The Telegraph
| Sunday, January 19, 2014 |



Work first

Talk about dedication. Actress Shruti Haasan, daughter of Kamal Haasan, doesn't let a minor thing like an appendix op come in the way of her work. Earlier this month, Haasan was in Hyderabad shooting for a film when she complained of intense pain. She was rushed to Chennai where she underwent surgery to get her appendix removed. But no later than a week after that, she tweeted that she was back in action, shooting for Gabbar, an Akshay Kumar starrer. In a follow-up tweet she said she was raring to go, "albeit a bit slowly". Take it easy, girl.

Green man

If you find the hills of Mussoorie nicely green, you have to thank Avdhash Kaushal for it. The grand old man of the NGO movement in the country, Kaushal came to the notice of the environment lobby when he successfully stopped mining in the limestone quarries of the Garhwal hills around Mussoorie with the help of the Supreme Court more than 25 years ago. Then he stopped the practice of bonded labour, again in Garhwal. Septuagenarian Kaushal, who runs an NGO called Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra in Dehradun, has added another feather to his already well plumed cap (he was also awarded the Padma Shri long years ago). He has just been bestowed with the Nani Palkhivala award for civil liberties. Kaushal has only one answer to questions on how he feels. He laughs.

Common theme

The common man is certainly the flavour of the season. Ask Vivek Budakoti, whose film, Pied Piper, was inspired by, what else, the aam aadmi. The film will now travel to the Indian International Film Festival of South Africa, after having had a world premiere at the Chicago South Asian Film Festival and being picked for the best film award at the Delhi International Film Festival. The Rajpal Yadav starrer, which is a satire based on the current socio-political turmoil in the country, was also showcased at the Fer Film Festival in Ferizaj in the Republic of Kosovo. "The common man has learnt the art of amusing himself even in grave situations like that which we are facing now," says the Mumbai-based filmmaker. That's true enough.

Girl power

She was once the dimpled heartthrob of the nation, featuring in a host of fluffy rom coms. Today, Juhi Chawla, an actress who also wears the hat of an activist, likes to work in serious films — such as Soumik Sen's upcoming directorial debut, Gulaab Gang. The film is inspired by a group of women activists in Bundelkhand and spreads the message of women's empowerment. Chawla plays the role of a shrewd and conniving politician — a far cry from her bubbly image of yore. And guess what? She is set to share screen space with Madhuri Dixit for the first time. She had refused to work with Dixit earlier as they were rivals once upon a time. That's a nice show of sisterhood, especially in a film about women's empowerment.

Jeet feat

Bangla heroes are clearly on a high. While Tollywood heartthrob Dev is making a splash with the mega-budget Bengali adventure film, Chander Pahar, the other Tollywood star Jeet will soon be seen in the first Viacom 18 Bengali venture, The Royal Bengal Tiger (TRBT). His last outing, Boss, which was produced by another big Bollywood production house, Reliance, did well at the box office. But while Boss was an out and out commercial flick, TRBT is slightly offbeat. Directed by Rajesh Ganguli, who earlier made a Bollywood "murder mystery" called Blue Oranges with Rajit Kapoor, the film revolves around an Everyman played by Abir "Byomkesh" Chatterjee who turns into a rebel with a cause with the help of his screen friend, Jeet. Get set for a power-packed performance.