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February 23, 2019

I refused to be an 'arm candy' - Pooja Bhatt

Manoj Bajpayee
Manoj Bajpayee

Filmmaker-actress Pooja Bhatt is all set to make her acting comeback after a 18-year hiatus with a film written by her father, Mahesh Bhatt.

Pooja, 43, had made her acting debut in 1989 with Daddy, which was about a young daughter who decides to save her alcoholic father with unconditional love and care.

Pooja said the new film will be the "reverse" of Daddy. "I am acting in a film. It is like Daddy but we are doing a reverse version of it. It's about an ambitious woman, who gets busy chasing her career and thus leaves her daughter to earn money and fame," Pooja told PTI.

"She is seen as a depressed and drunk character before realising that she needs to make amends for her acts," she said.

Pooja has also done films like Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin, Sadak and Phir Teri Kahani Yaad Aayee.

Pooja, who was last seen in 1998's Zakhm, has no qualms about not doing many films as she refused to be an arm candy.

"I didn't do many films because I refused to be an arm candy. When my father retired from direction, I stopped acting too. But today, people are telling many good stories and who better than my father to write one. That is why I decided to act," said Pooja.

The film will start rolling this year after the makers find a director.

"We are still looking for a director who will do justice to the material. My father will never direct a film again. He has said it many times and I didn't try to coax him to direct this one either," she said.

Pooja, meanwhile, is working on her next film, Jism 3.



Neerja's Ashok Chakra Citation Will Make You Salute Her Courage


As India celebrates national hero Neerja Bhanot, thanks to the success of the film Neerja, the citation of her Ashok Chakra, India's highest peacetime gallantry award, has now been made available online which details the heroic exploits of the 23-year-old stewardess who was killed while saving the lives of passengers during the 1986 hijacking of a Pan Am flight.

Released by Fox Star Studios, producers of Neerja, the citation describes Neerja's gallantry and her courage under fire. Neerja was the first civilian and the youngest person to be bestowed with the Ashok Chakra. The valiant national hero, who saved 359 lives, helped evacuate everyone on board but was shot while leading a group of children to safety.

The citation says: "Showing tremendous presence of mind and quick reflexes, it was her instant shout of 'Hijack,' which alerted the flight crew, who immediately escaped, thereby immobilising the craft. With the exit of the flight crew, she took command of the situation and kept the terrified passengers calm. She deftly managed the situation and prevented the trigger-happy hijackers from going berserk.

"Her loyalties to the passengers of the aircraft in distress will forever be a lasting tribute to the lasting qualities of human spirit. She thus displayed the most conspicuous bravery in the face of grave adversities and tried to save the life of passengers at the cost of her own life."



Jim Sarbh says terrorist role was 'challenging'


Actor Jim Sarbh, who played a terrorist Khalil in Sonam Kapoor's Neerja, said his role in the film was challenging.

"Khalil was short-tempered and so I had begun behaving like him on the sets. I used to sometimes yell at the assistant directors if my costume was not ready on time. I was saying things in the way I usually don't, but in the way Khalil would've said it. The character was challenging and it got on my nerves," Jim told PTI.

Ram Madhvani's Neerja, which casts Sonam in the titular role, documents the story of Neerja Bhanot, who was killed in the 1986 hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 in Karachi. Bhanot, who was 23, died while shielding a group of children from gunfire and became the youngest ever recipient of the Ashok Chakra, India's highest peacetime gallantry award.

Jim is a theatre actor and director, who shared the stage with actors like Kalki Koechlin and Ira Dubey. The actor attended workshops and isolated himself to get into the skin of the character.

"I was in a bad mood because Khalil is always angry. So, while shooting for the film, I went into isolation. I didn't interact with people and had no social life. But once I was done with the character, I could wash Khalil off my face," added Jim.

"There was no particular brief to play the character. It was all in the script. Khalil is the most volatile one and questions the motives of his boss. He doesn't like to be told anything. He had to be messed up. And unpredictability is the friend of terror," said Jim.

The actor is elated with the response to Neerja and is gearing up for his next release with Konkona Sensharma's A Death in the Gunj.

"The movie is coming out well. I can't define the character, but let's say that if it's biryani, then I am neither meat nor rice. I am the flavour," added Jim.

Neerja was released on February 19.



Manoj Bajpayee Will 'Not Read' Scripts Unless Written in Hindi


National Award-winning actor Manoj Bajpayee, who has portrayed the life of gay professor Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras in the upcoming film Aligarh, said he doesn't read a script if it is not written in Hindi.

"I am very passionate about Hindi language. Satya made me a commercially successful actor. After that I slowly started getting work in this industry. The day I realised I am in a position to make demands, I decided not to read any director's script if it is not typed in Hindi. I am stubborn on this issue," Manoj said at the Lit-O-Fest, a literature festival in Mumbai.

Bajpayee also said that the Hindi language is his "strength".

"People are often sluggish to find a Hindi typist. Although I stick to point that if they want me to read the script, it must be in Hindi. Once a producer or director gave excuse of other actors, I told him that it is not my lookout if they do not know Hindi well. Hindi language is my strength. I want my script in Hindi only," he added.

The Shool actor said he believes in encouraging literary work in Hindi and feels literary festivals should be organised frequently.

Giving an example of superstar Amitabh Bachchan, he said: "Amitji is a big admirer and supporter of his father Harivansh Rai Bachchan's work. He always attempts to bring Harivanshji's work in public in different ways. So it is our responsibility to inspire Hindi writers and poets because they are hugely contributing to make our Hindi culture rich."

On the work front, Bajpayee is gearing up for the release of Hansal Mehta's film Aligarh, which is based on the real life incident of Dr Srinivas Ramchandra Siras, who was suspended from his job because of his sexual orientation.



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