Sonam Kapoor

Karan Johar : “I don’t discriminate”- LSE India Forum Event Full report

Two people who pride themselves on being punctual, Karan Johar and Anupama Chopra, are running late for their discussion panel at the London School of Economics SU India Forum. It’s not a starry late entrance though – they simply didn’t know that one never makes plans in London without checking the number of obstacles the city will inevitably throw your way when you’re in a rush. On this lovely, sunny Saturday, an entire section of the London Tube has been closed for repairs and two separate, giant protests (one against the Trump state visit and the other against the systematic gutting of the NHS) have blocked traffic in all sorts of interesting ways. Johar finally makes it in about 15 minutes late, having taken a cab from Mayfair like a total noob; Chopra got as far as Trafalgar Square before the massive crowds persuaded her to just hoof it. Johar, mindful of the plane he needs to catch later in the evening, uses the 20 minutes before she arrives to field questions from the room.

The LIF is a yearly event but this is the first time they’ve held a pre-LIF discussion and one suspects it was because they had to accommodate Johar’s packed schedule. He is clearly a speaker that draws a crowd – 200 students bought out the tickets in nine minutes flat and quite a few older guests have inveigled an invite as well. In person, he is exactly as you have seen him on TV: average build, medium height, familiar smirk. I’m struck by his shoes because a) I’m so used to seeing him midshot on TV, I don’t remember having seen his feet before; and b) they’re a violent shade of neon silver sneakers that I’m sure are the pinnacle of some mysterious men’s fashion that is more attractive to men than women.

The crowd is entirely desi (I spied one white photographer) and the young women in the audience are all dolled up and ready for their shot: perfect makeup and long, straight hair, chic dresses that are entirely too flimsy for the weather. The young men are no less, clean cut and leaning intently forward as Johar speaks, nodding along to his bon mots and catty zingers alike, some sporting those high collared Nehru vests that are the last word in rising-Indian-politician chic. He says hello to someone’s mom, professes his love for La La Land and Ranbir Kapoor, announces that Bombay Talkies 2 is in the works (Zoya Akhtar has already finished filming her segment while he is yet to begin scripting his) and speaks of Dharma’s evolving digital plans. One of the first questions is from a Pakistani fan who wants to know if Johar will ever take a chance on a Pakistani actor again; he is witty and diplomatic as he deflects her with protestations of his own helpless progressivism and effusive praise of Fawad Khan’s talent. Another young woman wants to know his take on Saif Ali Khan’s homophobic witticisms on this season’s Koffee with Karan; a nervous Nehru-vest-clad student organizer pipes up thinly that personal questions are discouraged. “Was that personal?” Johar winks broadly at the roaring audience before choosing to answer by affirming Khan’s liberalism in his personal life.

Once Anupama Chopra arrives, they’re immediately off; the comfort of long familiarity evident by how easily they’re able to launch straight into deeply personal subjects. The talk is as wide ranging as any Karan Johar event based on the always fascinating subject of himself that you might have witnessed before, with Chopra referencing a chapter in Johar’s recent memoir, An Unsuitable Boy, where his mother ticks him off for being mediocre in every respect and how that went on to fuel his discovery of himself as the celebrity we recognize today. He is candid about only attending award shows that pay him to emcee, his fear of eventual and inevitable irrelevance, his love of Hindi film music, that entire scenes of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil have been adapted straight from his failed romances, and his desire to make a film that Chopra will love.

Things then took a turn: Chopra introduced a segment on pay parity in Hindi cinema, pointing out that while she understands the pay scale being pegged to a star’s ability to attract an audience, even newcomers are paid different rates according to gender. Johar immediately distances himself from such practices.

“When it comes to newcomers, I don’t discriminate. When I launched Varun (Dhawan), Sid (Malhotra) and Alia (Bhatt), they all got the same number. Why should there be any kind of disparity in remuneration?” he said to loud applause. “You guys make the men bigger stars. When the audience empowers the women more, I would love to pay Deepika Padukone more than I pay Ranbir Kapoor but the truth of the matter is he opens to a number solo and she opens to a number solo. We have six movie stars in India who’re all men and then we have a few women who are doing really well but they can’t match the numbers or get that opening. They can’t get the economics right – satellite, music, overseas, digital, theatrical. They can’t pull in the same numbers on any of them so there is this disparity.”

Chopra reminds him of Sonam Kapoor’s recent statement that her upcoming project with Kareena Kapoor, Veere di Wedding, was unable to generate a fraction of the funding given to a Varun Dhawan and John Abraham project.

“Because Varun Dhawan is a bigger movie star,” Johar said, flatly matter-of-fact.

Really?” Chopra said.

“Yes,” he said. “Seriously! He has an ABCD that opened to 14 crores. Neerja opened to 4 crores. Dhishoom opened to 11 crores. Sonam is an amazing beauty and a humongously talented girl but she cannot compare on the economics.”

Next came the controversial segment where Johar defended himself from Kangana Ranawat’s accusation on a recent episode of Koffee with Karan that he is the “flag bearer of nepotism” and part of the “movie mafia” that made her early years in the Mumbai film industry a nightmare.

“I just want to say, I’m glad she knows what it all means,” he began, a perfect (and perhaps unintended) callback to Ranawat’s point that Johar was one of those who mocked her relentlessly for her poor English when she first arrived in Mumbai. The crowd erupted in raucous cheers that turned variously into gasps and applause as he went on to list the number of directors with no prior industry links who have been employed by Dharma. Even if Ranawat was talking about actors, he said, the only two industry kids he has given a break to are Alia and Varun, neither of whom are related to him. As for being a member of the so-called movie mafia that excluded her, he said he couldn’t understand the charge – although he considers her to be an outstanding artist who is fully deserving of praise, when it comes to making his films, he felt entitled to his choice of cast.

“I am done with Kangana playing the woman card and the victim card,” he said, to noticeably louder cheers than his statement identifying her as a serious talent. “You cannot always be a victim who has this sad story to tell about being terrorized by this bad industry. Leave it. Who is forcing you to be here? Do something else.”

Later, as the evening came to a close, I overheard a couple seated behind me discussing how much they’d enjoyed the evening and Johar’s frankness. I came home and began to write this article, Googling to see if anyone had uploaded video of the event – and the very first link was the surprise announcement of Johar’s brand new fatherhood via surrogacy. The man had sat five feet from me at an event to discuss himself, interviewed by a woman who plainly felt no qualms asking him sensitive questions, and there hadn’t been so much as a hint of any such thing in the offing. In fact, it apparently came as a surprise to most of his acquaintance who’d attended a well-publicized singles party for Valentine’s Day at his home a mere seven days after his children were born. In hindsight, therefore, the entire event became a whole other exercise in studying how celebrities hide in plain sight and retain the ability to practice discretion when warranted, even in the media-saturated environment of 2017. Celebrity events are a dime a dozen but it is always a pleasure to attend a master class.

by Amrita Rajan.

You can find more of her work on her blog or follow her on twitter!


LIF is the first of its kind forum in the UK involving keynote speeches and panel discussions on major economic, political and cultural issues facing contemporary India. The conference serves as a platform for students and young professionals alike to engage with some of India’s leading industrialists, politicians, economists and popular culture icons.

This year, the forum has been segmented into two unique events – the next even will be

LIF – Saturday, 11th March: India – A Superpower in the Making?


Prem Ratan Dhan Payo London Press Conference

Last week Fox arranged a video conference with Salman Khan and Sonam Kapoor in London for the release of Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. Here are some excerpts of the Q&A session with the UK press.



 Salman: I like the film’s nice, sweet, cute, ticklish moments. I like the film overall and how this really nice, happy, sweet film turns into this really emotional, beautiful, romantic love story which involves the family, brothers, sisters.

I think PRDP is Sooraj’s best work to date. What I see in the character of Prem is what every guy should be like with a girl, which is very difficult as you need to have a lot of patience to be “Prem” in real life. Prem is so endearing that every girl would want to marry someone like Prem. He’s somebody like … he’s actually Sooraj Barjatya! Trust me, Prem is Sooraj. In fact Sooraj likes to see that side in me but the problem is that I only don’t see that side in me in my real life. So Sooraj puts that on film.



Salman: Yes, it is. I just wish I could do another 4 or 5 films with Sooraj! I’m here in this industry only because of Sooraj Barjatya. A 19 year-old boy took a stand when he was directing his first movie, at a point in time when Rajshri Productions weren’t doing that well, to take on an actor who had already done a film that’s releasing before his film.

Sooraj had seen Biwi Ho To Aisi, and we all knew that I sucked in the movie, but despite that he took me on because he thought I was good in the screen test for the film. He went by his instincts and the gut feel of his sister Chanda and cousin Charu.

Sonam: you see Salman was always gorgeous looking…it’s because they had a crush on him!

Salman: well, they thought they saw something in me to suggest I would make it. I still don’t see what, how… I don’t even question it…let it go!

Sonam & Salman 4



Salman:  Mine is the title track – Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, and I like Jalte Diye, Jab Tum Chaho, Prem Leela and Aaj Unse Milna Hai

Sonam: Jalte Diye and Prem Leela are my favourite songs from the movie. I also like Aaj Unse Milna Hai as well – it’s a very beautiful, romantic song.


Salman:  We were working! It wasn’t supposed to be fun. You cannot make such a beautiful film whilst having fun; you need to be focused.

 Sonam:  It was a happy time – I think that’s the best way to describe it, we were very happy and content.



Salman: I think every single day was beautiful. Actually walking to the set was a really beautiful feeling. The set were so lovely that we didn’t mind shooting long hours. Sooraj actually is very particular about shooting long hours – he doesn’t like to shoot that many hours, even if the scene was not complete he used to say, let’s leave it now and we’ll continue tomorrow, even if we were like no let’s do it now.  You see, it’s a very large-scale film; in every frame there were like hundreds of people, there was a regal theme, which also made it a very expensive film. Each day costs the production 45, 50 lakhs so when Sooraj said let’s pack up and continue the scene tomorrow, it seriously took a lot of courage.


 Sonam: Yes, I think that’s what it is. I think you are absolutely right. After I did Mausam, I gave my heart and soul to that and after it didn’t do very well, I didn’t sign a movie for a year and a half. Then I decided to sign Raanjhanaa – everyone around me said I was stupid but I decided to stick to my conviction. But I stuck to my guns. You’re absolutely right that this is the payoff for being patient and handling my life with dignity.


Sonam: Okay, I’m going to tell you a secret, when I spoke with the marketing team at Fox, they mentioned that people were finding the title Prem Ratan Dhan Payo a bit of a mouthful. They told me we needed to come up with a really fun and genius way to talk about the film a lot. So, there was this really cute guy who did this dubsmash on Prem Ratan Dhan Payo and I thought let’s put this up on instagram and maybe people would be excited about doing dubsmash. I thought it would be cool so I put it up and people really liked it a lot. And then a friend from New York told me to call a competition and to get the 5 best dubsmashes on Instagram – I did just that. There were lots and lots of people who did the dubsmash. It was easy to do and people loved doing the dubsmash as it has a great rhythm. Salman did one too, but he didn’t do it for long.

My aunt Sridevi also did one with Shilpa Shetty.  She loves me so much! I remember when I was just becoming an actress, she sat down with me and showed me how to do make-up really patiently for like hours and hours really patiently. I think she was extremely kind to have promoted me and the film. I’ve known Shilpa for a very long time and they had done the dubsmash at my home whilst I was away on promotions for the film. Once they did it they put it up on Instagram and I got a message from Shilpa saying to go on Instagram to see what we’ve done!Sonam & Salman 3


Salman: Prem is my favorite character too. I think this Prem is lovelier; he’s a grown man but a very childlike. Sooraj has written this character. He has always been a mature man and romance has also grown in his life ten folds. He was always a mature filmmaker starting his career at the age of 19. He wrote Hum Apke Hain Kaun at the age of just 22 and made the film when he was 24, and there is no man as mature as Sooraj Bharjatya.

The way he has written this character, he basically wants men and boys to be like Prem; he wants to change the way they are and to change this for women in the world. He wants men to be funny and charming but to also be respectful to women.


Sonam: I don’t think I’m similar to any of the characters that I played, I mean I’m definitely not a princess.

 Salman: Yes she is a princess because her father spoilt her.

Sonam:  I’m not spoilt! (she laughs). No, answering your question…I don’t know, I hope I’m inspired to be someone with that much conviction and I try and do whenever I can to be like that. Perhaps there’s a little bit of me in every character.

Salman: I think she’s got it in Prem Ratan Dhan Paya … I remember when Sooraj was showing me pictures of a lot of leading actresses and each and every picture that Sooraj showed me of Sonam were absolutely stunning. He showed me all the picture when she was at her worst test, and she looked like the way she looks now, so that is one quality that he saw in her, and he said this is the lady for my film. This is something that I want.


Sonam: I was very nervous, like really nervous. It’s not easy working with someone who you’ve been a huge fan of. Also it’s not easy because before Salman, I had never worked with a big star like him before. It’s usually been contemporaries. I was nervous but he really made me feel comfortable.

The best thing about him professionally is that he is the most hardworking actor that I worked with, he pushes himself and he is extremely talented. He’s also very modest. Also, professionally it’s easier to work with someone who doesn’t judge you in anyway. I remember when I was messing up he’d come and tell me really nicely, he has a lot of patience.

Salman: That is true, when you need to get some good work out of a bad actor you need to be patient JJ


Salman: Yes I am playing the roles of Vijay Singh and Prem – but if I open up too much about the characters I will spoil the suspense. But what I can say is that both the characters are phenomenal.

PREM RATAN DHAN PAYO releases this Diwali on 12 November 2015

Bhaag Milka Bhaag Songs and Images: Farhan working out, Sonam Smiling

Not being a huge fan of Biopics or sports related movies, the cast invovled in Bhaag Milka Bhaag is the reason I still mentioned the movie as one I am looking forward to in our Mid Year 2013  Bollywood Upodcast episode.

Farhan Akthar is a great writer-director but creatively that combination can be very draining so he has spread out his talents to production and acting, with a reasonable amount of success.

Sonam Kapoor is wonderful to look at in screen, and usually is shot in a slow motion panning shot whilst she smiles. The lady has a lot of opinions which she brazenly shares, one hopes that she can start delivering the goods soon too.

Shankar Ehsan Loy’s music and Rakesh Omprakash Mehra’s direction has been a mix bagged lately but they are talented enough to create magic with the right project, if Bhaag Milka Bhaag is that project, we will probably know soon enough.



From the Press Release:

Many recall Milkha Singh as a world champion in the 400 meters, who infamously lost the penultimate race of his life – the 400 meters final at the Rome Olympics – but won in LIFE.

Milkha Singh’s life is a portrait of professional triumph over personal tragedy. The film attempts to understand a catastrophic loss that was deemed a sure victory and explores through the darkness of disgrace Milkha Singh’s redemption and catharsis that came when he confronted his past.

This iridescent tale winds through the plagues of a bloody civil war where Milkha’s family were brutally killed during the tumultuous India-Pakistan Partition era resulting in a lost childhood, homelessness, a life of petty crime, right through to victories hard won and easily lost.

The film draws an intricate image of human trials, setbacks and fate leveraged against the sheer power of will as Milkha Singh evocatively illustrates that true victory lies in racing with one’s troubles and not in running away from them.

The film stars India’s most versatile multi-star, the critically acclaimed actor, producer, singer, writer, director and musician Farhan Akhtar [Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Luck By Chance] who essays the role of Milkha Singh for what is described as Farhan’s most demanding performance to date.

He is joined by Sonam Kapoor [Saawariya, I Hate Luv Storys, Aisha (Indian version of Jane Austen’s classic Emma)], Art Malik [BBC1’s Holby City], Rebecca Breeds [Home and Away] and is directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra (director of the Bafta nominated film Rang De Basanti, Delhi-6).

The inspirational story is penned by Prasoon Joshi and the soundtrack is composed by the award-winning trio Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy.

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag will see Milkha fly, fall and rise, bruise his soul but not his will to survive. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag releases worldwide on 12th July 2013.


Enhanced by Zemanta

Raanjhanaa Trailer Breakdown: A Love Story for All Ages

Honestly there hasn’t been much to talk about going on in Bollywood worth talking about. Lately the release schedules of the bigger and more exciting movies has been consistently been pushed back in the 2nd half of the year, banking on the bigger holidays like Eid and Diwali. That doesn’t mean we don’t get some nice surprises from unexpected corners (Kai Po Che, Special 26, Jolly LLB), but 2013 has been really dire in terms of Box Office even with Chasme Baddoor and Race 2 being the only clean hits.

So the trailer of Raanjhanaa is very refreshing, not only as it seems something different but because it seems to focus on that one element that the Southie Remake/Massala/ Punchy Dialogue movie making has forgotten and that is to give the audience some sweet sweet romance.



Although the guy stalking and following a girl trope feels icky especially recent news stories in India, a guy like Dhanush really can’t be a physical threat to anyone.

Abhay Deol makes an appearance too which I wasnt aware of, didn’t he and Sonam have some sort of tiff during the shooting of Aisha?

The movie looks very colorful and sweet and the thing that has me even more excited is of course the soundtrack being composed by AR Rahman.

Releasing 21st of June.

What do you guys think of the trailer of Raanjhanaa? Will this be the movie where Sonam Kapoo blows our minds with her acting ability?




Enhanced by Zemanta

Race 2 Trailer Breakdown

Director Duo Abbas Mustan have been on a mission to prove that Hindi movies can be as slick, fast paced but also inane and uninspired as any the studio action movie from Hollywood.


It’s a template they’ve had quite a bit of success especially with the first Race which was a topsy turvy twistarama of a movie where everyone was looking uber hot except Akshay Khanna’s hairpiece. After the epic failure of Players (where Bobby Deol played a magician and Sonam Kapoor a computer hacker…nuff said?) they are back with fast cars, race horses, guitar riffs and Saif Ali Khan’s beard.


Here’s the trailer:

Some thoughts:

  • Who asked for this sequel to be made? (Except the producers)
  • The trailer is contending to set at least 2 world records: “the most mentions of the title to a movie in any trailer” (8 mentions in a trailer of 2.30 min) and ” most number of low angle shots” (every character)
  • Peedika’s Stylist has gone for the “neandhertaler chique” for her eyebrows
  • Will Jacqueline Fernandez’ voice dubbed by the same generic voice artist in every movie? Just learn the language already, no one minds and accent!
  • The trailer contains the absolute best lines the script writers could come up with, thinking if this doesn’t get butts in seats, then nothing will! (What does the line “Ghora bi hero banega”mean???)
  • John Abraham can’t throw a convincing punch to save his life
  • Also why did his pecks not get a separate credit as the main attraction?
  • Ameesha Patel…hahahhahahahhahahhaa
  • Anil Kapoor is bad ass as always, after all these years Lakhan still rules anything he is in!
  • How bad does the CGI and wire work look? That jump Saif does is thoroughly underwhelming and didn’t they blow up exactly the same cars in the previous Race?
  • And just to finish Ameesha Patel… HAHAHAHHAHA


Race 2 releases in theaters in january, there is no stopping it





Enhanced by Zemanta

Review (without seeing the movie): Players

First a short intro, More and more movie studios are flooding the audience with aggressive marketing campaigns, weeks of trailers, first look poster reveals, meet and greets with the stars and a barrage of tweets and viral videos on various social media sites.

As an audience we have reached a point of saturation, and sometimes we even feel we have seen the movie before its release.

We have become heavily polarized with which stars we like or dislike because no one wants to act any more, they all want to be brands. Movies aren’t entertainment anymore, they have all become events.


So we at Upodcast, being the enfant terrible of cinema blogs, we have created a new feature, the review based on the movie trailer!

We haven’t seen the movie yet but we will be featuring some guest bloggers that will review the movie based on the trailers. Of course all of this is done in a tongue in cheek way but somewhere down the line it’s also the audience answer to the exhaustion we all feel!

Our first review is from our good friend DishoomPK, do check out his blog and twitter feed, which is always fun and interesting!

Dishoompk always goes for Gold!

Review (without seeing the movie): Players

Abbas-Mustan latest movie “Players” is a “remake” of The Italian Job. But In actuality, it is a remake of the 2003 remake of the Italian Job. That fact is a general indicator of the derivative nature of the movie, where everything seems like something we might have seen in some generic Steven Seagal Hollywood action movie. The characters are developed with the same aesthetics of a western action flick, where they are mere tools to move from one explosion to the next, with little or no character development. Most of the character exploration dealt with a superficial motivation of the characters. These motivation are two flimsy to make the audience root for the protagonists of Players.

To give some credit to Abbas-Mustan, the scope of the movie really impresses. If one wants to see a B-grade Hollywood action movie, one would be getting a bit more than that. Some masala was graciously spread out here and there, to make it just palatable for your average Bollywood viewer. However, very much like Abbas-Mustan’s last venture “Race”, the storytelling is quite fragmented and there’s no flow to the proceedings. The emotional quotient is lacking, as well. However, some of the stunts performed in to movie are really great, and it was magnificent to see some of those sequences pan out on the big screen, with some South Asian faces attached to them. Also the Russian and the New Zealand backgrounds is seem so majestic, on the big screen!

In the acting department, most of the ensemble cast doesn’t give us a surprising performance. Abhishek Bachchan goes through all the motions with a stern face, in which he is trying very hard to embody some “Angry Young Man” who is motivated to do something and is proactive, and intelligent. But he ends up looking like a grumpy overachiever. He is just “too cool” to get the character the essential emotional kick to make us want to root for him. We don’t see his insecurities, we don’t see his shortcomings: We just see a cool dude, trying to do rob some gold.

Bipasha Basu was unfortunately underused, and her character was only there to distract people so that the “men” can swoop in and finish the job. I think Bipasha has grown so much as an actress, and she needs meatier roles, which give more justice to her talent and her experience. One of the surprises of the movie was Sonam Kapoor’s bad-ass character, which the audience would find to be very refreshing. Her attitude just hits the right notes, even though it might seem that it is trying a bit too hard to fit in the boys club. Neil Mukesh’s character as a nerdy hacker was too one-dimensional and full of stereotypes that one associates with these kinds of character. On the other hand, Bobby Deol’s hair might just get the crowd going, on its’ own.

The music of the movie was really good, as one would expect from the said directors. The picturisations were really fun. Bipasha looks stunning in THAT song, and her chemistry with Bobby is sizzling! Sonam needs to gain some weight, to get a grip on the “curvy” nature of dance moves she was trying to do.

All in all, it might be a paisa vasool if you think Anees Bazmee is a paisa vasool director. This is certainly better than Anees Bazmee paisa vasool film!

Follow DishoomPK on his blog or twitter!


Let us know what you think of this new feauture or of Players before or after seeing the movie!

Players releases nationwide January 6th 2012!


Enhanced by Zemanta

Anil Kapoor cast in Mission Impossible 4?

The internet is abuzz with rumours coming in that Anil Kapoor, one of the most awesome Hindi film actors of the past 3 decades, will be a part of the Brad Bird directed fourth installment of the Mission Impossible franchise. If the stories are true, this might be the highest profile casting for an Indian actor since Amrish Puri in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Read the full story after the jump! Read More