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Oscar winner Resul Pookutty campaigns for FTII to drop case against Payal – and it's back to work for Kani



New Delhi, May 28 (IANS) Oscar-winning sound engineer Resul Pookutty has launched a campaign for the Film & Television Institute of India (FTII) to withdraw its cases against the students, including Cannes 2024 Grand Prix winner Payal Kapadia, who had led the historic 131-day protest in 2015 against the appointment of Gajendra Singh Chauhan as the chairman of its governing body.

Taking to Instagram, Pookutty wrote: “FTII must now withdraw the cases against Payal and the other students. It owes them the prestige that has been bestowed upon it.” Kapadia is Accused No. 25 and, as Pookutty pointed out, has to go to court next month for another hearing of the case that has been going on since 2015.

In 2015, FTII was in a state of ferment because of the appointment of Chauhan, a BJP activist whose only claim to fame was that he had played Yudhishtir in the TV serial ‘Mahabharat’.

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Kapadia, who got into FTII on her second attempt in 2012, was one of the leaders of the 131-day protest against Chauhan, who, incidentally, was opposed by a phalanx of Bollywood celebrities, from Rajkummar Rao and Nawazuddin Siddiqui to Anupam Kher, and also by Soumitra Chatterjee and Jhanu Barua.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, whom Kapadia has thanked profusely for being her inspiration in response to his congratulatory message on Sunday, had visited the FTII campus and joined the student protesters in 2015.

As several people pointed out on X after Kapadia’s Grand Prix win, the FTII initiated disciplinary action against her when she led the boycott of classes. Later, FTII cut her scholarship and a foreign exchange grant.

In the same year, the Pune Police filed an FIR against 35 students, including Kapadia, after they held the then FTII director, Prashant Pathrabe, captive in his office. They were protesting against Pathrode’s decision to proceed with the assessment of incomplete student projects of the 2008 batch.

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Even as the call for the withdrawal of FTII’s cases grew louder, it was back to work for Kani Kusruti, who played one of the two Malayali nurses in Kapadia’s debut film, ‘All We Imagine As Light’.

From Cannes the actress went to Kochi, where she was given a cheerful welcome, to join the shoot for T.R. Shamsudheen’s upcoming Malayalam movie, ‘Eyes’.

In Kusruti’s honour, the producer had organised a chocolate cake with an edible image of the moment when Kapadia and her three main female protagonists — Kusruti, Divya Prabha and Charu Kadam — were on the stage celebrating the Grand Prix win this past Saturday night.



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Big B, Prabhas, Rana Daggubati compete with each other to help pregnant Deepika




Mumbai, June 19 (IANS) Veteran Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan and Telugu stars Prabhas, and Rana Daggubati raced with each other to help Bollywood star Deepika Padukone at an event in Mumbai’s Juhu area on Wednesday.

Big B, Prabhas, Deepika, Rana and Tamil cinema legend Kamal Haasan, attended the pre-release event of the upcoming epic film ‘Kalki 2898 AD’ in the city, and while everyone was called on stage by the emcee to discuss the movie, Deepika too headed to the stage.

Rana first rushed to help the pregnant actress, and so did Prabhas.

However, Big B was seen asking them to hold off as he wanted to help her on stage.

As Deepika got down from the stage, when Prabhas helped her off, Big B hilariously gestured about Prabhas beating him to it. He pulled him from behind in jest sending the media into a fit of laughter.

Deepika, who is all set to welcome her first baby with actor Ranveer Singh, flaunted her baby bump in a black bodycon dress as she looked ethereal.

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Produced by Vyjayanthi Movies, ‘Kalki 2898 AD’ is set to arrive in cinemas on June 27, 2024.



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Deepika flaunts her baby bump in black bodycon dress at ‘Kalki 2898 AD’ event




Mumbai, June 19 (IANS) Bollywood star Deepika Padukone, who is expecting her first child with her husband Ranveer Singh, flaunted her baby bump at a media event for her upcoming film ‘Kalki 2898 AD’ on Wednesday.

The actress, who wore a black bodycon dress, attended the event with legendary actors Amitabh Bachchan and Kamal Haasan, along with Telugu stars Prabhas and Rana Daggubati.

The actress also shared an anecdote from the sets of ‘Kalki 2898 AD’, saying the highlight of the day during the filming was what was going to come from Prabhas’ home for lunch. The food from his place came in like a catering service. And anyone who knows Prabhas knows that he feeds from the heart, she said.

Big B recollected his first thought after director Nag Ashwin narrated the script of ‘Kalki 2898 AD’ to him.

The actor said he told himself, “What the hell is Nag Ashwin drinking?”

Big B also said he was enamoured by Nag Ashwin’s grand vision and his conviction to bring this film to life.

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Kamal Haasan, who plays a negative character in the film, explained why he likes playing characters with shades of grey.

“Villains get to do all the good things in the film which really excite me as an actor,” he said.

Produced by Vyjayanthi Movies, ‘Kalki 2898 AD’ is set to hit the screens on June 27.



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Mohanlal elected unopposed as President of actors body AMMA for second term




Kochi, June 19 (IANS) Superstar Mohanlal has been elected unopposed as the President of the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA) for a second term of three years.

His election came after the last date of withdrawal of nominations ended Tuesday.

Upcoming star Unni Mukundan was also elected unopposed as the Treasurer of the AMMA.

However, elections will be held for the posts of the General Secretary, two Vice Presidents, and the Joint Secretary.

Edavela Babu, who has been the General Secretary of the AMMA for a while, opted out this time, and popular character actor Siddique sought to succeed him. But Kuku Paramaseshweran and Unni Shivapal also entered the fray. For the two Vice President’s posts, there are three candidates – veteran actor Jagdish, Manju Pillai, and Jayan Cherthala.

Likewise, Baburaj and Anoop Chandran are in the race for the Joint Secretary’s post.

The elections will be held alongside the Annual General Body Meeting to be held here on June 30.

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Meanwhile, according to sources, a nomination for the post of President was filed by a panel led by Paramaseshweran, but this was withdrawn at the last moment, enabling Mohanlal to get elected unopposed.

The AMMA has 506 members, of which around 120 get a monthly dole of Rs 5,000 each. Anyone not drawing the monthly pension is eligible to contest for the various posts starting from the President to that of a member of its Committee.



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Sri Lankan film with Malayalam stars shows hell can be next door to 'Paradise'




New Delhi, June 19 (IANS) As Sri Lankan filmmaker Prasanna Vithanage’s award-winning film ‘Paradise’, featuring Malayalam star Roshan Mathew and Darshana Rajendran in the lead roles, is set to be released in India on June 28, he is excited that finally, the general public will get to see it.

The movie set in the backdrop of Sri Lanka’s 2022 economic, and which won the Kim Jiseok Award for Best Film at the Busan Film Festival, is being presented by Mani Ratnam’s production and distribution house, Madras Talkies.

‘Paradise’ revolves around a visiting Indian couple — Amritha (Darshana Rajendran), a video blogger, and her film-producer husband Keshav (Roshan Mathew) — who arrive in the economic crisis-wracked but picturesque Sri Lanka to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary and experience a ‘Ramayana tour’.

A robbery in their bungalow jettison their plan, for they lose their mobile phones and laptops.

When they approach the local cop, Sergeant Bandara, and put pressure on him to act fast, he produces three unemployed men as suspects, and Keshav identifies them as culprits, even though their faces were covered during the robbery.

One of the suspects lands in hospital after police torture and ultimately dies. The couple are forced to confine themselves to the bungalow and that is when they realise how far they had moved away from each other. While Amrita cherishes the beautiful surroundings, Keshav, with a permanent frown, gets increasingly frustrated and cannot digest how she is so ‘unaffected’.

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The climax sees people from the village of the dead suspect attack the bungalow. Keshav and Amrita are forced to defend themselves. What transpires in the end — the force of ‘Sita’ — is bound to shock the viewer. The director maintains that “personal is political and vice versa”, hence the backdrop of the economic crisis.

A certain stillness envelops the film, its story, and treatment, making it truly very ‘international’. “Yes, the movie has been loved by the critics, but now comes the real challenge — will we be able to communicate what we want to the general public? And do not forget, we will be up against some big-ticket films,” Vithanage, for whom Chennai is a second home, told IANS.

Considering it is the first time that a Sri Lankan director’s film is getting a worldwide release, it is also an Indian film produced by Newton Cinema and the languages spoken in it include English, Malayalam, Tamil, Sinhala, and Hindi.

“Though the territory is Sri Lanka, it is an Indian movie,” the director reaffirmed.

Admitting he has been nurtured and groomed by Indian cinema, with the post-production of his films always going to Indian labs, not to mention working with Indian technicians for the past 27 years, Vithanage, who is considered one of the pioneers of the third generation

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of Sri Lankan cinema, has directed eight feature films and won 30 major national and international awards, besides enjoying commercial success.

“I think this is a natural step, working with Indian actors in Indian languages,” Vithanage said. “This story could not have happened to a European couple.”

Stressing that even while the two countries are distinct in many ways, they are deeply connected by history and culture.

The reasons for the scenario in which the Indian couple are pushed were manifold.

“As a filmmaker, I also want to bring forth my politics,” Vithanage said. “One must remember that politics does not confine itself only to elections. It comes into play in a marriage and in other interpersonal relationships. The larger politics of the economic crisis could creep into institutions such as marriage. These two are interconnected, not separate.”

While on the subject of politics, Vithanage said reconciliation between the Sinhalese and the Tamils in his country “remains a distant mirage”. And he should know, having made three films on one of the bloodiest civil wars in the world (between the Sri Lankan Army and the LTTE) — ‘August Sun’, ‘Death on a Full Moon Day’, which was the subject of a full-on censorship war, and ‘With You, Without You’.

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“Yes, we have shown the need for reconciliation in the three films, but there’s an absence of it on the ground,” Vithanage said. “Let us not forget that reconciliation is a political situation and to achieve it, political steps are paramount. There need to be solid political solutions. Artistes do not have the power for political solutions. They can only amplify the need for them.”

Immersed in theatre since childhood, this Sri Lankan director admits that the art form has been instrumental in shaping him as a filmmaker. He says that besides other things, it has taught him how to work with actors and bring out something that is not from his own experience or of the actors’.

“In a way, we try to bring forth a certain truth, an exercise that can be enigmatic. My understanding of how difficult the craft of acting is comes from theatre,” the director explained, adding that he expects nothing but spontaneity from his movie actors.

Presently working on a script (in Hindi) based on Fyodor Dostoevsky’s ‘The Gambler’, to be shot in Sri Lanka, Vithanage looks up to several Indian directors from diverse generations. “Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Ritwik Ghatak, Shyam Benegal, Anurag Kashyap and Gurvinder Singh are some of them,” he concluded.



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Star cast of 'Udne Ki Aasha' thank fans as show completes 100 episodes




Mumbai, June 19 (IANS) The lead actors of ‘Udne Ki Aasha’– Kanwar Dhillon and Neha Harsora — have expressed their excitement as the show completed the 100-episode milestone, saying “it speaks volumes about our content”.

Kanwar, who plays Sachin in the show, said: “It feels great that the show has completed 100 episodes. And you know what’s even more special? Since its launch just one week before the IPL, the show has managed to make its way to the top-five chart and consistently stayed there. I think that speaks volumes about our content and the connection the show has with the audience.”

“With time, I’m sure it’s going to rise even higher. And touch wood, the numbers speak for themselves. The love we are getting from the audience speaks for itself. I hope that just like we’ve completed 100 episodes, we will go on to complete 500 and then 1,000 episodes,” he added.

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Neha, who plays Sailee in the show, said: “It’s amazing that we have completed 100 episodes. I’m really happy that everyone on the set and off it is enjoying the show. Personally, it fills me with joy to be a part of this project. The production team is thrilled as well since this is their first show.”

Producer Rahul Kumar Tewary also expressed his delight at the achievement, emphasising the dedication and passion invested by the entire team.

“This is a reflection of the collective effort and commitment of everyone involved in ‘Udne Ki Aasha’. This is just the beginning and we have a long way to go. Kanwar and Neha have brought their characters to life with sincerity and conviction, contributing significantly to the show’s success,” he said.

Produced by Rahul Kumar Tewary in collaboration with Rolling Tales Production, ‘Udne Ki Aasha’ airs on Star Plus at 9 p.m.



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