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Why not a Modi biopic? quips PM Narendra Modi producer Sandip Ssingh

Producer Sandip Ssingh talks about Censor Board, Amit Shah and reveals why he chose to make a film on the life and journey of Prime Minister Narendra Modi

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Ever since the Omung Kumar B directed film PM Narendra Modi – that stars Vivek Anand Oberoi – has been announced, the biopic has been courting several accusations and controversies. In an exclusive chat with the film’s producer Sandip Ssingh, we clear the air for once and for all.

Why a biopic on Prime Minister Narendra Modi?

Why not a Modi biopic? When we made a biopic on Mary Kom or made Sarbjit, then nobody questioned it. Just because he is a powerful political personality, everybody is questioning it. I am just moved by the story of this man. I think a tea-seller becoming a prime minister is a story by itself and I think somebody should have paid attention to it years back. When I got into it, I slowly discovered this man’s story.

Since when have you been a follower of Narendra Modi?

I have never been a Modi follower.

You have also written the script, so how much research went into it?

In that case, I did follow Modi’s journey for three years. Many people discouraged me and told me not to do it. They wanted me to get scared and drop the film, but I don’t really care about all these things. I take time to decide what films I want to make, but once it was decided, it was all easy. His life is an open book. He speaks on Mann Ki Baat himself, there are so many books available, so many news channels, news articles about him. So everyone already knows about his life. It’s the way we want to show his journey is what matters.

In what way are you trying to tell the story?

I feel cinema has to be told in a very different way and with a different perspective so that the audience accepts the story. So we have gone in a very commercial way. People had not expected the trailer to be like this, but we have just captured the entire journey in a different way. It’s about the direction and we consciously decided about how to tell the story. We chose a commercial way and now the story has been made and ready to go out to the audience as this film.

With elections just around the corner, people have been questioning the timing of the film. The film’s release date has been preponed to April 5 from April 12…

It is very simple. We moved from April 12 to April 5 because we did not want to clash with Kalank that is releasing on April 17. So I had only four days left for the box office. So I had no option but to release it a week prior.

What about the political parties that are questioning it?

Political parties should understand that they have been in India ruling for so many years and they have done great work for the country and for their state, all the political parties who are asking like DMK and NCP. They should understand one thing that they should concentrate on their work and convert the votes rather than concentrating on the filmmakers and getting publicity out of them.

The film is being called a propaganda film that will act as a publicity vehicle for Modi. Is this the case? 

Who stopped them to do anything for their party? Nobody has stopped anybody. So I think everybody has their own right and they should pay attention to themselves than paying attention to what others are doing. While making this film, we did not pay attention to what others were doing or what the people were saying or the parties were saying. We just wanted to tell a story in a simple way of a human being who became a Prime Minister from being a tea-seller. I was inspired and I want the nation, the 135-crore people to know that if they have a correct vision and thinking, whoever they may be, they can do something for the nation. And that is what the film is all about.

How much of his journey will be seen? Also, how much of the real footage has been used?

From a tea-seller to Prime Minister, we have captured all the crucial moments in the film – so, from a teenager to the present day. Talking about the stock footage, whatever the film required we have used the real video there. You have seen the film’s canvas and it does not look like we have shot it in 38 days. The film is big.

You all started filming very late and it’s releasing also so quickly. We also know for a fact that your film has not even gone to the Censor Board yet, so what is all this about?

We are not here to break any laws, we are not going against the law and releasing the film without proper certification. We know the rules, we have followed them and taken care of all the processes involved. My team and I have been very careful about that. I don’t want to talk about anything in particular but we made sure we are not breaking any rules for sure.

Has the film applied for the Censor?

I don’t know why the media has been asking these questions. The 64-days process has been initiated because there is no film that can pass before following this 64-day Censor Board process. And yes, we have followed all the norms. We have done our needful and now we are waiting for the certificate. That’s it.

Someone from the Censor Board has tipped us that the film has not come for censoring yet.

I don’t know about that official thing. We are doing what we can and they are doing what they can.

Will the Censor Board be able to clear the film before April 5?

That is not my job. Everybody has their individual jobs and I am not the one to answer that. I will follow what I have been asked to do, what has been written and once it is cleared, we are blessed and we will release the film on time.

Was Vivek Anand Oberoi your first choice and was he also very keen on being a part of this project initially? 

I approached him. One day I just reached his set where he was shooting for a film. He was my first choice and I went to him straight because I needed an actor who is passionate, dedicated and would give two years of his life before the film because this film requires a lot of patience.

So Vivek gave two years for this project?

Yes, we have been working on this film for quite long. We were very quiet about it because we had to pay attention to the pre-production and the writing of the film.

Where has the film been shot?

It’s been shot all over in Gujarat, in Uttrakhand, in Delhi, Mumbai and Banaras as well.

Amit Shah was supposed to be present at the poster launch, what happened there?

Manohar Parrikarji had passed away, so we couldn’t do the poster launch. So we launched it digitally.

After this, who’s biopic are you keen on making?

I have been so busy with this biopic that I had no time at all to think whose biopic I will make next or what movie I will do. I haven’t even thought if it will be a biopic, a thriller or an action film. I make one film in a year, but I make it very peacefully and concentrate on writing. Unfortunately, we don’t have many good writers in the industry and that is what the real struggle is all about.

Talking about the songs, are they recreated or original? 

I love Javed (Akhtar) Saahab and Sameer Saahab. They are the most-respected lyricists of the country. I have grown up listening to their songs. I love the song Eshwar Allah, so we have used that in the film. We have also used Suno Gaur Se Duniya Walon from Dus that Sameerji has written.

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RAW actor Shadaab Khan: I want to focus more on acting now!

Having made an impactful comeback to the big screen after 19 years with Romeo Akbar Walter, Shadaab Khan reveals he is here to stay!

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Shadaab Khan was recently seen in the espionage film Romeo Akbar Walter, starring John Abraham and others. Even in a small role, he managed to make his presence felt in a suave, nuanced rendition of his screen character – Nawab Afridi – that other actors might have played loudly. Before RAW, the actor was last seen in the 2000 release Hey Ram, but we hope to see more of him in the future. In his elegant home just off Kalakar Amjad Khan Chowk in Bandra’s Pali Hill area, Suguna Sundaram caught up with the actor and his lovely wife Rumana, who was instrumental in his return to the big screen. In a candid chat, the actor talks about his big screen comeback, what kept him away for so long and juggling between writing and acting. Excerpts:

It’s been almost two decades since you disappeared from films…

Honestly, I don’t know what happened. Somewhere down the line, I just fell out of love with the business of films. I didn’t feel like I belonged here, and it was a feeling of just not wanting to be here. I wanted to explore other opportunities. It was always told to me that you should go into films because of my father (the late Amjad Khan) and grandfather (legendary late actor Jayant). I got here and thought to myself that I was probably better off someplace else. I can write. I wanted to explore that. And somewhere, while doing that, I just went further and further away from this place.

Your wife Rumana had been urging you to come back to films I believe!

Rumana played a huge part in this journey back. It was 100 per cent her doing and her belief in me. And her constantly telling me that I should not ignore something that I should be doing. She said, ‘You’re an actor, this is your family’. She was of the opinion that I should not just write, but act as well. In fact, she insisted that I was making a mistake in continually turning down work that was coming my way. Eventually, that would definitely stop. And she was absolutely right. Now I want to strike a balance between writing and acting with more attention on acting. I am thankful to her for bringing me back here, or RAW would not have happened.

So how did RAW come about then?

I am very grateful to Mukesh Chhabra’s casting agency. They always kept me in mind, for my role in Hey Ram, and kept calling me for roles. I turned down a number of roles, including one in Sriram Raghavan’s Badlapur. I wasn’t sure of or keen on coming back. Plus, I’d put on a hell of a lot of weight during the time I was out. I didn’t want to be seen on screen with the 131 kilos I was back then. If you are typecast in a film and it works, every other film you get will be in that same mould. I was very scared that if I came back with Badlapur, it would not look good for me. So I started working on myself towards losing weight.  But it was very nice of Mukesh Chhabra’s agency to keep remembering me because had they not, that role in RAW might have gone to somebody else. When they called me for RAW, I knew that I was not the guy the director had in mind. The physicality of character he had in mind was something else, someone greater in size and physical stature, and more menacing.

Tell us more…

For the character of Nawab Afridi, he was looking for somebody more Nawabi, someone heavy-set, like a fat, rich man. I had lost weight by then. I was not fitting the character. Mukesh’s team said let’s audition him for the role, and when they did, it worked well. That’s how I came back, though I wasn’t planning on that even now. But the kind of films being made, opened my eyes to this, honestly.

Post RAW, what’s next on the table?

I am currently in talks for two particular web series, as an actor. Verbally, I have committed to one, and I’ve auditioned for both. The good thing about auditioning, is as an actor, it gives you practice, it sharpens you up. Auditioning is the norm now. And until you don’t make it, until I am not in that position, until the director says, ‘Hey, I want this guy, we write a role for him,’ and you don’t need to audition, until that day comes, I will keep auditioning and keep my eyes open. I’m very competitive by nature, and I don’t want to fall back.

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Exclusive Interviews

Malaika Arora reveals her BIG secret for a flawless summer body – watch video

Malaika Arora is undoubtedly one of the hottest celebrities in Bollywood

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Malika Arora, even at the age of 45, sure knows how to maintain a toned body. Her Instagram feed is like a fitness goal in itself and everyone just wants to know her secrets. Well, there is good news for all her fans. Malaika, who last walked the ramp for Kalki at the Bombay Times Fashion Week 2019, sat down with team CineBlitz for an exclusive chat. And we couldn’t help but ask her some summer hacks and tips.

The Chaiyya Chaiyya actress was all up for it. She opened her box of Pandora and revealed, “As cliché as it may sound, I think water is the most important. Stay hydrated. Whatever it may be, juices or just plain water, don’t forget to stay hydrated.” Well, this tip is really important for sure but she did tell us more. Wearing cool, comfy fabrics and hitting the shower whenever possible is how the actress keeps her summers breezy. Want to know more? Check out our video right here:

On the personal front, the buzz is that Malaika will soon be tying knot with her beau Arjun Kapoor. Although the actress shunned the rumours saying none of it is true, the marriage is supposedly taking place in Goa tomorrow (April 19). Stay tuned to CineBlitz for more such updates from the world of Bollywood.

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Rhea Chakraborty claims Jalebi’s failure was due to sabotage? Read shocking deets!

Rhea Chakraborty was last seen in Mahesh Bhatt’s Jalebi, which was a washout at the box office

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Bollywood stars do many films throughout their career out of which some turn out to be blockbusters while some even tank at the box office. The reasons may vary but the actors have to move on from the failure and focus on their next project. Something very similar happened with the Jalebi star Rhea Chakraborty and she exclusively told team CineBlitz what went wrong with her last outing.

“The film’s poster being tagged as a copy of some other poster was a small thing. The film did not work at the box office is what affected me more. After the release of the film, it was featured on Amazon as well and people eventually saw the film on it and we got a lot of love from that. And as for the critics and the reviews, they rammed us which I feel wasn’t required. But I guess there was some politics and some agenda to all of this. I would never believe that my work was bad. People came up to me and told me that they really enjoyed the film, so my purpose as an actor was fulfilled,” revealed Rhea.

Rhea recently featured in Jassie Gill’s music video Surma Kaala and has also signed a multi-starrer project. The official announcement, however, is yet to be made. Stay tuned to CineBlitz for more such updates from the world of Bollywood.

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