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When it came to her marriage or her strained relationship with her husband, Chitrangada Singh had a very categorical reply: “All reports are false”.


Chitrangada Singh

Even after a petition of divorce was moved at a Gurgaon family court, official responses from her office were always the same.

Now, that her divorce papers have landed up in the public domain, I hope that Chitrangada Singh has realised that she had made a mess of her media strategies for the last three years.

It was foolish to aggressively deny reports in the press when you have actually petitioned the court.

It turns out that the media reports never died down because there were truth in it.

Who advised her to deal with the press in such a manner? The ‘friend’ who advised her, is definitely, isn’t her friend.

I feel let down today because I had taken initiative in the past to scuttle ‘rumours’ as I completely believed in what she said.

Today, I am disappointed.

The story started way back in 2011.


Chitrangada with Jyoti Randhawa during happier times

My colleague — who was covering the Fashion Week  in Mumbai — came back in office with a “huge gossip”.

She told me that an acclaimed fashion designer had volunteered the information that Chitrangada Singh is preparing herself to file for divorce from her golfer-husband.

I didn’t believe her words because it sounded like the designer is trying to back-stab the actor. As a senior, I felt that we should not fan these rumours.

I immediately spoke to Chitrangada and as expected, she categorially denied the rumours. In order to preempt others from putting that gossip out, I wrote an article the next day.

For the next three years, I completely believed in Chitrangada as she went on denying those ‘reports’ at regular intervals, right from 2011 to 2013.

The rumours and the regular denials kept circulating for another three years. The last time I spoke to her about the topic was when she was promoting a film (with Arjun Rampal).

I remember that my senior colleague had met her for an interview where she insisted that she is going through a trying time managing her career in Mumbai and her family in Delhi. She also insisted that she is being singled out by the Mumbai press because she is a married woman. Her words were convincing and there were no reasons not to believe her.

But then a reporter spotted her at a family court in Gurgaon, Delhi with a few police bodyguards. Even before the article got picked up online, came the denial. This time a leading news agency quoted Chitrangada and said that she was there to settle a property dispute.

How can somebody go to the family court to settle a property dispute?

I support the point-of-view that personal affairs of film stars should not be the subject of media reports. I also agree that a forever-hungry filmi press constantly poked her for the truth and she must have been fed up.

But coming on record to deny a court petition? That was naive and foolish.

I am sure Chitrangada consulted somebody before doing all that.

Whoever advised her to deal with the press by lying about the divorce petition, made a terrible mistake.

It was a terrible tip.

In my opinion, she should have maintained a dignified silence about the whole issue.

By Madhu Raj

Alia Bhatt and Arjun Kapoor in '2 states'

Alia Bhatt and Arjun Kapoor in ’2 states’

Putting all their ‘strategy management skills’ into a project named ‘Marriage’, two MBA students, from diametrically opposite cultures, work towards bringing their family’s ‘organizational behavior on the same platform’.

Sounds interesting? Well that’s what Alia Bhatt and Arjun Kapoor’s film 2 States is all about.

The film is more than just a love story and has two distinct cultural backdrops — a Punjabi family (Arjun Kapoor’s) and a Tamil Brahmin family (Alia Bhatt’s).

The film deals with the coupling of two families from two opposite cultures in a typical upper middle class society.

2 States  not going to overload you with melodrama or tragedy but there are some moments of anguish which are definitely significant and in some cases,  relatable as well.

There are some obvious flaws as well but I don’t put the blame squarely on the filmmaker.

The first flaw is that the film is predictable. It’s an adaptation of a novel by the same name (by Chetan Bhagat) and the filmmaker hasn’t tinkered with the sub-plots that he has retained in the film. Those, who have read the book, will be able to predict everything that’s going to happen in this film. I feel that there could have been some changes made to the sub-plots at least or some crucial characters could have been made more complex ones. Don’t we all love complex characters? In short, the script writers could have worked a little hard instead of just transcribing a few sub-plots of the book  into a film script.

The strained relationship of Krish (Arjun Kapoor) and his father disturbed me the dialogues between them hits you hard. While picking and choosing the sub-plots, the scriptwriters obviously decided to single out the instances of Krish wooing Ananya’s (Alia Bhatt) father. So much emphasis is given to this sub-plot that it is not funny anymore. Both the sides of this sub-plot should have been explored instead of those exaggerated scenes of Krish and Ananya’s father.


Ronit Roy as Arjun Kapoor’s father in ’2 States’

Ronit Roy should have got more screen space. Amrita Singh (who played Ronit Roy’s wife) made me laugh and sympathise with her character at the same time. She’s a complacent mom with a hidden story. Revathy was a cute aunty, like the moms of those friends who always treat us with good food whenever we land up. Shiv Kumar was pleasing. Achint Kaur did a fine job as Amrita’s sister. In short, it was a great effort by the supporting cast.

Certain sequences were a bit confusing but I decided not to focus on them, given a great effort by Abhishek Varma. He is not different like the many others groomed under the Dharma banner. But Abhishek Verma is not bad either. He has done a decent job with the great story that he had to begin with. Karan Johar should be proud as he is with most other directors who are working with his banner.

Arjun-Kapoor-kissing-Alia-BhattThe intimate scenes between Arjun and Alia create ripples on screen! They are very comfortable with each other’s body and that makes their on-screen chemistry enviable. After seeing the film, I can imagine the MBA folks around the country praying for a girlfriend like Alia Bhatt. But yes, Arjun surely seems ‘deprived’ in the film till Alia arrives to lend him a helping hand.

Arjun’s guy-next-door, grounded performance complemented the vulnerability and spunk of the ambitious Ananya (Alia Bhatt). The songs were peppy and inserted at the right places.

The film is a little stretched but you won’t get bored.

I am recommending this film to everybody who like a slow-and-steady-wins-the-race story and those with strained or restrained relationships with their fathers.

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There’s no money, honey!

The top three heroines in Bollywood. This picture doesn't mean that one of them called me.  I have used this picture for illustration.

Top of the lot: The top three heroines in Bollywood.

At a recent event, Katrina Kaif declared with all honesty that actresses in Bollywood should be paid at par with the male actors. According to her, there is a disparity when it comes to paying an actress as opposed to her hero.

A few days back it was Priyanka Chopra, who emphatically put forward the case Bollywood actresses not being paid enough. She also stated that it’s time for Bollywood to realise that their female stars are worth more than what they think.

Really? Can we really claim that Bollywood has come of age and has learned to treat the women actors better?

Till the 1980s, Bollywood has been largely a chauvinistic hierarchy where women were only regarded as show-pieces. Eras have come and gone by, but Bollywood’s attitude towards its women actors has hasn’t changed.

The trend reached its zenith during the 1980s when most film scripts were hero-oriented and heroines were there only as eye candy.  It was only when Sridevi took over as the numero uno, did she manage to bring a heroine’s pay-scale to three-fourth of the hero’s. Films were written around her, and every move of hers, it was said of her, was worth lakhs.

Post that phase, Madhuri Dixit, Kajol and Aishwarya Rai phase (before they tied the knot) commanded a neat figure. But in their absence, it again went to the basics.

In the last 10 years, things have changed somewhat and we have seen some very powerful women oriented scripts gain box office attention. Powerful women actors like Priyanka Chopra, Vidya Balan and lately Kangna Ranaut has steered a film to victory.

Scores of articles have been written on the advent of female heroes in Bollywood and I am not going into that. But has it changed the status of a heroine in Bollywood? Can heroines claim that they are being paid on par with their male counterparts?

Let’s see how a leading heroine is treated in Bollywood even now. Before you try to corner me with specific examples, let me tell you that I know that there are exceptions, but they are few.

Bollywood actresses are more fun to follow on social media than the heroes.

Selfie time: Bollywood actresses are more fun to follow on social media than the heroes.

1. Working out a big budget Bollywood film

A big budget Bollywood film is written keeping the hero in mind. So, the project first goes to the hero. The first agenda on any producer’s mind is to ‘lock’ a hero first. The moment a hero is locked, the producer will take the script to him and discuss with him in detail. In most cases, the script will go through changes and tweaks if the hero desires.

2. The hero will only work with a compatible heroine

Once the producers have a hero on board, they start heroine hunting. The aim now is to hunt for a heroine with whom the hero is comfortable working with. For example, if you have roped in John Abraham for a project then hiring Kareena Kapoor is out of the question as the two might not be comfortable working with each other. Similarly, you might not have Priyanka Chopra and Saif Ali Khan working with each other.

But it is never the other way round — the heroine never gets to decide her hero. She can at best walk out of the project if she is not comfortable with the hero.

3. The hero will be consulted before approaching the heroine

After a list of compatible heroines are selected. Then starts the process of short-listing and calls. In most cases, the hero who gives the final approval regarding the heroine and makes the first cold call himself. When the heroine principally agrees to be a part of the project, it’s then handed over to the producers, who’ll now take it up with the managers. So, you can imagine that the hero will only agree to work with a heroine he is ‘close’ to.

4. The paycheck of a heroine is not even half that of a hero

The process of recruiting a heroine is anything, but professional. You can well-imagine that the payment structure won’t be professional too. The heroine is always paid according to a fixed rate card which varies between INR one crore to INR 8 crores. This amount is not even half of what a hero earns. A hero gets an acting fee, a part of the sale proceeds and sometimes exclusive distribution rights. If you add all that up, a hero might even earn 5 times to that of a heroine or even more, if the film does well. In some cases, the hero is made a producer and part of the profits are shared with him. This is unheard of in the case of heroines.

5. A question of supply and demand

For reasons known to all, Bollywood and South Indian cinema maintain a steady supply of younger actresses. Every year, scores of new faces are launched to replace the old order. Any heroine above the age of 35 are considered ‘old’ while heroes tend to mature only after 40. Heroines like Rani Mukerji, Sushmita Sen and Aishwarya Rai are being referred to as ‘senior’ actresses while most developed film industries across the world wouldn’t dare to do so. Imagine, Shah Rukh Khan or a Aamir Khan being referred to as ‘senior’ actors. Sounds illogical right? We can only refer to a Jeetendra or a Dharmendra as senior actors. The term ‘senior’ is only reserved for actors who might be eligible for Lifetime Achievement Awards. Also, projects start drying up for actresses who decide to get married or worse, have a baby. The senior actresses are not flooded with projects unless an enterprising filmmaker writes a script specially targetted at them.

Soumik Sen’s Gulaab Gang was one such script.

A pretty heroine is supposed to run a sprint (short distance races) in Bollywood while the heroes are there for a marathon.

Bollywood hasn’t changed a bit from what it was in the 1980s. Whether you like it or not.

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