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Nakuul Mehta on coffee date with fans: It was wonderful

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“It was wonderful, crazy and so heartwarming,” says Nakuul Mehta about meeting his fans during his recent London visit. Taking to Instagram, the actor invited his fans for a meet-and-greet at a coffee shop and was surprised to see the number of people who dropped by on a cold morning.

“I thought it would be nice to meet some people. I thought why does it always have to be fan meets or monetised events? So, I asked people to meet me over coffee and I thought five people would show up. Little did I know that 150 people would show up on a cold Monday morning,” the Ishqbaaaz actor shares. He adds that he feels “fortunate that people recognise” him as a TV star. “I think I’ve been able to do a lot of diverse work the last few years,” he adds.

What will remain a treasured memory for the Pyar Ka Dard Hai Meetha Meetha Pyara Pyara actor is the connect he made with his fans. Mehta, who has done three TV shows in his 10-year-long career, says, “On social media, you interact, but you don’t know the people there. I felt that it was the most beautiful social experiment. So many of them have been watching me since my first acting project.” Mehta, who has moved on from his ongoing TV show, adds, “I recognise that TV gives me access to homes and people. I feel I’ve been able to build network and friendships through it. But it’s all that I do in-between my acting projects that give me insight in life and experiences to go back and bring new things to my craft.”

And he admits that what he experienced during the coffee session was “the most beautiful exchange” with an audience. He says,“I realised that as actors, we live in our own shell and avoid people. But I took a picture with 150 people and had meaningful conversations with at least half of them.”

Mehta adds, “The last year and a half, working on my TV show- Bade Achhe Lagte Hain 2, with the pandemic and becoming a parent, I feel like a different professional and artist. Coming into the industry, initially you’re still finding your feet and you don’t know how much you can get people in. But the longer I’ve been here, I feel so much like gratitude and love for playing characters which are not even you,” he ends.


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Interview | Kartiki Gonsalves on The Elephant Whisperers’ Oscars nom and more

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Director Kartiki Gonsalves, who is nominated for an Oscar for her first documentary short film The Elephant Whisperers, shares that what drew to make the project was the “extremely unusual family dynamic” between a man, a woman and a young elephant. For her, the core idea of the documentary was to document the sacred bond between man and nature. With her background in documentary photography and cinematography, she worked hard to get the film’s subjects comfortable to the point where the production team were almost invisible. (Also read: Guneet Monga on The Elephant Whisperers’ Oscar nom: ‘Wanted to do everything to nurture this film’)

For her passion project, she picked cinematographers that had previously worked with animals and weren’t scared of being in the forest. Krish Makhija, Karan Thapliyal (who had worked on Oscar-nominated documentary Writing With Fire), and Anand Bansal, along with Kartiki on second camera, became a tight family to capture the emotions behind the story between man and animal.

In an interview with Hindustan Times, the first-time filmmaker spoke about her reaction to being an Oscar nominee, the unbreakable bond she shares with Bomman and Bellie, the elephant caretakers of Raghu, the orphan, and the message she hopes people will take from the Netflix film. Excerpts below:

Congratulations on the Oscar nomination for The Elephant Whisperers. How does it feel to get this recognition for your directorial debut?

It’s really special and I’m just really hoping for the best. We’ve come a long way since the beginning of 2017 when we began the movie. On behalf of Bomman and Bellie and elephant friends Raghu and Ammu, I think we’re all really thrilled to receive this great honour. I’m also thrilled for the extra publicity that will help spread the message of the film.

How did you first come to know about Bomman and Bellie and the elephant camp in Tamil Nadu?

I grew up in that same space. I was driving on my way Ooty to Bangalore to shift and bring my things back to my hometown in the Nilgiris of the Western Ghats. I saw Bomman walking with Raghu and he noticed my curiosity and beckoned me to come. I pulled my car over and I jumped out of the car and joined them. They were going on to the river and he was going to take his bath. I didn’t hesitate at all. I’ve been visiting the sanctuary since I was three years old but this experience was really different. Over the course of that evening, I just forged this unbreakable bond with [three-month old] Raghu.

It brought me so much happiness to be able to share this beautiful connection with a being so wild and so young, and extremely vulnerable. I observed that Bomman had this really special connection with Raghu like nothing else I’d ever seen before. Raghu was a son to Bomman and so much more than that. There were moments where Raghu would just be holding on to Bomman’s arm and he would just not want to let him go. I think that comes from the fear of when he was orphaned as a young calf. I think 2017 and 2018 was a very special part of my life and the beginning of a journey that will live on for the rest of my life.

What made you decide to make a short documentary out of this?

I think it happened very organically. There wasn’t a specific moment that made me want to start documenting. It was a correlation of a lot of years of storytelling and photography. I was existing with Bomman, Raghu and Bellie and just building trust. And now that I look back on it, I realised that those times were just so special because it was just being with them with no agenda. I was just being there because I wanted to be there. I had been to the park, I had walked through the forests on my own. I’ve encountered tigers and leopards on foot and done so many other things, but this was just very special. I’ve seen wild elephant calves but never one I could get this close to or observe on such a deep level. It all blossomed from that part.

What do Bomman and Bellie think of the Oscar nomination?

I’ve been talking to them very regularly. They’ve been getting a massive footfall at the elephant camp to see the elephants. They’re all over the news. I’ve been trying to be the middleman and passing by everything that we come across. There’s a massive following internationally and locally of people just falling in love with Bomman and Bellie, their values, the simplicity of the story and how passionate they are about looking after elephants and doing their bit for the planet and its conservation. They are just really happy and almost in tears every time I speak to them about how happy they are that their lives have gone out to and have touched so many people. I think it’s my duty to keep sending them all the messages and emails of people from across the world.

How are Raghu and Ammu doing?

They are doing very well. In fact, Raghu has become very obedient now. He’s much taller now. When I first met Raghu, he was about the height of my knees and now he’s much more than me. In fact, Ammu herself is much taller than me at this stage and I met her when she was three and a half – four feet tall. It’s just really special that they are very healthy, doing extremely well. These are bonds I will have for life.

What do you hope people will take away from The Elephant Whisperers after watching it?

While most films have focused more on humans being cured by a bond with an animal, humans being harmed by wild animals or wild animals suffering from human expansion into their territory, The Elephant Whisperers lets viewers understand both the elephant and the human carers with minimal, outside interpretation. It portrays the dignity of both the magnificent elephants and the indigenous people who have lived with them and cared for them for centuries. I also wanted the audience to stop seeing animals as the other and start seeing them as one of us. Indigenous people have such an in-depth ancient knowledge and respect for the land they live on and share their space with. There’s so much we can learn from them, respect for the land and only taking what they need.

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Alia Bhatt reacts to Shah Rukh Khan’s Pathaan breaking Brahmastra BO record | Bollywood

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Actors Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan reacted to the box office success of Pathaan, calling the film ‘possibly the biggest blockbuster of Indian cinema’. Speaking with the media at the Zee Cine awards 2023 press conference on Tuesday evening, Alia also responded when she was asked about Pathaan breaking the box office record of Brahmastra. Varun Dhawan reacted to the boycott trend that Pathaan faced ahead of its release. (Also Read | Siddharth Anand reacts to Pathaan controversy after success)

While many have been calling the success of Pathaan, Gangubai Kathiawadi, and Brahmastra an answer to the negativity, Alia said as artists, they don’t have so much “aggression”. Talking about responding to negativity and haters, Alia said, “I don’t think we have so much aggression in us like that. We are very grateful to be working and living our dream on a day-to-day basis. And we believe that we belong to the audience and the audience can say whatever they want about us. As long as we are entertaining them we will do our very best.”

Speaking about Pathaan she also said, “We feel very very happy as an industry that a film like Pathaan is not just a blockbuster but possibly the biggest blockbuster of Indian cinema. I think everybody should definitely clap for that once. We feel grateful for moments like this and pray that yahi hota rahe (this should continue happening).”

When a reporter said that Pathaan broke Brahmastra’s record, Alia added, “Every film should break every film’s record. I am very happy with that.” Alia’s last release Brahmastra Part One: Shiva, was helmed by Ayan Mukerji. The film also stars Amitabh Bachchan, Ranbir Kapoor, Nagarjuna, and Mouni Roy. The film gathered positive responses from the audience and collected over 425 crore gross worldwide at the box office.

Varun said one must not pay heed to boycott trends as the success of Pathaan is a testament that the audience is only looking for pure entertainment. He said, “I don’t want to talk about it. Why should we give so much importance to it? If people are liking it (Pathaan), then be happy. We should not discuss much about it. The collections are speaking about the reach of Indian cinema, of Hindi cinema. And when you have some of the biggest stars of this country in Pathaan, be it Shah Rukh sir, Salman bhai, Deepika Padukone and John, you are giving the audience what they want and that’s entertainment.”

Pathaan, a Yash Raj Films project, stars Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, John Abraham, Dimple Kapadia, and Ashutosh Rana among others. The spy thriller, which had faced boycott calls over the song Besharam Rang prior to its release on January 25, has been a humongous success at the box office, raising 591 crore gross worldwide in six days.

Directed by Siddharth Anand, Pathaan marks Shah Rukh’s first big-screen release as a lead in over four years. The movie is the fourth title in producer Aditya Chopra’s spy universe, following Salman Khan’s Ek Tha Tiger (2012) and Tiger Zinda Hai (2017), and War, featuring Hrithik Roshan (2019).

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Alia Bhatt reacts to Shah Rukh Khan’s Pathaan breaking Brahmastra BO record | Bollywood

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Actors Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan reacted to the box office success of Pathaan, calling the film ‘possibly the biggest blockbuster of Indian cinema’. Speaking with the media at the Zee Cine awards 2023 press conference on Tuesday evening, Alia also responded when she was asked about Pathaan breaking the box office record of Brahmastra. Varun Dhawan reacted to the boycott trend that Pathaan faced ahead of its release. (Also Read | Siddharth Anand reacts to Pathaan controversy after success)

While many have been calling the success of Pathaan, Gangubai Kathiawadi, and Brahmastra an answer to the negativity, Alia said as artists, they don’t have so much “aggression”. Talking about responding to negativity and haters, Alia said, “I don’t think we have so much aggression in us like that. We are very grateful to be working and living our dream on a day-to-day basis. And we believe that we belong to the audience and the audience can say whatever they want about us. As long as we are entertaining them we will do our very best.”

Speaking about Pathaan she also said, “We feel very very happy as an industry that a film like Pathaan is not just a blockbuster but possibly the biggest blockbuster of Indian cinema. I think everybody should definitely clap for that once. We feel grateful for moments like this and pray that yahi hota rahe (this should continue happening).”

When a reporter said that Pathaan broke Brahmastra’s record, Alia added, “Every film should break every film’s record. I am very happy with that.” Alia’s last release Brahmastra Part One: Shiva, was helmed by Ayan Mukerji. The film also stars Amitabh Bachchan, Ranbir Kapoor, Nagarjuna, and Mouni Roy. The film gathered positive responses from the audience and collected over 425 crore gross worldwide at the box office.

Varun said one must not pay heed to boycott trends as the success of Pathaan is a testament that the audience is only looking for pure entertainment. He said, “I don’t want to talk about it. Why should we give so much importance to it? If people are liking it (Pathaan), then be happy. We should not discuss much about it. The collections are speaking about the reach of Indian cinema, of Hindi cinema. And when you have some of the biggest stars of this country in Pathaan, be it Shah Rukh sir, Salman bhai, Deepika Padukone and John, you are giving the audience what they want and that’s entertainment.”

Pathaan, a Yash Raj Films project, stars Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, John Abraham, Dimple Kapadia, and Ashutosh Rana among others. The spy thriller, which had faced boycott calls over the song Besharam Rang prior to its release on January 25, has been a humongous success at the box office, raising 591 crore gross worldwide in six days.

Directed by Siddharth Anand, Pathaan marks Shah Rukh’s first big-screen release as a lead in over four years. The movie is the fourth title in producer Aditya Chopra’s spy universe, following Salman Khan’s Ek Tha Tiger (2012) and Tiger Zinda Hai (2017), and War, featuring Hrithik Roshan (2019).

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