Amartya Sen’s daughter Nandana Sen must pray to the gods to give her a film that will see the light of day. Or maybe Randeep Hooda’s current streak of luck will rub off on her. Randeep suddenly has girls going orgasmic over him after a consistent run of luck at the box office that started with Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai (OUATIM) and Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster (SBAG) and has continued with Jannat 2 (J2). He has also been singled out for standing up superbly to all his seasoned co-actors (Ajay Devgn, Jimmy Sheirgill, Emraan Hashmi, respectively). In a very short period of time, Randeep has been applauded across the spectrum, whether he had to showcase raw passion in SBAG or play the tough cop without a single screen smooch in OUATIM and J2 (with Emraan Hashmi around, obviously nobody else got a chance to pucker up in the latter film).
But all these recent Hooda outings would have been climaxed by the stuck-in-the-cans Rang Rasiya if only it had reached the theatres. This is the finely crafted celluloid telling of painter Raja Ravi Varma’s life where a bare-chested Hooda shared crackling chemistry with Nandana Sen, who also, ahem, went bare chested in the film. Despite the appreciation Rang Rasiya draws every time it is screened for a private audience, it continues to languish in the cans over tricky financial arrangements between filmmaker Ketan Mehta and those who have bankrolled him.
And so, a film that might have done a lot of good for Nandana Sen’s work profile lies unreleased, years after being completed. Luckily for Randeep, other films have come along and taken him places but his Rang Rasiya co-star needs that same brand of luck to rejuvenate her acting career. This week, another film of hers which was ready five years ago got a small, limited release. Titled The Forest, the 90-minute film has been made by well-known dress designer, Ritu Kumar’s son Ashvin Kumar.
Without going into its merits, The Forest, about a man-eating leopard and a troubled three-way human relationship, once again has Nandana playing the contentiously sensual woman. The same raw passion seen in films like SBAG and Rang Rasiya comes into play. With its limited appeal, The Forest will certainly not work magic on her career but its long hibernation in the cans (PVR came to its rescue by picking it up for a discreet release) has been topped by its Hindi version not getting clearance from the censors. So is it back to the cans for the Hindi avatar of The Forest?
Fortunately, Nandana’s personal life is having a better run as the man in her life, producer Madhu Mantena, continues to be crazy about her.
That goes for her Rang Rasiya hero, Randeep Hooda too. His newfound female following may lust for him but he’s already taken. He continues to be dead serious about a girl from Patna, Neetu Chandra, who is his lucky charm. Ask him about ’affaire Sushmita Sen, a long forgotten folly of earlier years, and Randeep will pointedly avoid the lady and talk about how he misses her daughter Renee. Point taken splendidly, Randeep.
By the way, while Randeep is collecting heaps of compliments for his cop act in Jannat 2, he and Neetu continue to go solo in the workplace. Neetu has not been standing next to him, lapping up reflected glory but has flown off to “Cyprus where I’m shooting for a month for a Greek-English film,” says her text message. She in Cyprus, he in Goa, shooting for Jism 2 . That’s why he missed the Jannat 2 success celebrations hosted by the Bhatts in Mumbai.
Meanwhile, back to Mumbai is Anushka Sharma who spent a long month up north filming for Vishal Bhardwaj’s Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola with Imran Khan. After that outing, she is back where she began and belongs, at Yash Raj Studios where the whisper is that she spent the whole of last week getting her look right for Yash Chopra’s Shah Rukh-Katrina film. As most people know, Yash Chopra has always been so fastidious about his heroines looking their ethereal best that when he was making Dil Toh Pagal Hai, he and Manish Malhotra had tried out 55 different kinds of outfits before freezing Madhuri’s final look in the film. Currently, Anushka is reported to be undergoing similar look tests before Yash C gives the thumbs up. Since Anushka has a smallish, Raakhee-in-Daag kind of role, Yash Chopra reportedly wants to make sure she packs a wallop when she does come on screen.
Bharathi S. Pradhan is editor, The Film Street Journal