Lights, Camera, Shootout!

By Hindustan Times

At HT Brunch, we like to stay off the beaten track. That’s why our maiden edition of Brunch Dialogues – Conversations with Indian Cinema, turned out to be such a different event. We love the movies. And what better way to extend our engagement with entertainment than through an event where conversation – about ideas and trends in cinema – ruled. The topic of the first Brunch Dialogues, held recently at Trident Bandra Kurla, Mumbai, was Bollywood’s obsession with organised crime, underworld gangs and tough cops. It was engrossing, absorbing, completely riveting.

Gangsters and their molls have always fascinated filmmakers all over the world. Bollywood hasn’t been immune to the high-octane mix of guns, goons and girls either. It first dazzled us in the ’50s with stylised movies such as Baazi. Later, Haji Mastan inspired a few blockbusters and in the shootout capers of the 2000s, glamour gave way to grit. No wonder the maiden edition of Brunch Dialogues – Conversations with Indian Cinema that tackled the twin themes of cinema and crime, turned out to be so smokin’ hot. It had to be, what with Brunch columnist and advisor, HT Media Limited, Vir Sanghvi quizzing the panellists on urban capers as well as gritty tales from the hinterland.

In the first session, filmmaker Sanjay Gupta recalled a newspaper photo that set him thinking about a movie on the shootout that killed don Maya Dolas. “It showed the then Maharashtra DIG AA Khan walking out after the encounter, shirt unbuttoned, sporting flashy sunglasses.” That movie was Shootout At Lokhandwala. Coming up next (in December this year) is a prequel, Shootout at Wadala, produced by Ekta Kapoor of Balaji Motion Pictures, about Mumbai’s first shootout in 1982. Ekta, also on the panel, spoke about how Shootout At Wadala was the best script she had read in years.

The third panellist, Tigmanshu Dhulia, fresh from the success of Paan Singh Tomar, said that “in Bihar and UP, they don’t hire a teenager from Azamgarh to kill. They pull the trigger themselves.”

After the first session ended, Bartenders – a noirish band – played classic Hindi film numbers with a sensuous, modern twist. They were followed by Brunch columnist Rajiv Makhni’s short, sparkling question-and-answer session with the audience.

All that jazz...
And then the stage was set for the second session on ‘Glamour in Gangland.’ The panellists included Manoj Bajpayee, whose portrayal of Bhiku Mhatre in Satya is a touchstone for celluloid baddies; Kangana Ranaut, who has perfected the moll act in Gangster, Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai and John Abraham, who plays Manya Surve in Shootout At Wadala. John said he wanted to move away from roles that showed him “emerging from the water in yellow trunks.”

Both the sessions were engaging, edifying. The 200-plus audience, which included Mumbai’s movers and shakers, then repaired to the after-party at the terrace of the Colosseum. And as conversation flowed over Fratelli and Vat 69, Mumbai raised a toast to this new exciting platform for cinema. Catch the Brunch Dialogues on NDTV Good Times, soon. Watch this space.

Gangland tales, all glammed up

Manoj Bajpayee, Actor | Kangana Ranaut, Actress | John Abraham, Actor
The session on ‘Glamour In Gangland: The Men And Their Molls’ turned out to be a heady concoction of sex appeal, style, and lots of laughter.

Each of the three stars who sat down to talk movies with Vir Sanghvi: John Abraham, Manoj Bajpayee and Kangana Ranaut, have a unique passion driving their approach to life and acting. Of course, all three are part of the cast of Shootout At Wadala.

Sanghvi set the ball rolling by revealing that many directors and producers had complained that Abraham’s intensity and passion had been under-utilised. “Cinema is a visual medium so I am not apologetic about the way I am portrayed. But eventually, it is about getting your performance right. Many directors bow down to commercial wisdom, but I thank Sanjay for giving me a challenging role.” Abraham, who is taking Marathi lessons, said he was working on getting under the skin of gangster Manya Surve’s character.
“He began as a simple Maharashtrian middle class boy who wanted to be an engineer and studied at Kirti College.”

Bajpayee remembered the time when some financiers wanted to add jhatka songs to the original Satya script and asked him to shake a leg to Sapne mein milti hai. Having internalised the character of Bhiku Mhatre, the tough, pensive baddie, he did his own spontaneous moves instead.

Ranaut said her histrionic skills were only discovered after people learnt to look beyond the veneer of her beauty. “Good looks can get uncomfortable at times,” agreed Abraham, saying he gets mobbed at public places by five-year-old girls who call him hot. When he said he found this awkward, Bajpayee interjected and said it was better than “aunties calling you Manojji.”

The conversation turned cosier when Abraham described the manner in which young female fans expressed their admiration for him. “Excited young girls put their hands inside my shirt and my bodyguard tells me not to move till they finish doing what they have to. It usually takes five seconds,” he said as his lady fans in the audience broke into laughter.

Bajpayee also had a comical take on his unconventional looks: “My father wasn’t very good looking. To be an actor I had to chose between Sanjeev Kumar and Jeetendra. I chose Sanjeev Kumar.”

A brave new world of crime capers
Tigmanshu Dhulia, Film director | Sanjay Gupta, Filmmaker, director | Ekta Kapoor, Producer
The trio of panellists in the first session of the Brunch Dialogues had a double-pronged connection: cinema and crime. Soap queen turned film producer Ekta Kapoor has launched a prequel to Shootout At Lokhandwala to be directed by Sanjay Gupta (it’s called Shootout At Wadala). Tigmanshu Dhulia, the brain behind Haasil and Sahib, Biwi Aur Gangster, entered the Chambal heartland to tell the riveting story of Paan Singh Tomar, the rebel with a cause.

With filmmakers like Dhulia, is Bollywood’s obsession with crime in Mumbai changing, asked Brunch columnist and moderator Vir Sanghvi. Dhulia agreed: “Outlaws like Paan Singh are like wild horses. He was a sportsman, he didn’t want money out of crime.”
Kapoor said that movies such as Paan Singh Tomar and Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai, were telling stories about all kinds of people willing to stand up against the system. “Our attention span is diminishing. Whether it is realistic or escapist cinema, what works is a good story told well,” she said. “This year, for instance, three seemingly disparate movies did well – Paan Singh Tomar, Kahaani and Agneepath,” she added.

In the last underworld movie that she made (Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai) the writers had refrained from naming characters that inspired the film. But in Shootout at Wadala, every character will be given real names, said Gupta.

The film is the story of Manya Surve, the first Mumbai ganglord killed in a shootout. “The story is about his conflict with the Ibrahim brothers Shabbir and Dawood,” said Gupta. “Dawood was just a henchman. Shabbir’s death turned everything upside down. There was bloodbath on the streets and the D Company came into being,” he added.

When Sanghvi asked Gupta and Kapoor if they were scared of the D gang since they were portraying real characters, Kapoor replied with a laugh: “Sanjay has said if a bullet comes our way, he will take it!” For her, it’s been quite a journey from bahus to bullets!

Celeb tweets
HT Brunch Dialogues is how an event ought to b: chilled-out, informative, fun & (most importantly) with tht special vibe! Gala time tonight.
- Actor Meiyang Chang

GREAT STUFF @HTBrunch #Dialogues really enjoyed it! xoxo
- Malini Agarwal

AT THE @htBRUNCH
dialogues evening. Looking forward to explosive, entertaining and insightful exchange!
- Fashion designer Nachiket Barve

The @HTBrunch dinner
was fun it was nice meeting the team that I have spoken to for so many years on the phone but never met
- Composer Ehsaan Noorani

At the @htbrunch
dialogue convo with @PrAtEiK1986@nachiketbarve and the gorgeous @i_am_amyjackson.
- Rohan Shrestha

Done with first part
@HTBrunch #Dialogues. Was great fun. Victims Archana Puran Singh, Kabir Bedi, Pooja Bedi, Pooja Mishra
- Rajiv Makhni

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