Review Roundup: Kartik Aaryan’s ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2’ Creates a Dent on Box Office Despite Average Reviews

As films return to cinemas more, and less to OTT, box office numbers seem to have experienced spikes. While Kartik Aaryan-starrer Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 has earned around Rs 14 crores on its opening day, thereby making it the second film with the highest opening post the pandemic for a Hindi film, Kangana Ranaut‘s Dhaakad has only garner Rs 50 lakh.

Ranveer Singh‘s Jayeshbhai Jordaar also has not recorded high ticket sales.

Silverscreen India brings to you a compilation of reviews of films that released both online as well as in cinemas.

Dhaakad

Razneesh Ghai‘s Dhaakad features actors Kangana RanautArjun Rampal, and Divya Dutta in pivotal roles. The film tells the story of Agent Agni, essayed by Ranaut, who is a field agent entrusted with the mission to gather Intel and eliminate Rudraveer, an international human and arms trafficker.

Sankeertana of Silverscreen India writes that apart from Ranaut’s portrayal as an international agent – a rare sight in Indian cinema – Dhaakad has very little to offer.

However, she adds that the film’s gaze is firmly male, and notes that even though the protagonist does not have to explain her streak of violence, “the film needed so much more to sustain the incessant action. I can even understand the simple emotional stakes, but the cliche-riddled journey the film takes its protagonist on is unacceptable. ”

“Arjun Rampal and Divya Dutta‘s characters are given enough scope and space to shine, and they do in parts. But the emotional arcs of all characters involved in the film are broad and predictable. How can a viewer invest if they already know a character’s every beat? How can they connect with something that’s barely there?” Sankeertana writes.

Rahul Desai of Film Companion, notes the tonal similarities between Dhaakad and other Hollywood female-assassin thrillers, including but not limited to Atomic Blonde and Red Sparrow.

Desai reflects similar sentiments as Sankeertana, and writes, “The intent is correct, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired.”

He adds, “The film itself is all too tropey and familiar, as is her final face-off with raspy Rudra, not to mention the final twist that comes as no surprise to anyone who wonders what sort of agency recruits grief-stricken children and mines their trauma to make them deadly assassins.”

Anna MM Vetticad of Firstpost calls the film “shamelessly derivative”, and writes, “It is not Tarantino though, but the Lara Croft blockbuster franchise starring Angelina Jolie that the team of this Hindi film primarily seems to be mining, right down to the heroine’s look, which includes figure-hugging black outfits of varying lengths and long plaited hair in large parts of the narrative.”

She calls the storytelling colourless, and the film unoriginal, and notes that the film’s biggest problem lies in its lack of imagination.

“To make up for the vacuum of ideas, extremely violent scenes are inserted into the proceedings at intervals,” Vetticad writes.

Even in terms of performances, Vetticad writes that Ranaut, Rampal, and Dutta weren’t as noteworthy as Saswata Chatterjee and Sharib Hashmi.

The film has an IMDb rating of 7.2.

Jack N Jill

Directed by cinematographer and filmmaker Santosh Sivan, Jack N Jill revolves around Manju Warrier‘s Parvathy, a patient of schizophrenia, who, without her will, becomes the subject of an AI experiment conducted by Kesh (Kalidas Jayaram), a US-based scientist. The test transforms Parvathy into a superhero equipped with the best cognitive and combat skills.

The film also features actors Nedumudi Venu, Soubin ShahirAju Varghese, and Basil Joseph, in supporting roles.

According to Aswathy Gopalakrishnan of Silverscreen India, the film does not look like a Santosh Sivan film.

She notes, “Where are Sivan’s famous fascinating compositions, frames dripping with delicious colours and lights, the building of atmospherics? The film has what the general viewers call the “video” look ﹣blunt and raw, resembling old home videos.”

Gopalakrishnan adds that apart from Warrier, Jayaram, and Venu, every other actor looks out of place. Even the characterisation of Shahir, Varghese, and Joseph, she says, is a humongous waste of talent.

“One can see their characters resemble Balarama’s Vikraman and Muthu, the foolish thugs, in tune with the film’s overall low-cost comic book nature. But the jokes do not work, thanks to the flat staging of the scenes,” writes Gopalakrishnan.

The sole takeaway from the film, according to the reviewer, “is the hinting of a romantic track featuring her and Kalidas, the 28-year-old son of her former co-star, Jayaram.”

SR Praveen of The Hindu, writes, “It is not often that one would come across a film where every department seems to be in a competition with each other in a race to the bottom, where cinema lies battered and bruised.”

The film has an IMDb rating of 5.3.
12th ManDisney+ Hotstar
Directed by Jeethu Joseph, 12th Man is a thriller that is headlined by Joseph’s frequent collaborator Mohanlal. The story revolves around a murder that takes place at a resort, and points finger at 12 people.
Aswathy Gopalakrishnan of Silverscreen India, writes that 12th Man is not an especially smart film. “The plot goes in circles, from one red herring to another, yet it cannot outwit the viewer who has, in all these years, been trained at noticing the patterns.”
She adds that Joseph’s film is amateurishly insensitive, which “does not care about the dead or the human frailties that led to the murder. 12th Man, unlike the dark intrigue stuffed into its name, is a soap-operatic film founded on archaic morality.”
The characters, she writes, dress alike with hardly any point of difference.
Shot during the pandemic, Gopalakrishnan notes that while the film has been able to keep the industry afloat, it drags Malayalam cinema many decades behind, turning filmmaking into a mindless job of visual content creation.  
Vishal Menon of Film Companion, reflects similar sentiments as Gopalakrishnan in terms of the film’s approach to the story and writes, “But given the nature of the chamber drama, there are only so many possibilities the script can explore to arrive at an ending. And as with 12th Man, once you’ve considered each person in the group as a possible culprit at least once during its runtime, how shocking can it be when a name is revealed towards the end?”
However, he adds that the biggest reason why the film fails to achieve its full potential, is because of the standards set by the actor-director duo in Drishyam and its sequel.
12th Man has an IMDb rating of 7.3.
Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2
Directed by Anees Bazmee and Pankaj Kumar, Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 is the sequel to Priyadarshan‘s 2007 film Bhool Bhulaiyaa. The cast includes, Kartik Aaryan, Tabu, Kiara Advani, Rajpal Yadav, and Sanjay Mishra in pivotal roles. The story follows Ruhaan, played by Aaryan, who lands at a palace in Rajasthan and uncovers a secret.
Rahul Desai of Film Companion writes that the only comedy comes from Rajpal Yadav’s Chote Pandit, who reprised his role from the prequel.
‘The first half meanders and meanders, biding time till Manjulika is released, almost willing Kartik Aaryan to invoke his inner Akshay Kumar – the way he walks, talks, cracks up, cracks down, laughs, fat-shames, curses,” Desai writes, and adds that while some imitations are amusing, most others are jarring.
He writes that Tabu is the backbone of the film, but “not entirely in a good way”. “The veteran actress is the backbone of the bizarre horror comedy, but there are times when she’s so into her role that the movie is almost forced to be as serious.”
According to Tatsam Mukherjee of Firstpost, “In a screenplay where flashbacks and Kartik Aaryan’s teeth occupy a majority of the space, Tabu is left with limited space to excel. She tries her best, but Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 isn’t the kind of home that nurtures a Tabu performance.”
The film has an IMDb rating of 7.7.

Actor Pratik Gandhi to Play Mahatma Gandhi in New Series Adapted From Ramachandra Guha’s Biographical Novels

Gujarati theatre actor Pratik Gandhi, who also works in Hindi cinema, is all set to play the role of Mahatma Gandhi in an upcoming series, which is an adaption of two biographical novels written by historian Ramachandra Guha.

Applause Entertainment, the makers of the upcoming series, called it “a sweeping tale of Indian Independence seen through the life and times of Mahatma Gandhi”, while announcing the series on Thursday. It is produced under the Aditya Birla Group venture and will “bring alive the period of Indian Independence through the lens of our greatest freedom fighters,” as per a statement issued by makers.

Based on the writings of Guha, the upcoming project is a multi-season series, which will be adapted from two of his books titled Gandhi Before India and Gandhi – The Years that Changed the World. 

From his earliest days and his actions in South Africa to the great struggle in India, the series will tell the “lesser-known” stories of his life, which played an important role in shaping young Gandhi into a Mahatma. It will also tell the stories of all his compatriots and contemporaries of the freedom movement, incredible personalities who, along with him, played an integral part in the shaping of a free and modern India.

“Truth, love, non-violence and an iron-willed determination, the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi are timeless. He was a great leader, a symbol of peace and a marvel of humanity, who with his extraordinary deeds changed the course of Indian history, and impacted generations of leaders all over the world,” the makers stated.

They also mentioned that the upcoming series will be produced at global standards for a worldwide audience and shot across several Indian as well as international locations.

Speaking on the upcoming project, Guha noted that he is confident that the adaption of his books will “bring complex contours of Gandhi’s life and the moral essence of his teachings to viewers across the globe.”

Pratik Gandhi, best-known for his role as stock broker Harshad Mehta in Scam 1992said, “I deeply believe in the Gandhian philosophy and his values and imbibe many of his qualities and teachings in my daily life. Moreover, playing the role of Mahatma is very close to my heart ever since my theatre days and now it is a huge honour to yet again essay this role with dignity, grace and conviction.”

From ‘12th MAN’ to ‘Panchayat Season 2’: 7 OTT Releases This Week

While speaking at the Indian Pavilion at the ongoing Cannes International Film Festival, Anurag Singh Thakur, the Minister of Information and Broadcasting, said, “Over the last few years, the streaming revolution has taken the country by storm, and the popularity of digital and OTT platforms has changed how films are created, distributed, and consumed,” noting the rise of the content era.

It may be noted that though big-budget films like RRR and KGF: Chapter 2 have recorded historic box office numbers, the Ranveer Singh-starrer Jayeshbhai Jordaar had a dull opening day and managed to collect only around Rs 3 crore. On the other hand, Sarkaru Vaari Paata, the Telugu film starring Mahesh Babu, collected Rs 50.10 crore at the box office in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana on its opening day.

Meanwhile, other films like Mammootty and Parvathy Thiruvothu-starrer Puzhu and Arun Matheswaran‘s Saani Kaayidham, which were directly released on OTT platforms, have been receiving positive responses.

On that note, Silverscreen India brings to you a list of seven films and series releasing on various OTT platforms this week, that you can watch from the comfort of your homes.

12th MAN (May 20) – Disney+ Hotstar

Directed by Jeethu Joseph and produced by Antony Perambavoor under the banner Aashirvad Cinemas, this Mohanlal-starrer is a mystery film. In an earlier conversation with Silverscreen India, Jeethu said, “It is a story that unfolds in 24 hours and the film has only 14 characters, overall. There will be no song sequences in the film.” 12th MAN is written by KR Krishna Kumar. On choosing to direct Krishna Kumar’s script, Jeethu said he found the “suspense element” in the story, interesting.

 

RRR (May 20) – Zee5

RRR (Roudhram Ranam Rudhiram) directed by SS Rajamouli, was released in theatres on March 25. It is a pan-Indian period drama, which narrates a fictional account of freedom fighters Alluri Sitaramaraju and Komaram Bheem, essayed by Ram Charan and Junior NTR, respectively. The film features a star-studded cast drawn from several film industries, including Hindi actors Alia Bhatt and Ajay Devgn, Irish actor Alison DoodyShriya SaranRay Stevenson, and Olivia Morris, among others. The film has crossed the Rs 1000 crore mark at the global box office.

 

Jersey (May 20) – Netflix

Shahid Kapoor-starrer Jersey is a remake of the 2019 Telugu sports drama of the same name, which was led by actor Nani. It is helmed by Gowtam Tinnanuri, who also directed the Telugu original. The film co-stars Mrunal Thakur and Pankaj Kapur in pivotal roles. The film was released in theatres on April 23 and collected only around Rs 4 crores on its first day. In Silverscreen India‘s review, noting that the film has an “uneven narrative”, Aswathy Gopalakrishnan wrote, “Jersey, centred on a brooding hero, who takes a slap from his wife, must have been a breath of fresh air in the Telugu cinema of 2019, a space that reeked of testosterone. But Tinnanuri’s decision to make an identical Hindi remake, without polishing the many rough edges backfires in Jersey.”

 

Toolsidas Junior (May 23) – Netflix

Written and directed by Mridul Mahendra, this Sanjay Dutt-starrer is the last film featuring late actor Rajiv Kapoor. It features Kapoor as Toolsidas, an ace snooker player, who proclaims that “he only plays for his son” and features Varun Buddhadev as ‘Toolsidas Junior’. Dutt plays the role of former snooker champion named Mohammad Salam, who helps Junior in fulfilling his father’s dream, after he loses an important match to his arch-rival. The film is inspired by true events and is set in 1994 Calcutta. It was released in theatres on March 4.

 

Acharya (May 20) Amazon Prime Video 

Written and directed by filmmaker Koratala SivaAcharya stars Chiranjeevi and is produced by his home banner Konidela Production Company and Matinee Entertainments. It also stars the actor’s son, Ram Charan, Kajal Aggarwal, and Pooja Hegde. The film was released in theatres on April 29.

 

Panchayat Season 2 (May 18)  Amazon Prime Video 

While the official release date of the series was May 20, it began streaming on May 18. “Panchayat is a comedy-drama, which captures the journey of an engineering graduate Abhishek (Jitendra Kumar), who for lack of a better job option joins as secretary of a panchayat office in a remote village of Uttar Pradesh. Stuck between crazy villagers & a difficult village lifestyle Abhishek starts his job with the sole motivation of getting out of there as soon as possible, for which he even prepares for CAT.” The first season was well received by the audience and had an IMDb rating of 9.1/10 in April 2020.

 

Then and Now (May 20) Apple TV +

The series is a multi-layered thriller that explores the differences between youthful aspirations and the reality of adulthood, when the lives of a group of college best friends are forever changed, after a celebratory weekend ends up with one of them dead. Now, 20 years later, the remaining five are reluctantly reunited by a threat that puts their seemingly perfect worlds at risk.

Netflix Revises Culture Memo for Employees; Changes Reflect the Company’s Recent Struggles

Netflix has revised its culture memo that tells employees what is expected of them. It now seeks the loyalty of its employees to “protect confidential company information, whether or not it is marked ‘confidential’.” These changes appear to be aimed at the issues that Netflix has been facing over the past year.

While core principles such as “empowering employee decision-making, requiring candid feedback and terminating staffers who aren’t up to ‘dream team’ snuff” have been retained from earlier memos, new additions have been made on ethical lines.

A new section titled ‘Ethical Expectations’ reads, “Beyond candour in our day-to-day interactions, we act honourably, even when no one is looking. One test we use is to ask whether we would be ashamed if our actions were made public—and avoid doing anything where the answer would be yes.”

In addition to this, the memo also contains statements like, “You seek what is best for Netflix, not yourself or your team” and “You care deeply about Netflix‘s success.”

According to Variety, the separate section highlighting ethical expectations appears to be a result of the company’s experience with its former employees releasing sensitive information to the media. In October 2021, Netflix had suspended an employee for sharing “commercially sensitive information” with someone outside the company. The data consisted of Netflix’s financial figures, which proved that the streaming platform paid more for Dave Chappelle’s controversial stand-up special The Closer than for its biggest non-English language showSquid Game.

Another new addition to the memo is the section titled ‘Artistic Expression’, which reads, “As employees we support the principle that Netflix offers a diversity of stories, even if we find some titles counter to our own personal values. Depending on your role, you may need to work on titles you perceive to be harmful.”

This is significant in view of the backlash that Netflix faced from within the company after Chappelle was called out for making homophobic and anti-trans remarks in his stand-up special for the platform. Several trans employees at Netflix, and their allies, planned a walkout and demanded investment into non-binary content.

Netflix suspended three employees who had expressed their disappointment with Chappelle’s conduct and the company’s inaction over the same. However, they were later reinstated. The streaming platform maintained that the three employees were not suspended for their criticism, but rather for attending a high-level meeting without authorisation.

And while Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s co-Chief Executive Officer and Chief Content Officer, later admitted that they had “screwed up” their handling of the backlash, he reiterated the company’s view that Chappelle’s special did not cross the line on hate.

The new Artistic Expression section in the culture memo is similar to the memo that Sarandos sent to his staff in October 2021, which said, “As with our other talents, we work hard to support their creative freedom – even though this means there will always be content on Netflix some people believe is harmful.” Sarandos also noted that Chappelle is one of the most popular stand-up comedians today, and that Netflix has a long-standing deal with him.

The addition to the culture memo, which seems aimed at forestalling similar situations in the future, says, “If you’d find it hard to support our content breadth, Netflix may not be the best place for you.”

Employees’ Fiscal Responsibility

Netflix announced that it lost over 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2022, and forecast an additional loss of 2 million paid users in the upcoming quarters. The resulting financial crunch is reflected in its revised culture memo.

Netflix asks its employees to spend “members’ money wisely.” According to Variety, while such an addition is in line with the company’s objective to make the most out of its users’ expenditure, the memo has eliminated previous provisions that allowed employees more leeway in terms of spending on content.

During its most recent quarterly call, Netflix executives highlighted that the company will reduce its spending on content, owing to losses in revenue. Shortly after, Netflix slashed its content slate and laid-off employees in the animation segment as well as the editorial team of the fan-focused platform TUDUM.

From ‘Modern Love: Mumbai’ to ‘Puzhu’: 6 OTT Releases This Week

Although theatres are seeing robust business with Ranveer Singh‘s much-awaited Hindi film Jayeshbhai Jordaar finally hitting theatres this week and films like RRR and KGF: Chapter 2 continuing their successful run at the box, the OTT slate also looks promising.

Last week already saw the digital premiers of Anil Kapoor-starrer Thar, Arun Matheswaran‘s Saani Kaayidham, and Along For The Ride. This week, the titles available to stream on OTT platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+ Hotstar include Mammootty and Parvathy Thiruvothu-starrer Puzhu and Modern Love: Mumbai, the Mumbai chapter of the Indian adaptation of anthology series Modern Love.

For this week, Silverscreen India brings to you a list of six films and series streaming across various OTT platforms, that you can watch from the comfort of your homes.

Modern Love: Mumbai (May 13) – Amazon Prime Video 

The Mumbai chapter of the much-loved US original anthology series Modern Love brings together six filmmakers—Vishal Bhardwaj, Hansal Mehta, Shonali Bose, Dhruv Sehgal, Alankrita Shrivastava and Nupur Asthana. The series stars Fatima Sana Shaikh, Chitrangada Singh, Arshad Warsi, Pratik Gandhi, Ranveer Brar, Masaba Gupta, Ritwik Bhowmik, Yeo Yann Yann, Meiyang Chang, Naseeruddin Shah, Prateik Babbar, among others. Modern Love is an American romantic comedy anthology series developed by John Carney, based on the weekly column of the same name published by The New York Times. Modern Love: Mumbai is the first of three Indian renditions of the show.

Puzhu (May 13) – Sony Liv

Puzhu, starring Mammootty and Parvathy Thiruvothu in the lead roles is a family-drama film . Directed by debutante Ratheena Sharshad, the film also stars the late Nedumuni Venu, Malavika MenonSwasikaIndrans and Jaffar Idukki, among others in pivotal roles. “Puzhu cannot be classified as a film belonging to one specific genre. It is a socially-relevant family drama with elements of a thriller,” Ratheena told Silverscreen India in an exclusive interaction. The film is produced under the banner of CYN-CYL Celluloid by S George in association with Dulquer Salmaan’s Wayfarer Films.

Sneakerella (May 12) – Disney+ Hotstar

Directed by Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum, this American musical comedy stars Chosen Jacobs and Lexi Underwood in crucial roles. The film revolves around an aspiring sneaker designer, who aims to design them for the basketball team Queens.

Senior Year (May 13) Netflix

Rebel Wilson is back and this time with a high school story! The film follows a high-school cheerleader who slips into a coma right before her prom and her attempt to reclaim her status as the prom queen twenty years later. Directed by Alex Hardcastle, the film also stars Angourie Rice.

The Lincoln Lawyer (May 13) – Netflix

Based on the first book in the series, The Brass Verdict, this show revolves around Mickey Haller (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), a Los Angeles lawyer, who tries to handle his entire law firm after his partner passes. Haller is set on proving his worth by taking on difficult cases including a dangerous murder trial.

Savage Beauty season 1 (May 12) – Netflix

Created by Lebogang Mogashoa, the drama series shows the workings of a powerful family in the cosmetic industry. Zinhle Manzini, who is one of the two survivors of an illegal toxic product experiment orchestrated by the Bhengu family, tries to sabotage them and take revenge for the wrongs done on her family. Nambitha Ben-Mazwi, Rosemary Zimu, Nthati Moshesh and Dumisani Mbebe star in the drama series.

Disney+ Gains 8 Million Subscribers in Q2 with IPL Contributing Significantly to Growth

Multimedia giant Disney announced that its OTT platform Disney+ gained 8 million paid subscribers in the second quarter, largely owing to its streaming of the Indian Premier League (IPL). The announcement came during the company’s quarterly financial meeting on Wednesday.

“A little over half of those additions were from Disney+ Hotstar, which benefited from the start of the new IPL season, towards the end of the second quarter,” said Christine McCarthy, CFO and Senior Executive Vice President, during the investor’s call.

The organisation has thus ended its second quarter with around 138 million paid subscribers, as per a letter to the shareholders.

Disney+ Hotstar and IPL

The ongoing 15th season of the IPL, which is expected to end in May, has proved to be the main driving force for the streaming platform’s growth in India. A significant chunk of Hotstar’s subscription base has been a result of its coverage of sports, cricket in particular.

During the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference in 2021, Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek had said that IPL could help the platform reclaim its lost subscriber base in India.

It is to be noted that both domestic and international cricket has been streaming on Hotstar since its launch in 2015. In the first year the streamer notched over 345 million views through the 2015 Cricket World Cup, and over 200 million views during that year’s IPL season. With that, Hotstar became the most-used OTT platform in India.

Disney decided to bank on this growth in 2020, after it acquired 21st Century Fox, the parent company of Star India, in 2019.

Its Disney+ platform was thus integrated with Hotstar to launch Disney+ Hotstar in 2020.

In March 2021, the Federation of Indian Chambers and Commerce Industry (FICCI) reported that subscriptions to digital media witnessed a growth of 49% in 2020, after the online streaming of sports went behind a paywall.

Thus, despite competition from other OTT giants like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix, Disney+ Hotstar has not just stayed afloat but also flourished, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Aside from sports, the rebranding in 2020 also allowed Disney to tap into Hotstar’s content reserves, such as regional soap operas. Imported content was also added to the platform, primarily from Disney’s original libraries, including Pixar films, Lucasfilm content, and Marvel films and series.

With a rise in demand for local, regional content, Disney’s leadership revealed on Wednesday that it will spend $32 billion on content, and has 500 shows in its pipeline, outside of the US. Of these, 140 shows are from the Asia Pacific region, including South-East Asia, 150 from Europe, West Asia, and Africa, and 200 from Latin America. India has 100 shows under development, as a part of the slate.

Disney vs Netflix in India

Even as Disney+ has gained subscribers, the fortunes of its rival Netflix has seen a downturn in recent times.

In January, Netflix leadership admitted that the streaming platform’s slow growth in India was “frustrating.” Product and Operations Officer Greg Peters had said this was the case despite the earlier decision to slash prices in the country in order to achieve long-term maximisation of the subscriber base.

As per Netflix’s latest financial earnings report, the platform has lost 200,000 subscribers, globally, in the first quarter of 2022. The executives went on to admit that the company is not growing as fast as they would like. Netflix has also forecast an additional loss of 2 million subscribers in the upcoming quarter.

Meanwhile, Disney is now eyeing a target of over 230 million paid global users by 2024.

Though Netflix currently has a global subscriber base of 222 million members, Disney’s fast growth could prove worrisome for its rival. The total subscriber base for Disney’s direct-to-consumer (DTC) offerings now stands at a little over 205 million paid members, including Hulu’s 45.6 million subscribers and 22.3 million paid users for ESPN Plus.

In April, Netflix had also revealed that it is considering introducing low-priced, ad-supported plans in the next couple of years.

At the beginning of the call on Wednesday, Chapek announced Disney’s plans to introduce an ad-supported model for Disney+ as well. The lower priced ad-supported plan will be available in the US first, by the end of 2022. It will then be expanded to New Mexico, Africa, West Asia, and other countries by 2023.

Details around the price-point of this new plan are still under wraps. However, when asked whether or not the company will need to enhance its acquisitions before the plan is rolled out, Chapek said, “We are in a really good shape, in terms of being able to meet our timing with our Disney+ ad tier. That’s largely because we are already doing it. The combination of our ESPN Plus streaming, and our experience in Hulu, we think that our current advertising capabilities substantially prepare us to already bring this tier into operation.”

In the past, Netflix had said it planned to stay away from acquiring broadcasting rights for sports. Given the Disney+ growth thanks to the IPL, whether Netflix will change its stance on this remains to be seen.

Disney Films in China

During the call, Chapek also addressed the inability of Disney to secure releases for its films, particularly its Marvel movies, in China of late.

Death on the Nile and Encanto were the last Disney films to be released there.

Chapek described the situation in China as “complicated” but noted that the difficulties faced by the company in penetrating the Chinese market haven’t impeded the performances of the films at the global box office. “It doesn’t really preclude our success, given the relatively lower take rate that we get in the box office in China compared to the rest of the world,” he said.

The CEO also cited the example of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which recently released worldwide, and crossed $500 million in global collections. The film incidentally witnessed the fourth best opening for a Hollywood movie in India, after Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Avengers: Infinity War.

Ratheena Interview: Filmmaker on Making Her Debut with Mammootty-Starrer ‘Puzhu’

Puzhu, the upcoming Malayalam film starring Mammootty and Parvathy Thiruvothu, is all set to premiere on Sony Liv on Friday. 

Directed by debutante Ratheena, the film is produced under the banner of CYN-CYL Celluloid by S George in association with Dulquer Salmaan’s Wayfarer Films. Renish Abdulkadher, Rajesh Krishna and Shyam Mohan serve as executive producers. 

Ahead of the film’s release, Ratheena speaks to Silverscreen India about how the project took off, her working experience and more. 

Puzhu cannot be classified as a film belonging to one specific genre. It is a socially-relevant family drama with elements of a thriller,” says Ratheena.

The filmmaker reveals that she first pitched a different story to Mammootty and he, in turn, put her in touch with Unda’s writer Harshad, to write the screenplay. “We began working on that project, which was a large-scale film. Just then, the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country and we thought doing such a big project was not feasible. Meanwhile, Harshad ikka had already told Mammookka about another story. Since that was ready, Mammookka said that we could go ahead with it. That’s how Puzhu happened.”

Once the project was confirmed, two other writers Sharfu and Suhas came on board to pen the screenplay, alongside Harshad. Ratheena says they did not take a very long time to complete writing the script, as Harshad had already developed it in the form of a short story.

“The short story that Harshad ikka had written was well-structured. We began the initial production process with that. The trio stayed in Kozhikode to write the screenplay. I used to visit them to discuss developments,” she says, adding that Mammootty was also involved in the discussions at the scripting stage.

When asked about the one thing that made Mammootty say yes to the film, Ratheena says, “It boiled down to the content. He was very confident about this project. Even I felt that the story was touching and very impressive. This is a full-fledged Mammookka film, with him being present in most of the scenes.

On working with a big star like him in her very first project, she says, “Mammooka has worked with a lot of first-time filmmakers and I am one of them. It is such a great thing for him to do.”

Ratheena mentions that she discussed casting with the writers’ team during scripting. “When we approached Parvathy, she listened to the story and immediately came on board. Mammooka plays the role of a father. Beyond this, I don’t wish to reveal too much about the film.”

Aside from Parvathy and Mammootty, Puzhu also features actors Nedumuni Venu, Malavika Menon, Swasika, Indrans, and Jaffar Idukki, among others.

Late actor Nedumudi Venu completed shooting his part for Puzhu just a few days before his demise. Ratheena says she considers herself fortunate to have directed such a legendary actor. “It was a memorable experience working with him. He told me that he was happy to hear a woman’s voice calling out ‘action’ and ‘cut’. He also said that many more women should come into this field, and predicted that in the coming years, the differentiation between ‘male filmmakers’ and ‘female filmmakers’ will fade away.”

She adds, “He was not keeping well at the time, but I was so amazed by his performance. We shot with sync sound and the way he remembered his lines and enacted scenes was flawless. He was such a great actor that when we set frames, he just knew how to move accordingly and use the right expressions.”

The film went on floors sometime in August last year, and was mostly shot at Ernakulam and Vagamon. The cinematography was handled by Theni Eshwar, who had previously worked with Mammootty on the 2018 Tamil film Peranbu.

Ratheena shares that it was Mammootty who suggested roping in Eshwar for Puzhu. “Mammookka set up a meeting with Eshwar. I had watched Peranbu earlier and had just seen his work in Karnan, which released around that time. I discussed Puzhu’s subject with him and he was very happy to work with us. There was a lot of space for healthy discussions and he was an asset for this film.”

Jakes Bejoy is the film’s composer, and Ratheena notes that music plays a significant role in Puzhu. She adds that the composer and her team did a lot of background research for the music and says she looks forward to the audience’s reaction to this aspect of the film.

Asked about the title, the filmmaker notes that there were a few suggestions for it, but she found Puzhu to be apt for the story. “When the audience watches Puzhu, they will understand why we picked this title and perhaps, they would have different perspectives on it.”

Talking about Puzhu’s release on an OTT platform, Ratheena says, “Initially, we did not have this in mind when we started working on this project. It was only after the shoot that producer George suggested a direct OTT premiere. I happily agreed as an OTT release will ensure a wider reach. Puzhu will be released in five languages – Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi. The film’s content is such that it is relatable and understandable to audiences beyond language and cultural barriers; it is not specific to any one place or time period.”

Ratheena previously served as an executive producer for the Parvathy-starrer Uyare. She has been in the film industry for more than a decade. She earlier lived in Chennai and worked on production and program coordination for television shows and ad films. Later, she went on to work as an assistant to actor-filmmaker Revathi. She then began focusing on the production side of things and Uyare was her first independent work. “Since I entered the industry after getting married and having children, I pursued short courses to spruce up my skills,” she says.

“Over the years, I realised my inclination for direction. While working on Uyare, I began writing the story that I had initially pitched to Mammooka,” she adds.

Ratheena says she is very happy to see more women entering the film industry as technicians. When she began her career, there were not many women working as technicians and even assistant directors were few. “Following the example of rising filmmakers like Anjali Menon, many more women are entering the industry. In Uyare, there were a lot of women working in the team and it was so good to see. Now, many girls are calling me, requesting to work as ADs. This is a big change and I’m so happy about it.”

Rick Riordan Defends Leah Jeffries’ Casting as Annabeth Chase in ‘Percy Jackson’ Series, Calls Critics Racist

Rick Riordan, the author of the Percy Jackson books, defended the casting of Leah Jeffries as Annabeth Chase in Disney’s upcoming series adaptation, after some fans of the books questioned the move. Riordan called out the critics as racist in his blog, on Tuesday.

“You are judging her appropriateness for this role solely and exclusively on how she looks. She is a Black girl playing someone who was described in the books as white. Friends, that is racism,” the 57-year-old author wrote.

He also said that Jeffries will be a role model for new generations of girls who will see in her the kind of hero they want to be.

The casting of Jeffries, Walker Scobell, and Aryan Simhadri, as Annabeth Chase, Percy Jackson, and Grover Underwood, respectively, was announced last week. The trio is set to feature in the Disney+ series Percy Jackson and the Olympians, which narrates the story of the titular 12-year-old modern demigod, who is trying to come to terms with his newfound divine powers, when the sky god Zeus accuses him of stealing his master lightning bolt.

Simhadri’s Grover is a satyr (half-boy and half-goat) who is disguised as a 12-year-old boy, while Jeffries’ Annabeth is the true daughter of the Greek goddess Athena.

Shortly after the announcement, fans of the series expressed their disappointment with Jeffries’ casting on the grounds that she did not represent the character as described in the book.

A fan wrote, “You skipped the whole part where it says ‘what I thought a stereotypical California girl would look like’. I’m disappointed in the fact they had Annabeth already pictured and portrayed but still completely switched it up for no real reason besides being ‘woke’.”

The same user responded to another user noting that perhaps Jeffries was more qualified, and wrote, “I’m sure she’s very qualified. I’m not criticizing the actress but I’m just surprised by the selection. It’s not about race but about how awkward it is. Disney is all about diversifying to appease for money and will just screw over the book material if they want to.”

Riordan’s blog post came as a reaction to such criticism. He wrote, “If you have a problem with this casting, take it up with me. You have no one else to blame,” and added that bullying and harassing a child online is inexcusable and wrong.

He further noted that the casting of the trio took one year, and the reactions on social media chose to dismiss the fact that Jeffries’ casting could be based on merit.

“Without having seen her play the part, you have pre-judged her (pre + judge = prejudice) and decided she must have been hired simply to fill a quota or tick a diversity box. And by the way, these criticisms have come from across the political spectrum, right and left,” Riordan wrote.

Alexandra Daddario, who played Annabeth in the two film adaptations of the books, namely The Lightning Thief (2010) and Sea of Monsters (2013), also expressed support for Jeffries and wrote on Twitter, “Leah Jeffries is going to be an incredible Annabeth!”

The new Disney+ series will soon begin production in Vancouver.

Review Roundup: ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’, ‘Saani Kaayidham’ & ‘Thar’, Among Others Release this Week

After KGF: Chapter 2, Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has been bringing large numbers of audiences to theatres, after its release on Friday. Other films like Thar and Saani Kaayidham have opted for a direct digital premiere.

The new instalment of Doctor Strange has collected Rs 27- 28 crore on its first day, and is the fourth best opening for a Hollywood film in India, after Avengers: EndgameSpider-Man: No Way Home, and Avengers: Infinity War.

On that note, Silverscreen India brings to you, a compilation of reviews of films that have released both online as well as in cinemas.

Thar (Netflix)

Directed by Raj Singh Chaudhury, Thar features actors Harshvarrdhan Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Satish Kaushik, and Mukti Mohan in prominent roles.

The film follows the story of a man who moves to a big town to seek a job, and avenge his past.

Aswathy Gopalakrishnan of Silverscreen India notes that the film “on the one hand, roots for the victory of the underdog over the chauvinist forces, and on the other hand, is a spectacle of violence and macabre – a game where all the major players are men with an appetite for blood and revenge.”

She credits cinematographer Shreya Dev Dube for extracting the cinematic potential of the desert landscape, but blames the complacent writing for making Dube’s efforts appear a little more than a superficial element.

In terms of performances, Gopalakrishnan writes that while Anil Kapoor fits the Western context of the film, Harshvarrdhan Kapoor “delivers a thoroughly one-note performance, reflecting neither the rage nor the underlying psychological issues of Siddharth (his character).”

She adds that the film has little space for its female characters and “does not try to explore this female interference in the masculine terrain in depth.”

Anupama Chopra of Film Companion, writes that the least interesting thing in the film is the motive for revenge.

While the film is disturbingly violent, according to Chopra, it is the human drama that makes it absorbing.

The performances of Anil Kapoor, Jitendra Joshi, and Sana Shaikh stand out for Chopra. While Harshvarrdhan Kapoor delivers the opacity of his character by remaining largely impassive and using minimal expressions, it is the marginalisation of the character that, Chopra notes, undermines the narrative.

“Who really is Siddharth and how is he capable of doing the things we see him do? The film doesn’t answer these questions,” she writes.

She adds that the dialogues penned by filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, sound odd and out of place.

Thar has an IMDb rating of 6.5.

Saani Kaayidham (Amazon Prime Video)

This Arun Matheshwaran directorial is led by actors Keerthy Suresh and Selvaraghavan. The film follows the revenge story of Ponni (Suresh), who is raped by upper-caste, oppressive men, and end up murdering her husband and daughter, after he expresses his political ambitions.

Subha J Rao of Silverscreen India writes that the film is not only “proof of Arun’s control over craft and form, but it is also proof of the fact that only when good writing becomes great can repetitive, predictable action work on screen.”

She adds that the director “knows how to turn violence into an art form, without really glorifying it. It’s all swift and haphazard, so you are not really drawn to the violence but its aftermath.”

Rao credits both Suresh and Selvaraghavan on their performances.

She calls Selvaraghavan’s Sangayya brilliant and one “who is molten wax on the inside and a tough nut to crack on the outside.”

Rao also appreciates the film’s crew, and writes, “Music composer Sam CS, whose haunting score mirrors Ponni’s angst and Sangayya’s state of mind. Art director Moovendhar, editor Nagooran Ramachandran, sound editor Jitin Moni and art director Ramu Thangaraj are in top form. Cinematographer Yamini Yagnamurthy’s frames are exquisite, especially in the black-and-white portions, with light and shade telling innumerable stories.”

Ranjani Krishnakumar of Film Companion also highlights the film’s craft, and writes, “Saani Kaayidham is an exquisitely cinematographed film, with Yamini Yagnamurthy displaying immense control.”

She also highlights the director’s portrayal of violence, and writes, “Arun Matheswaran is enthralled by this level of violence. He does his best not to gloat in it. He attempts to focus on emotion instead of violence.”

Even though the violence trumps the storyline, as per Krishnakumar, the director creates the space to unnerve the audience with philosophical questions.

Krishnakumar lauds Suresh’s performance and writes that she “looks several leagues above her costars, including Selvaraghavan, who does his best.”

Saani Kaayidham has an IMDB rating of 7.8.

CBI: The Brain

CBI: The Brain is a mystery thriller, where Mammootty reprises his role as a CBI officer named Sethurama Iyer.

Aswathy Gopalakrishnan of Silverscreen India, notes that unlike the prior films in the CBI franchise, the absence of a rooted, local variety of humour is strongly felt in the film.

“To begin with, at no point during the investigation do Iyer and his team engage with the local population,” she writes.

Gopalakrishnan further notes that the transition in the mode of investigation in the films, over the years.

“If Iyer was a thoroughly professional sleuth in CBI: Diary Kurippu and Jagratha (1989), he was forced to become a showman in the films that followed. In CBI: The Brain, the focus is more on his famous mannerisms than on the findings. Jakes Bejoy seems to have got the instruction to play the signature score whenever Iyer gets up and walks, regardless of the situation.”

While the reviewer calls Mammootty’s portrayal as Iyer flawless, she notes that Soubin Shahir plays the cliched psychopathic hacker, and Sudev Nair is wasted as a cop.

She adds that the film relies on flimsy motives for murder, and lacks the cleverness of a mastermind.

Vishal Menon of Film Companion reflects similar sentiments, and writes, “Internet and memes have kept Sethurama Iyer relevant and there’s no longer the need to tell you about the man and his big throbbing brain. What this has done is free writer SN Swamy to jump straight into a major case that is said to have challenged this mastermind.”

Menon adds that there’s an overload of information “that it feels like they’re just shifting the goal post instead of building a solid defence.”

CBI 5: The Brain has an IMDb rating of 6.7.

Ashoka Vanamlo Arjuna Kalyanam

Vidya Sagar Chinta‘s Ashoka Vanamlo Arjuna Kalyanam is led by actors Vishwak Sen and Rukshar Dhillon. The story revolves around 34-year-old Arjun, and his marriage.

Sankeertana of Silverscreen India writes that the best thing about the film “is how it manages to shift focus between two female characters without much friction.”

She cites the example of Vasudha (Ritika Nayak), and adds, “Vasudha, Madhavi’s sister, who acts and moves like a stereotypical bride’s sister, morphs into something bigger and better. This shift does not just make Arjun rethink his opinion of her, it makes the viewer do the same. The camera looks at her differently, and so does Arjun, and suddenly, she is everything.”

Sankeertana also praised Dhillon’s performance for someone with not too many dialogues, but adds that the film belongs to Sen.

The film has an IMDb rating of 8.9.

Koogle Kutappa

Koogle Kuttappa is the Tamil remake of the Malayalam science fiction comedy Android Kunjappan Version 5.25, and is directed by Sabari and Saravanan. It features actors KS Ravikumar, Yogi Babu, Losliya and Tharshan in prominent roles. The film follows the life of a father, who is left with an Android robot named Kuttappa to take care of him, while his son leaves for work.

For Nithya Gnanapandithan of Silverscreen India, the only takeaway from the film is Ravikumar’s performance as the father. She writes, “The actor-director aces the accent, body language and mannerisms of the old man and, to use the tired cliche, transforms into the character. The film comes alive whenever he is on the screen.”

She adds, “This only makes the contrast more painful whenever he has a scene with Tharshan, who plays his son Adithya and is as wooden as they come.”

Gnanpandithan notes that the film’s ‘biggest backlogs’ are the inconsistent tone and the bad pacing at the beginning. She cites sequences from the film which were unnecessary, and writes, “His romance portion with Losliya feels entirely redundant and as if it were created simply to include a duet.”

“We could have also done without the lectures on how technology can be good too and how one shouldn’t lose oneself in it,” she adds.

Vishal Menon of Film Companion reflects similar sentiments, and writes, “In Koogle Kuttappa, though, the treatment is kept at a basic level, without the nuances that made the original oddly funny. The pitch too is a lot louder with the comedic bits turned several notches higher as though the makers do not trust their audience.”

Menon notes that the remake also repeated the same mistakes as the original.

“We found the original to be drained of any life or energy the second the action shifts to cold, lifeless Russia. The love story between the son and his Japanese girlfriend too, pulled us away from the dramedy back at home with its awkwardness. But in this, the insipid love angle between the son and his Eelam Tamil girlfriend appears so flat and pointless that you’re only focusing on how bad the green screens are at converting an office in ECR/OMR into downtown Germany,” he explains.

The film has an IMDb rating of 5.0.

Disney Plus Casts Aryan Simhadri & Leah Sava Jeffries in Upcoming ‘Percy Jackson’ Series

Actors Aryan Simhadri and Leah Sava Jeffries have been cast for the upcoming Disney original live-action adventure series Percy Jackson and the Olympians.

Both the actors will be playing the roles of Grover and Annabeth, respectively, who are the friends of the titular character set to be played by Walker Scobell, in the series.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians is based on Disney Hyperion’s best-selling book series by award-winning author Rick Riordan, of the same name. It narrates the story of a 12-year-old modern demigod, Percy Jackson, who is trying to come to terms with his newfound divine powers, when the sky god Zeus accuses him of stealing his master lightning bolt. With the help of his friends Grover and Annabeth, Percy embarks on an adventure of a lifetime to find it and restore order to Olympus.

Simhadri, who will be seen as Grover Underwood, is a satyr, (half-boy and half-goat), who is disguised as a 12-year-old boy, and deeply cares about others and will always choose what is best for them, sometimes at his own expense. Though cautious by nature, he would always throw himself into a fight, to protect his friends, especially his best friend Percy, as per Disney’s statement.

Jeffries, who plays Annabeth Chase, is the true daughter of the Greek goddess Athena, and is a brilliant strategist with an active and curious mind. After having spent the last five years at Camp Half-Blood, she longs to test her mettle in the human world, of which she barely remembers. Further, she trains Percy to survive the mythological world, and in turn, he helps her connect with her humanity.

A Disney-branded television series produced by 20th Television, Percy Jackson and the Olympians will soon start production in Vancouver.

The screenplay for the series is written by Riordan and Jon Steinberg, while James Bobin is set to direct the show. Steinberg and Shotz serve as executive producers alongside Bobin, Riordan, and The Gotham Group’s Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, Jeremy Bell and D.J. Goldberg, among others.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians marks the third venture of Simahadri with Disney as an actor, after he played the lead role in Disney Channel’s recent original movie, Spin, an Indian-centric family comedy set in the United States alongside Abhay Deol, and Disney’s Just Roll With It.

Munawar Faruqui, Winner of the Reality Show ‘Lock Upp’, Talks About Working with Kangana Ranaut

Stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui, who has won actor Kangana Ranaut‘s reality show Lock Upp on Saturday, has talked about working with the actor and said that it is the “beauty of a democratic country” that people with different beliefs can always work together.

“Many had raised questions about me doing this show. But I knew it was a means by which I could connect with fans, and I was successful in doing so,” said Faruqui, during a media interaction following his win.

The Alt Balaji show Lock Upp revolved around 20 contestants called ‘inmates’, who were locked in jail for 70 days. They had a ‘jailer’, who gave them tasks to perform, everyday as they fight for basic necessities and strive to win the hearts of audiences and the show’s host, Ranaut.

Faruqui made it to the finale, standing against Payal Rohatgi and Anjali Arora, who became the first runner-up and second runner-up, respectively. Though the comedian had gained over 18 lakh votes from audiences, the final decision was in Ranaut’s hands, herself. “As you have seen in the judgement day episodes, voting is only the first step. Rest depends on my decision,” the actor had said to the finalists.

Minutes later, after a few performances and a recap of the entire journey, Ranaut announced the winner by breaking Faruqui out of jail, while Rohatgi remained standing inside.

Netizens raised eyebrows when Faruqui, who had earlier been hounded by right-wing organisations since the beginning of 2021, featured in a show hosted by Ranaut. The actor herself has been known for speaking in favour of such organisations, with regard to several social issues.

Earlier in January, the comedian was jailed for allegedly cracking jokes that hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus during one of his shows in Indore, while he maintained that he was arrested for a joke he did not crack. Following this, close to 12 of his Dongri To Nowhere shows were called off over a span of two months, due to intimidation by right-wing groups such as Bajrang Dal, the Hindu nationalist militant organisation that forms the youth wing of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) in various cities, such as AhmedabadRaipurMumbai, and Goa.

Ranaut, on the other hand, had been making headlines for supporting all decisions taken by the BJP-led government. She had openly criticised protestors of the same, including the anti-CAA/NRC oppositions and also referred to the protesting farmers as “terrorists”, among several others.

Following the announcement of Faruqui joining the actor’s show, one of his earlier tweets surfaced on the internet, where he had called out Ranaut for her comments on nepotism, while noting that her sister has been her manager.

With regard to a clash in ideologies between the two, Faruqui had earlier said, “If someone believes in certain ideologies, they would also believe that we live in a democratic country. We all have the freedom of speech and to put across our beliefs. If one expects to be heard and their opinions respected, they too would have to do the same. It’s going to be a give and take situation.”

The comedian went on to win a car and a cash prize of Rs 20 lakhs, which he said he would use for a good cause and for himself, during a media interaction.

Shareholder Sues Netflix for Hiding Information on Adverse Business Prospects

A Netflix shareholder has filed a class action suit against the streamer for withholding information about the company’s business prospects and thus causing significant losses for its shareholders.

The lawsuit claims that Netflix violated the federal securities law by failing to intimate details of low acquisition of subscribers during the period of October 2021 to April 2022. The class action suit has been filed “on behalf of all others similarly situated” who lost money within the specified time period.

This lawsuit comes a few weeks after Netflix announced that it had lost 200,000 subscribers in the the first quarter of 2022, and forecast an additional loss of 2 million subscribers in the ongoing second quarter.

Complainant Fiyyaz Pirani has argued that Netflix “failed to disclose material adverse facts about the Company’s business, operations, and prospects.”

He claims that the streamer failed to disclose the following information: (1) Netflix was exhibiting slower acquisition growth due to, among other things, account sharing by customers and increased competition from other streaming services; (2) the company was experiencing difficulties retaining customers; (3) as a result, the company was losing subscribers on a net basis; (4) consequently, the company’s financial results were being adversely affected; and (5) that, as a result of all this, Netflix’s positive statements about the company’s business, operations, and prospects were materially false and/or misleading and/or lacked a reasonable basis.

The suit noted that in January 2022, Netflix admitted to over-forecasting its subscriber acquisition, and attributed this to the Covid-19 pandemic-induced boost in subscribers. The next day, the company’s stocks fell by around 22%.

It further added that the forecast of an additional loss of 2 million subscribers plunged Netflix’s shares by over 35%.

The suit claims that the positive statements about the company in the market made the shareholders invest in Netflix under false pretences.

Meanwhile, the streamer’s downhill performance has sent ripples across the company with content-slashing and laying-off of employees.

At the last quarterly meeting, the company’s leadership announced that their priority was to tackle the menace of password sharing.

In addition to its subscriber base of 222 million households, Netflix estimates that 100 million additional households are using the service through the means of shared passwords. As a result, in March, Netflix had rolled out tests in Costa Rica, Chile, and Peru to find out if users would be willing to pay extra to share their accounts with non-subscribers, or people beyond their households.

Netflix’s leadership further revealed that they are considering introducing low-priced ad-supported plans in the next couple of years.

From ‘Thar’ to ‘Saani Kaayidham’: 7 OTT Releases This Week

Theatres across the country are witnessing rising numbers in audiences, again owing to recent releases like RRRGangubai Kathiawadi, and KGF: Chapter 2.

KGF 2, which is in its third week of running now, has become a blockbuster at the box office and earned over Rs 1000 crore worldwide. The film has overtaken recently released Hindi films Heropanti 2 and Runway 34which are struggling to garner more footfall. With more big-budget Hindi films lined up for release next week, it remains to be seen whether the Hindi film industry will be able to regain its position at the box office charts or regional films will continue to break records.

Meanwhile, OTT platforms have been churning out fresh content, every week. The end of last month saw the premieres of late actor Rishi Kapoor‘s last film Sharmaji Namkeen, Abhishek Bachchan‘s Dasviand Sakshi Tanwar‘s Mai, which have been well-received.

On that note, Silverscreen India brings to you a list of seven films and series streaming across various OTT platforms this week, that you can watch from the comfort of your homes.

Thar (May 6) – Netflix

This much-awaited Anil Kapoor-starrer is all set to premiere on Netflix, this week. Directed by Raj Singh Chaudhary, Thar also features Fatima Sana Shaikh, Harshvarrdhan Kapoor, Satish Kaushik, among others. Set against the backdrop of Rajasthan, the action-thriller is set in the 80s and is inspired by Western and noir genres. Thar will see the father-son duo go up against each other, when a veteran cop has to solve a murder case. 

 

Saani Kaayidham (May 6) – Amazon Prime Video

Directed by Arun Matheswaran, this upcoming Tamil film starring actor Keerthy Suresh and filmmaker Selvaraghavan, is the second instalment of a planned revenge trilogy. Saani Kaayidham follows the journey of Ponni (Keerthy), a constable who lives with her five-year-old daughter Dhanna and husband Maari, a coolie working at a rice mill. On one unfortunate night, she loses everything. To avenge the injustice done to her, she takes the support of Sangaiah (Selvaraghavan), with whom she shares a bitter past.

 

Home Shanti (May 6) – Disney+ Hotstar

Directed by Aakanksha Dua, Home Shanti is a family drama featuring Supriya Pathak, Manoj Pahwa, Chakori Dwivedi, Poojan Chhabra, and Happy Ranajit. It follows the story of a middle-class couple trying to fulfill their life-long dream of owning a house. During the process of building this house, the two hit several snags. Pahwa plays a comic Hindi newspaper columnist named Umesh Joshi and Pathak essays the character of a school vice-principal, Sarla Joshi.

 

Jhund (May 6) – Zee5

After having a not-so-successful run at the theatres, Jhund will be premiering on Zee5 this week. Written and directed by Nagraj Manjule, the film is based on the life of retired sports teacher, Vijay Barse, who founded an NGO called ‘Slum Soccer’. Jhund stars Amitabh Bachchan, along with Sairat stars Rinku Rajguru and Akash Thosar.

 

Along For the Ride (May 6) – Netflix

An adaptation of Sarah Dessen’s 2009 novel of the same name, this story follows a girl named Auden, who meets a guy named Eli, by chance. He introduces her to the experiences of teenage life that she has been oblivious of, so far. The film is directed by Sofia Alvarez, best-known for Netflix films To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You.

 

Beast (May 11) – Sun Nxt and Netflix

Vijay‘s Beast had a very successful run at the box office and will have its digital premiere, in the coming week. Directed by Nelson and produced by Sun Pictures, the film also stars Pooja Hegde, Aparna Das, Selvaraghavan, Yogi Babu, Redin Kingsley, and VTV Ganesh.

Selvaraghavan Interview: Filmmaker about ‘Saani Kaayidham’ and His Move to Acting

Tamil filmmaker Selvaraghavan, who recently made his acting debut with the Vijay-starrer Beast, will next be seen in the revenge drama film Saani Kaayidham, alongside actor Keerthy Suresh. The director, who has helmed several hits like 7G Rainbow Colony and Pudhupettai, says that his life has completely changed since he made the move to acting.

“I’m fortunate to experience this kind of journey. After a certain point, life tends to become monotonous. Now, my life has taken a complete U-turn and I am learning to experience different things. I am grateful to God for that,” he tells Silverscreen India.

Although Selvaraghavan ultimately made his acting debut with Beast, it was for Saani Kaayidham that he first faced the camera. “To be honest, I was shivering and a bit nervous. I felt all the things that a person facing the camera for the first time feels,” says the seasoned director.

Saani Kaayidham is written and directed by filmmaker Arun Matheswaran, who made his debut with Rocky. It follows the journey of Ponni (Keerthy), a constable who lives with her five-year-old daughter Dhanna and husband Maari, a coolie working at a rice mill. On one unfortunate night, she loses everything. To avenge the injustice done to her, she takes the support of Sangaiah (Selvaraghavan), with whom she shares a bitter past.

Upon hearing director Arun narrate the story, Selvaraghavan says he could “see where Arun would be taking the movie” and how it was going to unfold. “I could see glimpses of it and that fascinated me. I also wanted to be a part of this kind of journey.”

He adds that it also fascinated him to go as a “new person” to the sets. “Rather than carrying the baggage of a filmmaker, I wanted to just be a part of the film. I did not want to think I am more than that. I was just trying to fulfil his (the director’s) vision. I wanted to go to the sets and have this new experience.”

Elaborating further, Selvaraghavan adds, “It was a completely different experience. For me to direct a film and create something, is very different from seeing someone else do the same thing. To see Keerthy transforming into somebody else, it was all fascinating for me. I used to witness such things every day on the sets. It has been a huge learning experience.”

Selvaraghavan notes that being an actor has made him see his work in a new light. “I normally don’t visit any other film set. But being an actor and seeing different kinds of sets and filmmakers, it is very interesting to experience and understand how things can be conceived and how they function in different ways. It is a lot of learning. As filmmakers, we have fixed beliefs, but in this way, one gets to witness something different. I think that is really nice; learning is a joyful experience.”

Saani Kaayidham is set to have a direct OTT release and Selvaraghavan feels the medium gives filmmakers the freedom to pursue more daring stories.

Noting that even in terms of genres, Tamil cinema has branched out and diversified, he says that it is great to see the new ideas that people, especially youngsters, are coming up with. “Hurdles are being bridged and today, with OTT platforms, it is easier to make different, unique films and launch them. If five people pitch in to produce, they can make a film. The emergence of these platforms provides a sense of freedom and relief, along with accessibility.”

“The level of exposure for people is also higher, and this is a favourable thing,” he says, citing this as an impetus for the evolution of Tamil cinema in terms of both genres and methods of storytelling. He adds that the “hunger for different stories is huge” and says that he is happy to note that the appetite is growing with time.

While he had been enjoying the experience of acting, Selvaraghavan asserts that he is still primarily a filmmaker. “Direction is what I signed up to do, the rest are learning experiences. One’s roots never change, you keep going back to them. That is how filmmaking is for me,” he says.

On the directorial front, Selvaraghavan is collaborating yet again with his brother, actor Dhanush, on the upcoming Tamil film Naane Varuven. It marks their reunion after Mayakkam Enna over a decade ago.

“We have finished filming Naane Varuven. Right now, we are focusing on completing the rest of the work. It is a different story altogether and it is written by Dhanush. We try to collaborate as and when possible and when we do, it is special. The expectations are high and I hope the film satisfies the audience.”

On the much-anticipated sequel to Aayirathil Oruvan, he says, “As more and more questions are asked about the sequel, my thirst for making it keeps rising too. I hope to start working on it soon.”

Meanwhile, Saani Kaayidham will premiere on Amazon Prime Video on Friday.

‘Saani Kaayidham’ is the Second Instalment in My Revenge Trilogy: Director Arun Matheswaran

Director Arun Matheswaran says Saani Kaayidham, the upcoming Tamil film starring actor Keerthy Suresh and filmmaker Selvaraghavan, is the second instalment of a planned revenge trilogy.

The film, which is set to premiere on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, is Arun’s sophomore directorial, after the revenge action film Rocky (2021). It is produced by Screen Scene Media Entertainment.

Saani Kaayidham follows the journey of Ponni (Keerthy), a constable who lives with her five-year-old daughter Dhanna and husband Maari, a coolie working at a rice mill. On one unfortunate night, she loses everything. To avenge the injustice done to her, she takes the support of Sangaiah (Selvaraghavan), with whom she shares a bitter past.

Speaking to Silverscreen India about the film, Arun says, “The film is part of a revenge trilogy I have in mind. After Rocky and Saani Kaayidham, I have one more story, which I will pursue later. While both these films are revenge dramas, Saani Kaayidham is more emotional and deals with the equation between the two characters and the dynamics of their relationship. It is a simple, direct revenge story; there aren’t any parallel plots nor a complicated screenplay.”

Explaining the title, Arun says that Saani Kaayidham means low-quality paper or pulp paper. He adds that it has relevance to the plot.

“I got the idea for this film around the time I was writing Rocky. It so happened that it became my second film. Had Rocky been released earlier, as per plan, then I would have started my film with actor Dhanush after it. But since I had time, I began working on Saani Kaayidham before that,” he tells us.

The film was supposed to mark Selvaraghavan’s acting debut, but Beast released earlier, in April.

Speaking about casting the filmmaker, Arun says, “After I wrote the story, Selva sir was the first person who came to mind for Sangaiah’s character. I felt that with him playing the role, it would add another layer to the character, an element of surprise. It was a gamble trying to rope him in, but I took the chance and approached him. When I narrated the story, he liked it and agreed to come on board.”

As for Keethy, he says he chose her purely for her capacity to perform. “I liked her performance in other films, especially Mahanati, where she portrayed several emotions. Also, since she has never done a character with a raging, vengeful arc, I thought it would add to the film’s intrigue. Although both of them may look like an odd couple on screen, this will set the tone of the narrative effectively,” he adds.

Aside from the leads, the film also features art director-actor Vijay Murugan, Lizzie Antony, Vinoth Munna, Aadukalam Murugadoss, and Krishna, among others. “We have also incorporated an inanimate character in the story – a matador van. It plays an integral role in shaping the overall narrative,” Arun reveals.

There are some similarities in the visual aesthetics of Rocky and Saani Kaayidham, and Arun attributes this to the black and white-toned, wide shots. “This correlates with the mood that I have planned for the trilogy. However, aside from the mood, all other motifs and elements will be different. In Saani Kaayidham, the two lead characters are familiar with one another, yet they are strangers. In Rocky, I used surrealism and the film had a non-linear screenplay. This film follows the journey of the leads in a much more linear manner.”

The director also mentions that Saani Kaayidham is set in the early 1990s and notes that he specifically chose that time frame as there was almost no usage of mobile phones then.

The film went on floors in mid-2020, and it was shot in 2021 amid the Covid-19-induced restrictions, across Rameshwaram, Cuddalore, and Chennai. Calling it a “challenging film” to shoot, Arun says that cinematographer Yamini Yagnamurthy has predominantly used handheld shots, barring a few sequences. “There are a lot of lengthy shots and it was physically demanding. She has done a fabulous job. We also scouted a lot of live locations, but were unable to film in these places due to the lockdown. However, with the help of my art director Ramu Thangaraj, we were able to erect realistic sets.”

Saani Kaayidham is edited by Nagooran, marking his second collaboration with Arun after Rocky, while Sam CS has composed the music for the film, including the “intense background score.”

Saani Kaayidham was written with a theatrical experience in mind, Arun admits, but he is happy with the OTT release. “I would have loved to see it on the big screens. But, Rocky only had a limited release and not many people could watch it in theatres. This film is releasing worldwide and I’m happy that it will get more viewership. I request people to watch it with an open mind.”

After Saani Kaayidham, Arun will be collaborating with Selvaraghavan’s brother, actor Dhanush, for an action adventure. “It is a big-budget film and I have wanted to work on it for a long time. It has elements of war, action, and adventure. It’s set in the 1930s-40s during the Madras Presidency era and revolves around a specific character from that time,” the filmmaker says, stressing that this character is not a freedom fighter.

Asked about the final part of his revenge trilogy, Arun says he has finished writing the script and is looking to produce the film himself. “The last film will be shot completely in black and white, and it will be much more intense as compared to the first two.”

“Always Wanted to Bring Feluda to the Screen,” Says Srijit Mukherji on Satyajit Ray’s 101st Birth Anniversary

Legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray‘s 101st birth anniversary, on Monday, also marked the 51st anniversary of his iconic detective character, Feluda. Filmmaker Srijit Mukherji took the opportunity to announce his upcoming series Feludar Goyendagiri.

Starring Tota Roy Chowdhury as the private eye, the series, set in Darjeeling, begins with Darjeeling Jawmjawmat. It also features Anirban Chakraborty as Lal Mohan Ganguly (Jatayu), a writer of thrillers, and Kalpan Mitra as Tapesh Ranjan Mitter (Topshe), Feluda’s assistant.

Pradosh Chandra Mitter, popularly known as Feluda, is a fictional private detective, who has appeared in a series of Bengali novels and short stories written by Ray. The character first appeared in a Bengali children’s magazine called Sandesh in 1965. Feludar Goyendagiri is the first adventure among the 35 novels in the Feluda series.

Mukherji, who began reading the books as a child, said that he had always wanted to make a Feluda film. “Feluda is an emotion for every Bengali. It has been an integral part of our culture and it has always made me happy to see Feluda returning in a new format over the decades,” he added.

While several films, web series and television serials on Feluda have been made over the years by various filmmakers, Mukherji tells Silverscreen India that with every new director, their own perspectives influence the work, consciously or subconsciously. Likewise, in the case of his upcoming series, Mukherji says he has tried to bring forth his personal understanding of Feluda.

“It is my thought process, my understanding, my aesthetics, my framing, my passion and my sense of storytelling that will make this version of Feluda unique. The biggest thing for me is that I am able to bring forth the version of Feluda that I have grown up with, to the screen. I am the happiest when working on Feluda.”

About Chowdhury’s casting as the detective, Mukherji says he had attended the premiere of a Feluda film that featured the actor in a supporting role, 12 years earlier. The filmmaker felt “there was Feluda written all over his face.” Mukherji, who was a budding music director at the time, had walked up to Chowdhury and told him that if he ever got to make a film on Feluda, he would cast him as the detective.

“If you have grown up read Feluda as intensively as I have, those sketches are imprinted on your sight, and the moment you see someone actually walk out of those pages, you know that is the guy, that this is the face you were looking for all this time,” says Mukherji.

The filmmaker adds, “It is as though Tota was born in the same muhurat as Feluda. His style of talking, walking, his looks, sense of humour, the perfectly restrained teasing of Jatayu, his entire personality… it was as though he was born to play Feluda.”

“At the same time, to become Feluda, merely the physical appearance is not enough, one needs to have the character within themselves,” Mukherji continues. “Feluda is a somebody that one can depend on, one can find comfort with when they’re in trouble. That trust is Feluda; living life without any evil is Feluda. The way Tota is such a straight-forward gentleman but also very uncompromising at the same time, that represents Feluda very well.”

The series will premiere on the Bengali streaming platform Hoichoi in July.

Netflix Drops Meghan Markle’s Animated Series ‘Pearl’ Amid Subscriber Crunch

Netflix has dropped actor Meghan Markle’s animated series for children, tentatively titled Pearl, along with other projects in its animation slate. The step comes after the streaming platform recently revealed that it lost over 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2022.

Pearl was announced in 2021, and was meant to be a collaboration between Netflix and Archewell Productions, the production banner of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

According to Archewell Productions, the animated series “centres around the heroic adventures of a 12-year-old girl, who is inspired by influential women from history.”

“Like many girls her age, our heroine Pearl is on a journey of self-discovery, as she tries to overcome life’s daily challenges,” the Duchess of Sussex had said in a statement, adding that the show would “celebrate extraordinary women throughout history.”

The animated series was under development before being scrapped. It was supposed to be the first animated series produced by the couple’s banner, and was a part of a multi-year deal they had signed with Netflix.

In addition to creating the show, Markle was also serving as an executive producer, alongside Netflix’s David Furnish, Carolyn Soper and Emmy-winning filmmakers Liz Garbus and Dan Cogan.

Aside from Pearl, Netflix scrapped two other animated children’s series last week, namely Dino Daycare and the South-Asian inspired adventure Boons and Curses.

The cuts to the streaming platform’s content slate come as part of Netflix’s cost-cutting measures aimed at using its resources in a judicious manner.

While the organisation’s executives mentioned that the platform will continue to invest in new content during the last financial meeting, they added that Netflix would pull back on some investments.

With the loss of a significant chunk of its subscriber base and a forecast of an additional loss of 2 million users in the next quarter, Netflix has also started eliminating some positions and laying off its staff. The platform recently made cuts to its editorial staff, including those associated with the fan-focused site TUDUM, and laid off 25 people from its global marketing team as well.

From ‘The Sound of Magic’ to ‘Bloody Heart’: K-Dramas Releasing in May 2022

Korean dramas have gained immense popularity, owing to several releases in the last few months that have been well-received worldwide. K-dramas such as Twenty-Five, Twenty-One, Business Proposal, All of Us are Dead, and Again My Life, have taken audiences across the world by a storm.

On Netflix, K-dramas like Business Proposal and All of us Are Dead, have been trending in the Top 10 most watched TV shows in India for weeks.

On that note, Silverscreen India brings you a list of Korean dramas premiering in the month of May.

1. Bloody Heart (May 2) – KBS2, Disney+ Hotstar

Bloody Heart is a period drama, which talks about the romance between King Lee-tae, who is forced to abandon the woman he loves, and Yoo-jeong, who has to become a queen in order to survive.

 

2. There Is No Goo Pil-Soo (May 4) – MBC

There is no Goo Pil-soo focuses on the bromance between 40-year-old breadwinner Goo Pil Soo, who dreams for success, and 20-year-old genius Jung Seok, who aspires to own a start-up. The drama will portray stories, depicting recent social and educational problems in society. At the same time, it will also bridge generational gaps between the protagonists.

 

3. The Sound Of Magic (May 6) – Netflix

Starring Ji Chang-wook, The Sound of Magic narrates the story of a magician living in an abandoned theme park, “who makes troubles disappear, and hope reappear, for a disenchanted teen enduring harsh realities.”

 

4. O’PENing (May 2) – TVN

O’PENing tells the story of a high school student, who was born as with both sex chromosomes – XX and XY. The series looks into the protagonist’s life, as they pave their own future against all odds.

 

5. Eve (May 25) – TVN

In Eve, Lee Ra-el’s (Seo Ye Ji) family crumbles when forces beyond their control cause her father’s death. She vows revenge on the super-rich people, who orchestrated this terrible tragedy. Her weapon of choice is divorce. By placing herself at the centre of a legal battle she hopes to bring down those responsible for her father’s death. In order to do so, she will need to wage a bitter legal struggle and fight powerful forces both inside and outside the courtroom.

 

6. Woori The Virgin (May 9) – SBS

A remake of the 2014 American TV show Jane the Virgin, this drama revolves around Oh Woori, an assistant writer of a popular drama series. She has vowed to remain a virgin until she marries, and has shied away from romantic relationships. When she attends a routine medical exam, a terrible mix-up takes place and she is accidentally artificially inseminated. After discovering her pregnancy, she demands the hospital gets to the bottom of the case.

 

7. Kiss Sixth Sense (May 25) – Disney Plus

In this drama, protagonist Yesul Hong has a secret; when she kisses someone, she can see flashes of their future. She doesn’t get much use out of her ability until one day, when she accidentally kisses her evil boss, Minhu Cha. To her shock, she sees a vision of a romantic relationship between them.

 

8. Doctor Lawyer (May 27) – MBC
In the drama Doctor Lawyer, a genius surgeon who became a lawyer specialising in medical litigation, after losing everything through a rigged operation, and a prosecutor in charge of medical crimes, meet. The show is a heartwarming and exhilarating medical suspense court drama that comforts victims of unfairness.

Amazon Prime Video Announces Over 40 Titles in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi

Amazon Prime Video, on Thursday, announced its upcoming content slate of 40 new titles among series and films in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu, which will be released over the next two years.

The streaming platform, during an event that marked its fifth year in the Indian market, unveiled its new multi-year licensing deals, co-productions with Indian studios, and its intentions to explore original film production in India with films in Hindi and Telugu to be released directly on the service, as per a statement released by the platform.

Gaurav Gandhi, country head of Amazon Prime Video India said, “Prime Video India sees viewership from 99% of the country’s pin-codes, today. In tune with our vision to become the most-loved entertainment hub, we have steadily innovated in the way we offer movies to our consumers, from offering films in a post-theatrical early-window to direct-to-service premieres bringing the most anticipated movies to consumers’ living rooms and preferred devices.” The platform also launched its transactional video-on-demand (TVOD) movie rental service in India. Now, viewers can get early access to the latest Indian and international films, on a transactional (per-movie) basis.

The upcoming content line-up is set to include a variety of genres, including thrillers, action, dramas, comedy, romance, horror, biographies, true-crime, and investigative docudramas. The slate consists of Tamil, Telugu, and Hindi language content that includes a new season of The Family Man, and the maiden series debut of Naga Chaitanya, titled Dhootha, among others.

Tamil

First up is Modern Love Chennai, the Tamil edition of the US original anthology series, Modern Love. The anthology is set to explore six diverse stories of different shades, facets and moods of love, all set within the city. Produced by Tyler Durden And Kino Fist, filmmaker Thiagarajan Kumararaja will serve as the creative producer and also as one of the writers, along with Balaji Tharaneetharan, Rajumurugan, Reshma Ghatala, Pratheep Kumar. The anthology will be helmed by Bharathi Raja, Balaji Sakthivel, Raju Murugan, Krishnakumar Ramakumar, and Akshay Sundher. It will feature actors Kishore, Ramya Nambeesan, Ashok Selvan and Ritu Varma, among others.

Suzhal – The Vortex will feature Aishwarya Rajesh, Kathir and R Parthiban. Created and written by Pushkar and Gayatri, Suzhal is set to be an investigation drama that delves into a missing person case that “unravels and rips the intricate social fabric of a small town.”

Sweet Kaaram Coffee a serious about how three generations of women belonging to the same family, set off on an “epic road trip.” Directed by Bejoy Nambiar, Krishna Marimuthu, and Swathi Raghuraaman, the cast comprises Lakshmi, Madhoo, and Santhy Balachandran.

Announced to be India’s first show based on a graphic novel, The Village will feature Arya under Milind Rau’s directorial. The show follows a family on a road trip that falls prey to a clan of mutants. Aside from Arya, other cast members include Divya Pillai, Aadukalam Naren, Thalaivasal Vijay, George M and John Kokken, among others.

The streaming service also announced Vadhandhi: The Fable of Velonie marking SJ Suryah’s debut in the OTT space. Termed a “dramatic noir thriller” the series is about the murder of a young girl, seen from the “Rashomon-esque perspectives of an unrelenting obsessed cop, a novelist captivated by her grace and an opportunistic news editor.” Pushkar and Gayatri will serve as creative producers with Andrew Louis writing and directing the series. Actor Laila will also be seen, alongside Suryah.

Telugu

Naga Chaitanya’s OTT debut series Dhootha, deals with possessed inanimate objects wreaking havoc on people who have committed sins. Vikram K Kumar will be serving as director and executive producer of the series that will also star Parvathy Thiruvothu, Priya Bhavani Shankar and Tharun Bhascker.

Further, the Telugu edition of Modern Love, titled Modern Love Hyderabad, is to be directed by Nagesh Kukunoor, Venkatesh Maha, Uday Gurrala, Devika Bahudanam, with Kukunoor serving as the creative producer. Principal cast members include, Aadhi Pinisetty, Nithya Menen, Ritu Varma and Suhasini Mani Ratnam, among others.

The platform will also stream Aishwarya Lekshmi-starrer Ammu. The film revolves around the titular character and her attempts to get her abusive husband suspended from police duty. It is directed by Charukesh Sekar and also features Naveen Chandra and Bobby Simha.

Hindi

Farzi, created and directed by Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK, will feature Shahid Kapoor, Vijay Sethupathi, Raashii Khanna and Regina Cassandra among others. According to the streaming platform, the series revolves around, “A small-time artist working out of his grandfather’s printing press has designed the ultimate con job – a crime uniquely suited to him – and gets pulled into the murky, high stakes world of all that it demands. A fiery, unorthodox task force officer has made it his mission to rid the country of the menace this poses in this fast-paced, edgy one-of-a-kind thriller.”

Aside from Farzi, Raj and DK will be collaborating on two more projects with Prime Video. While one will be the third season of The Family Man, another is titled Gulkanda Tales. Helmed by Rahi Anil Barve, it will star Pankaj Tripathi.

Actor Sonakshi Sinha will also appear in her OTT debut with Dahaad. The series is set in a small town and follows Sinha as a female cop, trying to track down a serial killer. Reema Kagti and Zoya Akhtar are the creators of the show.

Featuring Prosenjit Chatterjee, Aditi Rao Hyadri and Aparshakti Khurrana, Jubilee is a series that is set against the backdrop of newly-independent India. The fictional period drama unveils the “stories and dreams that gave birth to Bollywood, as we know it.” It is directed by Vikramaditya Motwane.

Amazon Prime announced Jee Karda, a coming of an age series. It will revolve around the lives of a close-knit group of seven childhood friends, trying to steer their way through adulthood. It is produced by Maddock Films under Arunima Sharma’s direction. It stars Tamannaah, Suhail Nayyar and Hussain Dalal, among others.

Aside from these titles, the streaming platform also announced the return of several series Breathe: Into The Shadows starring Abhishek Bachchan, the comedy show Comicstaan, Four More Shots Please!, Made in Heaven, Mirzapur and Paatal Lok among others.

In terms of co-producing, Prime Video is also backing two Hindi films, Neeyat and Ram Setu, starring Vidya Balan and Akshay Kumar, respectively. A poster from Ram Setu was also released, which will stream, after its theatrical release.

Amazon has also acquired the streaming rights of several Hindi films that are in the pipeline for release. They include Runway 34, Thank God, Drishyam 2 and Bhola (Ajay Devgn FFilms), Jug Jug Jeeyo, Govinda Naam Mera and Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani (Dharma Productions), Phone Bhoot, Yudra, Fukrey 3, Jee Le Zara and Kho Gaye Hum Kahan (Excel Media and Entertainment) and Jayeshbhai Jordaar, Prithviraj, Shamshera, Tiger 3 and Pathan (Yash Raj Films).

Other titles, including series and films announced by the streaming platform; Adhura, Bambai Meri Jaan, Call Me Bae, Crash Course, Happy Family Conditions Apply, Hush Hush, Indian Police Force, Modern Love Mumbai, PI Meena, Shekar-Lakhot, This is AP Dhillon, Cinema Marte Dum Tak, Dancing on The Grave, India Love Project, Mumbai Diaries, Panchayat, Aye Watan Mere Watan, Maja Maa, and Tiku Weds Sheru.

Laid-Off Netflix Employees Take to Twitter to Vent Anger, Seek Opportunities

Several Netflix employees took to social media after they were laid-off by the streamer, on Thursday. The lay-offs come as a cost-cutting measure after the platform recently revealed the loss of over 200,000 subscribers in its first quarter of 2022.

Although the exact number of lay-offs is still unclear, a lot of those asked to leave belonged to Netflix’s fan-focused platform TUDUM, which was introduced in December, 2021. Most people were writers who are now seeking editorial opportunities elsewhere.

“Netflix recruited me seven months ago only to lay me and a bunch of other talented people off today. I’m going to take time off to just exist, so please get in touch if you’ll have editing and content strategy opportunities open after August,” wrote Evette Dionne, another ex-employee at Netflix.

Dionne, who has an upcoming book Weightless in December, added, “But companies doing this shit to writers really, really, really gets under my skin. They deserve better than callousness and cowardice.”

Some other employees mentioned that they were laid-off along with their entire department.

“If anyone is hiring let me know. Netflix just laid off me and my brilliant team members. Continue to cancel your subscriptions!” wrote a writer who worked with TUDUM.

Hey y’all! I was one of the writers who got laid off at Netflix today. So, I am available! Please send any assignments my way. I’m quick, my copy is clean, I get along with editors. I can do short, I can do long, reported features, essays, you name it,” wrote Max Cea, who also worked as a writer at netflix.

Netflix’s move has been criticised by netizens.

A user wrote, “Intriguing Netflix editorial strategy to hire some of the best entertainment/culture minds in the biz, very specifically court a ton of non-white women with the offer of a truly life-changing amount of money, only to shitcan everyone mere months later. God damn.”

In addition to the cuts in the editorial staff, Netflix has also eliminated 25 people from its global marketing team, according to a Variety report.

With the loss of a significant chunk of its subscriber base and a forecast of an additional loss of 2 million members in the next quarter, it is clear that Netflix is aiming for damage control by letting go of its employees and eliminating positions.

The platform could also be facing a shift in priorities.

While creating in-roads into the Indian consumer market was one of the streamer’s main priorities, the last quarterly meeting saw hardly any discussion on the country.

It is to be noted that Netflix had earlier slashed prices in India in an effort to promote growth in the country, while increasing the prices of plans in the US. However, Chief Product Officer Greg Peters said that revised plans have not had any significant impact in India.

Netflix is also busy clamping down on the menace of password-sharing among households, and has launched tests for the same.

While the leadership mentioned during the financial meeting that the platform will continue to grow content spends in relative to prior years, it added that Netflix would pull back on some of the spend owing to the low acquisition.

From ‘Bang Bang Baby’ to ‘Montu Pilot Season 2’: 7 OTT Releases This Week

With films like Yash‘s KGF: Chapter 2, Shahid Kapoor‘s Jersey and Vijay’s Beast running successfully in theatres, audiences are eagerly anticipating the releases of big-budget films like Ajay Devgn‘s Runway 34Tiger Shroff‘s Heropanti 2 and Bengali actor Jeet’s Raavan releasing on Friday, Prithviraj Sukumaran‘s Jana Gana Mana releasing Thursday.

However, OTT platforms have been on par with the big screens, owing to the premieres of late actor Rishi Kapoor‘s last film Sharmaji Namkeen, Abhishek Bachchan‘s Dasvi and Sakshi Tanwar‘s Mai

On that note, Silverscreen India brings to you a list of seven films and series releasing on various OTT platforms this week, that you can watch from the comfort of your homes.

Bang Bang Baby Season 1 (April 28) – Amazon Prime Video 

Set in the 1980s, this Italian crime drama series revolves around 16-year-old Alice living in a small town in the North of Italy. The story unfolds the sudden changes in her life, when she finds out her long-deceased father is still alive. The teenager eventually begins to get involved with Milan’s criminal underbelly, diving into the dangerous world of the ‘ndrangheta out of love for her father and in the end, it might be too late to get out.

 

The Offer (April 28) – Voot

This English drama narrates the behind-the-scenes story of the making of the 1972 film The Godfather. The 10-episode series reveals a fascinating story about the journey to bring forth the iconic mob drama to the big screens.

 

Ozark Season 4 Part 2 (April 29)- Netflix

This American crime drama series is based on a big money laundering operation set up in the Lake of the Ozarks region of central Missouri, offered by a Mexican drug cartel’s financial advisor Marty Byrde, who proposes to make amends after a money-laundering scheme for the former goes wrong.

 

Never Kiss Your Best Friend 2 (April 29) – Zee5

This Hindi drama web series was written by Durjoy Dutta and it first premiered in 2020. The series revolves around the relationship among three best friends, two of which become co-workers, in the upcoming series.

 

Montu Pilot Season 2 (April 29) – Hoichoi

This Bengali drama series starring Saurav Das, which first premiered in December 2019, narrates the story of Montu, who always wished to be a pilot since his childhood. His mother, who worked at the red-light area of Neelkuthi, tries everything to make sure he leaves his life behind there but failed to do so and met a terrible end. Eventually, Montu becomes a pimp, a transporter of escorts, and he does not understand love and lacks sensitivity, until he meets Bhromor.

 

Moon Knight- Episode 5 (May 4) – Disney+ Hotstar

This Marvel mini-series featuring the titular character Moon Knight from the Marvel comics is the sixth television series under the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The series stars Oscar Isaac as Marc Spector, otherwise known as Moon Knight, is a mercenary who suffers from dissociative identity disorder.

 

Hold Your Breath: The Ice Dive (May 3) – Netflix

This upcoming documentary follows free diver Johanna Norblad, as she attempts to break the world record for distance travelled under ice in a single breath.

‘Payanigal Gavanikkavum’ Makers Receive Legal Notice over Film’s Title; Issue Now Resolved

The makers of the upcoming Tamil film Payanigal Gavanikkavum were sent a legal notice by late Tamil author Balakumaran’s son, on Saturday, asking them to desist from using the title, citing that the rights to it rest with him. However, the issue was amicably resolved on Monday and the film will release with the same title.

The legal notice was issued to Arha Media & Broadcasting Private Limited, the parent company of Aha Tamil, and producer T Vijaya Raghavendra, days before the film’s scheduled release. Payanigal Gavanikkavum is set to premiere on the streaming platform on Friday.

Payanigal Gavanikkavum is an adaptation of the Malayalam film Vikruthi (2019), which was based on real incidents that took place at the Kochi metro. The adaptation is directed by SP Sakthivel and revolves around an incident, where the picture of a sleeping hearing/speech-impaired man was taken by a co-passenger in the metro and was shared online along with a caption that stated that he was drunk. The film’s title is derived from the recurring phrase used in train announcements, the director had said to Silverscreen India earlier.

The legal notice dated Saturday, which was sent by B Venkataramanan alias Surya Balakumaran, stated that his father was a prominent dialogue and screenplay writer who worked on 23 films and also the author of over 294 books and short stories, including one with the title Payanigal Gavanikkavum. After Balakumaran’s demise, Surya had “sole and absolute” rights to all of his father’s works, the notice stated, adding that Surya had acquired the rights not only to all of his father’s books and short stories, but also their titles.

Moreover, on July 14, 2021, Surya had issued a public notice in the newspapers Makkal Kural (Tamil) and Trinity Mirror (English), announcing that he was the “sole and absolute” title and copyright holder of all the works created by his father, including novels, dialogues, screenplay, work titles, short stories, etc.

The legal notice stated that anyone who adopts or makes any film or web series based on his rights would invite civil-criminal proceedings for the same. “Titles, scripts, screenplays, storylines, characters, sketches, the interplay of characters or sequences of events, titles either in Tamil, Hindi or any other languages in the world, which would constitute an infringement of my client’s right,” the notice read. The same was conveyed to the Tamil Film Producers Council, Writer Association, and Tamil Film Active Producers Association, the notice added, and they were asked not to approve any of the 294 titles for any upcoming film or web series.

Surya stated that his father Balakumaran’s book titled Payanigal Gavanikkavum was published in Anantha Vikudan as a weekly series in 1993. The author’s son claimed that the makers of the film Payanigal Gavanikkavum had not obtained consent from him to use that title and had thus infringed upon his rights. Surya also added that the book had won awards and garnered attention, both in Tamil Nadu and internationally, and the distinctive title was “bound to cause confusion” among film enthusiasts and the public, who would be under the impression that he was associated with the Aha Original film.

The legal notice further stated that Surya was an aspiring director, who had planned on directing a film based on his father’s book, and had even written the screenplay and dialogues for the same.

The notice therefore directed the makers of the film to stop using the title, remove posters and public announcements shared on social media within 24 hours, and provide written confirmation about changing the title. Failure to do so would lead to Surya initiating legal proceedings, seeking injunctive relief at court, and claiming monetary damages, it further added.

However, speaking to us on Monday, Surya said that the issue had been resolved. “After we sent the notice, they responded to it immediately. The director and producer met my mother and me this morning at our home. After speaking with us, they also gave us a written apology. We made a few confidential requests and they obliged. We have thus resolved the issues and the film is going to release with the same title since it is ready for release. I am also a filmmaker and I understand the efforts that go into making films.”

‘Modern Love: Mumbai’ Starring Naseeruddin Shah, Masaba Gupta to Release on May 13

The Indian adaptation of Modern Love, starring Naseeruddin Shah, Masaba Gupta, Chitrangada Singh and Arshad Warsi, among others, is set to premiere on Amazon Prime Video on May 13.

Modern Love is an American romantic comedy anthology series developed by John Carney, based on the weekly column of the same name published by The New York Times. It premiered on Amazon Prime Video in October 2019.

The Indian spin-off was first announced in January. Three upcoming adaptations, with the same title, will be released in three different languages: Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. The first of these, set in Mumbai and titled Modern Love: Mumbai, is releasing on May 13. This will be followed by Modern Love: Chennai and Modern Love: Hyderabad.

The series will feature stories that deal with topics ranging from love and romance to self-love, familial love, love towards ones’ friends, and love that emerges out of kindness, as per the press release issued by the streaming platform.

Daniel Jones, editor of Modern Love at The New York Times, said, “India is a country where love in its various forms is at the centre of its cultural fabric. It is exciting and an honour to see these stories of love being adapted for the Indian versions of the show. These Indian adaptions are in our own way, a little love letter to India, as well as a testament to the universal appeal of love as an emotion.”

The upcoming Hindi anthology includes six stories: Raat Rani directed by Shonali BoseBaai helmed by Hansal MehtaMumbai Dragon by Vishal Bhardwaj, Alankrita Shrivastava‘s My Beautiful WrinklesI Love Thane helmed by Dhruv Sehgal, and Cutting Chai directed by Nupur Asthana.

While Raat Rani features Fatima Sana Shaikh, Bhupendra Jadawat and Dilip Prabhavalkar, Baai stars Tanuja, Pratik Gandhi and Ranveer Brar.

Mumbai Dragon is led by Yeo Yann Yann, Meiyang Chang, Wamiqa Gabbi and Naseeruddin Shah, and My Beautiful Wrinkles features Sarika, Danesh Razvi, Ahsaas Channa and Tanvi Azmi.

I Love Thane stars Masaba Gupta, Ritwik Bhowmik, Prateik Babbar, Aadar Malik and Dolly Singh, while Chitrangda Singh and Arshad Warsi will be seen in Cutting Chai.

Modern Love: Mumbai is produced by Pritish Nandy Communications.

Review Roundup: ‘KGF: Chapter 2’ Outshines ‘Jersey’; ‘Oh My Dog’ Releases Online

Even with the release of Shahid Kapoor‘s Jersey in cinemas, the Yash-starrer KGF: Chapter 2 continues to shine at the box office. The pan-Indian action drama has been inching towards collecting close to Rs 300 crores and has successfully raked in audiences, much like recently-released commercial entertainers like Sooryavanshi and RRR.

As most films continue to release in cinemas, others have chosen to premiere directly on OTT platforms, such as the Tamil film Oh My Dog.

Silverscreen India brings to you, a compilation of reviews of films, which have released theatrically and online, this week.

Jersey

Jersey is the Hindi-language remake of Gowtam Tinnanuri‘s 2019 Telugu film of the same name. The remake is led by actors Shahid Kapoor, Pankaj Kapur, and Mrunal Thakur.

The story revolves around 36-year-old Arjun (Kapoor), who returns to cricket after ten years.

Aswathy Gopalakrishnan of Silverscreen India, calls the film melodramatic and writes, “Tinnanuri’s filmlike an Instagram travel influencer, looks down on those leading a quiet (and uneventful) domestic life.”

She furthers her statement and cites Vidya’s example, who is essayed by Thakur, and explains her transition from the head-turner, to “the humourless matron of the house the son and father tiptoe around,” ten years after.

Gopalakrishnan also notes that the portrayal of Arjun surrounded by friends, as Vidya comes to be regarded as someone lonely, is borrowed from South Indian cinema and mindlessly makes its way into Hindi cinema.

For her, Jersey comes with an uneven narrative. “The implausibilities aside, the situation is poorly staged, loud like a television soap opera.”

Anupama Chopra of Film Companion, questions the need for a remake, which she notes is also directed by Tinnauri.

“But he doesn’t enlarge or significantly alter the story. He merely transplants it from Hyderabad to Chandigarh. The original and the remake are almost identical, including dialogue, situations and even frames – like the aerial shot of Arjun at the interval, declaring his intention to play cricket again and stepping out into the cricket field. The relocation of city, language and culture isn’t explored in any deeper way,” she writes.

Chopra also notes that the cricket matches in Jersey take one back to those in 83, and adds that Anirudh Ravichander‘s music and Sachet-Parampara’s songs help to heighten the drama and lift the storytelling.

According to Devansh Sharma of Firstpost, the film finds “great comfort in the familiar, in the nostalgic, and in the mundane,” and notes, “The sightings of an old Rs 100 note, the old Dairy Milk packaging, and glass Pepsi bottles at cricket stadiums are nice touches to a film that wants to celebrate the less-is-more times.”

“But Tinnanuri’s direction only fleetingly adheres to this less-is-more school. While his writing doesn’t take convenient, crowd-pleasing full swings, it also doesn’t make every single count. Effort has gone into detailing here, from Arjun crushing an unfinished cigarette under his foot to Vidya’s eyes that well up because of exhaustion and sacrifice, but that effort often shows,” he writes.

For Sharma, the love story between Kapoor and Thakur’s characters could have been fleshed out more.

He also notes the film’s dearth of any nuance in the depiction of Punjab or specifically, Chandigarh, due to the director’s unfamiliarity with the same.

“The director is unfamiliar with that turf, but even the dialogue writers Siddharth-Garima (who penned dialogues for Kabir Singh) only perpetuate the Punjabi cliches that riddle the Hindi film industry,” Sharma adds, and highlights the performance of child actor Ronit Kamra, who took on the role of Arjun and Vidya’s son.

The film performed decently at the box office on its first day and collected around Rs 3.75 – 4 crore.

Jersey has an IMDb rating of 7.4, which is lower than the original version’s score of 8.6.

Oh My Dog (Amazon Prime Video)

Directed by debutant Sarov Shanmugam, Oh My Dog stars actor Arun Vijay alongside his son Arnav Vijay, in his acting debut, and his father, veteran actor Vijayakumar. It also features Mahima Nambiar and Vinay Rai, among others.

Talking about the film, Sarov had earlier told Silverscreen India, “The film follows the relationship between a blind dog and an eight-year-old boy. The story has an element of sports as well. It is about how one should not be discriminated against on the basis of their disability and how, given a chance, anyone can make it. But there is no preaching.”

According to Vishal Menon of Film Companion, the film is a genuine effort towards making a children’s movie.

He writes, “This is also reflective in the way the film never appears to be patronising. It doesn’t have a lot to say but there’s an amount of honesty in Oh My Dog that makes you want to give credit to its intentions, although it’s not conveyed in an engaging manner.”

Menon also notes the topics that the film highlights, namely, “good parenting, compassion and love towards all animals.”

However, he writes that the writing is flat. “With one half of the film being about the dog’s blindness only to switch later into the aforementioned sports drama, it doesn’t have the focus to make the film about one big issue.”

Ashameera Aiyappan of Firstpost, writes that the film is an addition to “the long list of films bogged down by commercial platitudes and predictable writing.”

However, despite the familiarities in the plotlines, she notes that the film comes with potential. Aiyappan cites the example of the father-son relationship between Arun and Arnav, and draws a parallel to The Pursuit Of Happyness.

“It is a pity that the writing does not mine any of this. There is no set-up for the emotional conflicts which feel very superficial. We hear a lot about Shankar’s (Arun) strained relationship with his dad, but we do not see much of it, except for one misplaced argument,” she adds.

The film has an IMDb rating of 8.2.

‘Payanigal Gavanikkavum’ Departs Significantly from the Malayalam Original ‘Vikruthi’, Says Director

Payanigal Gavanikkavum, the upcoming Tamil film starring actors Vidharth and Karunakaran, departs significantly from the Malayalam movie it is based on, says director SP Sakthivel. “It is definitely not a frame-by-frame remake,” he adds.

The film is an adaptation of the Malayalam film Vikruthi (2019), which itself was based on the real incidents that took place on Kochi metro. Starring Suraj Venjaramoodu and Soubin Shahir, it revolved around an incident where the picture of a sleeping hearing/speech-impaired man was taken by a co-passenger in the metro and shared online with a caption stating that he was drunk. Ajeesh P Thomas had written the story, screenplay and dialogues of the film.

The first look poster of Payanigal Gavanikkavum was released on social media on Thursday. The film is set to stream on Aha Tamil from April 29.

The Tamil adaptation is helmed by Sakthivel, who has previously directed Urumeen (2015), and is produced by T Vijaya Raghavendra.

Speaking about Payanigal Gavanikkavum, Sakthivel says, “It is essentially a social drama that will have a message on cell phone and social media use. We share a lot of information using a mobile phone these days. While it is good in a way, sometimes the things we post are fake. What one person’s actions can cause and how it affects another person is what this story is essentially about. The beauty of this film is that no one is a bad character.”

Vidharth plays a school librarian and Vallalar devotee, who is deaf, while Lakshmi Priya Chandramouli essays his wife, who is also deaf. Karunakaran plays a man from a Christian family residing at St Thomas Mount, Chennai, who is the one who puts up the post. “Both the characters are travellers on the metro and it is a key point. The title also comes from the recurring phrase used in train announcements,” the director adds.

Speaking about adapting the film, Sakthivel says, “The original writer, Ajeesh, had written an article on the real incident. Taking that, we have changed certain sections of the story to match our local sensibilities. Geographically itself, the story is different and we have changed the backgrounds of the major characters. We have shown Vidharth as a Vallavar devotee and Karukaran as a Christian. There are about 12 scenes which are new and tailored to our sensibilities; the beginning scene is different too. A few characters have been added and some removed.”

The film went on floors around July-August 2021 and was wrapped up later that year. It has been shot by cinematographer P Pandikumar and edited by RS Sathish Kumar. The music is composed by Shamnath Nag and the film features three songs, including an adaptation of Subramania Bharati’s Pagaivanuku Arulvai poem.

After Payanigal Gavanikkavum, Sakthivel says that he will be working on the biopic of a weightlifter from Tamil Nadu and an adventure drama.