News Round-Up: Ajay Bets All on Luv Ranjan, Manikarnika Makers Bet All on Spin Stories, Shahid Bets All on Dingko Singh

Some interesting little stories today!  With some interesting things to think about in terms of Big Questions of Indian society and film and fun stuff like that.  And also, little petty questions like “what the heck is happening on the Manikarnika set and why are they trying so hard to cover it up?”

Ajay Devgan and Luv Ranjan and Hansal Mehta and Rajkummar Rao

Ajay Devgan now has not one, not two, but THREE films in development with Luv Ranjan.  And reading between the lines, it sounds like he might have decided to simply turn over his production studio to Luv?  If so, I think that is a really good idea.  Luv is a smart director who knows what sells, and is able to look outside the box and find talents and stories that the hidebound mainstream folks might overlook. (story here)

Right now, Ajay is working on De De Pyaar De with Tabu, and Rakul Preet Singh which Luv is producing but the director is a first timer with a long long filmography as an editor.  After that, Luv will direct Ajay and Ranbir Kapoor in a film Ajay is producing. And it has just been announced, Luv will produce on Ajay’s behalf a film by Hansal Mehta (Aligarh, Shahid, City Lights, etc.) starring (probably, because he always works with Meta) Rajkummar Rao.

Image result for ajay devgn luv ranjan

(Luv talking to Ranbir and Ajay)

So we have an unusual love story (De De Pyaar De), plus a comedy with a strange combo (Ajay and Ranbir), plus a presumably serious film.  All coordinated by the same producer, Luv Ranjan, with involvement by Ajay.  I think this is a very smart idea.

I have seen a grand total of one film by Luv Ranjan (Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety), but that one film had an interesting talented cast and crew and a fresh feel to it. And then I discovered the truly radical film in Luv’s filmography, Akaash Vani, which made me think he has some real range.  Hindi film can use more outside the box thinkers behind the scenes, if Ajay is looking at building up Luv the way he helped build up Rohit Shetty and bring in another new voice, I am all for it.

 

Manikarnika Anarchy

So, a image creeped out from the Manikarnika reshoots (story here):

Kangana Ranaut takes over as DIRECTOR of Manikarnika (Read statement)

Notice the director is listed as Kangana?  I mean, what the heck?  It was already weird with the previous report that filming was continuing despite the director being down in Chennai filming Vidya for the NTR biopic.  It’s not like that’s just “rumors” or something, it’s a big ol’ film crew doing stuff in two different places with, on paper, the same director supposed to be running them.  And two super different places!  This isn’t a “you keep filming, I’ll go off and check the set next door and be right back” kind of thing.  Manikarnika is shooting in Jaipur and the NTR film is shooting in Hyderabad right now.  Completely different regions of the country.  And now the clapboard has come out listing Kangana as director.

The official explanation is that it is to “avoid confusion on set”, since Kangana has stepped in to “help out”.  As I said the first time this story came out, it’s obviously very common for leads of films and top stars to direct a second unit when the director isn’t around, to take charge in all kinds of ways.  But Kangana doesn’t necessarily have the experience I would think necessary to take charge.  And I would also be very surprised if the clapboards are updated based on who is technically calling the shots.  Pretty sure the clapboard is just so when you are looking at rushes later you can tell one from the other and so on.  And her name isn’t like written in, it’s printed on that thing.  Why does the clapboard have to say her name, why can’t people on set just know she is in charge because she is in charge?  And why do the rushes have to be identified later between her work and the official real director’s work?

Maybe there is a reason, maybe it is standard policy at this particular studio and if it was some AD directing (come to think of it, why isn’t an AD doing this?) they would list their name.  But what made me sit up and go “okay, what is it they are trying so hard to hide?” was the wording of the official explanation issued by Kangana’s team (not Zee studios, not Krish the official Manikarnika director, Kangana’s people are the ones leaping in to make this statement.  Which is also weird):

Krish Jagarlamudi is director of #Manikarnika & will remain so. He’s currently fulfilling his unavoidable commitments with another project and so #KanganaRanaut has stepped in to shoot patchwork on his behalf. The team of Manikarnika wants the movie to release on 25th January 2019 and to make sure that happens Kangana had to step in to do the patchwork, which she is doing very dedicatedly. There is no truth in rumours of miff between Kangana and Krish. The clapboard is used only to avoid any confusion on the sets for the crew members and there should not be much made out of the same. In Hollywood it is a common practice for actors to also step in the shoes of director if the situation demands. For example in the hit series Friends 10 episodes were directed by David Schwimmer who played Ross, despite the original director James Burrows being present.

That is just plain the strangest explanation I have ever read.  Filming part of a major historical epic that you are starring in is not the same as a cast member of a long running sitcom directing an episode.

For one thing, American TV shows have “showrunners” who perform the function a director would on a film set.  They are the ones who approve storylines, come up with characters, with moods, with all the rest of it.  The director is very important, yes, but their job is limited to one particular episode with the great sweep of the work controlled by the showrunner. That’s why you can swap out directors so easily.  And, of course, it’s an episode by episode thing.  They are standalone with minimal effect on the rest of the episodes, if the director does a terrible job, no big deal, you just bring in a different director for next week.  That’s not the same AT ALL as a director on a film set, in India or America.

That’s what is oddest to me about this story, that they pulled in this clearly ridiculous example and explanation.  Simply say “Kangana is taking charge of the set after discussing things with the director in order to finish off the last few scenes”.  Why bring in this whole weird Hollywood analogy?

Also, how gullible is/do they think the Indian press and public will be that they will buy this as common Hollywood practice?  And how star struck by Hollywood that they just assume anything Hollywood does is better?

 

Another Sports Biopic, But Political

Yet another sports biopic, sigh.  But this one I am interested in immediately because of the casting, Shahid Kapoor to play Dingko Singh who was from Manipur.  Manipur is a Northeastern state, part of that area way off to the side of the map of India, the part I think of as the waving hand, attached to the rest of the country by a thin little wrist squashed between Nepal and Bhutan to the north and Bangladesh to the south.

Image result for map of india

(See Sikkim?  The little thumb on the waving hand?  That’s where the Paltan battle took place, so get ready to hear a lot about it next week)

Like Kashmir, Manipur was a princely state, one of the larger ones.  And the people never got to have a referendum on whether they wanted to join up with the rest of Independent India or be independent or do something else, the king just decided for them.  Which lead to some continuing unhappiness with their position, stuck off in the waving hand and sometimes feeling forgotten by the rest of the country.  Manipur and the other Northeast states are often rocked by violence, by uprisings, but all kinds of terrible stories of military crimes by the Indian army that is stationed there.  This is the region Manisha Koirala was from in Dil Se.

Let’s take a moment for Dil Se and Manisha.  Manisha is Nepali by birth and heritage.  She has been cast as all kinds of characters from all kinds of places in India, but technically she has more in common with the Northeast region than anywhere else.  The Northeasterners have a distinctive/not distinctive look.  Some of them look very central Asian, some of them look more or less like any other north Indian.  I have a friend who is married to a Nepali man, her husband looks basically like Hrithik Roshan.  But his brother looks very central Asian.  More Chow Yun-Fat.

Shahid is going to be playing Dingko Singh, a northeasterner from a disputed territory, who looks like a northeasterner from a disputed territory. In a film that will be dealing with the issues revolving around being from that territory (teased that Dingko considered joining a Naxalite group at one point).  And I am curious if this will be an issue or not?  Is there any sort of identity/pride tied up with that particular identity which could come into play?

Image result for dingko singh

I looked up Shahid and his father because I was curious about their background.  His father in particular has always had a bit of a “northeastern” look.  I can’t find anything indicating a connection to that region in their family background, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.  I’ll be curious if it really isn’t an issue related to this film, or if later in the promotions there is discussion of Shahid’s connection (if any) to the Northeast to explain why he wanted the part.  Lots to consider and watch for!

Image result for pankaj kapoor

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22 thoughts on “News Round-Up: Ajay Bets All on Luv Ranjan, Manikarnika Makers Bet All on Spin Stories, Shahid Bets All on Dingko Singh

    • The first thing that occurs to me is that Aamir was the producer of TZP as well as the star. He had the actual authority to fire the director if he chose to. Kangana is not a producer on Manikarnika, so I would think the chain of command would still go producer-director-star. Obviously it can get very fuzzy in there, but Krish isn’t a first time director, he’s an experienced guy with a lot of success behind him, more than Kangana has. It’s odd that he isn’t saying “Kangana is wonderful and I trust her to finish off the film in my stead”. Amol was trotted out to say that stuff for Aamir, and in that case Aamir was the far more experienced person and the producer, so it was far less strange for him to take control. And Zee, the studio running the film, isn’t going around saying “we talked with both Kangana and Krish and agreed this made the most sense” either. It’s just sort of happening.

      And the other thing that is weird is that it is so last minute. TZP was still early in the filming/development when Aamir took over. This feels like either the film was so out of control that Krish had no possibility of finishing it before his next set in stone commitments, or like Krish just took off because he couldn’t take even 3 more weeks of working with Kangana.

      And the third thing that is VERY VERY WEIRD is that people are talking about it and not talking about it in a way that doesn’t really make sense to me. I would expect either for it not to be publicly discussed at all, the way it wasn’t about all the other stars who secretly directed their own films. Plenty of stories of directors getting stuck in transit and stars taking control of the first 3 days of shooting on location or whatever. But it’s the sort of funny anecdote you tell years later, it’s not something that is released to the media while it is happening. Or if they do want to talk about it, I would expect there to be a formal thing that includes the producer, the director, and Kangana (the way the TZP director switch was announced).

      I keep thinking maybe I am reading into this, but the more I think about it, the more I think it is just WEIRD.

      On Thu, Aug 30, 2018 at 3:27 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Yes, it’s really weird.
        I think it maybe started with normal “Kangana will help with the movie when director is not present” but once she started , she felt she deserves credits for doing it (in her “I was poor outsider, I made it on my own, and now look at me, I’m directing”) , and now all situation went out of control.

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        • It feels similar to the situation with the Simran writing credit. Which could have been legitimate, there were murmurs about that scriptwriter already, but now it’s happening again? I wonder if these little tiny gossip pieces will eventually turn into “Kangana is getting co-director credit on the film because she feels she deserves it”. Could be one explanation, since her team is the one reacting the most, maybe they are also pushing the story so the director credit seems less out of nowhere if/when she gets it.

          I also wonder what the rules are on that? In America, the Director’s Guild has this super arcane strange system for deciding who gets credit and a situation like this would never be tolerated. But I don’t know if there are any rules in India (although they have a much more sophisticated system for reserving movie titles, which Hollywood doesn’t) which means it might be all kind of fluid and Kangana can push her point until they break.

          On Thu, Aug 30, 2018 at 4:52 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • It does look interesting! Any word on if the film as a whole will be in period or just one song? I hadn’t thought about it, but Naga and Nani both have really timeless looks, slacks and a button shirt or suit could be in a film from 1920 to 2020 just the same.

      On Thu, Aug 30, 2018 at 4:39 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • So far the only info we have is that Nagarjuna is playing a don and Nani is playing a doctor. I’m thinking that just the song is being shot like this based on what we saw in the teaser.

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      • I guess this would be a flashback song – Nag describing his love story and Nani dreaming about it.

        Song is catchy – I bet this song would become hit and Mani Sharma comes back strongly. When I heard first time, it sounded like a DSP’s.

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    • I wasn’t paying attention just then (moving? Started a new job? Anyway, something happening in my life so I was off the news sites), but that sounds vaguely familiar.

      Yep, looked it up, there were complaints. And in that case, they actually used make up and special effects to make Priyanka look “Northeastern”. So she really was in yellow face, not just playing a role, but made up and faked to look like a different racial background. What I find interesting with this casting is that I don’t think Shahid necessarily has to do anything different. His face has always had a northeastern look to it. But will that matter if he isn’t actually Northeastern? Or will this be a time for him to talk about that part of his heritage (if it is part of his heritage)? Or will they simply choose not to talk about it, say that everyone is Indian and that’s what matters?

      Anyway, thanks for bringing up Mary Kom! Something to tuck away for this movie, and for next time Priyanka is part of a controversy over color blind casting or something.

      On Thu, Aug 30, 2018 at 5:04 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  1. Being a Telugu, my 2 cents from Krish’s point of view –
    1. Manikarnika went beyond schedule and at the same time NTR biopic unexpectedly came into Krish’s hand. This is one of things the South stars/technicians do not like or think twice about moving to Bollywood. In South, they’re punctual and complete movies on-time as planned. Even if Rajamouli took time, it was planned and he took enough dates (years) from Prabhas, Anushka, etc. Hardly, you would see projects getting delayed unlike most of the Bolly movies

    2. Careerwise, NTR is a bigger movie for Krish than Manikarnika. Considering the Mahanati’s success, there’re huge expectations on NTR movie. In addition, Balakrishna is a dear friend and also belongs to same caste of Krish (pardon me, but caste still plays a major card in Telugu movie circle and fans).

    3. The NTR movie is facing all bad omens since it’s grand opening ceremony. Teja dropped out of direction. After Rana was announced in the cast, he had to get an eye surgery and there were some rumors that he became ill with a kidney failure. Most recently, once Kalyan Ram was selected to take the role of Hari Krishna (NTR’s son & father of NTR Jr. & Kalyan), the latter died in a road accident. In fact, after Krish was announced as director, he ran into marital issues – running a divorce case.

    4. They had to get the biopic released before the elections for AP state and Indian parliament that would be scheduled in April-May 2019. There were talks that Narendra Modi would advance the elections. And, Balakrishna’s movies generally get released for Sankrathi (Telugu festival) in January.

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    • Thank you! Super helpful to get this perspective..

      I just looked it up, looks like Teja dropped out back in April. Manikarnika was supposed to release in April originally so at the time Krish took up the NTR film, he must have felt sure that Manikarnika would release on time or at least be finished.

      I also found Kangana’s newest statement, which is the same rambling “how is this my fault? Why are you attacking me?” thing as always. She says she has to reshoot all of Sonu’s scenes because she didn’t like his look or that he improvised dialogue. Which sounds, to me, like Krish and Sonu filmed all his scenes and were done and now Kangana is reshooting the whole thing. Which explains Krish’s timing challenge, if he finished the film to his own satisfaction, signed the NTR film, and started planning it thinking all he had to do was edit together Manikarnika footage and present the final cut to the producers. And Kangana out of nowhere is insisting on reshooting much of it after the fact.

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        • That’s my impression from the Hindi industry. I don’t think I’ve heard a single personal story about him besides him breaking his leg in a charity cricket match. He keeps his head down and his name out of the headlines. And he’s worked with everyone from Shahrukh to Salman to Amitabh, all very different working styles, so he must be easy to get along with. He was in Jodha-Akbar too, so he’s done a big complicated historical film before without causing any issues.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Oh boy, just saw those stories. It sounds like it’s something that builds, Kangana’s got Mental Hai Kya coming up too, but that should be a quick shoot so no one has time to get sick of her. Hopefully.

      I wonder how Kangana’s people will spin Sonu leaving? he is the most easy going guy (it seems), and certainly doesn’t have a problem playing a second, or even third, lead. Or being part of an ensemble.

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      • You are treading a very sensitive (& potentially dangerous) path by explaining away your choice of maps as “I liked the colours”. Though PoK is disputed territory, it has not been officially been ceded by the Indian govt & therefore it is necessary to show it in any legit India map (even if it’s in a different colour than the rest of J&K).

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  2. I was thinking about why the title Manmarziyaan sounded so familiar and then I realized that it’s a project that I happened to follow news about for a while. It was first announced way back in 2015 as a Aanand L. Rai production that was to star Ayushmann and Bhumi in it with Sameer Sharma directing it. Turns out that the project got delayed since Aanand L. Rai and Sameer Sharma had some sort of creative differences about the script. Eventually Ayushmann and Bhumi moved on to Shubh Mangal Saavdhan. Then Aanand L. Rai brought in Anurag Kashyap who made some script changes and re-casted the film. Apparently Dulquer Salmaan was supposed to be a part of this movie too but he dropped out and Abhishek replaced him. I just thought all of this was really interesting.

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    • That is super interesting! And, I think, probably how a lot of movies happen? But unless you happen to have been following the news as they evolved, you would only see the final cast.

      On Fri, Aug 31, 2018 at 7:52 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Right! Usually, you only pay attention to a movie when the first poster or trailer comes out. I think I only pay attention to all the news of a movie if one of my favorites is in it the movie.

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