With his light saber buzzing, a 25-year-old special effects genius from Bradford walked the red carpet at the Royal Premiere of ‘Star Wars The Last Jedi’ at the Albert Hall.
25-year-old Umar Hussain from Calverley, former student of Bradford Grammar School, had a particular fascination of Disney animated movies, but he didn’t quite realise at that stage that he was hard-wired to pursue his VFX ambitions.
Now literally living his childhood dream, Umar has so far worked on blockbusters such as ‘Gravity’; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’; ‘Star Wars Episode 7 - The Force Awakens’, ‘Doctor Strange’ and now ‘Star Wars Episode 8 - The Last Jedi’.
Following his university days in Manchester, Umar landed a job as a Visual Effects Line Producer at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) - the visual effects branch of Lucasfilm now owned by Disney.
"I didn't dream or anticipate I'd get the chance to work on Star Wars as it seemed quite a far reaching goal! But I'm very happy to have the chance to work on Episode 8 after really enjoying working on Episode 7," he says.
Umar's galactic rise developed from his love of films – particularly the animated type. "I've always been a big watcher of film and television throughout my childhood and teens," says Umar.
Umar says that his favourite directors growing up were Ron Clements and John Musker (Aladdin, Hercules, Little Mermaid, Moana), while in the action world he admires Baz Luhrmann.
It goes without saying that Umar has rubbed shoulders with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, including Margot Robbie and Tom Hanks, but he keeps his head level and feet firmly rooted to the ground.
Despite all the glitz and glamour of meeting celebrities whilst working in London, Umar’s a true Yorkshireman. He ensures he returns back home to Leeds whenever he gets chance to visit parents Zulfi and Nahid.
Among the highlights of his career, he says, are attending dialogue recording sessions on Star Wars with Daisy Ridley and JJ Abrams along with the first screening of ‘Doctor Strange’.
The opportunity into his glittering career came after studying politics, philosophy and economics (PPE) at the University of Manchester. Umar worked on a short film project with a friend before landing a Production Intern role on the television show 'Made in Chelsea'.
Having his foot in the door, Umar’s ambitions began to expand overnight. "I knew I wanted to try and work on a feature animated movie and I set my heart onto it,” he adds.
"I began connecting with everyone and anyone who was related to the Visual Effects and Feature Animation scene.”
"My curiosity saw me showing up at events, exhibitions, conferences and talking to people – lots of people including youngsters trying to break in.”
Umar’s dedication and resilience saw him travelling to America to meet people in the industry who could potentially help, advise and support him.
"To get to where I have in this industry, in such a short time, has certainly taken passion, determination, hard work and not taking ‘No’ for an answer."
Then the galaxy opened up to the young man when he eventually got a shot as a HR Intern at the Visual Effects company, Framestore. Since then, he worked his into marketing and then relatively quickly into production.
His daily tasks include planning and managing the artistic and production crew, as well as delivering projects. Working closely with the Creatives and Senior Management is key so that the team can bring the work in front of Directors and Producers for the final green flag.
Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s powerful vocals on forthcoming Pakistani film’s soundtrack simply mesmerise!
‘Arth The Destination’ releases on 21st December and the fabulous first track from the film has just been unveiled.
The song features the powerful vocals of the mighty Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. 'Sanwar Dey Khudaya' is delivered with a melodious musical backdrop by none other than the fabulous Sahir Ali Bagga. This is the first of many to come out of the stellar musical line-up for the new film.
Inspired by the classic 1982 Hindi film ‘Arth’ by Mahesh Bhatt, Shaan has reinvented the film for a new generation of audiences across the world, all with the blessing of Mahesh Bhatt himself.
The film is written, directed and stars starring Shaan Shahid, alongside Humaima Malik, Mohib Mirza and Uzma Hassan.
Tackling issues of love, dreams and destiny may be standard film fodder, but intertwining this with the serious issues of domestic violence and extra marital affairs, is a brave move.
‘Arth The Destination’ is a hugely relevant film for modern-day audiences and shows that Pakistani filmmakers are breaking the mould and are no longer afraid to tackle issues that have historically stayed hidden behind closed doors.
Ali Fazal stars alongside Dame Judi Dench in extraordinary true story of an unexpected friendship between Queen Victoria and her Munshi
The film came about after the author stumbled upon the fact that Queen Victoria loved eating curries
The hidden story of how an Indian servant struck up an unlikely and engaging relationship with Queen Victoria during her reign as Queen is being brought to life and told on the big screen.
The film 'Victoria and Abdul' features an all-star cast including the iconic Oscar winning actress Dame Judi Dench who plays Queen Victoria, while Ali Fazal partners her as Abdul Karim the Indian servant.
The film, based on Shrabani Basu's book, also features comedian Eddie Izzard, Harry Potter star Michael Gambon and Olivia Williams. Highly esteemed editor Stephen Frears of High Fidelity, The Queen and Philomena fame was also involved in the making of this film.
The film itself explores the real-life relationship between the 68-year-old year old monarch and Indian Clerk Abdul Karim, 24, also known as the Munshi.
Set in 1887, the film displays their relationship and how Abdul became one of the Queen's biggest confidantes, which was a cause for concern amongst royal quarters.
Born and raised in India, Fazal studied acting and caught the attention of critics with his stage performance in Akarsh Khurana's 'A Guy Thing'. This led to his first Bollywood film, starring in smash-hit '3 Idiots', in the memorable role of Joy Lobo.
He later starred in numerous Bollywood films, and made his Hollywood breakthrough in a supporting role in James Wan's blockbuster 'Furious 7', alongside Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, and Dwayne Johnson.
'Victoria and Abdul', is Ali Fazal's first foray into a full-fledged role in Hollywood filming. Speaking exclusively to Asian Express, Fazal speaks about experience of being alongside Dame Judi Dench as well as the movie itself.
Fazal spoke to us about the film and what it was about, he explained: "It's a film about the last days of Queen Victoria's life. The last 15 years up until her death.
"One man who walked into the royal house and struck up a really unlikely and unusual partnership with the most powerful woman at the time and it turned into something unexpectedly spiritual and twisted."
This is a story in history that isn't well known and brushed away and almost untold. Fazal explained how even he was unaware of the heritage of the film: "Nobody knew of this true life story, I thought at least in India someone would know but I haven't come across a single person.
"It was very conveniently hidden in history books across the globe and it still resonates with what is happening today, I think it is very relevant with so many youngsters today."
This was Ali Fazal's first taste of the Hollywood stage and the big bright lights outside of the home comforts of Bollywood he recalled his experience of working with some of the biggest names in the industry.
"It was a little bit daunting working with such big names like Judi Dench. You think to yourself 'My God' they are such big names, I am working with legends who I grew up watching.
"There's the likes of Michael Gambon, Stephen Frears himself leading the ship. It was fun at the same time, you finally get to share notes with the best."
He continued by comparing his experience to that of Bollywood. "In Bollywood, sometimes people will not tell you that you are doing wrong. You are put up on a pedestal and during this film was a great chance for me, I was very lucky to be part of such a collaboration."
The experience of working on a major Hollywood production had its affect on Fazal who explained: "I learnt a lot about myself as an actor, I had never had the chance to play on such a large spectrum of emotions and a story like this.
"Pushing the boundaries with Stephen, trying to mould me into something that I hadn't experienced, so it introduced me to a new side.
"With it being a true story suddenly everything changes because you have to play somebody that actually existed. In this case unfortunately there wasn't much information, so you have to do the math and read up and place him in those historic events.
"Using everything in your power, we only had a few photographs, and a few journals to really look at and decipher this man."
Fazal embraced his role and discussed how he enjoyed the difficult nature of his part he told Asian Express: "You have to enjoy it, I will never play a role if I don't love the character that I am playing, you just have to unconditionally love who you play, I enjoyed every day of it."
Fazal recalled his experience of costarring alongside film royalty Dame Judi Dench who played Queen Victoria he told us: "Just watching her and being in a scene with me, watching her reinvent herself even at this stage in her career, it keeps you motivated and makes you focus.
"We would be constantly finding the time to rehearse our lines and I would teach her Urdu, she was a wonderful student.
"She's very humble and honest about her skills. I did ask her for advice and she just told me to learn my lines and you should be good.
"That made so much sense because we over- complicate things as actors, and sometimes you just need to know your lines."
Fazal went on to explain the importance of him playing this role for himself but also for Bollywood as an industry he explained: "This was massive for me but also a big step for Bollywood having someone of Indian heritage in this film.
"It gave me a big sense of pride, though it was scary and I was a little bit nervous.
"I had to do what I do, but on a global stage where there are more eyes watching you and you can be scrutinised and butchered if it goes wrong.
"Considering what the story is it represents my country and you wouldn't want to come across the wrong way."
Stepping away from the film itself and this was Ali Fazal's first visit to England he described his experience he said: "This was my first time in England, In London on this film, it was almost parallel to what the actual story was, so I've experienced personally what Abdul experienced."
He also went on to pay tribute to director Stephen Frears:" I think Stephen Frears is different to any other film maker.
"He's one of those geniuses, making his own thing, ruffling feathers. The experience was all very royal you couldn't have got more British than this."
There was also time to reminisce about his down time with Dame Judi Dench. Fazal recalled: "Judi and I would go for walks in the Isle of Wight and have tea and scones, it doesn't get more English.
"We also went back to India to film some bits, there was days at Taj Mahal and I thought it was nice to have a mix of locations."
Attentions then turned to what is next for the Bollywood sensation he told us: "I'm looking forward to more work in Hollywood, it's such an exciting time for actors and there's some really ground-breaking stuff happening.
"I think the global stage is starting to accommodate more actors, I have a clean slate right now.
"I have just finished a film in India and that is coming out at the end of the year. But I've kept myself open and I look forward to doing more work like this.
"Victoria and Abdul really does touch something inside, It's about emotions, it talks about seeing through racism and seeing different cultures and people for who they are, and that's what I hope people take away from the film."
HOW THE FILM CAME ABOUT
The idea of the story began in 2001 when author Shrabani Basu was researching a book on the history of curry. After learning that Queen Victoria enjoyed eating curries, Basu visited Osborne House, Victoria’s Isle of Wight residence, and was most intrigued to see two portraits and one bronze bust of a regal-looking Indian man.
In Victoria’s dressing room, she spotted another portrait of the Indian man, situated directly beneath that of Victoria’s beloved John Brown. On a larger scale, Osborne’s Durbar Room, crammed with treasures from India, was a monument to Victoria’s fascination with “the jewel in the crown;” even though she was the Empress of India, she never visited.
In an attempt to conceal the relationship between Queen Victoria and Abdul, The Queen’s son Bertie, later King Edward VII, had destroyed all correspondence between his mother and the Munshi – but had not thought to touch her Hindustani journals.
In those journals, Basu discovered the story of Queen Victoria and her beloved Munshi, Abdul Karim.
Handwritten by Victoria in Urdu, the journals had sat in the Royal Archive, entirely left out of any and all Western versions of Victorian history because none of the historians read Urdu. His diary gave Basu a first-hand account that confirmed much of what she had found in the Queen’s Urdu writings.
After playing a Bal Thackeray doppelganger in Ram Gopal Varmas 'Sarkar' series, it is time for the indefatigable Amitabh Bachchan to play yet another real-life character.
In the film, directed by Nagaraj Manjules yet to get a title, Big B plays Vijay Barse who more than a decade ago, established the Nagpur based NGO Slum Soccers, which helps slum kids find their bearings through the game of football.
Though he is more than happy to speak about his adulation for Bachchan, Manjule is reluctant to talk about the project he will start shooting with the megastar in October.
"Let's just say, it is based on a real-life character. But the way I've written the part and the film, it moves very far away from the original source," he said.
Manjule has been writing his new Bachchan film for a good two years.
"And before that I was researching on the subject. I don't mind spending time on my script. I spent a good eight years on the script of Sairat. I wrote it with only Bachchan Saab in mind. I've been his fan from childhood.
"I grew up copying his clothes, speech and mannerisms from Majboor and Deewaar. I'd go to school with my shirt tied like Bachchan Saab in 'Deewaar' and get severely reprimanded by my teachers. But the punishment had no effect on me. I'd still do it," he said.
Manjule, a self-confessed Bachchan bhakt, says when he met Bachchan he was somehow able to control his adulation.
"I don't know how but I managed to remain calm, restrained and dignified. I actually wanted to jump out of my seat and dance around him. But I narrated my script in an even tone. I am happy I did that. I didn't want to come across as just a fan. Of course I am a fan for lifetime. And someday when I complete my film with him I'll tell him how much effort it took me to not gush and rave when I met him for the first time," he said.
Superstar Ajay Devgn is set to take screens by storm in his latest release ‘Baadshaho’, which releases across the UK on 1st September.
The film’s feature songs ‘Mere Rashke Qamar' resung by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan has garnered a whopping 60 million hits on YouTube prior to the film’s release date.
The action-packed heist movie, ‘Baadshaho’ sees Ajay Devgn join forces with Emraan Hashmi, Esha Gupta, Sanjay Mishra and Vidyut Jammwal, along with the stunning Ileana D’Cruz. Directed by Milan Luthria, the era of mid 70’s India is all set to be perfectly recreated.
Considering Ajay, Emraan and Milan have teamed up earlier and given us the blockbuster 'Once Upon A Time In Mumbai' in the past, we can't wait for them to recreate the magic in 'Baadshaho' yet again.
Set during Indira Gandhi’s ‘Emergency’ era of 1975, against the backdrop of huge political and social unrest across the country, ‘Baadshaho’ transports us to Rani Gitanjali’s (Ileana D’Cruz) palace in Jaipur, which is raided for gold and she is arrested for withholding it without declaration. The government seizes the gold and decides to transfer it via road to Delhi in a truck with confident and cocky police officer Singh (Vidyut Jammwal), in charge of the whole operation.
The rollercoaster journey that ensues between Jaipur and Delhi takes us on a thrilling adventure filled with obstacles, secrets and revelations… and of course, a burgeoning love story, between Devgn and Cruz.
Tanishk Bagchi has masterfully mixed the traditional and modern versions seamlessly, and with additional lyrics by Manoj Muntashi, Mere Rashke Qamar is a truly beautiful reworking of a classic and perfectly complements the storyline of the gripping new film.
Baadshaho starring Ajay Devgn, Ileana D’Cruz, Emraan Hashmi, Esha Gupta, Sanjay Mishra and Vidyut Jammwal will be released nationwide.
‘Mere Rashke Qamar' - song of the year
The much anticipated first song ‘Mere Rashke Qamar', originally sung by the legendary Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, has been recreated by Nusrat’s greatest living legacy, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and music composer Tanishk Bagchi. The accompanying video tells the story of the blossoming romance between an ordinary man and the heir of a royal Rajasthani family.
Pakistani actress Sajal Aly, who played a rape survivor in her Bollywood debut ‘Mom’, says she had never dreamed of acting in the Indian film industry.
Speaking about her role as 'Arya' in the Sridevi-starrer, Sajal said: "It was definitely a challenging role... I mean any character you play, you have to really commit to it and kind of naturally become like that, at least that's how I function.
"I think the most challenging part was performing with Sridevi ma'am. Like my very first scene in the movie is me sitting at a dining table across from her and misbehaving with her - it was terrifying!
"We had to shoot in Georgia and it was freezing cold... so yeah, that was pretty tough too," Sajal said.
Sajal said: "Bollywood was never my dream, in all honesty. I was happy working in Pakistan and that was not something I was working towards, but this story moved me.
"I always knew that if I worked in Bollywood, I have certain limitations and boundaries that I would not want to cross and this movie was about a sensitive topic, everything was handled so tastefully."
The actress is all praise for her co-star Sridevi, who plays her mother in the movie. "She's just the sweetest person. Even now, she keeps calling me and reminding me that I'm in her thoughts."
Sajal said she has three film contracts with Boney Kapoor, Sridevi's husband and a producer in Bollywood.
"But now I don't know what's in the near future. They handed me the complete package on a silver platter: a meaty character, an excellent cast, the best of the best and for that, I'm forever grateful...
"Everyone's sending me messages telling me they're proud of me, it's just the best feeling, knowing everyone appreciates your work, including critics from across the border."
Oscar winning composer A.R.Rahman is delighted that his music from the film ‘Viceroy's House’ has been shortlisted for the World Soundtrack Awards, a public choice award.
"Delighted to be shortlisted for the World Soundtrack Awards Public Choice Award for 'Viceroy's House'," Rahman tweeted.
All soundtrack and film music fans worldwide can cast their personal vote for what they consider the best soundtrack of the past 12 months. The soundtrack that gets the highest number of votes will receive the World Soundtrack Public Choice Award 2017.
Directed by Gurinder Chadha, a British filmmaker of Sikh origin, ‘Viceroy's House’ also stars Huma Qureshi, ‘Downton Abbey’ star Hugh Bonneville, Gillian Anderson and late actor Om Puri.
The film will release as "Partition: 1947" in India on August 18th.
Conor Ibraheim expresses response to problem in Islamic communities with film
A film which is the first of it’s kind addressing Islamaphobia, has been picking up awards whilst touring not only Britain’s film festival circuits but also those internationally. The film, made by a Bradford man, will be screened in selected mainstream cinemas next month.
Writer, director, and producer Conor Ibrahiem, as part of a three-year-project with his Islamic theatre company, ventured into filmmaking some three years ago. The multi-narrative interwoven tale of mosques, women’s rights and the far-right in his film ‘Freesia’ couldn’t have been released at a more relevant time.
40-year-old Ibrahiem, with over a decade of experience in film, television and theatre says he chose the topic to respond to the injustice Muslim communities currently face.
The stories featured in the film are fictional but based on real issues. The main Islamophobic incident was loosely based on a real-life hate crime; the case of 82-year-old granddad Mohammed Saleem who was murdered as he walked home from mosque by neo-Nazi Pavlo Lapshyn in 2013.
Originally conceived as three short films, ‘Freesia’ developed into a daring and challenging 91-minute movie task. To add to the challenge, Ibrahiem had a shoe-string budget of just £27,000, approximately 1% of a standard British films budget.
Over a gruelling 13-day production schedule in Bradford, Leeds and Keighley, Ibrahiem with his team managed to produce a film that has picked up 14 official festival selections and three awards, including one for the best first-time film maker.
“As a writer and director was delighted that they were able to pull off a minor miracle by making a feature film on a budget of only £27,000,” says Ibrahiem speaking to the Asian Express.
“If El Mariachi and Paranormal Activity could do it with very low budgets, so could I!” Ibrahiem laughs.
“The budget wasn’t the only issue though. We strategically planned shooting everything in 13 days - which was a real challenge. To synchronise getting the locations and then getting the right cast all in the same place was “tricky”, to say the least.”
Technology also did its best present it’s challenges, Ibrahiem tells: “On day three of filming one of the SSD memory cards failed us and we lost half of the footage in one important scene. Thankfully I managed to salvage it - we couldn’t re-shoot as it would cost more money.”
Part of the film’s cast is Bradford-born actor Aqib Khan, who made his screen debut in the 2010 film West Is West, the sequel to the hit 1999 film East Is East.
Starting out as an actor, Ibrahiem began scriptwriting in his spare time and gradually took a back seat on being behind the camera to focus on writing as he established his own theatre company in 2009.
Arkan Creative have featured several plays looking at various issues from the Hijaab to extremism, and is now looking to branch in to film: “Thanks to Freesia we already have moved towards film and I want us to be ahead of the curve when it comes to Islamic film production in the UK,” Ibrahiem says optimistically.
The film won the Award of Merit, from the Accolade Global Film Comp, was a finalist in the Focus International Film Fest for Best Editing, Best Score and Best Trailer and had three nominations in the London International Film Festival for the Best Original Screenplay, Best Score and Best Director categories.
Freesia film synopsis
A multi-narrative journey that weaves between three families in present-day Bradford, where three worlds collide and leave a Muslim scholar fighting for his life. Yusif, the son of Mosque scholar Rehman, is doing his best to keep his dad's dream at arms length. Zac is from a white working class family whose troubles hit fifth gear due to his radical behaviour. Khadija is second generation Iraqi and a recent graduate in Politics whose ambitions are about to be put to the test. Fuelled by yet another grooming case making the headlines, they must face the storm before the calm - and they call it 'Islamophobia
Freesia film awards
Winner of the 'Award of Merit' from the Accolade Global Film Comp
Winner of the ‘Best New Filmmaker’ from the Canadian Diversity Film Festival
Winner of the ‘Best First Time Filmmaker’ from the Auckland International Film Festival
Freesia cinema dates
Picturehouse Bradford at National Science and Media Museum on Monday 7th August 2017 at 20:50
ODEON Belfast on Tuesday 8th August 2017 at 20:30
ODEON Birmingham Broadway Plaza on Thursday 10th August 2017 at 20:30
ODEON Leicester on Friday 11th August 2017 at 20:30
ODEON Maidenhead on Saturday 12th August 2017 at 20:30
Crouch End Picturehouse on Monday 14th August 2017 at 20:30
AMC Cinemas (Manchester) on Tuesday 15th August 2017 at 19:30
Vue Leeds The Light on Wednesday 16th August 2017 at 19:00
QUAD (Derby) on Thursday 17th August 2017 at 20:45
Vue Shepherd's Bush on Friday 18th August 2017 at 19:00
Vue Sheffield on Monday 21st August 2017 at 19:00
Reel Cinemas Hull on Tuesday 22nd August 2017 at 20:00
ODEON Edinburgh Lothian Road on Wednesday 23rd August 2017 at 20:30
ODEON Edinburgh Lothian Road on Thursday 24th August 2017 at 20:30. Tickets
The Black Prince’ is poised to create a wave of intrigue in India and the UK as the story touches upon the historically significant and priceless Kohinoor diamond, which was purportedly gifted by a young 13-year-old Maharajah Duleep Singh to Queen Victoria in a ceremony held in 1850, at Buckingham Palace, London
The award-winning historic film biopic on the poignant life story of the last King of Punjab – Maharajah Duleep Singh – also known as ‘The Black Prince’, will now release in cinemas on 21st July 2017 as it expands its international release across new territories.
Produced by Brillstein Entertainment Partners (Academy Award winning film 12 Years A Slave), ‘The Black Prince’ is a period drama written and directed by Hollywood filmmaker Kavi Raz and filmed widely across the UK and India.
It carefully captures the tragic, yet fascinating true story and legacy of Maharajah Duleep Singh, providing a visual narrative of one of India’s most noble kings, and his fragile relationship with, Queen Victoria, who was Godmother to his children.
Acclaimed singer-poet Satinder Sartaaj marks his acting debut in film essaying the character of Maharajah Duleep Singh with eloquence. He is joined by an esteemed cast of acting stalwarts including Jason Flemyng (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch) as Dr. Login, the foster parent for the Maharajah, English stage, screen actress Amanda Root (The Iron Lady), who portrays the bold role of Queen Victoria; and veteran actress Shabana Azmi (City of Joy) as Rani Jindan, the exiled King’s mother.
The film also features Keith Duffy, David Essex OBE, Canadian actor Rup Magon and Sophie Stevens in supporting roles.
In anticipation of its worldwide release, ‘The Black Prince’ has won several awards including the award for Best Drama Feature at the LA Film Awards, the Special Jury Remi Award at the 50th Annual WorldFest International Film Festival in Houston, and the Best Male Debut Award for Satinder Sartaaj at the London Independent Film Festival.
In recognition of the exciting response and interest the film has received from festivals, the film has garnered interest from a range of new territories including Singapore, Kenya, the U.A.E and Germany in addition to the UK, India, USA.
As the last King of Punjab, ‘The Black Prince’ chronicles Maharajah Duleep Singh's lifelong struggle and daring journey of self-discovery in order to reclaim his identity, his faith, and the Kingdom that was rightfully his. This ultimately leads him to meeting his mother after 13 years of her being in exile.
‘The Black Prince’ spotlights Queen Victoria’s cordial relationship with Maharajah Duleep Singh, as he begins adjusting and embracing the English culture he was drawn to at the age of 15.
The film also sheds light into his upbringing as an aristocrat in the UK who converts to Christianity under the influence of his foster parents, but later longs to return to his
Kingdom, mother and roots. His character, as it evolves is torn between two contrasting cultures – his royal ancestry from the Kingdom of Punjab as its last King, set against his upbringing in the UK as he embarks in a new journey of exile, away from his mother.
‘The Black Prince’ is poised to create a wave of intrigue in India and the UK as the story touches upon the historically significant and priceless Kohinoor diamond, which was purportedly gifted by a young 13-year-old Maharajah Duleep Singh to Queen Victoria in a ceremony held in 1850, at Buckingham Palace, London.
The Black Prince releases internationally in cinemas on 21st July 2017.
In the newly released video song, Jise Kehte Pyaar Hai, from the film Noor, Sonakshi Sinha is struck by love cupid with her on screen love interest, played by Purab Kohli who plays Ayan, a photojournalist in the film. Penned down by lyricist Kumaar, the song has been given life by the delightful voice of Sukriti Kakar with the music composed by Amaal Mallik.
While sharing the updates about the song on her social media account, Sonakshi Sinha tweeted, “With the person you love, every day is wonderful. #JiseKehtePyaarHai #OutToday #Noor”
In another post, she wrote, “Love aint what makes the world go round.. its what makes our journey worthwhile #JiseKehtePyaarHai #OutToday @NoorTheFilm”
Starring Sonakshi Sinha, Shibani Dandekar, Kanan Gill and Purab Kohli, Noor is set to hit cinemas this Friday, 21st April 2017.
Watch the song video to Jise Kehte Pyaar Hai here:
Cast and Director meet with media on location at Sheraton Park Lane
Saturday 11th March 2017, London, UK - Sony Pictures Networks Productions, a division of Sony Pictures Networks India Pvt. Ltd (SPN), have started shooting for their upcoming Bollywood film, Mubarakan, in London. The cast includes Anil Kapoor, Arjun Kapoor, Ileana D’Cruz and Athiya Shetty and they will be shooting in and around the England for around 50 days. As an exclusive first, the cast and director met with media at a fun-filled interaction on location amid the grandiose of Sheraton Park Lane, Mayfair.
At the Press Conference hosted by British Asian actor, Ameet Chana, the cast and director, shared their experiences of their ongoing shoot in London as part of a star-studded and fun-loving ensemble.
Director, Anees Bazmee, explained how he always comes back to writing comedy, because it is the hardest thing to get right. He added that he always takes his writing seriously and never laughs at his own jokes during the writing process.
Speaking about working alongside a supporting cast of local talent in the film, actress Athiya Shetty said, “Working with English people is not that different from working with people in Bombay, but everyone has something different to offer,” adding that it is “happy families” on set.
When asked about filming at Europe’s largest Sikh temple, actress Ileana D’Cruz said she was impressed by the sheer scale of Gravesend Gurdwara, saying that “Even the drive there is lovely!”
When asked about the theme of the film, actor Arjun Kapoor expressed that “This scenario could happen to any British Asian family” and elaborated on the universal theme of “younger generations respecting older generations” and “family values counting for a lot, in things like marriage.” He added that the British Asian talent involved in the film should garner “an honest connection from the audience.”
When asked about the strong synergy between UK and the Hindi film industry, actor Anil Kapoor spoke about the “Long history between Great Britain and India,” adding that both nations are “trying to understand each other more.” He explained that Mubarakan is a “story about British Asians,” but he hopes that “everyone will be able to enjoy it.” Mr. Kapoor conveyed that he has “been very lucky in the choice of scripts” he has been offered throughout his career and that he loves working with the “very real, very situational scripts” offered by Anees Bazmee.
When asked about the choice between commercial movies and movies with a strong message, Arjun Kapoor said that this film “is not branded with one issue, but as you leave the movie there is a thought planted in your head,” adding that it is important for films to “present [issues] in a way that is not heavy on you.” He added, “There is a message in there for those who want to take one away.”
The film which is a family comedy, will be directed by none other than ace director Anees Bazmee. Anees’s last film Welcome Back was a major hit and also starred Anil Kapoor. Prior to that, Anees had directed the Salman Khan blockbuster Ready. With Mubarakan this ‘Triple A’ Jodi of Anees, Anil and Arjun is all set to have the audiences entertained with comedy that will have them rolling in laughter. Anees will make sure that the ‘chacha-bhatija jodi’ replicate the same camaraderie that they share in real life on screen too.
Mubarakan is a laugh riot with lot of confusion, laughter, love, egos and emotions.
Mubarakan is produced by Sony Pictures Networks Productions and Ashwin Varde & Murad Khetani’s Cine1 Studios and is slated for a worldwide release on 28th July 2017 release.
Filmmaker Karan Johar, who admits he has taken the botox way for his face, says that going under knife is a well-hidden secret of Bollywood.
The filmmaker, whose movie ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ has recently been released a lot of hullabaloo, admitted getting the cosmetic procedure whilst preparing to shoot the forthcoming season of popular talk show ‘Koffee with Karan season 5’.
"It's me, my face. I am botoxed, I put collagen up there, I have adjusted my nose, I have done what everyone does in my industry, so that is one of the things," Karan said.
Talking about other things the fans should watch out for in the show, Karan added: "What is the second thing? Well, there will be some fun coming up in the Rapid Fire Round! There will actually be some additional add-ons; nothing really changes in this show as you know, because you don't allow new celebrities to walk into the industry.
"So pretty much the same people, different combinations. Fortunately everyone has a new lover, a new enemy and a new controversy to talk about."
Karan is also excited about the new set of the show, which will be aired on Star World and Star World HD from 6th November.
In its past seasons, the show has been graced by a string of A-list actors including Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Rani Mukerji, Kareena Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan, Preity Zinta, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Gurinder Chadha, Farah Khan, Abhishek Bachchan, Anil Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor, Parineeti Chopra, Alia Bhatt and more at their candid best.
Get set to celebrate EId ul Azha with the romantic comedy ‘Janaan’, releasing on 9th September.
Directed by Azfar Jafri the film stars Armeena Rana Khan, Bilal Ashraf and Ali Rehman Khan, in a romantic comedy that tells the story of a young woman who returns to her homeland in Swat, Pakistan for her cousin’s wedding. Being introduced to family dynamics and unbridled love she attempts to adapt to her ethnic roots leads her into often-hilarious situations.
Talking about what Janaan will achieve, director Azfar Jafri said: “I think the film is going to prove to be a bold statement for Pakistani cinema. I don’t mean just financially, but overall as well. I think we are going to do well because of positive word-of-mouth also.
One of the producer‘s of the film, Imran Raza Kazmi commended writer-actor Osman Khalid Butt, who wrote the films. “He is a great writer. He brings great ideas to the table. I think his texturing of the characters and those details are just amazing,” said Kazmi.
Director Jafri spoke about the on-set antics: “During Janaan, we had so much fun.
“The cast members would play pranks on each other all the time. It was truly a blast. Also I am glad my actors, talented as they are, were so cooperative. If I would want to move on to another shot after one take, they would still want to go once again, in case I was not satisfied.”
The film’s music has also been creating a lot of buzz. The soundtrack comprises five songs featuring collaborations with Indian artists such as music director duo Salim-Sulaiman and singers Armaan Malik and Shreya Ghoshal.
Honouring Pakistan’s rich heritage in film, the arts and storytelling, ‘Janaan’ presents a stylish, witty and often emotional observation of contemporary Pakistan that will resonate globally.
It’s a classic case where aunty’s would horrifyingly cry “yeh to Westerners ko bhi paar kar gaye!!!” (they’ve gone further than the West), bollywood producer Anuj Sharma seems quite smug with the marketing of his forthcoming film.
In a country where kissing in public is prohibited, Sharma who is keen to pave the path in India’s adult film genre released the poster of ‘Ishq Junoon- The Heat Is On’, featuring two topless “hunky looking” men handcuffed in the bond of a love triangle cupping a bikini-clad girl.
‘Ishq Junoon’ marks the debut of newcomers Rajvir Singh, Divya Singh and Akshay Rangshahi.
An excited Anuj Sharma said: “For the first time in my career, I have given a meaningful and solid platform to the newcomers to showcase their talent with our film.
“Our USP (unique selling point) is the naturally shot love making scenes with content driven performances and mesmerising music with five talented composers like Ankit Tiwari, Jeet Ganguli, Anjan Bhattacharya, Sanjeev Darshan and Vardan Singh. We have singers like Arjit Singh, Mohit Chauhan, Ankit Tiwari, Rekha Bhardwaj and Vardan Singh crooning the songs which has made industry insiders go gaga over."
Adding to this spice, he said: "This is my first film where I have directed a compact new star cast as I have been doing ensemble films, the script did not demand a lot of characters which is fun and challenging at the same time.
“Our concept is so strong, that our film didn't require to ride on a superstar’s fame. Our new faces have well written characters, enough to pull the audience in theatres.”
The film is expected to release in India mid-March. We may expect a few chappals coming the directors way… watch this space…
Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut (28) has slammed film award ceremonies saying that they’re all “fake” and actually a commercial venture for the organisers.
Indian media has mocked her comments and has said that she’s trashing award ceremonies because she’s bitter about not bagging any awards during her career.
Having said that, she’s not the first who’s publically slammed these film award dos.
Aamir Khan, back in 90s, also decided to boycott awards and award ceremonies. His stand regarding shunning awards is still intact and he’s never been seen at any.
Kangna said: “'I feel it’s hard to stand against the system. But most of the time, the right thing is not the easiest to do. And I choose the right thing.
“I feel that awards shows today are just a facade that the event organisers put up. They are not genuine awards functions. I understand that these are commercial functions that are meant to generate target rating points (TRPs) and make money.
“So why this façade of felicitating artistes when that isn’t the case?
“Genuine artistes, like the best technicians, writers and actors are pushed to the tenth row, and sit with their families, hoping to figure out what’s going on with these fancy people, who are in the news for their relationships and item numbers.
“The main category goes to people who can help generate TRPs. And they might or might not even be deserving candidates. I feel this is not done and we need to change this.
“Organisers should be honest in saying that this is not an awards function; it’s just a function. I won’t be part of something so dishonest. I completely condemn them for that reason.”
The wait for the next film in the Dhoom series is finally over as the makers have released the teaser poster of what seems to be the fourth film in the franchise.
Yash Raj Films confirmed that the fourth installment of the ‘Dhoom’ is to be made and took to a micro-blogging site to make the announcement by posting, “It’s time for an adrenaline rush. Stay tuned! #DhoomReloaded.”
While, the poster is a mere indicator that the franchise continues, fans of the franchise have already started pondering over who will star in the film.
Hrithik Roshan, who played the talented thief in Dhoom 2, was rumoured to return in ‘Dhoom 4’, along with Amitabh Bachchan. Speculations were also rife that Shah Rukh Khan may be the chosen villain for the fourth installment of the action franchise. Even Salman Kha’s name has cropped up as the next hero/villain. However, no confirmation regarding the cast has been made so far.
While the first look of ‘Mr X’ showed a virtual kiss between an invisible Emraan Hashmi and leading lady Amyra Dastur in an underwater sequence from the film, patrons will be in for a disappointment to know that, despite being a Bhatt camp venture, it’s not a typical Emraan Hashmi outing.
The film neither has copious kissing or intimate scenes, which is usually found in an Emraan Hashmi flick, nor the actress will be portrayed in a typical bold manner.
Amyra Dastur reveals: “I don’t have intimate or kissing scenes or even an item number for that matter. This is not a typical Emraan Hashmi film and I am not even playing the quintessential Bhatt camp heroine (bold actress).”
Directed by Vikram Bhatt and produced by Mahesh Bhatt, MR X will be released in 3D and 2D and is set to release on 17th April.
Heard the latest? Hrithik Roshan, the Greek god of Bollywood who plays main lead in upcoming biggie ‘Mohenjo Daro’ from renowned filmmaker Ashutosh Gowariker, is expected to go nude for a sequence, a la Aamir Khan in Raj Kumar Hirani’s ‘PK’.
The buzz doing the rounds in the industry is that Hrithik Roshan’s act of going for bare minimum may be something more than Aamir Khan, who had gone out of his way for ‘PK’.
The buzz has already sent the temperatures soaring in the industry about Mohenjo Daro and Hrithik Roshan’s’ female fan following is going ga ga over it. Of course, they do not want this mouth-watering prospect of seeing their matinee idol nude on the celluloid go away.
But reality is slightly different. In fact, nudity is only part true. Hrithik Roshan is going to don a bare minimum for some sequences (now, you can take that to be almost nude) in Mohenjo Daro and it’s a fact.
In fact, the film depicts the life and culture of Harappa Civilization, which existed around 2500 BC in and around the Mohenjo Daro area of Sindh and Gujarat. At that particular time in history, there was hardly anything called fashion industry.
In general, the people wore cloths to hide their private parts and nothing more than that. That automatically comes to being in almost nude. Hrithik Roshan, who is essaying the character of that era in the film, will similarly don garments of that era.
Now, it is during one of those sequences that that Hrithik Roshan will be donning the bare minimum, which can come to being almost nude. Then, there is censor board factor too.
It is not entirely in the hands of filmmakers to depict the scene in its brutality or reality and they will have to take into account the permissibility of the same from the board.
Q: Tell us something about your role in Hawaizaada.
A: I play a ‘Tamasha’ dancer in the movie. I think my character has come up very well. All thanks to our director Vibhu Puri & my co-star Ayushmann Khurrana who encouraged me to give my best to the film. I won’t like to give away much detail on my role at this moment, I just want all my fans to go watch me in a completely different role. I got another chance to show that I can play these kinds of roles too. I believe I'm a versatile actress and hope that people would love my work.
Q: How has your experience been in the film industry considering you come from a non-film background?
A: Yes, I come from a non-film background and to survive in the film industry, one needs talent as well as luck. Of course in an industry like this, acting and talent is the most important. But luck is an important factor too - I certainly believe that you can’t be successful without talent, but even if you’re talented and luck doesn’t favour you, you’re still not going to get where you want.
Q: How was your experience working with Ayushmann Khurrana?
A: Director Vibhu Puri wanted us to attend workshops so we could get under the skin of our respective characters. We built a good rapport, and as we are both fairly new in the industry we would end up discussing a lot of our scenes and bounce ideas and opinions off each other. Ayushmann as a co-star is easy to work with and is quite a natural actor.
Q: If you could portray any character who would it be?
A: It would have to be Madhubala. I would love to do a biopic on the legendary actress who was recognized all over for her timeless acting and beauty. I like her story, her life was interesting and there is romanticism in her life. I think it would make for an interesting story. Her films like ‘Mughal-E-Azam’, ‘Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi’, ‘Barsaat ki Raat’ or ‘Kaala Paani’ have immortalised Bollywood and I have watched all of her films countless times. In fact, I’m a trained classical dancer and often during my rehearsals I used to watch Madhubala’s songs and try to emulate her moves and expressions.
Q: How was your experience working with Mithun Chakraborty?
A: I consider it an honour to work with someone like him. Mithun Sir is a legend that everyone has idolised and watched growing up. Whether it’s his disco dance moves, dialogue delivery or on-screen presence, he has the spark that will never leave him. It’s so inspiring to watch him or just be around him, honestly. I was so nervous when I met him for the first time on the sets of ‘Hawaizaada’, but he was very humble and easy-going. He is absolutely amazing to work with and I learnt so much just by observing him. His experience shows in every frame as he’s that effortless. He has amazing energy and his enthusiasm of an 18-year old just rubs off on anyone who is around you.
Q: What was the biggest challenge you faced during the film?
A: I think personally it would have to be playing the character of a Marathi girl. I had to undergo special training to learn the various nuances of Marathi as a language, its culture as well as dancing since I play a dancer in the film. I have always loved dancing and performing different styles is every dancer’s dream. Vibhu Puri also asked me to closely observe Maharashtrian mannerisms and do my own research on things that would help me get under the skin of the character. Looking back, it all seems quite amazing how much I have learnt but back then during the initial phases it was quite daunting and challenging. But every actor goes through these various phases to become better at what they do so I am thrilled with the results and hope that the audience will enjoy my character as much.
Perfectly capturing the current mood in India of curbing corruption, bribery and intimidation in the upper echelons of power and authority, ‘Ungli’, produced by Dharma Productions, is a beautifully acted and directed narrative.
The supremo-director and producer Karan Johar gives the edgy film a noir comic twist in a setting of a sprawling metropolis, where corruption, intimidation and violence are a way of life.
Despite some major hold-ups due to Sanjay Dutt’s prison release dates to make him available for shooting of the film, both director and producer say they remained committed to have the film ready before the end of the year.
‘Ungli’ conveys, in an effective and humorous manner, a story of how five ordinary citizens can make a difference in a city blighted by dark forces whilst literally giving the proverbial ‘finger’ to the corrupt and dishonest.
The ensemble cast consists of Sanjay Dutt, Emraan Hashmi, Kangana Ranaut, Randeep Hooda and boasts a terrific supporting cast. Audiences can also look forward to the stunning Shraddha Kapoor as she makes a special appearance in an item number not to be missed.
We catch up with both Karan Johar and Rensil D’Silva.
Director Rensil D’Silva gives Asian Express an insight into the film
How would you describe ‘Ungli’?
It is a story about friendship and is a very character-driven film. It’s about what happens when a gang of friends decide to take justice into their own hands. The film itself has a lot of really humorous moments, which adds to the already good storyline.
How did you cope with the delays?
The delays frustrated the hell out of me. I think the worst thing that can happen to a director is for his lead actor to go to jail and for him to face the possibility of an incomplete film. It is something that I have no control over; the only option I could think of was to reshoot it. That is a lot of money and time and the mental stress it puts you under is unparalleled.
Were there any positives that came from the delays?
The music! Had I released Ungli last year, I wouldn’t have gotten these songs. Music is becoming extremely crucial for the success of a film and I think the album is fantastic.
How did you deal with Sanjay Dutt’s legal issues during the filming of ‘Ungli’?
I changed the venue of the shoot from Byculla to Carter Road. The media was chasing him everywhere; they had positioned themselves outside his apartment complex. I felt Carter Road would be easier for him as it is closer to his Pali Hill residence. In some particular scenes I cut out some of his lines, it was the least I could do as a director. I felt that I shouldn’t give him too many lines to remember during that traumatic period.
Did you have any plans if Sanjay Dutt couldn’t have come back to filming?
I didn’t have any back up plan at all. Whether I would reshoot or not would have been Karan’s [Johar] decision because it involves lots of money. However, if I had to reshoot, I would go to Anil Kapoor, with whom I have worked with on ‘24’ and would have told him to please do the film as it is safe to say, I was in deep trouble.
What was it like filming with Sanjay Dutt when he knew he was facing incarceration?
The mood was very sober on the sets when Sanjay was around. The last scene he filmed was a very dramatic scene, at the end of it he got very emotional. We hugged him but Sanjay didn’t say anything. He went aside to do a brief photo-shoot and then didn’t return, he just drove off. Imagine what he must have undergone that day! I was asking so much from a man who was going through hell.
What should people expect from Ungli?
It is Dharma’s first film with Emraan and has a very different plot to the kind of subjects we have explored in the past. Rensil D’Silva has put his heart and soul into this one. The film follows a group of friends who have had enough of the corruption that faces them every day and decide to take it upon themselves to change things.
How did you feel when you found out you would have to delay the film?
It was really stressful at the time, both Rensil and I both felt under huge amounts of pressure and neither of us knew exactly what was going to happen. When something like that happens during filming it can often be the end of the film. We still had a number of scenes to shoot and without Sanjay it just wasn’t possible. Fortunately we were able to complete the film and I think that the delay has actually helped the film overall, I am really happy with how Ungli has turned out.
Why did you decide to include Shraddha Kapoor in this film?
I have been a big fan of Shradda’s work for a while now and thought she would be perfect for the song. I know she hasn’t really done anything like this before so I thought I would offer it to her. When I spoke to her she was really excited about the opportunity and was excited to do something new! It worked out really well in the end, Shraddha and Emraan worked perfectly together!
How was it working with your mother to produce this film?
We have worked together on a number of films now and I have always enjoyed working with her. I have heard stories of people hating working with their family but I personally find it really easy. We have a great working relationship and we both know what we like and dislike. She is fantastic at what she does and given the opportunity to work with her on this film was great.
‘Lakshmi’, a hard-hitting drama about child trafficking in India, directed by Nagesh Kukunoor, will open this year’s London Asian Film Festival (LAFF).
The film is based on the real-life story of an impoverished 14-year-old girl kidnapped from her village in Andra Pradhesh and forced into prostitution and who eventually testified in court against her traffickers.
‘Lakshmi’ will have its European premier on 1st June at LAFF, Europe's oldest and most respected showcase for independent South Asian cinema.
Acclaimed Indian writer and director Kukunoor, known for his work predominantly in Parallel cinema, will travel to London for the occasion and take part in an exclusive tete-a-tete following the screening on 1st June at the capital's historic Tricycle Theatre.
'Lakshmi' stars newcomer Monali Thakur in the central role, as well as Indian TV stalwart Ram Kapoor and veteran Bollywood star Satish Kaushik who was also part of the film's production team.
The film had its world premier in January at the prestigious Palm Springs International Film Festival 2014 where it won the Audience Award for ‘Best Narrative Feature’.
Director Kukunoor has been praised by critics and audiences alike for his unflinching portrayal of the horrors of child trafficking and sexual slavery in India where more than 50,000 abductions and ‘disappearances’ are recorded every year, with an overwhelming majority of those cases remaining unsolved.
The US-qualified Chemical Engineer-turned-filmmaker, is renowned for his intense and deeply authentic directing style and 'Lakshmi' is the ultimate example of that ethos.
Kukunoor was reportedly accosted following a special screening in March in the Kamathipura ‘Red Light’ District of Mumbai with enraged sex-workers demanding that the producers hand over the man who plays the film's brutal and malevolent pimp, not realizing that the role was essayed by the director himself.
‘Lakshmi’ kicks off a 12-day celebration of independent South Asian arts and cinema across London as LAFF returns for a record 16th year.
Among the other highlights of this year's Festival are an exclusive appearance by filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj, Pam Chopra, the wife of the late, great Yash Chopra, Indian-American comedian Nadia P Mansoor as well as films from Pakistan, India and the UK.
For listings and venue information, visit www.tonguesonfire.com
Dreamworks Animation's green ogre Shrek will star in a family entertainment attraction that will open in London in the summer of 2015, the first of six attractions based on the blockbuster movie franchise that will be built over nine years.
Dreamworks licensed Shrek and other characters to Madame Tussauds and Legoland owner Merlin Entertainment, which will build and operate the 20,000 square foot attraction called "Shrek's Far Far Away Adventure," said the companies on Monday. It will be located on London's South Bank, the site of the London Eye Ferris wheel and other tourist spots.
mike myers shrek and antonio
Visitors will walk through scenes with live interactive entertainment that tell a story based on Shrek. They can also meet the ogre and other characters from Dreamworks movie franchises including "Madagascar," "Kung Fu Panda," and "How to Train Your Dragon."
The Shrek attractions give Dreamworks another way to earn revenue from its popular characters as the company diversifies its business beyond the big screen.
"These will be very high-profile Dreamworks-branded locations," Dreamworks Animation chief executive Jeffrey Katzenberg said in an interview. "They are very valuable for us to be able to find new ways to really engage with our audience and the fans of our movies and our characters."