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Deepika Padukone opens up on her memorable roles at MAMI

Deepika Padukone opens up on her memorable roles, Ranbir and Ranveer and the secret of her and Ranveer’s lasting relationship and a whole lot more in a candid conversation with Rajeev Masand and Anupama Chopra

The opening session of the Jio MAMI Movie Mela with Star, 2019 began with an engaging conversation between actor Deepika Padukone, the newly appointed Chairperson of MAMI, film critic Rajeev Masand and Anupama Chopra, Festival Director, MAMI. The focus of the chat was five of Deepika’s standout roles that the two leading critics love and are career milestones in her twelve-year illustrious career. When asked to count the number of films she has worked on a modest Deepika said, “I have never really worked towards keeping a count on the number of films I have done, but more about connecting with the work I have done. My acting process begins with the narration. While a great narration may not necessarily translate into a great movie, it helps me visualize the story and the character. It helps bring out the honesty of the script.”

The conversation then steered towards Deepika’s roles. The first character the critics chose was Veronica in her breakthrough film Cocktail. This role was offered to Deepika at a time when she was going through a lean period personally. Speaking about why she chose to play the character of the dynamic and complicated Veronica, Deepika explained, “I reread the script to understand why Imtiaz (Ali) thought that while I was drawn to Meera, I was actually ready for Veronica.” She further added that it was Homi’s sensibility toward this complex character that empowered her to play it. “After a point I was spontaneous in my takes; Homi had just stopped directing me. Veronica helped Deepika shed her inhibitions both as a woman and as an actor and explore a side of her that she did not know existed.”

Next up for discussion was Meenakshi (Meenamma) from Chennai Express, a role in which Deepika channeled her comedic muscle. Speaking about playing the nightmare scene from the film, Deepika said, “My energy was completely off that day. I could see that Shah Rukh Khan and Rohit Shetty were not happy with me and they were wondering how to make it work.” According to Deepika comedy roles are tricky, especially when there are many actors on different wavelengths.  These scenes cannot be rehearsed. The entire crew has to be tuned in to the comic timing. “You can’t prepare for scenes like these. It just happens spontaneously. But at the end of the day whatever you do with conviction becomes honest.” she said.

In the same year, Deepika portrayed Leela in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela. The critics chose the Panchayat meeting scene, which was Deepika’s first ever shot for Mr. Bhansali and also her first film with now husband, Ranveer Singh. She spoke about how stressful and unnerving it can get working with Bhansali sir’s impromptu ways of shooting a character and how she gave her best to keep up with him. Given his fetish for changing things till the last moment, Bhansali rewrote the script of the panchayat meeting scene, just as Deepika was getting done with hair and makeup. “While the writers were cajoling me on how I could shoot it in parts. I almost broke down.” she reminisced. On working with her husband, Deepika said. “He likes to discuss work and take it home. But not me. I like to be in a different head space on the set and at home.”

Speaking on her experience of working for the runaway hit, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Deepika commented director Ayan Mukerji’s working methods. “Ayan likes to have discipline on the sets,” she said. “The scene should be fun on screen but the actors off screen shouldn’t be fooling around.” Playing the on-screen journey of Naina, who goes from being a reserved, bespectacled girl to a stylish, fun-loving one, was something that Deepika enjoyed. “I had a lot of fun playing Naina. I saw a lot of her in me, and lot of me in her. Naina’s evolution is, in some ways, like my own; so, portraying her transformation wasn’t all that hard.”

When asked about the how two of her co-stars – Ranbir Kapoor and Ranveer Singh – differ in their methods of working, Deepika was quick to respond. “Ranbir doesn’t really have a process; he is very spontaneous. I have never really seen him ‘prepare’ for his role as such. He’s like me in that respect. Our approach is 50% rehearsed and 50% spontaneous. Ranveer, on the other hand, really gets into the process. He changes everything for the role – right from the car he drives, to the clothes and the perfume he wears. He’s a different person every six months, which is probably one of the reasons why our relationship has lasted so long; I never get bored.” she joked, leaving the audience in splits.

The conversation then moved to one of her most loved and acclaimed roles in Piku – a movie that holds a special place in Deepika’s heart. “Given the chance, I would do the movie all over again,” she said fondly. “I miss Piku, I miss the experience of making the movie. We were all in a really good place when we were making the movie. I had gotten out of depression and things were looking up. We had sets that were fully functional – the house, for instance. Shoojit (the director) told us to go about our parts as if we were really living in the house, and the camera would follow us. In that sense, we really “lived” the film, and those moments were beautifully put together and presented to the audience.”

Speaking about her upcoming movie Chhapaak, in which she plays an acid attack survivor, Deepika said that the character stayed with her for quite a while even after the film was completed. It’s something, she said, that all actors experience. “The characters you play don’t just go away at the snap of the finger. They linger in your mind; they get pushed to the back as you start playing a new character; but they never entirely go away. Chhapaak was also a very physically draining movie; it would take at least three hours to put on the make-up every day and an hour to take it off. Even emotionally, it’s one of my most challenging roles yet and I’m looking forward to bringing it to audiences,” she signed off.

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When Maera Mishra’s first negative character got her teary eyed on the sets of Guddan Tumse Na Ho Payega

Zee TV’s popular fiction show, Guddan Tumse Na Ho Payega, has been a favourite amongst TV viewers and the interesting story around Guddan (Kanika Mann) and Akshat’s (Nishant Singh Malkani) love life kept them intrigued and entertained for the past couple of years. It recently took a 20-year leap and showcased the tragic death of Akshat and Guddan and post the leap, the show now revolves around the ups and downs of their daughter, Choti Guddan’s life. Essayed by Kanika Mann herself, Choti Guddan finds her hero soon after the leap. Agatsya, the character played by Savy Thakur, is all set to give her all the happiness that she deserves. But standing in her way is Nia, who is Agastya’s soon going-to-be-wife.

Essayed by television actress Maera Mishra, Nia is a grey shaded character who although appears to be a kind and soft-hearted person to the world, is actually quite the opposite. The negative character is all set to turn Choti Guddan’s life upside down and while the actress (Maera) was beyond thrilled to portray her first ever negative character, it seems like the role’s requirements might have left her a bit overwhelmed. The actress who is anything but like her character, found it hard to emote the exact emotions and animosity that her character goes through. In fact, Maera got so affected that a particular sequence got the actress in tears.

Narrating her experience, Maera who plays the role of Nia in Guddan Tumse Na Ho Payega mentioned, “We shot for a particular scene where I am yelling and scolding a kid to eat her food. As unbelievable it might sound, but I actually began crying by the end of this scene because I am not really a person who raises my voice, and neither can I tolerate someone else doing it. We had to shoot a couple of retakes because I kept getting teary eyed. In fact, my Guddan Tumse Na Ho Payega director and the young girl that I was shooting with were trying their level best at not making me feel bad about the sequence.”

Adding further, Maera said, “This character being my first grey shade is pretty challenging for me and I am giving in my 100 per cent to do justice to the character. In fact my mom, who was earlier convincing me to play positive shades only, recently appreciated my performance in Guddan Tumse Na Ho Payega and that honestly has given me quite the boost to explore this side of myself.”

While our sweet Maera is busy planning and plotting tragedies as Nia in Choti Guddan’s life, she is unaware of the twists that are set to come in her own. As Nia and Agastya’s wedding kicks off in full swing, will the latter finally be able to express the feelings he has for Choti Guddan?

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Director Sneha Shetty Kohli’s next music video ‘Tanhaai’ starring Tulsi Kumar is a soulful rock ballad

Director Sneha Shetty Kohli’s fresh new music video ‘Tanhaai’ features Tulsi Kumar and Zain Imam. A tale about rising up and out of loneliness that we often find ourselves in.

The song is in power-packed vocals of the very versatile Tulsi Kumar and composed by talented music duo Sachet-Parampara.

Sharing about the shoot of the song, Director Sneha Shetty Kohli, adds “We shot the entire song across Mumbai in just 3 days and shooting in between the pandemic with all necessary precautions and rains was challenging yet an amazing experience”. Sharing about the theme of the song, she adds, “Break ups are a part of life and to accept it and come out stronger and not lose your identity in the whole process is what makes or breaks you”.

After the success of most popular music videos like ‘Genda Phool’ featuring Jacqueline Fernandez and Badshah, ‘Dil ko Karaar Aaya’ featuring Sidharth Shukla and Neha Sharma and the top hit ‘Naagin’. Director Sneha Shetty’s next ‘Tanhaai’ is all set to rule the worldwide charts.

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A trailblazer in educational innovation, Whistling Woods International hosts virtual masterclass with the team of ‘Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl’

Whistling Woods International (WWI) has always served as a beacon for India’s creative community, inspiring them to greater heights of achievement and success. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, WWI has once again led the way for India’s education sector by hosting an exclusive online masterclass session. This step provided the students of Asia’s premier Film, Communication, and Creative Arts institute with an uncompromised and unparalleled exposure to creative insights on filmmaking.

This unique online masterclass featured the cast and crew behind the acclaimed 2020 biopic Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl. Present for the session were the film’s director, Sharan Sharma; writer Nikhil Mehrotra; actress Janhvi Kapoor, who played the titular character; editor and WWI alumnus Nitin Baid; and director of photography, Manush Nandan. Hosting the session was Rahul Puri, Head of Academics at WWI, who led the highly informative and engrossing session. Following an initial round of introductions, the team took turns to describe their individual contributions to the film.

Rahul Puri subsequently began the session by posing a series of questions. When asked about the portrayal of patriotism and women in the armed forces, Sharan Sharma cited about the influence of the real Gunjan Saxena. He stated, “Many cues were taken from Gunjan ma’am and the way she is in real life. She showed us a different view of patriotism, stating that this was her duty towards the country.”

The film was highly praised for its portrayal of the father-daughter relationship, with Sharan Sharma noting that the actors drew their inspiration from the real Gunjan Saxena and her father, “Gunjan ma’am always looked up to her father. Similarly, Janhvi looked up to Pankaj Tripathi and had a lot of respect for him as an actor. Hence it was a natural progression.” Janhvi Kapoor shared this opinion, stating, “I have a lot of respect for Pankaj sir. I admire him and thus forming the bond came naturally to me. Scenes with him always felt nice and were very natural.” The conversation further progressed to the way in which the film was scripted, and that the story had a lot of clarity, while Sharan narrated the script to the team.

Manush Nandan went on to describe his role in shaping the helicopter scenes in the film, and the emphasis on realism. “Sharad had suggested certain details and insisted that nothing could look unreal. The first half was easy as it was  all about Gunjan ma’am growing up, but the chopper scenes in the second half weren’t something we had done before.”

As the session came to an end, Sharan Sharma praised WWI for constantly upholding the standards of education for the film industry, noting, “Hats off and congratulations to all of you at WWI. From my experience of being in film business, I have come across so many alumni who are technically skilled and extremely professional and industry-ready. In a way they have taken over the industry! We are very happy to have interacted with the students of WWI.” With the session concluded, Rahul Puri led a vote of thanks for the team.

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