First Cut
  • Randeep Hooda with his 'Highway' co-star Alia Bhatt

    Randeep Hooda is riding high on the phenomenal success of Imtiaz Ali’s ‘Highway’. Critics have unanimously lauded his performance as the Haryanvi truck driver, Mahabir Bhati. Hooda hasn’t had a steady career graph but he has managed to find interesting roles every now and then. Clad in blue jeans and a grey ‘Highway’ jacket, Hooda exudes raw charisma. In a small room in Mehboob Studios we settle down for a quick chat.

    Excerpts from the interview:

    In the past few years, you have managed to do varied roles. How have you managed to stay away from being typecast?

    I do a ‘Bombay Talkies’ in between all these macho gunslingers that I am playing and I will do something else in between. Wherever I am at in my career and I am not doing the conventional things like dancing and all that, I have to keep picking things and leaving things, the ability to say ‘no’ to the same role that is coming to me again in a bigger production also.

    The ability to pick and leave roles, which keep the filmmakers

    Read More »from Randeep Hooda Interview
  • Vikas Bahl with Kangana

    It’s a busy Mumbai evening but it is very quiet when I walk into the premises of Phantom, the distribution company run by Anurag Kashyap to interview Vikas Bahl, co-director of the National Award-winning ‘Chillar Party’.

    Bahl has much going on -- his team is busy promoting the forthcoming Kangana Ranaut-starrer ‘Queen’, even as Bahl, dressed casually in blue jeans and grey shirt, juggles details of another event. The phone is rarely out of his hand; in between calls, he offers me steaming tea and we settle down for a chat.

    Excerpts from the interview:

    The promos of ‘Queen’ seem to have an instant connect with the audience. How did you manage that?

    I think it is very relatable. It’s relatable yet funny, that combination is what makes it interesting. You can immediately see that you can connect with the girl and then you connect with the way she talks and then you connect with the humour that’s in it. So it seems like it’s straight out of your life, which I think works.

    Bollywood brides

    Read More »from Interview: Vikas Bahl

    Alia Bhatt promotes 'Highway'


    Her firstfilmwas a dream debut – a film with Dharma Productions that managed to score big atthe box office. Her second film is a complete contrast to the glimmer and shineof ‘Student of the Year’. On a nippy Mumbai afternoon, Alia Bhatt looks like a teenager in an over-sized ‘Highway’ jacket. She exudes a rare vulnerability, as she takes on professional and personal questions.

    Excerpts from the interview:

    Your first film ‘Student of the Year’ belongs to a very different genre. Was it challenging to work in a film like ‘Highway’?

    It was definitely challenging for me. Even at that time, doing Shanaya’scharacter (in SOTY) was challenging for me – I didn’t know how to walk inheels, how to look glamorous. Of course, this was a different involvementaltogether, it was very physically and emotionally exhausting and I had to pushmyself a lot. It was a road trip, so a lot of things happened where you had tobe strong and keep going. But it was all in a good way because you get to learna lot

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  • Shahid songIt’s a lazy Saturday afternoon but Raj Kumar has a busy schedule. He is promoting his forthcoming film ‘Shahid’ based on Shahid Azmi’s life. Shahid was 32 when he was assassinated in his Mumbai office in 2010. Raj Kumar talks to us about his journey in a film like this one and the unusual challenges he faced.

    Excerpts from the interview:

    What are the challenges of doing a biographical role like ‘Shahid’?

    As an actor when I started the film, I didn’t think about the future or whether there might be any controversy or criticism surrounding the role. As an actor, my job is to…I have to be honest to my character, I have to give 200 percent of my craft to the character…more than a challenge, this film has been a responsibility for me, I think when you do a real life character there is lot of responsibility on your shoulder, especially in the case of Shahid (Azmi) when he is not around and a lot of people were not aware of his case. So, his family and the people who know you are going to

    Read More »from In conversation with Raj Kumar
  • Prasoon JoshiAward winning lyricist, screenplay writer and advertising copywriter Prasoon Joshi is a compulsive writer. He would write even if there were no takers for his work. At the Bangalore Film Festival, he exhibited his mastery with élan as he engaged in a poetic jugalbandi of sorts with Oscar winning lyricist Gulzar.

    Prasoon spoke to me about cinematic liberties and why the star system is important. Excerpts from the interview:

    Films like ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ and ‘Madras Café’ are inspired by true-life events but they are criticized for taking cinematic liberties. Is that kind of criticism justified?

    No. First of all there has to be a difference between a documentary and a film. Film is celluloid and you want to mesmerize people. I can’t talk about ‘Madras Café’ though Shoojit (Sircar) is a very close friend of mine, but I can talk about ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ because I have written the story. For me, the whole thing was, am I able to hold on to people? I have to make sure that they sit there,

    Read More »from In conversation with Prasoon Joshi
  • Anand GandhiAnand Gandhi’s very first feature-length film ‘Ship of Theseus’ has got phenomenal critical appreciation. After it’s premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, it was called “the hidden gem of the year”. As Anand Gandhi prepares for the film’s India release, he made a quick stop at our Bangalore office and told us why despite an unusual premise the film is not for a niche audience.

    Excerpts from a candid chat:

    Mira Nair told me in a recent interview that she found your work very interesting. What’s it like to get such recognition for your very first feature-length film?

    It’s been very reassuring; the last 7-8 months since our September Toronto premiere have been constantly reassuring. Everyone has responded very warmly to the film, especially peers, senior filmmakers, who have been making really good cinema in the last couple of decades, have said really kind things about the film and that’s very reassuring.

    Your film has a very unusual premise, do you think it will find a

    Read More »from In conversation with Anand Gandhi
  • Emraan HashmiOnce tagged as the serial-kisser, Emraan Hashmi is now experimenting with all kinds of roles. He talks to us about this exploratory stage in his career and his experience of working with the Vidya Balan.

    Excerpts from the interview:

    After films like ‘Shanghai’ and ‘Ek Thi Daayan’, how was the experience of working in a film like ‘Ghanchakkar’?

    It’s been great, I have always wanted to do comedy, I don’t like the typical theatrical over-the-top comedy, Bollywood is known for. I knew that when I get a comedy, I would want a film with a great story, with a great character and a film that has different elements in the film, which is a rarity. When the script came to me I just felt that it has got elements of thrill, suspense, comedy, it’s got a mix bag of things and that made it very exciting for me.

    What kind of roles does Emraan Hashmi get these days? Do you think filmmakers have a certain slot for you?

    There has been an element of surprise in my films and I don’t want to be slotted as an

    Read More »from Face-to-face with Emraan Hashmi
  • Vidya Balan in 'Ghanchakkar'With back-to-back hits, Vidya Balan seems invincible. Dressed in character, Vidya is wearing a not-very-flattering black kurta with floral-printed leggings and some very bizarre accessories. She has spoken a bit of Tamil, a little Kannada, some Bangla and lots of Punjabi on her promotional tour of ‘Ghanchakkar’. On a wind-swept Bangalore afternoon, Vidya finally settles down to talk to us about her experience of working in a comic suspense thriller, a role very different from her previous ones.

    Excerpts from the interview:

    After all the serious roles, what made you decide on a comedy?

    When Raj Kumar came to me with the script I was fascinated because the same person who wrote ‘Aamir’ and No One Killed Jessica’ had written this. For him to want me to play this character, it was unimaginable for me because she is the exact opposite of Sabrina in ‘Jessica’. I loved the fact that he had the faith that I could play a character that was diametrically opposite. And it really seems like the

    Read More »from In conversation with Vidya Balan
  • Mira Nair on the setsWhile finishing ‘The Namesake’, in New York in 2007, Nair read the manuscript of Hamid's unpublished novel, ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’. She found it immensely readable and was thrilled to have found a springboard from which to enter the worlds of both modern-day Lahore and New York. Through her own Mirabai Films and Pilcher's New York-based Cine Mosaic, the two optioned the film rights to the novel.

    Mira Nair is in India passionately promoting her forthcoming release ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’. Excerpts from a candid chat:

    Q. ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ is essentially a monologue. How difficult is it to translate a book like that into a film?

    It was possibly the most challenging adaptation that I have ever been involved with in my work so far because when a director chooses a novel you bring a lot of things to it; you want to inhabit that world for more than few years of your life. So I view a novel as a springboard for my imagination and besides the inherent challenge of

    Read More »from In conversation with Mira Nair
  • Huma QureshiBANGALORE: In the city for her forthcoming film ‘Ek Thi Daayan’, Huma Qureshi is full of optimism. Not only is she soaking in her new-found stardom after the phenomenal success of ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’, her enthusiasm and positive approach is infectious.

    Excerpts from the interview:

    Q. Some would say you had a dream debut with ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’. How does it feel to get critical acclaim for your very first role?

    A. It’s very strange, before ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ released everyone was telling me that it’s not a dream debut because you are there with three other actors and it’s not a typical hero-heroine film. Would you rather have a debut like that? And today, it’s very nice and it’s very gratifying that you are asking me that it does seem like a dream debut now. These things you cannot really plan or say, you just go with an instinct.

    When I came to Mumbai, I just knew one thing that there were certain people who I looked up to and wanted to work with. Right on top of that list was

    Read More »from Huma Qureshi Unplugged


(24 Stories)