News of the World paper (replaced by The Sun when it closed down) in the early 2000s. “Because we haven’t got mobile phones out here [in Afghanistan], they can’t bug our phones, so they don’t know what we’re saying,” said Harry, then 28. This goes back to 2007, when Clive Goodman, then royal correspondent of News of the World, and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, were both jailed for intercepting voicemail messages of royal aides. By using factory-set pin codes to hack into celebrity voicemails, they were able to access — and publish to the masses — sensitive information. A trial in 2011 revealed that Harry and Kate Middleton were both victims of said phone hackers. The scandal is ongoing today. Harry revived the issue in 2019, when he began to take legal action against The Sun and The Daily Mirror over phone hacking concerns. Meghan’s private letter to father goes public FILE - In this July 13, 2019 file photo Meghan, Duchess of Sussex smiles while sitting in the Royal Box on Centre Court to watch the women's singles final match between Serena Williams, of the United States, and Romania's Simona Halep on at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London. A British judge ruled Thursday Feb. 11, 2021, that a newspaper invaded Duchess of Sussex's privacy by publishing personal letter to her estranged father. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File) Image Credit: AP These legal claims from Harry arrived just days after he and Meghan had taken legal action British tabloids, including The Sun, for publishing a private letter from Meghan to her father. “Unfortunately, my wife has become one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences — a ruthless campaign that has escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son,” wrote Harry in a statement. He called it “one incident in a long and disturbing pattern of behaviour” exhibited by the British tabloid press. “For these select media this is a game, and one that we have been unwilling to play from the start. I have been a silent witness to her private suffering for too long. To stand back and do nothing would be contrary to everything we believe in,” he said. Harry vs the press: Where does it stand now? In this file photo taken on April 6, 2018 Britain's Prince Harry gestures to his fiancee US actress Meghan Markle as they meet participants at the UK team trials for the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 at the University of Bath Sports Training Village in Bath, southwest England Image Credit: AFP In an interview last week with James Corden, Harry rode around LA on an open-top bus (for the first time), and revealed just how badly the press had impacted him. “It was a really difficult environment as a lot of people saw. We all know what the British press can be like. And it was destroying my mental health. I was like, this is toxic,” said Harry. He also told Corden that he is far more comfortable watching the fictional depiction of the royal family on the TV series ‘The Crown’ than he is with the actual press. “They don’t pretend to be news,” said Harry. “It’s fictional, but it’s loosely based on the truth. Of course it’s not strictly accurate, but loosely, it gives you a rough idea about what that lifestyle, what the pressures of putting duty and service above family and everything else, what can come from that. “I’m way more comfortable with ‘The Crown’ than I am seeing the stories written about my family, or my wife, or myself. Because it’s the difference between, that is obviously fiction, take it how you will, but this is being reported on as fact because you’re supposedly news. I have a real issue with hat,” he added. Analysis: Are there parallels between Princess Diana’s life and Harry’s? In this Sept. 16, 1984 file photo, Britain's Prince Charles and Princess Diana, leave St. Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London, with their new baby son. Princess Diana carries new baby, Prince Harry who was born on Sept. 15. Image Credit: AP In 1995, the late Princess Diana gave a landmark BBC interview with journalist Martin Bashir that showed the public a raw and painfully human side of her. She spoke openly about suffering from bulimia, the affair between her husband Charles, Prince of Wales, and Camilla Parker-Bowles, and intrusive media scrutiny. An oft repeated quote from that interview — “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded” — might reflect the current state of affairs involving Diana’s second son Prince Harry and his wife Meghan. The couple have been in the eye of the media storm ever since their courtship and marriage in 2018. Their every step has been questioned, picked apart and incessantly followed by the media and public. Following their departure from the royal family, it seems Meghan and Harry will give an interview as explosive and revelatory as Diana’s account all those years ago. In previews of their chat with TV legend Oprah Winfrey, set to air on March 7, Harry is seen referring to his mother as he talks about his split from the royal family. “I can’t begin to imagine what it must have been like for her going through this process by herself all those years ago, because it has been unbelievably tough for the two of us — but at least we had each other,” Harry tells Winfrey. The Duke of Sussex could have been referring to the sense of loneliness Diana might have felt following her divorce from Prince Charles in August 1996, and being reportedly shunned by the royal family. Diana died the next year in a car crash in Paris, which Harry has said was caused by the paparazzi that relentlessly chased his mother. The Princess of Wales departs from her morning gym session November 20, 1995. Diana, Princess of Wales wearing a black pleated chiffon dress, with floating side panel, by Christina Stamboulian, during a party given at the Serpentine Gallery in London in this 1996 file photo. Image Credit: AP A woman looks at flowers and tributes in memory of the late Princess Diana on the gates of her former residence Kensington Palace in London, Britain, August 29, 2017. Image Credit: REUTERS Diana, Princess of Wales, sits in front of a British flag during a visit to the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital in Lahore February 22, 1997. Image Credit: Reuters In this Tuesday Sept. 24, 1996 file photo, Britain's Diana, Princess of Wales, arrives for dinner in Washington. Image Credit: AP This file photo taken on August 19, 1995 shows Prince Charles (L), Princess Diana (R) and their children William (2ndR) and Harry watching the march past on a dais on the mall as part of the commemorations of VJ Day. Image Credit: AFP In this undated photo made available Monday July 24, 2017, by Kensington Palace from the personal photo album of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, photo taken by Prince William shows the princess sitting and playing with Prince Harry aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia. Image Credit: AP Britain's Prince Charles and Princess Diana and their sons, Princes William, right, and Harry begin a cycle ride, June 1, 1989, around the island of Tresco, one of the Scilly Isles. Image Credit: AP In this Aug. 4, 1987 file photo, Britain's Diana, Princess of Wales, left, and Britain's Queen Elizabeth II smile to well-wishers outside Clarence House in London. Image Credit: AP “I think being part of this family, in this role and this job, every single time I see a camera, every single time I hear a click, every single time I see a flash, it takes me straight back,” Harry said in a 2019 interview, when asked if he feels at peace about his mother’s death. Harry has had his own battles with the media when he was a rebellious young man, but in his new role as Meghan’s husband and soon-to-be father of two he has been trying hard to make sure his family does not suffer the same fate as Diana. “My biggest concern was history repeating itself,” he tells Winfrey in one clip. Harry was 12 years old when his mother died, and would have been too young to help his mother in any tangible way. But now, he’s using his words and actions to change the course of his life and that of his family — even if it means upsetting the status quo. Harry has fiercely defended Meghan, a biracial actress, from the British press and slammed their harsh coverage of her — coverage that has been called sexist and racist. In a 2019 statement that made headlines, Harry attacked tabloids for their “ruthless campaign” against Meghan and said he would be taking legal action. “Unfortunately, my wife has become one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences — a ruthless campaign that has escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son,” he said. “There is a human cost to this relentless propaganda, specifically when it is knowingly false and malicious, and though we have continued to put on a brave face — as so many of you can relate to — I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been. Because in today’s digital age, press fabrications are repurposed as truth across the globe. One day’s coverage is no longer tomorrow’s chip-paper.” During that time, a personal letter Meghan wrote to her estranged father was leaked. “Up to now, we have been unable to correct the continual misrepresentations — something that these select media outlets have been aware of and have therefore exploited on a daily and sometimes hourly basis. It is for this reason we are taking legal action, a process that has been many months in the making,” Harry added. In this Tuesday, July 10, 2018 file photo Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, and Meghan the Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry watch a flypast of Royal Air Force aircraft pass over Buckingham Palace in London. Image Credit: AP In this file photo taken on May 18, 2018 US actress Meghan Markle (L) arrives with her mother Doria Ragland at Cliveden House hotel in the village of Taplow near Windsor, on the eve of her wedding to Britain's Prince Harry. Image Credit: AFP Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex stop to stroke horses in their stables during a visit to the Moroccan Royal Federation of Equestrian Sports in Rabat in Morocco, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. Image Credit: AP Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex holding their son Archie, meet Archbishop Desmond Tutu (not pictured) at the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation in Cape Town, South Africa, September 25, 2019. Image Credit: REUTERS Harry, Meghan, William, with the Dean of Westminster John Hall. Image Credit: AFP Britain's Prince Charles, Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend the annual Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in London, Britain March 9, 2020. Image Credit: REUTERS Britain's Prince Charles, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge along with Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive at St Mary Magdalene's church for the Royal Family's Christmas Day service on the Sandringham estate in eastern England, Britain, December 25, 2018. Image Credit: REUTERS Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, shake hands with members of the crowd during a walkabout in Parliament Square in Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, July 11, 2018. Image Credit: REUTERS In this Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 file photo Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex meet with a local surfing community group, known as OneWave, raising awareness for mental health and wellbeing in a fun and engaging way at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia. Image Credit: AP Both Harry and Meghan have since won legal cases related to their privacy, and this reflects a massive shift from two decades ago when Diana might not have been able to fight for such justice for herself. When Meghan was asked by Winfrey how she felt about the palace watching their interview, the former ‘Suits’ star stood up for herself. “I don’t know how they could expect that, after all of this time, we would still just be silent if there is an active role that The Firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us,” she said. Buckingham Palace and other royals have largely remained silent about Harry and Meghan’s very public exhortations for change; the most recently statement being one to announce the couple would be quitting royal life. While it might not be true that they are alone in this, to the outside world it seems that way. There are parallels to be drawn between Harry and his mother — they were both independent and bright characters. But more than anything, it seems like it’s Meghan who has experienced what Diana went through as a woman who didn’t fit expectations. If anything, Harry is doing for Meghan what he could not have done for this mother — protecting the person he loves, no matter what. Rebel prince: A timeline of Harry’s controversies In this file photo taken on April 03, 2019 Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex smiles during a discussion, while on a visit to YMCA South Ealing in west London. Image Credit: AP Prince Harry, who was born on September 15, 1984, is no stranger to controversy. From breaking monarchial rules to playing a slapdash game of strip billiards even while paparazzi look on agog, he’s done it all. Here’s a look at a timeline of famous controversial moments from the carrot-top prince. 2001: At age 16, Prince Harry wasn’t like many other teens — people were watching his every move — not that this would stop him from living his life. He lived a life of relative carefree behaviour, showering his then girlfriend with public displays of affection and even having to go to rehab. For one day, when he was 16 for trying illegal substances, Prince Charles reportedly bade him to stay in a rehab facility. When the news went public, St James’s Palace said, “This is a serious matter which was resolved within the family, and is now in the past and closed.” Of course no more was said about it. 2004: Prince Harry’s hate for paparazzi is neither unfounded nor is it new. But there have been moments when his exchanges have turned heated, like in 2004 when he had scuffle with photographer, who claimed the prince lashed out at him without warning or provocation at 3am. The scuffle occurred days after news of him cheating in art class at Eton were making the rounds. 2005: In 2005, when Prince Harry kitted out as a Nazi for a costume party, boy did he get some brickbats. Later, he apologised, but the tone-deaf choice did entice rage from politicians and well-wishers alike. “I am very sorry if I caused any offence or embarrassment to anyone. It was a poor choice of costume and I apologise,” he later said. 2006: Harry’s military career began in 2005 at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. And this is when he made a home video, too, which would only come out in 2009. He used the racial slur “Paki” to describe his friend. He also used the term “raghead.” St James’s Palace issued an apology on behalf of Harry when the video came out, saying, “Prince Harry fully understands how offensive this term can be, and is extremely sorry for any offence his words might cause. However, on this occasion three years ago, Prince Harry used the term without any malice and as a nickname about a highly popular member of his platoon.” 2007: Prince Harry snorted alcohol. We have no idea what made him do it, just that he did. The British tabloid News of the World carried what is said were photos of that incident in Namibia. 2012: What happens in Vegas, when you are Prince Harry, gets photographed for posterity. But he didn’t know that at the time. Then, Harry played strip billiards in Las Vegas. At the end of the game, well, he didn’t have much to lose. As per someone who was there, “There was a pool table and he was playing air guitar with pool sticks. He was screaming out, ‘Somebody get me a glove! I’m going to do a Michael Jackson impression!’ 2014: After a trek to the South Pole, the expedition team celebrated — with tonnes of drink and laughter. Reportedly, he also drunk out of one of the prosthetic limbs of Duncan Slater, who lost his legs in Afghanistan in 2009, who was on the trek with Harry.
Bollywood director of ‘Dhamaka’ salutes Karthik Aaryan
BollyWood|: After receiving an overwhelming response from the audience on the teaser of ‘Dhamaka’, director Ram Madhavani penned a heartwarming note for Kartik Aaryan, to which the actor shared a fun reply. Filmmaker Ram Madhvani shared an emotional note on his Instagram story that reads, “Kartik Aaryan gave his all to my way of working which I call the 360-degree system. His involvement, passion and precise calibration as an actor is something I hugely respect. He makes the work better. It would be great to collaborate with him again.” Replying to his director, Aaryan, who wrapped the schedule of ‘Dhamaka’ in ten days said, “Of course we are working together again Sir sochna bhi mat kisi aur ke saath kaam karne ki,” (Don’t think of working with anybody else) using laughing out loud emoticons. Their film follows a news anchor reporting a hard-hitting incident of a bomb-blast in real time. Aaryan’s character will be subjected to circumstances grappling him between tough choices, abidance to his career, or awakening the humanist within. A still from 'Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2' Apart from ‘Dhamaka’, Aaryan will also feature in ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2’ and Karan Johar’s film ‘Dostana 2’.
'Bridgerton' star Rege-Jean Page joins cast of ‘The Gray Man’
HollyWood|: Actor Rege-Jean Page, the breakout star of 2020, has joined the cast of the Russo Brothers’ new action thriller ‘The Gray Man’. It is unclear who Page will play in the upcoming film, according to E!. The forthcoming Netflix film also stars Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans and Indian actor Dhanush. The project will be helmed by Anthony and Joe Russo, the team behind four movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe including ‘Avengers: Endgame’. The action thriller, being touted as the biggest-budget feature film in the streaming service’s history, will also star Billy Bob Thornton, Alfre Woodard, Ana de Armas, Jessica Henwick, Wagner Moura and Julia Butters. The film marks Armas’ reunion with Gosling, with whom she worked in 2017’s ‘Blade Runner 2049’, as well as Evans, her co-star from Rian Johnson’s 2019 whodunnit ‘Knives Out’. ‘The Gray Man’ is based on the 2009 novel of the same name by Mark Greaney. The titular character, played in the film by Gosling, is Court Gentry, a former CIA operative who now works as an assassin. However, the killer becomes the prey when he is targeted by a former operative, played by Evans, in a worldwide pursuit. Production for the upcoming film will reportedly start in Los Angeles this March. Anthony and Joe will be producing the forthcoming project through their AGBO banner. Joe wrote the script, with ‘Avengers: Endgame’ screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely polishing the final draft. AGBO’s Mike Larocca, along with Joe Roth and Jeff Kirschenbaum for Roth Kirschenbaum, are also on board as producers. Apart from ‘The Gray Man’, Page will also be starring in the highly-anticipated film ‘Dungeons and Dragons’, which is expected to be released next year. He will be seen in the action-adventure movie with Hugh Grant and Michelle Rodriguez. Page rose to fame after starring in the Netflix romantic period drama titled ‘Bridgerton’.
'Saina' teaser: Watch Bollywood star Parineeti Chopra as Saina Nehwal in power-packed clip
BollyWood|: New Delhi: The much-awaited teaser of Bollywood actor Parineeti Chopra's upcoming film 'Saina' is finally out. Directed by Amole Gupte, the sports biopic features the actor portraying the role of ace badminton player Saina Nehwal. The nearly one-and-a-half-minute teaser of 'Saina' opens with a shot of a badminton court with Parineeti's voiceover speaking about how half of the Indian population comprises of females who are only expected to cook and then are married off at the age of 18. However, she then adds, "I picked up a racquet instead of utensils and made my own destiny." The teaser then highlights Saina's many achievements, showing how her parents and coach encouraged her to be the only Indian woman badminton player to become world No. 1. The final sequence of the teaser will surely give viewers goosebumps, as it shows Saina waving back at the audience after a match, with the Indian flag on her shoulders. Sharing the teaser of 'Saina' on her Twitter handle, Parineeti tweeted, "SAINA - TEASER TRAILER COMING OUT SOON!" Image Credit: twitter/@NSaina From the mole on her cheek to the way she takes shots on the badminton court, Parineeti's portrayal of the ace badminton player is on point in the film's teaser. On Tuesday, the 32-year-old actor had dropped the release date of the film with a small video. She shared the clip and wrote, "SAINA! 26th March in cinemas." Written and directed by Amol Gupte, 'Saina' is being produced by Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar, Sujay Jayraj, and Rajesh Shah. It brings on the big screen the journey of one of India's greatest athletes, Saina Nehwal. The movie will hit the theatres on March 26.
Top Indian women producers of ‘Bittu’ speak up about gender inequality in film
BollyWood|: As International Women’s Day approaches on March 8, a trio of fierce female producers have a sobering statistic about the state of the Indian film industry. Ekta Kapoor, Guneet Monga and Tahira Kashyap — who have backed the short film ‘Bittu’, which is one of 10 selected for the Best Live Action Short Film shortlist — say that a lot of work is needed to balance things out. “We were just saying that there are less than five per cent of women directors in India who made films in the last four or five years and that’s something we need to do to work towards changing,” said Monga, whose production credits include ‘The Lunchbox’, ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ and ‘Period. End Of A Sentence.’ which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2018. However, they are not just talking at the grim numbers, but are willing to walk the talk. A still from 'Bittu'. Image Credit: Supplied Enter their newly formed collective Indian Women Rising (IWR), whose debut project is generating Oscar buzz. On the surface, these three filmmakers Monga (festival friendly), Kapoor (India’s answer to Shonda Rhimes), and Kashyap (kooky filmmaker and star wife of actor Ayushmann Khurrana) may not seem to have much in common. But they are united in their cause to amplify women’s voices in Indian cinema and pay it forward. Kapoor is the joint MD and creative director of Balaji Telefilms, Balaji Motion Picture, and ALT Balaji, while Monga is the founder and CEO of Sikhya Entertainment. “Guneet has all that expertise, Tahira has the intent and I come with a certain amount of experience/structure because of the company I own. I’ve done a lot of work in my life, but to have this intent in your life to set up a platform for women filmmakers was exciting,” said Kapoor, who is hailed as India’s top television mogul known for her commercial projects. For Kashyap, a cancer survivor, the prospect of joining hands with women of a ‘similar wavelength’ was an impetus. They aim to empower Indian female talent in cinema. We want to see more women filmmakers tell their stories … Consider it our social service. Tahira Kashyap “The statistic that only five per cent women have made films in the past four or five years in India is a very sad number. Five per cent is nothing and we wanted to do something to disrupt that status and change that equation. With our collective, we can work towards a better percentage and optimistically go up to 50 per cent representation. We intend to shine the spotlight on women filmmakers and to see more films made by them using their lens and perspective,” said Kashyap. She believes that the world is being deprived of stories told through the eyes of a woman. “We want to see more women filmmakers tell their stories … Consider it our social service,” said Kashyap with a laugh. Leading change Being in a Zoom video conference with them was like stumbling upon a high school party filled with uber-confident cool kids and geeky nerds. Kapoor, who altered the Indian TV landscape with her own company Balaji Telefilms, and is a prolific producer with a pulse on what the common Indian loves watching, might be the cool one. But she disagrees. “We have an Oscar-winning producer here and a celebrated filmmaker like Tahira here! Now that’s one party that I want to gate-crash. I would love to party with these two wonderful women. They have such a wonderful sense of humour,” said Kapoor. She brought structure into the mix. The three believe that they are at the top of their games individually, but collectively they could make a bigger difference. So, what made them choose ‘Bittu’, a 17-minute short film about a tragedy in a rural school seen through the lens of two young students, as their first project under the IWR collective? Directed by Karishma Dev Dube, the film is inspired by a real-life incident that took place in India in 2013. Director Karishma Dube. Image Credit: Supplied “It was love at first sight for all of us … But when we first saw it, we didn’t know it will get shortlisted or go so far in this year’s Oscar race … Karishma reached out to me saying she needed support for the campaign, marketing, and sales … It was such a pleasure and honour to support her … Tahira and Ekta have added so much power to my journey with the film,” said Monga. Kashyap remembers how Monga called her at midnight and asked her to check out ‘Bittu’ without revealing anything else. “‘Bittu’ blew my mind and it broke my heart into a million pieces. The craft, the finesse with which the movie was made blew my mind. Everything was bang on. It’s a wonderful film … I knew we had to something and I messaged Ekta, sharing the film link … Karishma blew my mind and her film broke my heart into a million pieces … When the strings of your heart are tugged and the film comes from a genuine place, then it will work … We didn’t have any ulterior motive when we supported it,” said Kashyap. Three of us do different kinds of work, but the one thing that binds us is that we are women. We are women with empathy, ability, and belief, but we have never used our fullest capabilities to empower other women. Ekta Kapoor While their first project under their collective is a superlative success, for these three women it was their goal to do greater good for women that held them together. “When Tahira and Guneet sent me this film, I told them that I loved the film and the intent behind the collective. Three of us do different kinds of work, but the one thing that binds us is that we are women. We are women with empathy, ability, and belief, but we have never used our fullest capabilities to empower other women,” said Kapoor. Getting their first production shortlisted for the Oscars was the icing on their cake. “We should be doing this … We were given these chairs to sit on through our hard work, a lot of karma, and a little bit of the universe acting our favour. So, we wanted to do the same for someone else,” said Kapoor. Monga and Kapoor go a long way back. “I’ve worked for Ekta on ‘Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai’ for Balaji Films … I was in the lowest phase of my life then, but many years later we were at an awards ceremony together and I remember walking up to her and saying: ‘I just want to say that you inspire me a lot. I used to work for you, do you remember?” said Monga, who thought Kapoor was the most empowered woman in the Indian entertainment industry. “Till that day, it was a one-way love affair and then it became a two-way street,” said Monga with a laugh. Monga also worked with Kashyap on a film last year after she called her and said she admired Kashyap’s work. Start of great things It’s rare in Bollywood to see such camaraderie and mutual admiration among women. “And, when my ‘The Lunchbox’ didn’t get nominated for the Oscar, Ekta was the only person who called me just to tell me that I was amazing and I should continue doing amazing things … She told me that our decades of work, information gathered, success and failure have made us who we are … Our collective is just the start of many great things,” Monga said. For Kashyap, their collective reminded her that they were her biggest mentors. “There is nobody who’s pulling each other down here. There’s genuine happiness and rooting for each other when the other achieves something. Their hearts explode with love and happiness when I do something little … Ekta sends me 50 heart emojis and so does Guneet. I don’t know what I have done to deserve it, but our energies exist in the same universe and we have just come under the same umbrella through the collective,” Kashyap said. While their collective will primarily promote women filmmakers with limited resources, the three women believe that the scope of storytelling should not be limited to tales about women alone. “Women should tell women and men’s stories. They should tell vampire and Dracula stories — why not? We should not limit women to tell only women’s stories … We are storytellers at heart, but there’s no denying that a woman storytellers brings a certain warmth and gaze that acts as their lens … I don’t want to put women in a box telling them that they can only do certain kind of stories or only women stories,” said Monga. Kapoor too leads by example. “I have made movies about gangsters, I have made soap operas and I have also made sexual comedies … I have often been asked how can I do sexual content as a woman … We should never limit ourselves to content that will only put you on a pedestal … Tomorrow, if a female filmmaker wants to make an action film for Indian Women Rising collective or me, I am game for it. There should never be boxes set for women,” said Kapoor. Breaking barriers In her prolific career filled with hundreds of Bollywood blockbusters, edgy web series, and dramatic TV soaps, Kashyap wants to be the clutter breaker — a philosophy that binds the brains behind the IWR collective. “There’s this imagery that you create for women which are limiting and asking them to follow the beaten, weathered path … We are asked to fit in as good girls … But if someone makes comments on why I make sexual content, I take on that battle and make more such films,” said Kapoor. Their battles are steep and numerous. Kashyap wants better representation for women and better statistics that tilt in her gender’s favour. “The way we women are represented today is that we are put on two extreme ends of the spectrum. Either we are like revolutionary queens or we are these tragedy-stricken damsels in distress, there’s not much in between,” said Kashyap. “Let’s get rid of the boxes that typecast or create prototypes for a filmmaker to follow. We just want to expand our horizons as women … Right now, there’s only five per cent of women with their own lens to their stories, we are depriving the rest … This needs to change. With our Indian Women Rising collective we intend to make that change.” ALL ABOUT 'BITTU' Indian director Karishma Dev Dube’s ‘Bittu’ has been shortlisted for the 93rd Academy Awards in the Live Action Short Film Category. The 17-minute short film beat 174 other films to make it to the list of ten finalists. The short film, produced by Ekta Kapoor, Guneet Monga and writer-director Tahira Kashyap under the banner Indian Women Rising (IWR) — a ؤinema collective aimed at discovering and encouraging Indian female talent — was inspired from a real-life tragedy that took place in rural India in 2013. A school poisoning incident forms the backbone of the story, but the real thrust is a peek into a young girl’s psychology. This film has also courted awards glory and has won the Director’s Guild of America (DGA) Student Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in the Asian American Category for ‘Bittu’. The film has also had a brilliant festival run. It has played at BFI London Film Festival and Telluride among others.
Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt reveals ‘Brahmastra’ key players
BollyWood|: Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt shared a couple of stills from the set of her upcoming film ‘Brahmastra’ where she features alongside her rumoured boyfriend Ranbir Kapoor. In the Instagram images, Alia poses in front of a huge idol of a Hindu deity along with Kapoor and the film’s director Ayan Mukerji. “It’s a blessing to be on this journey.. & these magical boys just make everything. P.S -- this is jussssttt the beginning,” Bhatt captioned the photos on Instagram. 'Brahmastra' also stars Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan and Telugu superstar Nagarjuna Akkineni along with Mouni Roy. The film is billed as the first instalment of a fantasy adventure trilogy. Nagarjuna recently announced on Twitter that he has finished shooting for the film. “And it’s a wrap for me on #Brahmastra . Such an amazing experience it has been with our stellar performers #Ranbir and @Aliaa08. Can’t wait for you guys to witness the outstanding world #AyanMukerji has created.#TheBigIndianMovie #Brahmastra,” he wrote.
Hollywood star Alec Baldwin deletes Twitter after backlash
HollyWood|: Hollywood actor-filmmaker Alec Baldwin posted an Instagram video on Thursday to express disappointment at being trolled after his tweet about Gillian Anderson’s accent. “Wanted to post a quick video to say that I deactivated my Twitter account today. I just wrote, ‘Oh, that’s interesting’. And of course, you can’t do any irony on — you can’t do any irony in the United States anymore because the United States is such (an) uptight, stressed-out place and such an unpleasant place right now,” Baldwin says in the video. He added: “But I find that, of course, on Twitter, which is where all the [expletive] in the United States and beyond go to get their advanced degrees in [expletive]-iness, that I had used it as a news aggregator, and I suppose I will do my best to find other places that are similar in their news aggregation in real time and periodicals I like.” In December, Baldwin’s wife Hilaria was accused on Twitter for faking a Spanish accent and misrepresenting her background.
David Schwimmer teases ‘Friends’ reunion details
TV|: American actor David Schwimmer recently revealed some new details regarding the upcoming ‘Friends’ reunion while finally sharing when the special will be shot. As per People magazine, Schwimmer, who played Ross Gellar in the hit sitcom, confirmed in an interview on SiriusXM’s Radio Andy on Wednesday that the upcoming HBO Max special, which will bring the core cast back together, will be taping soon. Speaking about it, Schwimmer said, “It’s happening. Actually, in a little over a month, I’m heading out to LA.” “So, finally, I mean, we figured out a way to film it safely and there’s going to be a portion of it that we filmed outside because of, you know, for safety protocols,” added Schwimmer. The conversation then turned to who is and who is not hosting the special when Andy Cohen asked if Ellen DeGeneres had been booked for the gig. However, Schwimmer shut down the possibility of DeGeneres’ involvement, and then explained to Cohen that he is unsure if he can reveal who is hosting the reunion special. “I can tell you it’s not Ellen, and it’s not Billy Crystal. I can tell you who it’s not, but that’ll take a while, probably,” the actor said. The sitcom’s reunion was first announced in February 2020 by HBO Max and was scheduled to premiere that May, but was delayed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “Unfortunately it’s very sad that we had to move it again. It was, ‘How do we do this with live audiences?’ This is not a safe time. Period. That’s the bottom line. It’s not a safe time to do it,” Aniston told Deadline in August. She added, “It’s going to be super. I choose to see it as the glass is half-full that it got postponed. Look, we’re not going anywhere. You’re never going to get rid of Friends, sorry. You’re stuck with us for life, guys.” Kudrow, who played the eclectic Phoebe Buffay in the series, revealed in January that she and her co-stars have already shot some scenes for the reunion. “There’s different facets to it, and we already shot packages of things. I pre-shot something already so we’re definitely doing it, because I already shot a little something,” she said on the Literally! With Rob Lowe podcast. Kudrow also clarified that the cast will not be reprising their iconic Friends characters, but chatting as themselves. She said, “It’s not a reboot. It’s not like a scripted thing, we’re not portraying our characters. It’s us getting together, which just doesn’t happen a lot and has never happened in front of other people since 2004 when we stopped.” The American sitcom was touted as one of the most popular ones and is still the talk of the town among fans, who are eagerly waiting to see their favourite stars back together. ‘Friends’ originally aired for 10 seasons from 1994 through 2004 and starred Schwimmer, Aniston, Kudrow, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, and Matthew Perry. The beloved sitcom followed the story of six friends in their 20s and 30s who live in Manhattan, New York City.
Omani director Dr Khalid Al Zadjali on his next film, spreading awareness about movie industry
MUSCAT: Dr Khalid Al Zadjali is trying his best to create a niche for Omani films in the world of movies. Al Zadjali, who has retired from the Ministry of Information as production advisor to the minister, now focuses full-time on movies, organising international film festivals and finalising his next project. “My team is putting together the second virtual film festival, called Cinemana, which is a platform for movie-makers to showcase their creation to a jury of eminent film personalities and writers and win awards. The festival is scheduled for May end and we have received close to 70 films in different categories,” said Al Zadjali, who is also the vice-president of the Arab Union for Film Artistes, which is headquartered in Cairo. Al Zadjali has directed a variety of Arabic serials that were telecast on GCC television channels. Image Credit: Supplied He has also finalised another film festival in Stockholm, called Hope Film Festival, which is supported by the Government of Sweden along with other promoters based in Sweden. Hope Film Festival is scheduled to happen in early fall this year. “As the name suggests, Hope Festival is about movies that kindle the aspect of humanity and acts of kindness and will provide a platform for people who can recreate this in silver screen. There will be many formats for submitting entries as we are also mindful of the latest innovations that have made film-making possible for almost all creative minds,” the filmmaker said. Al Zadjali has directed a variety of Arabic serials that were telecast on GCC television channels, including ‘Al Urs’, ‘Munthafa’, ‘Bareeq’, ‘Al Wahaj’, ‘Baladeen’ and ‘Annawayn’. He has also directed more than 100 documentaries on a range of subjects. His forthcoming movie ‘Shabka’ (Wedding Gift) will have a mixed crew from the GCC and India. “I am still looking for some new faces to be launched in this movie,” he said. Dr Khalid Al Zadjali with Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan. Image Credit: Supplied “Oman has so far produced only six feature films, out of which three were directed by me. Oman has no dearth for talented artistes and the technical support available here is also world-class, Al Zadjali added. “We need more awareness about this unique industry that today provides the best visibility in world forums, and more support is also required to catapult Oman to a new trajectory. I am also open to good scripts for a series of short films that I am planning this year.” Al Zadjali’s previous ventures were supported by Effat University of Saudi Arabia and by investors in Kuwait. His film ‘Zayana’, filmed in Kerala and Muscat, won him awards in India and in Lebanon. Al Zadjali was even honoured for his contribution to films by Kuwait, Iraq, France, Egypt Morocco and India.
Richa Chadha, Ali Fazal announce first production venture ‘Girls Will Be Girls’
BollyWood|: Bollywood stars and real-life couple Richa Chadha and Ali Fazal are collaborating as producers for their first venture titled ‘Girl Will Be Girls’. The upcoming project is a part of their newly-launched production company Pushing Buttons Studios. Indian film critic and trade analyst Taran Adarsh shared the news on his Instagram handle. He wrote, “RICHA CHADHA — ALI FAZAL TURN PRODUCERS ... #RichaChadha and #AliFazal turn producers, announce their production company: Pushing Buttons Studios ... The first script to be greenlit under their banner is titled #GirlsWillBeGirls and will be directed by Shuchi Talati.” Adarsh added, “GirlsWillBeGirls is the only #Indian script invited to the prestigious Berlinale Script Station 2021 ... A lab that selects only 10 projects from around the world each year.” As per Variety, the film is being written and directed by Shuchi Talati. The movie is set in an elite boarding school in a small Himalayan hill town in northern India and follows the story of a 16-year-old girl, whose rebellious coming-of-age is hijacked by her mother who never got to come of age. The production company, set up with a view to narrate stories rooted in the Indian ethos for a global audience, will kick off with ‘Girls Will Be Girls’, the only Indian selection of the 10 projects chosen for the Berlinale Talents Script Station program this year. The script has also been selected for the Jerusalem Sam Spiegel Film Lab, and it won a New York State Council of the Arts Grant for development. Talati has previously helmed several shorts including ‘A Period Piece’, which was an SXSW selection in 2020. “I like my work to challenge dominant narratives around gender, sexuality, and the Indian identity,” said Talati. Talati and Chadha had first presented the project at the 2018 Film Bazaar in Goa, organised by India’s National Film Development Corporation. Indian company Crawling Angel Films and France’s Dolce Vita Films boarded the project there. Speaking about the project, Chadha said, “The world that Shuchi has created is relatable, often cruel but never hopeless or nihilistic. Its honest awkwardness will make you chuckle, not weep.” “This is the first time that Richa and I are collaborating on a film as producers and the experience so far has been very rewarding,” said Fazal. Fazal added, “This film being our first is close to our hearts. I am also excited that our studio will enter the market with such a progressive, female-led story. We hope to be able to tell thought-provoking and universal stories with humour and love.” Crawling Angel’s Sanjay Gulati and Pooja Chauhan and Dolce Vita’s Claire Chassagne will produce alongside Chadha and Fazal.