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Multiplex Association of India writes to Maharashtra CM urging to keep cinemas open




Citing reports that claim the possibility of a statewide lockdown in Maharashtra from April first week, the Multiplex Association of India has written to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray urging him to keep cinemas open even if a lockdown is implemented across the state.

The letter, signed by Multiplex Association of India President Kamal Gianchandani, talks about the losses incurred by the film exhibition industry ever since the nationwide lockdown last year and requests the chief minister to allow the cinemas/ shopping centres/ malls to continue operating during the lockdown if is is implemented.

The letter mentions: “We write to you with reference to a recent news in circulation across multiple media platforms citing possibility of second lockdown in the state of Maharashtra from 2nd/3rd April 2021 for a limited period. The news also mentions that the shutdown is expected to be different from last year’s as it would not hamper economic activities like before, but essentially focus on preventing crowding for arresting the increasing transmission of Covid.”

“While we appreciate the efforts by the authorities to control the spread of Covid and are ready to support the Government and the District Administration to overcome challenges posed by the pandemic, we believe that the lockdowns (if implemented) are going to negatively impact the cinema, retail and shopping industry.”

Talking about the cinema exhibition industry experiencing a “possible bankruptcy”, the letter further reads: “Sir, the cinema closure ordered by the Maharashtra Government on 13 March 2020, followed by closures in other states across the country, have already brought the industry to an unprecedented situation. With Zero revenues in 8 months (13 March 2020 till 9 November 2020), and thereafter meagre revenues in the last 5 months (9 November 2020 till 31 March 2021), the cinema exhibition industry is now facing possible bankruptcies.”

“Given the dire economic and financial impact of the epidemic on our sector, we would sincerely urge the Maharashtra Government to allow the Cinemas/ Shopping Centres/ Malls to continue operating as per regular functioning and let the customers experience a controlled and safe movie-going and shopping experience. We also urge you to allow cinemas & malls to operate as per regular operational hours. This will also ensure that footfalls are dispersed and operations run smoothly.”

“As always, assigning top-most priority to the health and well-being of the movie-goers and our employees, we have implemented a safety and precaution plan with the most stringent SOP’s, to ensure a safe, secure and a hygienic cinema viewing experience for the movie lovers of our state.”

“As an important part of the Media & Entertainment Sector, the cinema industry has contributed towards the State Exchequer, even during times of economic slowdown. The industry also generates a huge number of employment opportunities and would continue to do so in the future across all parts of the State of Maharashtra.”

“In view of the above, we would like to request Government to favorably consider the following,

— to not issue a second lockdown order w.r.t Cinemas/ multiplexes/ shopping centers/ malls

— issue necessary orders to allow Cinemas/ multiplexes/ shopping centers/ malls to operate as per regular operational hours.”


‘Lagaan’ turns 20: Aamir Khan goes down memory lane




Aamir Khan tells you he wouldn’t be inclined to relive the mammoth experience of making “Lagaan”, the film that marked his debut as producer exactly two decades ago on this date, struck box office gold and eventually took him to the Oscars.

“If you ask me to make Lagaan again, I will not even attempt it. I will not have the courage to make Lagaan again,” says the superstar-filmmaker, about the Ashutosh Gowariker-directorial that defied every stereotype of the era, in the process reorganising quite a few idioms of mainstream Bollywood in its time.

Perhaps there is a sense of fulfilment that an achiever of his stature experiences while looking back at a work as consummate as “Lagaan” that would bar him from revisiting the film.

Aamir, anyway, is rarely known to repeat what he has scored with once.

Today, as the film completes 20 years, the actor romances the good old days when he shot the film, which eventually became India’s third-ever official entry at the Oscars in best foreign feature film category. While he confesses picking one memory from that incredible journey is tough for him, he recalls a few unforgettable ones.

He remembers actor Paul Blackthorne, for instance, the English actor who played the much-hated antagonist Captain Russell. Aamir remembers Russell as a “gentle giant” off-camera, who would read out “Winnie The Pooh” to everyone.

“Paul Blackthorne who played the villain, in real life he is such a sweetheart. He is a gentle giant and so soft-spoken. He was always laughing, always joking around. We had a massive make-up room where all of us used to get ready. The person who used to be entertaining all of us was Paul. He would sit on his chair and read ‘Winnie the Pooh’ aloud. Every morning, we’d sit, get our makeup done and he’d be reading ‘Winnie The Pooh’ loudly and we’d enjoy it. Captain Russel would read out Winnie The Pooh to us,” Aamir tells IANS, as he bursts out laughing recalling the memory.

Another of Aamir’s favourite recollections is of how the Gayatri Mantra prepared the entire unit for a gruelling day’s shoot ahead.

“There were things that became a habit. We would travel in a bus to the location at 4 a.m. and reach the location at 5 a.m. Every day it became a norm that for six months the ‘Gayatri Mantra’ used to be played. One of the actors just played it (on speaker) in the morning. It used to be dark, and we all had just woken up a while back. It had a good effect on us. There was not a single day that we missed it,” he recalls.

For Aamir, as well as the entire unit, “Lagaan” has been a chapter that will always be integral to their lives. It is a reason why he has stayed in touch with the team.

“I am in touch with Paul, Rachel Shelley (who played Elizabeth), with all other actors. Until five months back we had a Whatsapp group. Then I stopped using a cellphone, so I’m not a part of it,” Aamir says.

For the actor, having his family on the set of the film on the first day is still a beautiful memory.

“I think one of the memorable things for me is that since this was my first film as a producer, my uncle (Nasir Hussain), with whom I have worked as an AD (assistant director), was like my boss. I have learnt under him. He was a producer-director. My father (Tahir Hussain) has been a producer-director. So, that first day of shooting of ‘Lagaan’, when my uncle and aunt had arrived, my parents were there, my grandmother was there, (former wife) Reena’s parents were there. It was the first day that my parents and my uncle and aunt, who had seen me grow up as a child, were seeing me produce a film,” recalls the actor.

He adds: “They came to set, they saw the whole village. We had built the village, we had built the temple on the hill and behind the temple, which you never see in the film because it is on the other side of the village, we had built a huge 10,000 square-foot area for the production site. Costume rooms, lunch rooms — so there was massive space at the back. So, it was a very important moment for me to see my parents, uncle and aunt come to set, look at it and realise that now I have become a producer.”

Aamir says he did not expect the kind of response the film garnered post release. The reaction to the climactic cricket match in the story, which occupies the last hour of the film, was a pleasant surprise, too. “People in the theatres in the last one hour used to convert it into a stadium. The audience would shout, ‘Bhuvan! Bhuvan!’ We didn’t expect this kind of a response. It was a dream response,” he sums up.

Indeed, it is a dream response that the film still continues to see, after two decades.

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Shweta Tripathi on reaping benefits of digital space




Shweta Tripathi says she has always been aware of the diverse characteristics of OTT platforms.

Shweta is known for her work in the web-space, in projects such as “Mirzapur”, “Made In Heaven” and “Lakhon Main Ek”. Her upcoming slate of work is also all set to release on the OTT space.

“I have always been aware of the vast and diverse characteristics of OTT platforms. As an actor, I do not believe in restricting myself due to the medium of the content I’ll be a part of,” Shweta said.

She added: “Without a doubt, the digital space is booming today and I’m sure will continue to do so in the future, and having embraced it early on makes me feel grateful to be a part of something so big and enriching.”

Shweta currently awaits the release of two projects — “Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein” and “Escaype Live”.

“Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein” also stars Tahir Raj Bhasin while “Escaype Live” features South star Siddharth.

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‘Bell Bottom’ to release in theatres on July 27




The Akshay Kumar-starrer spy thriller “Bell Bottom” has now been scheduled for a theatrical release on July 27.

Akshay posted a video on Instagram on Tuesday to announce the news.

The film was earlier scheduled for an April 2021 release but was pushed due to the second wave of Covid-19 in the country.

“I know you have patiently waited for the release of #Bellbottom. Couldn’t be happier to finally announce the release of our film. Arriving on the big screens worldwide #BellBottomOn27July,” Akshay captioned the video.

Directed by Ranjit M. Tewari, “Bell Bottom” stars Akshay alongside Vaani Kapoor, Huma Qureshi and Lara Dutta.

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