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THE GRAPEVINE

December 30, 2018

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Manto Plus

Amidst the hullabaloo caused by the ban on the screening of Nandita Das’s Manto in Pakistan, came something positive. Our very own Sarmad Khoosat, who first tried his hand at presenting the writer’s biopic on the silver screen, voiced his opinion in support of Nandita D (after she posted a message with an old picture of the two together) saying he will unfortunately watch the film on Netflix and that ‘sarhad se azaad hai yeh pyar’ (our love is free of border restrictions). Sarmad S, we’ll be eagerly waiting for your opinion on her version of Manto, which appears to be nothing like yours. Viewers can decide for themselves if that’s a good or bad thing.

The Jatt trailer

The first trailer for the Bilal Lashari-directed The Legend of Maula Jatt has become the talk of the town. It is full of action with Fawad Khan and Hamza Ali Abbasi essaying the lead roles of Maula Jatt and Noori Nath. But aside from praise for the spellbinding visuals, it’s also divided opinion — some feel it’s too derivative of Game of Thrones and other such visual epics, while some diehard language purists have a bone to pick with the tone of Punjabi used.

There is of course another reason there’s hubbub about the upcoming film. The son of Sarwar Bhatti, the producer of the original Maula Jatt film (1979), immediately accused the filmmakers for using his rights without his consent. He called on the government to arrest the filmmakers for violating copyrights. While Bilal L and his producer Ammara Hikmat claimed in response that Bhatti has no leg to stand on, claiming to have “literary rights” to the characters, the fact remains that Bhatti’s case has been in the courts for over a year.

Meanwhile, separately, another writer also took to social media to say that he feels his own concept and treatment for an updated Maula Jatt film might have been plagiarised by the filmmakers. Whatever the outcome of these wranglings is, one thing’s for sure: there’ll be plenty of action both on and off the screen.

Home alone

Last year, a property builder named Samir Bhojwani threatened the legendary Bollywood actor Dilip Kumar and his wife Saira Bano to vacate the bungalow that the artists live in so that he could construct a multi-storey building on it.

Saira B lodged a complaint against the man, as a result of which the Mumbai police arrested him. Now that he is out of jail, he has once again started to harass the aging couple, so much so that on Dec 18, Saira B in her tweet requested an appointment with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to save her house from “the land mafia.” In the tweet she also criticised the Maharashtra chief minister for ‘not doing anything in the matter despite assurances’. This is a strange and dangerous development. If the house of someone like Dilip sahib is not safe in India from well-connected miscreants, then Lord help Indian society.

‘Israeli law is racist’

Hollywood stars were never an apolitical species. However, it seems that, after Donald Trump’s arrival in the White House, they’ve become more intrepid in airing their views on important geo-political issues.

On Dec 16, actress par excellence Natalie Portman gave an interview to BBC’s Arabic language channel in London in which she severely criticised the Israeli government. She pointed out that Israel’s nation-state law— which explicitly makes Israel “a nation-state of the Jewish people” — is ‘racist’ and ‘a mistake’. Now if Israeli nationals like Natalie P (she was born in Jerusalem and has dual nationality) who have been generally supportive of the Jewish state are saying this, you know that Israel’s got a problem.

Naseer under fire

Given the current political environment in India, actor Naseeruddin Shah must have been fully aware of the consequences when he, during an interview, remarked that in his country the death of a cow has taken on more significance than the death of a policeman. He was referring to an incident where a policeman was killed by a lynch mob who thought he had killed a cow.

The strong reaction that the actor’s getting from rightwing Hindu groups was inevitable. On Dec 21, the actor was to inaugurate the Ajmer Literature Festival along with his wife Ratna Pathak. But extremist groups created such a ruckus that he had to pull out of the event the day before. (Not really, the pulling out was for the rightwingers’ consumption; the session with him was held somewhere else in the city in a hush-hush manner.) Naseeruddin S is a brave man and should now look after himself. What he said was true, and we all know truth is always bitter and hard to swallow.

Crush on Keanu

Too late, lady. If you had told him back then, you two would’ve made a killer couple. What’s this about? Well, Oscar winner Sandra Bullock told Ellen DeGeneres on the latter’s show that, 25 years ago, when she was filming Speed with Keanu Reeves, she had a crush on him. She also said that there was something about her that he didn’t like.

But the wise woman that she is, Sandra B argued that the reason the two remained friends for such a long time was because they never dated. Words of wisdom indeed.

Published in Dawn, ICON, December 30th, 2018

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