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Konstantin Bojanov, the Bulgarian director behind India's Cannes sensation

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Cannes, May 25 (IANS) Konstantin Bojanov, who? This is the question raging in the minds of people who woke up on Saturday to the heart-warming news that a production designer-turned-newbie actress discovered by Bojanov had become the first Indian to win a major acting prize in the 77-year history of the Cannes Film Festival.

Bojanov, 55, is a visual artist who first graduated from the National School of Fine Arts in his home city, Sofia (Bulgaria), before earning a Master’s degree from the Royal College of Art, London.

He made his first feature film, ‘Ave’, in 2011. Based on a story about heroin addicts in Sofia, the film had its world premiere at Cannes and then it went on to win a Young Talent Award (Hamburg), Special Jury Prize (Sarajevo) and the FIRPRESCI Prize in Warsaw.

Bojanov made his second film, ‘Light Thereafter’, starring the acclaimed Irish actor Barry Koeghan, in 2017 and it was shortlisted for competition at the International Film Festival Rotterdam.

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In an interview with the Festival du Cannes on ‘The Shameless’, the film that has catapulted Anasuya Sengupta into the day’s headlines, Bojanov said he fell in love with moving pictures because of the movies that he would skip classes to watch at the arthouse cinema close to his college.

“I really wanted to make films, but I did not know how, so I started writing stories,” Bojanov said. “I am a self-taught filmmaker.”

“The adventure of ‘The Shameless’,” as Bojanov puts it, began 12 years ago when he started filming a documentary with four distinct stories from William Dalrymple’s ‘Nine Lives’.

Through these stories, Bojanov said, “I sought to explore a number of themes, including love, sexuality, free will and artistic expression, within the confines of castes and the religious beliefs of present-day India.”

Bojanov continued, “In 2014, I began filming the first of these stories, centered around the life of Reshma, a 32-year-old devadasi sex worker from northern Karnataka. The close bond between Reshma and another sex worker, Renuka, inspired me to create a fictional love story between a woman on the run from the law and a young girl born into the devadasi system. Reshma’s beginnings also influenced the character of the young girl, Devika.”

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In ‘The Shameless’ Anasuya plays the fictional character Renuka (chain-smoking, foul-mouthed, lesbian, who takes to sex work just to get by) inspired by Reshma.

For Devika, Bojanov settled for Omara Shetty, who was last seen in a bit role in the 2021 Katrina Kaif-Ishaan Khattar-Siddhant Chaturvedi film, ‘Phone Bhoot’, after seeing a photograph of her hugging a puppy.

For Bojanov, it was the casting process that turned out to be the most exacting. As he told Festival du Cannes, it took him eight months to complete it, and though he was looking at other actresses to play Renuka, he kept returning to the pictures of Anasuya, who is his Facebook friend.

“It was more than just her appearance; it was her attitude too,” Bojanov said. “I knew that she was primarily a production designer. Nonetheless, I took a chance and asked her if she was interested in the role.”

He was happy to find out his hunch was right. “It took [Anasuya] over a month to send me her [audition] tape, but as soon as I saw it on screen, I knew I did not need to look any further,” Bojanov said with a sense of relief.

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Describing Anasuya play Renuka in ‘The Shameless’, ‘Variety’ comments, “It’s an impeccably, self-assured performance, rife with enrapturing nuances that create a liberating sense of queer Indian femininity seldom depicted on screen.”

When asked what he would want people to remember from the film, Bojanov shared his vision with Festival du Cannes: “That storytelling can transcend cultural boundaries and reveal the shared humanity beneath our societal disparities.”

–IANS

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Shiv Sena demands closure of ‘Bigg Boss OTT 3’ for showing obscene scenes

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Shiv Sena demands closure of ‘Bigg Boss OTT 3’ for showing obscene scenes

Shiv Sena demands closure of ‘Bigg Boss OTT 3’ for showing obscene scenes

Mumbai, July 22 (IANS) Shiv Sena legislator Manisha Kayande on Monday urged the Mumbai Police Commissioner for the immediate closure of the ‘Bigg Boss OTT 3’ show due to obscenity, saying that the OTT show has crossed all limits.

She pointed out that in the episode of ‘Bigg Boss OTT 3’ aired on July 18 showed the actors doing very lewd and disgusting acts in front of the camera.

“Even kids watch this show. So this show should be stopped immediately. Strict action should be taken against the producers of this show and the CEO of the broadcasting company by filing a case under cyber crime. A written request has been made to the Commissioner of Police to investigate the matter,” said Kayande, who is also the state Secretary and Spokesperson of Shiv Sena

Kayande also blamed the actors for trampling social values by crossing all boundaries of family relations.

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She said that she will soon meet the Union Information and Broadcasting Minister to demand that OTT also be brought under the purview of the censor board.

–IANS

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Santosh Singh opens up on fickleness of entertainment industry

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Santosh Singh opens up on fickleness of entertainment industry

Santosh Singh opens up on fickleness of entertainment industry

Mumbai, July 22 (IANS) Director Santosh Singh, who recently helmed the streaming series ‘Ranneeti: Balakot & Beyond’, has shared his thoughts on the fickleness of the film industry.

Santosh has experienced both the highs and lows of an artiste’s career.

Reflecting on his journey, the director shared that change is an intrinsic part of the job.

Santosh was praised for his work on the streaming series ‘Broken but Beautiful season 1’, which starred Vikrant Massey and Harleen Sethi.

However, despite the show’s success, he was not involved in the subsequent seasons.

Santosh accepts this as a common occurrence in the industry.

The director told IANS: “Directing ‘Broken but Beautiful season 1’ was an incredible experience. The love and appreciation I still receive from fans is heartwarming. Although I was offered to direct season 2, it didn’t work out due to date issues. But that’s just how our industry operates. Interestingly, I ended up directing ‘Apharan season 2’ even though I wasn’t involved in season 1. As directors, we often find ourselves on both spectrums, and you can’t really complain about it.”

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Santosh shared that from his early days as an assistant, he realised that one is only as good as their last release. It’s all about the quality of your work. This understanding has shaped how he approaches his profession and career.

The director firmly believes that if your film and its promotions are good, it will succeed.

“I am just happy about the opportunities I have been receiving so far. I am super excited for my upcoming comedy film ‘Nausikhiye’, starring Shreya Dhanwanthary, Abhimanyu Dasani, and Amol Parashar. It will be released in theatres soon, and I can’t wait for the audience to watch it,” he added.

–IANS

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Gurmeet Choudhary shares fitness secrets behind nailing his ‘Commander Karan Saxena’ character

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Gurmeet Choudhary shares fitness secrets behind nailing his ‘Commander Karan Saxena’ character

Gurmeet Choudhary shares fitness secrets behind nailing his ‘Commander Karan Saxena’ character

Mumbai, July 22 (IANS) Actor Gurmeet Choudhary, who plays the titular character in the streaming series ‘Commander Karan Saxena’, has revealed the secrets behind achieving the physical aspects of his role.

Gurmeet is a fitness freak and is known for his extreme physical training and diet to stay in shape.

For his role in ‘Commander Karan Saxena’, the actor ensured a balanced diet consisting of proteins, carbs, and fats to maintain high energy levels. He combined his diet with physical activities like sprinting and MMA.

Sharing his fitness secrets, Gurmeet said: “A healthy lifestyle has become easy to maintain to support my physical training. This includes a balanced diet rich in nutrients to fuel my body and aid in recovery. I avoid junk food and ensure I get the right mix of proteins, carbs, and fats to keep my energy levels high and my body in optimal condition.”

Gurmeet also emphasised the importance of sleep in his routine, making it a point to sleep early and rise early to ensure sufficient rest for recovery and rejuvenation.

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“This habit not only keeps me physically fit but also mentally sharp, allowing me to perform at my best both on and off the screen. In short, preparing for the role of Commander Karan Saxena required a dedicated and holistic approach to fitness. Combining sprinting, MMA, gym workouts, and a healthy lifestyle helped me bring my character to life,” he added.

‘Commander Karan Saxena’ also stars Iqbal Khan and Hruta Durgule.

It follows the story of a fearless RAW agent as he dives into a high-stakes political mystery to save the nation.

Directed by Jatin Wagle and produced by Keylight Productions, the series is available to stream on Disney+ Hotstar.

–IANS

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Raj Anadkat turns language tutor for Sana Sheikh on the sets of ‘United State of Gujarat’

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Raj Anadkat turns language tutor for Sana Sheikh on the sets of ‘United State of Gujarat’

Raj Anadkat turns language tutor for Sana Sheikh on the sets of ‘United State of Gujarat’

Mumbai, July 22 (IANS) Actress Sana Sheikh, who is gearing up for her upcoming Gujarati television show ‘United State of Gujarat’, has praised her co-actor Raj Anadkat for assisting her with dialogue delivery and effectively becoming her language tutor on set.

For the show, Sana took professional Gujarati language lessons for several months to improve her linguistic skills for a nuanced performance.

However, being new to the language, the actress sometimes found herself struggling with dialogue delivery. That’s when Raj stepped in as a knight in shining armor for his co-star.

Talking about the experience, Sana said: “When I get stuck at times, Raj skillfully guides me towards simpler alternatives, which has been immensely helpful. While I’m confident my proficiency will improve over time, his support has been instrumental in these early stages.”

‘United State of Gujarat’ also stars Ragini Shah, Siddharth Randeria, Apara Mehta, and Vandana Vithlani.

The show follows the journey of Kay (played by Sana Sheikh) as she discovers her roots and works to reunite her mother, Yamuna (played by Ami Trivedi), with her grandmother, Baa (played by Ragini Shah).

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Raj Anadkat plays Keshav, whose sweet-and-sour relationship with Kay adds to the dynamic, ensuring guaranteed entertainment for the audience.

‘United State of Gujarat’ is set to premiere on July 29 on Colors Gujarati.

–IANS

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Nia Sharma visits Shiv temple on first 'Shravan Somvaar'

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Nia Sharma visits Shiv temple on first 'Shravan Somvaar'

Nia Sharma visits Shiv temple on first 'Shravan Somvaar'

Mumbai, July 22 (IANS) Actress Nia Sharma shared a glimpse of herself visiting a Lord Shiva temple on the auspicious occasion of the beginning of the month of Sawan.

Taking to Instagram stories, Nia, who has 7.8 million followers, posted a picture of a Shivling adorned with ‘belpatra’.

The actress did not caption the snap but accompanied it with the tune of “Om Namah Shivay.”

Devotees of Lord Shiva and Maa Parvati observe Sawan Somwar fasting, which began on Monday and will conclude on August 19.

Earlier, Nia also shared some behind-the-scenes moments from the set of the fantasy-thriller-romance ‘Suhagan Chudail’, in which she plays the role of Nishigandha.

The video shows her enjoying a candid moment while wearing a pastel pink saree with a matching sleeveless blouse, accessorised with a big pearl necklace and a maangtika.

The show also stars Debchandrima Singha Roy and Zayn Ibad Khan.

On the work front, Nia is currently featured in the celebrity cooking show ‘Laughter Chefs Unlimited Entertainment’.

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The show also features Krushna Abhishek, Rahul Vaidya, Karan Kundrra, Ankita Lokhande, Vicky Jain, Jannat Zubair Rahmani, Reem Shaikh, Sudesh Lehri, and Kashmera Shah.

It is hosted by Bharti Singh and judged by chef Harpal Singh Sokhi.

‘Laughter Chefs Unlimited Entertainment’ airs on Colors.

Nia is also known for her roles in ‘Ek Hazaaron Mein Meri Behna Hai’, ‘Behenein’, ‘Meri Durga’, and ‘Kaali – Ek Agnipariksha’. In 2020, she participated in ‘Khatron Ke Khiladi: Made in India’ and emerged as the winner.

She has also starred in web series like ‘Twisted’ and ‘Jamai 2.0’.

–IANS

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