Real story behind Nikkhil Advani’s Batla House

Having grossed close to 40 crore at the box office, Bollywood hunk  John Abraham has returned to the silver screen with Batla House, featuring Mrunal Thakur in the lead. Released on Independence Day it is in direct contest with Akshay Kumar’s sci-fi flick Mission Mangal.

While the film is doing good the Nikkhil Advani directorial, Batla House tries giving an insight into the 2008 encounter relating to the terrorist plot around the Jamia Nagar locale by the same name.

While John plays ACP Sanjeev Kumar Yadav, a real life key figure in Delhi Police’s special cell, the film tries to recreate the encounter and the consequent aftermath, as per reports.

To prep up for his role, John Abraham spent time with Special cell DCP Sanjeev Kumar Yadav in order to understand the incident.

The film in some ways tries to show that the encounter was not fake, while dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Receiving mixed and negative reviews, here is an attempt to understand what really transpired at the Batla House episode in real life.

It all started with five bombs ripping through Delhi at different places which covered GK’s M Block, Connaught Place and Karol Bagh’s Gaffar market.

On the fateful day of Sept 13, 2008, a week ahead of the Batla House encounter about 30 people died and over 100 were injured.

Thankfully 3 bombs were defused in time to avoid massive destruction. These were part of a number of serial pan India blasts witnessed in other places like Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Jaipur.

Following the mayhem, seven cops of the Delhi Police on Sept 19 led by Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma of Special Cell of Delhi police stormed flat– 108, L-18, Batla House, Jamia Nagar alleging a suspected terrorist was hiding.

As one officer went in search for the terrorist, the others blocked all exist of the locality. The cops aping a representative of Vodafone made the first move. Once information was confirmed, Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma was given the go.

Wearing the casual attire, Sharma and his men came to the flat eventually leading to a scuffle and gunshots.

Popular folklore was alleged terrorists fired and hence followed a 20 minute encounter.

As per reportage out of five terrorists, two terrorists Atif Ameen and Mohammad Sajid  were killed. Mohammad Saif was arrested and Shahzad and Junaid escaped.

Among the dead were a minor and a student of the MA Programme in Human Rights.

Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma sustained bullet injuries in encounter only to die.

After the encounter happened there were multiple speculations by journalists and human rights activists that there was massive foul play. Even politicians called it fake.

In a chargesheet against Shahzad, Ariz Khan, Atif Ameen and Mohammed Sajid on 28 April 2010 they were accused of killing Inspector Sharma on 19 September 2008.

Saquib Nisar, a friend of Atif Ameen was arrested. He even confessed of knowing Atif. This led to his arrest for being part of the blast conspiracy.

Even caretaker of the house Abdul Rehman and son Zia Ur Rehman who were also arrested on charges of forging the rent lease agreement and framing the blasts respectively.

After a year passed, the terrorists who escaped was arrested.

After a year, a suspect Shahzad was picked up from Azamgarh in Feb 2010. Even as cops said he was discovered based on a passport recovered from Batla House, the details in response to an RTI had no such mention. The police, blamed sloppy paper work.

The court while failed to find involvement, after three years of trial and 77 witnesses, he was sentenced to life in 2013 with fine of Rs 95,000,  accusing him of killing Sharma, attempting to kill other officers and destructing evidence.

As per court it was based on circumstantial evidence, with no direct proof of Shahzad’s presence in the house on that day.

Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association published two books about the alleged framing of the youths by Special Cell of Delhi Police.

In Batla house  John Abraham plays Sanjeev Kumar Yadav, then-inspector who is now a DCP posted with Special Cell. Sanjeev Kumar Yadav was under the scanner over charges of a fake encounter.

Let’s admit we all called Zaira Wasim un – Islamic

Two things happened in life side by side for me. One side there were reports that Zaira Wasim was quitting Bollywood because there was a clear contradiction between her career and her religion. Back home there were reports that next time you go to Bada Imambara you will have to dress up well so that you do not look or seem to violate the set regressive thought that pervades a certain section of people. In a country where we all have equal right to speak, if a Mohua Mitra has the right to speak up with immense force, so does Zaira who has achieved something if not a lot in the industry.

There are reports that the there were Fatwas issued against the actress but I guess the problem starts when we start dictating a woman’s choices. Who decides what a 20 plus girl should do with her life. Why should people call her ungrateful. At 20 something maybe she is not good enough a chooser of words but I guess the intent is not to harm.

Does it behove of the senior tribe in the industry and the illuminati to give her lectures on how she is a product of Bollywood and her whole soul identity is nothing but that. The fact that an actress was handpicked by perfectionist Aamir Khan and she rose the ladder should be a great thing.

The fact that a girl from the valley dares to chase dreams out of a strife torn region. The fact that she comes to Mumbai, she rules and conquers hearts that is the biggest thing in life. Whether Bollywood is unIslamic is not the debate, whether she does wrong by writing online a message is not the debate, the debate should be on why we shamelessly amplify the Islamic credentials of the actress taking a cue from the letter.

How many of those giving her lectures and certificates have actually reached out and helped the girl when she needed a moral boost when she needed it the most. The comparisons with Nusrat Jahan do not hold water. One is a politician, the other a star. And more importantly Zaira Wasim is one independent individual.

Does not sound nice to compare two diametrically opposite individuals. Just because yesteryears stars Saira Banu, Waheeda Rehman, Dilip Kumar, Nargis, Shahrukh or an AR Rahman did not feel threatened does not mean that Saira cannot. More than a generation gap, the industry and its working has seen a seachange and society at large too has increased pressure on what is ok and what is not. And today threats fly thick and fast.

The Tarek Fatah’s, the Swami Chakrapani’s and those issuing Fatwas can hence find something better to do. As a citizen of this great nation I think it is much more than religion or politics. It is about someone’s personal choices and aspirations. Let her have the last laugh in the loudest way possible.

Heated TV debates and twitter gyanbaazi needs to stop because it is a 23 year old’s life and why dissect her choices and decisions in public domain.

In a crystal clear letter that Zaira Wasim putout  justifying her decision, she mentions, “For a very long time now it has felt like I have struggled to become someone else. As I had just started to explore and make sense of the things to which I dedicated my time, efforts and emotions and tried to grab hold of a new lifestyle, it was only for me to realise that though I may fit here perfectly, I do not belong here.”

Very simply, she says, “I am not truly happy with this identity i.e the line of work”.

It is even more important for us to respect Zaira because eight out of 10 employees in the country are not happy with their work as per surveys.

Its common. A dislike stems from long hours, low pay, an unsupportive boss, lack of recognition, no scope for promotions, work-life balance, sheer boredom says a report.

Such people crib, complain, evade work and make mistakes.

Flexibility and choice are two most important things says a Gallup report.

It would not be wrong to say that we as a nation and the Bollywood industry failed her because in 2016 after photos of Zaira Wasim surfaced with trimmed hair for Dangal she faced a massive online backlash. She was repeatedly branded un – Islamic. Her meeting with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti too attracted the ire of the common folk with her receiving death threats. Her apologies too saw controversial twists and turns courtesy the media.

She had also  been harassed mid-air on an Air Vistara flight UK981 between Delhi and Mumbai. The accused, Vikas Sachdeva of Chandivli in Mumbai was subsequently arrested and charged under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), given Wasim was a legal minor.

Zaira will always be remembered as a recipient of numerous accolades, including a Filmfare Award and a National Film Award. She also has the distinction of winning the National Child Award for Exceptional Achievement by Ram Nath Kovind, the President of India in 2017.

Her debut was in Dangal, where she portrayed the role of Geeta Phogat.

The highest grossing Indian film it grossed more than ₹2,000 crore (US$290 million) worldwide. She got a lot of appreciation for the musical drama Secret Superstar ranked among the highest-grossing Indian films. Awards like the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actress and Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actress kept her in good spirits as a professional.

In June 2019, she announced she would be leaving the industry

Her last film will be the Sky is Pink helmed by Shonali Bose.

How an injured shoulder conspired against destiny to churn out Brand SRK

From just Rs 1500 in his pocket when he reached Bombay to being Bollywood’s undisputed Badshah: Delhi boy SRK has never looked back

As youngsters we have always been fascinated by the aura of King Khan, Badshah Khan better known as SRK or by his maiden name Shahrukh Khan. While the Badshah has been a runaway hit among his fans, his rise is no less a rags to riches story.

While its common to say that some were born to be a star, Khan who has his roots in Delhi  and Afghanistan grew up fighting his way out to rise the social ladder. An actor, producer cum television personality, Khan has the distinction of appearing in over 80 films. He has won multiple accolades, including 14 Filmfare Awards. He has been conferred the Padma Shri, the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and the Légion d’honneur.

He moved from Delhi to Mumbai to pursue a full-time career in Bollywood, and was quickly signed up for four films.

When Khan came to Mumbai, he had just Rs 1500 with him and wanted to earn a lakh at least.

Fortunately he claims even though he has had to take up roles rejected by others, he never seld his soul for stardom.

Today SRK owns a Rolls Royce Coupe costing Rs 4.1 crore. SRK also boasts of a Bugatti Veyron parked in his garage. Apart from that he has a Mercedes Benz S600 Guard worth Rs 2.8 crore. A fan of BMW cars, he has BMW 6 Series, 7 Series and BMW i8 parked at home.

Widely popular his homes are ‘Mannat’, Dubai’s Palm Jumeriah worth 24 crore and a villa in London’s Park Lane neighbourhood worth Rs 172 crore.

His dream vanity van is worth Rs 3.8 crore.

Born to a Muslim family in New Delhi his initial years were spent in Mangalore. He is grandson to Ifthikar Ahmed, a chief engineer of the port in the 1960s. His paternal grandfather, Jan Muhammad was an ethnic Pashtun from Afghanistan. His dad Meer Taj Mohammed Khan played the role of an Indian independence activist in Peshawar.  Khan’s mother, Lateef Fatima, was the daughter of a senior government engineer.

Brought up in Rajendra Nagar neighbourhood of Delhi his father was a businessman who had a restaurant, and they lived a middle-class life in rented apartments. A product of a school in Central Delhi, he excelled in studies and sports receiving the Sword of Honour. Inclined to enter the sporting arena he failed to make the cut with a shoulder injury coming in its way.

Then is when he took active part in stage plays and received praise for his imitations of Bollywood actors. He has always admired greats like Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, and Mumtaz.

An Economics student, he spent most of his time at Delhi’s Theatre Action Group (TAG)under Barry John. He has been part of National School of Drama during his early career in Bollywood. When his parents passed away, he took full responsibility of his sister.

He started off as an actor in the 1980 appearing in TV shows, his cinema debut  was in 1992 with Deewana . Khan’s first starring role was in Lekh Tandon’s television series Dil Dariya, that started rolling in 1988, but production delays led to 1989 series Fauji becoming his TV debut.

He carved a niche for himself with performances in Darr, Baazigar and Anjaam  each a stellar portrayl of a villian. He showed his romantic flair with Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Dil To Pagal Hai, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Mohabbatein  and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham.

As a star his versatility came out as he donned the role of an alcoholic in Devdas, a hockey player in Chak De India, a NASA scientist in Swades  and a man with Asperger syndrome in My Name Is Khan. He raked in the moolah with ventures like Chennai Express, Happy New Year , Dilwale and Raees. Not to forget the very popular Don franchise.

Part of several reputed collaborations and cricket leagues, he is also much sought after on TV as a presenter lauded by World Economic Forum and UNESCO for his philanthropic work.

In SRK’s own account a lot of people helped him to be who he is today

He has in an interview said that the biggest names including Hema Malini imparted wisdom to him so that he would be able to make better choices. For the younger generation the message is loud and clear – It’s like that Survivor song – The thrill of the fight is to stand up and fight the challenge of the rival and always aim the eye of the Tiger.

Goodbye Shehenshah Bhai !!!

I got news first of Shehenshah Bhai passing away when a local documentary filmmaker shared a tribute saying that Shehenshah Bhai had passed away. I was prompt enough to message on my social handle about the development. The tributes poured in. One among them was my cousin Arjun who said – the man had swagger.

Shehenshah Bhai lived a pious life minus the frills of a celebrity. He was known well by all in Old Lucknow, but his claim to fame was his uncanny resemblance to Amitabh Bachchan in Shehnshah. In a part of Lucknow where crowded streets are part and parcel of day to day life, where the smell of itra and Awadhi food is omnipresent, the iconic Shehenshah Bhai continued to rule hearts in his trademark style.
Old Lucknow denizens have often been inspired by actors like Salman Khan, John Abraham and others.

Over the years stylists did good business because they specialized in haircuts inspired by celebrities. Many of these stylists often operating out of humble shops enjoyed a cult status among their clientele. Back in 2014 speaking to journalist Ali Rizvi of the TOI he had said – I think Bachchan looked like me in Shehenshah.

Fit as a fiddle till his last day, Shehenshah Bhai as he was known passed away leaving his fans teary eyed. He was always spotted on the streets after sunset with his glasses, boots, flashy coloured shirts and a superhero like demeanour.

The man modelled himself on Bachchan’s 1988 classic Shehenshah where he fights for justice of the oppressed as a crusader. Shehenshah Bhai according to his near and dear ones had a swagger unmatched. He was the go to guy for sound advice and some warm company.

Andheri Raaton Mein, Sunsaan Raahon Par….Ek Maseeha Nikalta Hai, jise log shehenshah Kehte hain

Shehenshah, 1988

He was always seen out in the night with people wanting to discuss issues. There would be tempos peeping out to ask for Shehenshah Bhai, greeting him with the colloquial Salaam Walequm.

Going by Shehenshah Bhai folklore, the man even appeared in films like Dedh Ishqiya, Ishaqzaade and Ya Rabb.

Once a great one at enacting the Rishte Mein To Hum Tumhare Baap Lagte Hain, in recent times he avoided the act because people took it to heart.

Having started off as a plumber, he did not continue with the profession because he could not find peace with it. Most of his attires were reportedly gifted to him. As a mark of appreciation he would often flaunt it in public.

Eateries, tea stalls and panwallahs never asked for money from the man for the sheer reverence that they had towards the man.

While Shehenshah Bhai’s demise may not be an end of an era, it definitely is the passing away of a humble giant who walked this very earth.

Sriram Raghavan proves to be a flawed genius in Ayushmann starrer Andhadhun



The greatness of the film aside, one of the biggest flaws of Sriram Raghavan’s Andhadhun is that it symbolically lets the cat out of the bag by making the viewer realize that the protagonist can actually see and he is not blind. There are ample scenes when you can actually catch on. Had Raghavan not done so and ended at the scene where Ayushmann spotted an auto with Aishwarya Rai image on it or even where in a street abroad a beer can is swiftly knocked out of the way, the thrill would have gone up manifold.

The film has a terrific musical score and it is one of those few recent movies where the camerawork has made you realize that there is more to a camera than a pan, tilt or dolly. Take for example the opening scene where a hunter is on the prowl and in the next shot your realize you are  staring at a hare on zoom mode who runs to save his life.

There is madness, there is creativity and then there is the brilliance of Tabu that lifts you to a different world altogether. Playing the wife of Pramod, who she lovingly refers to as Pammi, she has mastered the art of adultery. Loves a cop and once caught in a compromising position she does the unthinkable by eliminating the yesteryears star, played by Anil Dhawan and then disposes off the body.

Akash a talented blind pianist spends time trying to give shape to his finest musical piece ever. The only one knowing Akash’s dark secrets are a neighbouring kid and a pet cat named Rani.

It all starts with a sudden coming together of Sophie (Radhika Apte) and Akaash (Ayushmann Khurana) through an accident. Playing good samaritan, Sophie offers to help and she gives him a ride. A conversation ensues and then is when the pianist side to Aakash is known. Aakash, the musical genius who seeks to sing his redemption song as an artist gets that much needed rush of excitement. He performs at a hangout Franco’s to his hearts fullest and starts getting handsome tips. It is here that Aakash comes face to face with Pramod.

Just as Radhika Apte starts falling in love and the usual stuff plays out, Pramod has an offer. Pramod is married to Simi (Tabu), he hands over a grand bundle of cash and wants him to perform some golden oldies for his wife on anniversary day. Ayushmann is at the venue the next day where he is first shooed away but later welcomed in for a private concert.

Even before Ayushmann, the not so blind guy can say Jack Robinson – a murder most foul is unfolding in front of his eyes and he has little to do about it.

Akaash goes to the bathroom where he sees Inspector Manohar (Manav Vij) hiding but acts as if he is unaware of him, since assumed to be blind.

In a flashback, it is revealed that Pramod had lied to his wife about a supposed trip to Bangalore, but had, in reality, gone to bring anniversary gifts as a surprise for his wife.

 It is the mad chase to expose the murderers that makes up Andhadhun’s story.

Simi manages to kill the neighbour who had also noticed Manohar’s entry into the flat, once again in the unwitting Akash’s presence.

Dr Swami played by Zakir Hussain portrays a organ racket kingpin with panache. He has done every bit of planning to ensure his next prey is Aakash, with some help from his assistants. But one mention of Lord Shiva and the supposedly evil hearts of the racketeers melt.

This is followed by a chain of events where Aakash first gangs up with the racketeers who were trying to take his kidney. Later the members of the troupe turn rebels. They tie up Simi and Aakash and escape. By the time Aakash and Simi are finally again baying for each others blood, Dr. Swami enters and the two of them including Aakash subdue Simi. Dr. Swami and Akash tie Simi in the trunk of a car and begin driving. Dr Swami reveals his plans to harvest Simi’s organs for six crore rupees and pay for Akaash’s cornea transplant, but Akash is morally perturbed by the notion.

Akash continues to try to convince him to let Simi go.


Hearing this, Simi drops Akash off but changes her mind later and turns around, intending to run him over. At this point, the hare (from the beginning of the movie) slams into her windshield, causing her to lose control and crash. The car explodes, killing Simi with it.

Two years later, in Europe, a travelling Sophie meets Akash (still apparently blind ) at one of his gigs in Europe, where he tells her the entire story.

Akash then tells her Simi over powers Dr Swami and then takes control of the car. And further how things unfold. After playing blind with utmost perfection, the movie ends on a scene where he hits a beer can from in front of him using a stick. The scene has got critics deciphering it in detail.

An  Indian black comedy crime thriller directed by Sriram Raghavan, Andhadhun is inspired by the 2010 French short film L’Accordeur (The Piano Tuner).

The songs are composed by Amit Trivedi, Raftaar and Girish Nakod. The lyrics are written by Jaideep Sahni, Raftaar and Girish Nakod.

Andhadhun clashed with Loveyatri at the box office. The film is being screened at a time when another Ayushmann Khurana starrer Badhai ho is running at a cinema near you.

Cinema aficionado Kriti Nagar lives to walk the unbeaten track as filmmaker


As a person of the creative process, Kriti Nagar has made more than 30 Ad and Short films. Working in close coordination with advertising agencies in India and Abroad, she now boasts of a broad production slate.

It was the first half of 2010. Amity University Lucknow campus then situated at the Viraj Khand building in Lucknow’s Gomti Nagar was abuzz with news that cinema thespians Sharmila Tagore and the legendary Farooque Sheikh were coming for a first of its kind UP Media Summit in the state.

Like any other good media academics institute, Amity School of Communication, Lucknow was busy preparing for the momentous occasion.

As an institute that believed in rising to the challenge, a motley crew of young media aspirants got down to rehearsing for a play titled Kya Sab Kuch Badlega, under the guidance of senior photojournalist and faculty at ASCO Mr Trilochan Singh Kalra, an old theatre hand himself.

Hectic practice sessions, lots of heated moments and finally a performance on 21 January, 2010 led to applause and words of commendation coming from the late Farooque Sheikh. One girl who stole the show at this momentous occasion was ASCO alumnus, Kriti Nagar.

An emotional student who would often break down asking tough questions in events, it was that inherent ability to ask questions and act when required wrapped in emotion that caught the eye of many in the institute.

Theatre, storytelling may have been a natural calling but her finesse as a star was inked after some words of praise from the thespians of parallel cinema like Farooque. By now the seeds of a career in film making had been sown for Kriti.

Like any other youngster she would dream of becoming the next big thing in Direction but like always the road was not as smooth as it seems in the entertainment business. Ask Kriti about her journey from being a rookie journalist to a professional in the film circuit, even she admits that being a raw fresher and being a woman both had their own impact on her initial struggles.

Just when the last few months of Amity University came near, she took up an internship opportunity with top media brands like IBN7 learning production work. By this time she had also worked with Amar Ujala as an intern in her hometown Allahabad. She doubled up both as a photojournalist and a reporter, focussing primarily on features.

After a professional run of 7 and a half years and with multiple productions and collaborations to her credit, she has already grabbed headlines in international publications like The National sharing print space with Shahrukh Khan, others being Heroine’s Journey and Martini and More.

Kriti distinctly remembers that specific trigger that made her realize that she was made for the film business and she had to multitask. She says, “The moment I decided to be in the Film Industry, I had to become a multitasker. There was no other option for me. I wanted to learn each and every aspect of film making. When I had done a role in a play, called “Kya sab kuch badlega” in Amity directed by our very own Mr Trilocan Kalra, it was not a decision made at random. I had to understand the mindset of an actor- How does it feel when a director gives instructions and how an actor can interpret into a playable direction. Same goes with writing, production, voice over recording and even video editing. Being in multiple roles has helped me get the better insight about the working in this industry. And because of this, it has helped me become a better person in Direction. I love the creative process and especially the magic that happens between an “ACTION” and a “CUT” in a scene. I love to be on the set.”


Kriti Nagar seeking blessings from  late Farooque Sheikh


So is the success of Kraction Film an easy feat, Kriti explains what it takes to taste the fruit of success, she says, “ My goal and vision for myself has always been very clear. I started my firm- KRACTION FILMS with zero capital, as I never wanted to take any kind of help from my parents and relatives. I wanted to start this on my own. I only had money to pay my flat’s rent for few months, so I had to do multitasking. I taught myself everything- right from website and business card designing to cold calling prospective clients. I also took care of productions in the beginning. There were moments when I preferred to walk for about 6Kms in one stretch, just to save money for 1 time meal. But I never gave-up on my dream.”

She further adds, “Now it’s been 4 years and with god’s grace, my firm earns an average turnover of over 10lacs. I will always be grateful for the struggles and criticism I faced, they have made me who I am right now. Although I still have really very long way to go.”

Operating out of cities like Mumbai, New Delhi and Jaipur, Kriti Nagar’s brainchild Kraction Films provides various exciting film making services for clients in different areas of service and product based industries.

While they have excelled in TV Commercials, Short Films, Documentaries, Corporate, Training, Marketing and Human Resource based Films they are now trying their luck at a full length feature film.

Confirming the news Kriti adds, “You heard it right. This is a women centric art film and is based out of remote areas of Rajasthan and few areas in Vrindanvan, Uttar Pradesh. It is a spiritual metaphor of human relations. It is in a very initial stage and I am very positive that audience is going to appreciate our efforts.”

Founded in the year 2011, Kraction Films is registered under Indian Partnership Act 1932.


As someone whose slogan is Creative Film Making is everything to her- her Passion, Obsession and Commitment, does she feel women get the right space and respect to flourish across cinematic domains. She sadly says no.

“You have hit the nail on the head. In today’s time I have seen very few ladies like me behind the camera. I have also faced many challenges and partiality in the initial days of my career. The lamest reason I heard was that I am a woman and therefore I cannot be trusted with behind the camera responsibility. My role was limited to assisting someone but not on the forefront of any project. However, with god’s grace, I changed this mindset with my hard work and unbreakable dedication,” adds Kriti

As a visual communicator she says, “Stalwarts like Alfred Hitchcock have always been my inspiration. Especially when it comes to suspense based plots. I don’t think anyone can match up to his craft. Having said that, I also follow work of Nila Madhab Panda, Deepa Mehta and Leena Yadav. I get a lot of inspiration from their work. I like the craft of Martin Scorsese, Guillermo del Toro and Sanjay Leela Bhansali as well.”

Given that emotions play a key role in cinema and theatre she adds, “emotions are the essence of every creative process. When it touches our heart then it surely will touch audience’s heart. Emotions are the soul of a film.”

Meanwhile she is even quite perturbed by the type of content that one sees in the films of today. She feels movies like Tere Bin Laden (2010), Lunch Box, Masaan (2015), Titli (2015), I am Kalam (2010), The Blue Umberalla (2005), Black Friday etc are the most underrated CULT films of Bollywood which definitely need to get their due.

Kraction Films LogoKriti’s goal is to make inroads into making parallel cinema which is for a broadly more educated and serious populace. She strives to receive global recognition and acceptance for efforts in reshaping how Indian cinema is perceived on the global stage. So where is the parallel cinema scene headed, we ask her.

She is quick to add, “The script is the first spark that inspires to make a film. But these days, meaningless drama, nudity and double meaning jokes have taken place of good content films. I am a firm believer that parallel cinema should be given more importance so that the audience’s tastes of movie watching can be enhanced.”

In a country where the censor board is often accused of killing creative expression Kriti says, “I believe that sometimes censorship acts like a pro-dictatorship. It acts like a roadblock in the path of creativity and right to express emotions. If they feel that certain film is not good for children as it has obscenity or violence, then they can give “A” certificate to the film. The thing I don’t understand is, they will ask to remove certain scenes and dialogues and still give “A” certificate to the film.”

As a person of the creative process, Kriti Nagar has made more than 30 Ad and Short films. Working in close coordination with advertising agencies in India and Abroad, she now boasts of a broad production slate. Given that visual media is the most viable way of storytelling, Kriti Nagar is not turning her back on any opportunity that comes her way.

Having a knack to explore ideas, observe people and study different human emotions, Kriti lives the visual medium each moment.

She has faced gender discrimination, pay disparity but now when she looks back at the years gone by she realizes that these were not wasted years.

As a parting shot, Kriti signs out saying, “Filmmaking is not only a form of art. It is the visual display of your own heart and soul. Being a visual storyteller is not a “JOB”, it is a life which is unique in itself. So, if you are passionate to dedicate your life into it.. Don’t listen to anyone.. just follow your heart.. rest will fall in its place.”

So next time you get mesmerized by the dialogue of Dirty Picture that Filmein sirf teen cheezon ki wajah se chalti hain – Entertainment, Entertainment and Entertainment, think again because it is a lot of hard work out there.


Starting life at 4 with Leatherface, Bollywood’s Meena Kumari scripted a Cinderella like fairytale


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Born to be a star, Meena Kumari was considered a burden by her parents – Ali Bux and Iqbal Begum – when she was born on August 1, 1933 as Mahjabeen Bano to a couple who were poor theatre artists.

Meena Kumari, a star who is very fondly remembered by the Hindi film circuit and her fans at large, wore multiple hats as a performer. Not just as an actress, she was also known for her singing and poetry.

She gave vent to her poetic ventures under the pseudonym “Naaz”.

Called the Cinderella of Indian films, Mahjabeen Bano was called “Munna” by her near and dear ones. The family could not pay for the delivery hence they left her at an orphanage. Changing his mind hours later father, Ali Bux, fetched her home.

Absolutely not into performing arts, it was her parent’s extraordinary interest in films and theatres that took her to the studios. At 4 Director Vijay Bhatt cast her in the film Leatherface and on her first day she was paid Rs. 25.

By now she had become a bread winner of the family.

She was nicknamed “Reading Mahjabeen”, as she brought books onto the sets and when working on location. She initially worked mostly in Vijay Bhatt productions like Leatherface, Adhuri Kahani, Pooja and Ek Hi Bhool. Bhatt rechristened Mahjabeen as “Baby Meena” in 1940 while filming Ek Hi Bhool.

From here on she starred in films like Nai Roshni, Bahen, Kasauti, Vijay, Garib, Pratiggya and Lal Haveli.

It was only in Ramnik Production’s Bachchon Ka Khel in 1946 that she was finally cast as Meena Kumari. Her fame as Meena Kumari came at a time when she sadly lost her mother to Lung Cancer.

Films such as Magroor, Hamara Ghar, Sanam, Madhosh, and Tamasha either saw her in multi-starrers or in lead roles which unfortunately tanked. Meena was on the lookout for a film that would take her to the height of stardom. It was Baiju Bawra in 1952 that helped her fill that space.

Her interviews often showed how she was satisfied to help her parents in their hour of need. Failing to balance work and school she virtually dropped out. Her only means to good knowledge was private education.

On the sets of Tamasha, Ashok Kumar introduced filmmaker Kamal Amrohi to Meena Kumari. A chance coming together of the two for Kamal Amrohi’s Anarkali which eventually got shelved and a consequent accident got them talking via letters and calls only to bridge the gap between the two. For four months this hospital affair continued and love blossomed courtesy a damaged hand.

On 14 February 1952 Meena Kumari, 18, and Kamal Amrohi, 34, secretly got married in a simple “Niqah” ceremony in the presence of a Qazi and Kumari’s younger sister, Mahliqa (Madhu). Kept a secret for sometime, it was only during a leak that parents of Meena Kumari learnt of the marriage.

The father recommended a divorce. Meena Kumari remained adamant on her decision, but stayed in her father’s house. On August 14, 1953, on the pretext of filming another movie, Meena Kumari drove to Bombay Talkies and worked in front of her husband’s camera for the film Daera. The father from that day shut his doors for Meena. She went on to stay with Amrohi at Sion.

Meena Kumari as a star scripted history. During a career spanning 33 years, she starred in about 92 films like Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, Pakeezah, Mere Apne, Aarti, Baiju Bawra, Parineeta, Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai, Foot Path, Dil Ek Mandir and Kaajal. Kumari’s depiction of the struggle of Indian women was considered masterclass.

She won four Filmfare Awards in the Best Actress category and was the recipient of the inaugural Filmfare Awards. At the 10th Filmfare, the 13th Filmfare she was well received, Kumari won her last Best Actress Filmfare award for Kaajal.

Three weeks after the release of Pakeezah, Meena on 28th March 1972 was admitted to St Elizabeth’s Nursing Home.

Popular as the tragedy queen or female Guru Dutt she breathed her last on 31st March 1972.

She died on Good Friday that year due to liver cirrhosis. As per Kamal Amrohi’s wish, she was buried at Rahematabad Qabristan at Narialwadi, Mazgaon, Mumbai. Kamal Amrohi died February 11, 1993 in Mumbai, and as per his wish was buried next to Meena Kumari’s grave.

Is Rajkumar Rao the next big thing in tinsel town?



Rajkumar Rao as an actor is known to walk the unbeaten track and he has his hands full with unconventional roles which he boasts of.

For Rajkumar Rao, 2017 could very well prove to be his moment of reckoning with his hands filled with interesting offers and projects.

In an industry that is fast transforming itself into one where filmmakers are making sharp choices and taking note of serious storylines, Rao holds his own.

From Vikas Bahl’s Queen to now portraying Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose he has been much more than the conventional Bollywood Hero.

Over seven years and 20-odd films, the 32-year-old has an image of an empathetic but not very sentimental interpreter of lives.

An FTII alumni himself, he is known for his offbeat roles in Shahid (2013) , Trapped (2017), Kai Po Che! (2013) and Newton (2017).

All of which show his ability to make small choices and then make it large.
2017 has been busy for Rao. His latest release happens to be Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s Bareilly Ki Barfi where he stars with Ayushmann Khurrana and Kriti Sanon.
Ajay Pannalal’s comedy, Behen Hogi Teri too released this year.

Newton, a modern take on elections in a Maoist-controlled area of Chhattisgarh will open in September in India.

Hansal Mehta’s Omerta where he protrays Omar Saeed Sheikh, the terrorist accused of murdering scribe Daniel Pearl in 2002 premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival next month.

And there’s Bose: Dead/Alive, a web series premiering later this year.

Mind you none are big commercial films.

Rajkumar tried to take some parts of SRK and Aamir as lessons but his real inspiration was another stalwart in the trade Manoj Bajpayee.

His dream run with Bajpayee came alive with movies like Chittagong and Aligarh where he shared screenspace with him.

His rendezvous with acting started with theatre when he joined the Shri Ram Centre repertory in Delhi.

With long travelling time spent on bus, he read plays in English and Hindi . Theatre coupled with reading led to his final calling for becoming an actor.

FTII only helped him take to serious method acting and then is when offers came.

He won accolades in films like Dibakar Banerjee’s LSD: Love, Sex Aur Dhokha (2010) and Pawan Kripalani’s Ragini MMS (2011)as well.

Working with Anurag Kashyap, Ekta Kapoor led to more offers coming his way.

In a span of the next two years he appeared in small yet effective parts in Shaitan, Chittagong, Gangs Of Wasseypur II and Talaash.

If analysts quoted quite often are to be understood so far Rao has stayed away from the path traversed by likes of Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub.

He has avoided playing the hero’s best friend or eccentric villain in major studio films.

Having grown up in Gurugram with two older siblings and three cousins, the middle-class characters always had a lot of appeal for him. Son to a keeper of land records, and a homemaker, It was a family of movie enthusiasts.

Rao is the recipient of a National Film Award and a Filmfare Award from three nominations.

Rao achieved success for his breakout role in 2013 with the drama film Kai Po Che!, for which he was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor award at Filmfare. Rao was awarded the Filmfare and the National Film Award for Best Actor and Critics Best Actor for portrayal of Shahid Azmi.

With acting a much sought after profession in the country, Rao teaches youngsters to take calculated risks to strive for the larger pie in Bollywood.