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Actress Juhi Chawla: Saroj Khan would make her heroines look and perform like queens



Actress Juhi Chawla is “truly sad” to hear about choreographer Saroj Khan’s demise. She has shared some fond memories of working with her right from “Chandni”, where she had a guest role, to the TV show “Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa”.

Going down memory lane, Juhi said: “I have many memories of working with her very early on in my career and right up to ‘Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa’, which was a couple of years ago where Vaibhavi Merchant, Sarojji and I were judges on the show.”

“Sarojji was sheer magic, she was head and shoulder above all, she would make her heroines look and perform like queens. Like a lot of choreographers, Sarojji was short, a little plump, not the perfect face or figure but when she would dance you couldn’t take your eyes off her, everybody else around her faded into oblivion. She was mesmerising, she had the finest sense of shot-taking from a direction point of view, her expressions were fantastic – whether it was naughty, seductive, sad, fun or whatever. Her sensibility in every department was top notch. There was finesse in her every shot, she had a fine sense of humour, she was superlative, she was iconic,” she added.

Juhi was called to do a guest appearance for Sridevi-starrer “Chandni”.

“I remember doing a look test beforehand, and then I had to face the camera for the first time in Chandivali Studios for the song ‘Lagi aaj sawan’. I was very new, shooting for Yash Chopraji for a film starring big stars and I was going to do the song… mercifully the shots were just me but then it was with the top choreographer of that time, Sarojji!,” she recalled.

Clearly, Juhi, then a budding actress, was nervous.

“I just hoped everything went well. It was an outdoor shoot amongst the greens, Sarojji would show me the shot and the cameras would start rolling. It was probably my fortunate day because every first or second would be okayed. I remember my staff telling me that it’s not easy getting Sarojji to say ‘okay’; if the shot doesn’t go well you don’t get an okay,” said Juhi.

After the 1989 film the actress got to work with her time and again, at several intervals.

“Some of my most famous songs have been choreographed by her. We have the title track for ‘Hum Hai Rahi Pyar Ke’, we did ‘Main koi aisa geet gaoon’ from ‘Yes Boss’, ‘Ishq hua kaise hua’ from ‘Ishq’, ‘Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman’, and so many more,” she saidn

“Right after ‘Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak’, my career had just taken off and I had to do the song ‘Main teri rani, tu raja’ from ‘Lootere’ where I had to wear just a shirt on the beach and I was nervous thinking how it would turn out as it was an entire image makeover for me to go from wearing ghagra choli in QSQT to just a shirt on the beach. Sarojji handled it and when I saw how she shot it and what it turned out like, I was surprised. I looked like a million. She could make magic out of nothing, she could make everything look classy, it was never just a song, it was finesse in the way she made you look and perform, that was her gift,” she added.

Sharing another anecdote, she said: “We were shooting for ‘Karobaar’ in South Africa, Rakesh Roshanji was the director, we were to do this seductive number and again, I was nervous, I cried and insisted that I will only do the song if Sarojji shoots it. Gudduji was very kind, he called up Sarojji and asked her to come. We waited a day for her in Cape Town as she was finishing her prior commitment and then she came and shot the song for us.”

“Sarojji was superbly busy, she would be overloaded with work because she was the best. She would be shooting back-to-back, do 3 shifts in a row, if possible as all the fine people wanted her because her work was fantastic.”

Juhi simply loved working with Saroj Khan, always nervous and equally excited.

“I knew she would make me do magic, but I questioned myself if I would be able to do that magic. A lot of my songs were also choreographed by Tarun Masterji and Chinni Prakashji, who were from the South and their styles were very different from Sarojji. So when I worked with Sarojji, it would take me a day or two to absorb her style, and by the third or fourth day when I would get her rhythm, the song would get over. I would have to wait another 6 months to work with her and begin the process all over again,” she said.

She thinks the artistes who have totally consumed her were Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit.

“She did so much work with Srideviji, and I was a fan of both, I would listen to Sarojji’s anecdotes about Srideviji, about how she was so shy, but would light up on the screen, she was so amazingly stunning and well put together. I would listen with wide eyes and try to emulate those things because they were both so good at what they did. I remember her telling us how she started into the industry when she was just 12-13 years old how from being an assistant she took over and became who she did. She was simply magic, you can’t explain it, it’s just there in some people, she had it,” said Juhi.

“I was looking at the songs that I had done with her and realised almost the entire team of ‘Chandni’ has passed away. Now I am almost thinking, are they making a film up there without me? They were all such great people with such superb talent,” she said about the film, which starred late actors Sridevi, Rishi Kapoor and Vinod Khanna.


SSR’s death ‘mystery’ unsolved after a year, like unending soap




Almost like an unending daily soap, the so-called ‘mystery over the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput continues, as it remains unsolved a year after he was found dead in his Mumbai home.

On June 14, 2020, at the height of pandemic induced lockdown, Sushant, 34, the man who moved audiences with movies like “M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story” (2016), “Kedarnath” (2018) and “Chhichhore” (2019), was allegedly discovered hanging from a ceiling fan at his rented home in Mont Blanc Apartments, triggering one of the biggest controversies in Bollywood in recent years.

Soon, it erupted into a political dogfight involving the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party in Maharashtra, plus the then poll-bound Bihar regime and the Centre.

Multiple probe agencies like Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Enforcement Directorate (ED), and Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), jumped into the cauldron that reeked of a riveting Bollywood potboiler — intrigues, oodles of love, girlfriends, ‘dhokha’ (deceit), drugs, hints of lesbianism, alleged big money scam, nefarious links, et al.

A year later, the social media is overflowing with fan memories, obits, tributes and demands for justice, as the ruling MVA allies Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress leaders slam the CBI and the Centre.

Shiv Sena Spokesperson and MP Priyanka Chaturvedi said the Sushant episode was not about a probe into what went wrong, but was more about “hounding the (MVA) government, casting aspersions, launching a smear campaign” as a lot of stories have turned out to be fake.

NCP National Spokespserson and Minister Nawab Malik termed it as “a conspiracy hatched” to discredit the Maharashtra government, and demanded that if Sushant did not commit suicide, then the CBI should reveal who is his killer.

“It has been 310 days since the CBI started probing and 250 days since an AIIMS panel ruled out murder. When will the agency declare the final conclusion? Why has CBI kept the lid on it? CBI is under immense pressure from its political bosses,” said Congress State Spokesperson Sachin Sawant.

“After a year, nobody knows what happened to the CBI probe. This was not for justice to Sushant, but to target the government on an issue which was clearly an open-and-shut case,” said Chaturvedi sharply.

“The Mumbai Police was investigating Sushant’s suicide case, but for political reasons, the Bihar government lodged the case and handed it over to the CBI. Now, the CBI should reveal who killed him,” Malik said.

Sawant added: “The BJP government at the Centre is using CBI, ED, NIA as political weapons to target and defame the MVA, these agencies are no more independent — but truth always prevails.”

The Bandra police had lodged an accidental death report in the case, but after the first information report registered by Sushant’s father, Krishna Kishore Singh in Patna, the Bihar government sought a CBI probe, which was ordered by the Supreme Court.

On August 19, 2020, the CBI formally took over the case investigation, then the ED entered to probe the financial angles, followed by the NCB to unravel the drugs angle.

Sushant’s family squarely blamed his live-in partner and actress Rhea Chakraborty, her brother Showik and other friends or aides, leading to the arrest of around 33 persons by the NCB.

As the CBI-ED probes seem to have faded in the background, the NCB marched on relentlessly, ostensibly to “uproot the drugs citadel” in Mumbai, especially Bollywood and many of its high-profile players.

The CBI recorded statements of Sushant’s family members and other witnesses, while Rhea contended that the late actor used to take drugs and was being treated for certain mental health issues.

Revelling in the fresh exposes virtually daily, like a TV soap, the BJP state leaders spared no opportunity to take jabs at Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and his son and Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray.

Later, in the Bihar elections, Sushant’s death proved to be a political windfall and AIIMS, New Delhi, ruled out any foul play, concurring that he died by hanging.

Now, the ball is in the CBI court to draw the curtains for the final word on Sushant’s end.

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Sunil Grover on how he makes comedy seem so easy




He doesn’t have to try too hard. His audience can’t hold back a chuckle when he doles out a mere oneliner or tiny twist of expression. Sunil Grover makes comedy seem like a cakewalk.

“I think I am lucky. I am lucky that people laugh at what I say. So, there is nothing else to it. We all have to do our work and create our jokes, and how to render it and how to approach it. I love it. Maybe the love for it makes it work sometimes,” Sunil told IANS.

The 43-year-old funnyman gained the spotlight for his portrayals of Gutthi, Dr Mashoor Gulati and Rinku Devi on television.

He has also featured in films such as “Bharata, “Gabbar Is Back”, “Patakha” and “Baaghi”, among many others.

“I love what I do and that is a tool. This is something which is not imposed. I can’t do anything else. Maybe when you know that this is the only survival thing you have you have to love it,” he said.

Currently, Sunil stars in a web-series titled “Sunflower”, a comedy murder-mystery.

The show also features Ranvir Shorey, Ashish Vidyarthi, Girish Kulkarni, Mukul Chadda, Radha Bhatt, Dayana Erappa, Shonali Nagrani, and Saloni Khanna, among a huge ensemble cast.

The series tells the story of a middle-class housing society in Mumbai called Sunflower, which houses quirky characters and becomes the scene of a murder.

Produced by Reliance Entertainment and Good Co., the series is written by Vikas Bahl who co-directs with Rahul Sengupta.

It streams on Zee5.

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Kirti Kulhari: The attitude of acceptance helps me




The ongoing second wave of the pandemic has affected us in many different ways, including taking a toll on mental health. Actress Kirti Kulhari reveals what she does to lift her spirits when she feels down.

“I travel. I know it’s been a very tough time, but for me traveling is a time when I really connect with myself and I just look at how much life has to offer! Also, what helps me is the attitude of acceptance. When something is the way it is, you just have to accept and look at what you can do to make yourself and people around you feel better in that situation,” Kirti told IANS.

The actress recently went on a solo trip to Uttarakhand and shared photographs and videos on social media of what she calls her “experience of a lifetime”.

Opening up on her trip, Kirti shared: “I went for a mountain trek, up to 11,000 feet for six days. This was the first time I’ve actually been on a trek. It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life and Uttarakhand in terms of nature and beauty is beyond words.”

“Those six days, there was zero network and I was almost disconnected from the world. I was just in the middle of nature, sleeping under the stars in small camping tents. It was an experience of a lifetime. I am surely going to do more of this,” she added.

Almost in sync with what she says about loving to travel, her new release “Shaadisthan” is a road trip movie. She plays Sasha, lead singer of a four-member music band that is on their way to Rajasthan in their tour bus.

“I loved shooting in Rajasthan. It is a huge place and there is so much to explore. Vijay Nagar, where we were shooting, is an hour away from Ajmer Sharif, which I visited for the first time. We stayed in a really old house of a king, which was great. I also visited Pushkar, which I’ve never been to,” Kirti revealed.

Did she pay a visit to her family residing in her hometown Pilani after the shoot? “No this time I didn’t, actually. Very recently I had paid a visit to my grandparents. So, I used the free time to do these (travelling around), instead of going back to my hometown,” the actress replied.

She describes Sasha in “Shaadisthan” as “somebody who symbolises freedom and is grounded”. The actress revealed what intrigued her to be a part of the film.

“The subject of the film, which talks about freedom of choice, and of course the character of Sasha, which is very layered,” she says, about what attracted her, adding: “I’ve been very fascinated by musicians and their world. So, this was my chance to live it.”

Kirti also spoke about how she used very little or no makeup to make Sasha close to real life.

“Sasha is not somebody who is a made-up person. She is a performer and entertainer who will dress up whenever she is on the stage. Otherwise, she is very comfortable in her skin and likes going without makeup.

“I also feel, when you are shooting in natural light a lot of times, zero makeup looks really good. Also, people around us do not roam around in makeup in real life all the time. So, it is very real to watch real people on screen and that’s what people relate to,” she suggested, about her character in the film, which was released on Disney+ Hotstar.

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