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‘The Gray Man’ sequel in the works on Netflix

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LOS ANGELES:

Netflix is turning its new spy thriller The Gray Man into a franchise, announcing plans on Tuesday for a sequel and spinoff to the action movie starring Ryan Gosling.

The Gray Man, one of Netflix’s most expensive films to date, began streaming on Friday and was the most watched film on the streaming service in 92 countries, the company said. Gosling stars in the film as Sierra Six, a former inmate sprung from prison by the CIA in exchange for servitude in a secret program.

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A sequel is now in development with Gosling and directors Joe and Anthony Russo, Netflix said in a statement. The company also announced a separate spinoff movie but did not provide details on the storyline or characters. The expansion of The Gray Man is part of Netflix’s strategy to build brands with well-known characters that can traverse film, television, video games and movies.

The film is based on a novel by Mark Greaney and directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, the brothers who helmed Marvel’s mega-blockbuster Avengers: Endgame. The Russos said Netflix allowed them to bring their full vision to the screen. The Gray Man was filmed at seven locations around the world from Azerbaijan to Croatia and France.

“We wanted to be very ambitious with this movie,” Anthony Russo said. “It is hard to shoot action. It’s expensive to shoot action, and Netflix was up for this level of ambition.” The movie packs in nine major action sequences, including a lengthy gun battle in a public square in Prague. “It was real trial by fire for me having it be my first action film,” Gosling said.

Chris Evans plays Gosling’s nemesis, an assassin named Lloyd Hansen who was expelled from the CIA for excessive tactics. “He’s unapologetically himself,” Evans said of the character. “I think most of us walk through the world measuring who we are based on who we think we’re supposed to be, and Lloyd is unbound by those social norms.”

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‘Dil Chahta Hai’ turns 21

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Aamir Khan-starrer movies and a college friends reunion is slowly becoming a cult! It’s hard to believe, but it’s been a little over two decades to a Bollywood favourite that redefined friendships and love for a whole generation of Bollywood fanatics.

Farhan Akhtar’s directorial debut, Dil Chahta Hai, a coming of age movie following three college best friends and their complicated love lives following graduation, found a place in people’s hearts for many many years to come. 

The star-studded movie brought Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan, and Akhshaye Khanna together on screen to talk about brotherhood while Preity Zinta, Sonali Kulkarni and Dimple Kapadia play their love interests. The iconic dialogues are still said out loud amongst friends and its timeless soundtracks still blasted on speakers, even after 21 long years. 

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Celebrating the movie that “started it all” for Farhan, he posted a montage of some memorable scenes and penned a gratitude note for fans who kept the film’s magic alive till date  on Instagram.

“The film that started it all, turns 21. Thank you to the cast and the crew who believed in it. Thank you to the audiences who continue to give it so much love.” 

Playing on the title, he concluded, “Dil jitna chahta tha usse bahaut zyaada milaa hai aapse. [You all gave more than what my heart ever desired.] Love you all.” 

But it’s not just Farhan who’s feeling all kinds of emotions like us on the film crossing a 21 year milestone. Preity, who plays Shalini, in the movie, also took to the photo-sharing app with an in-travel scene alongside Aamir.

Speaking about Dil Chahta Hai’s impact, the Kal Ho Na Ho actor wrote, “Dil Chahta Hai turns a year older today. A film where there was no place for a hero or heroine—just relatable characters that we could reach out and  touch and laugh out aloud with. It will always have a very special place in my heart. Thank you to the entire cast, crew and the audience for all the love.” 

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From Woh Ladki Hai Kahan, Shaan’s first big hit, to Koi Kahe Kehta Rahe, this movie gave us songs for each phase of life. Whether you’re grieving a loss, celebrating a relationship, being yourself amongst a goofy group of close friends or crushing on someone, Dil Chahta Hai’s playlist will have something for you — always! 

But a lesser known fact about the film is that Aamir was first signed for Siddhart’s character and not Akash – and that too, he wasn’t Farhan’s first choice. It was only after Hrithik Roshan quit the film and Abhishek Bachchan turned it down, that the makers offered the role of Siddhart to Aamir. 

Call it luck or the 3 Idiots actor’s sheer persuasion skills, Akshaye cordially agreed to swap his role with the former in the film. 

In an interview with IANS last year, Aamir spilled the beans on the reason behind agreeing to star in Farhan’s directorial debut film. “I loved the script, and I felt that Farhan was coming in with a completely fresh look at everything. His own vision and voice. As a result, Dil Chahta Hai will always be remembered as a film that broke a lot of conventions in Indian cinema,” he said. 

Aamir also opened up on working with Farhan as a debutante director. “I was working with a first-time director, but never once did it feel like that. Farhan was confident and personified. He was sure-footed and completely in control.”

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‘Laal Singh Chaddha’ Pakistan release on the cards?

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LAHORE/KARACHI/
THARPARKAR DISTRICT:

In 2019, the then government had placed a ban on Indian content in Pakistan as the tension between the neighbours continued to rise following India’s revocation of the special status of Kashmir.

Since then, there has been no Bollywood release in Pakistan. The cinemas have been running Hollywood and local films. So, when the rumour regarding Aamir Khan’s upcoming offering, Laal Singh Chaddha, being possibly released in Pakistan went viral, it took everyone by shock.

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While the representatives of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and Sindh Board of Film Certification denied any such Indian releases in Pakistan, sources in the Information Ministry shared that a NOC request has been submitted for the release of Laal Singh Chaddha in Pakistan.

“Our policy is the same,” an official at the Federal Information and Broadcast Ministry told The Express Tribune. “No Indian film or any project produced in India will be released in the country.” The source added, “Laal Singh Chaddha is an Indian film and following our policy, the Ministry did not issue any NOC for the release of Indian film in Pakistan.”

A source in Sindh Censor Board shared, “We haven’t received any request. Once the film has to be cleared from the Information Ministry, then CBFC. Once approved from both, it is then presented to the provincial boards for review.”

While the issues raised by the Information Ministry and Censor Boards are quite obvious, the industry insiders believe that there is a fair chance that the film actually might release in Pakistan. “The DCP of Laal Singh Chaddha is already here and the film has already been ingested in the system of cinemas of the adjoining locations such as Gujranwala,” the source added. “This has not happened yet in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. This could perhaps mean that there has been an understanding and the reason the importers had the film ingested in the cinemas of adjoining areas is that it is fairly easy to have the film instantly released in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad once the NOC has been issued.” 

The available information regarding the issue suggest that the importers were aiming for an August 11 release in Pakistan. The film is being globally distributed by Paramount pictures and is imported in Pakistan by the Cinepax group. 

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In 2019, the then Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan had said in a tweet that the screening of Indian films in the country’s cinemas has been banned. “No Indian movie will be screened in any Pakistani cinema. Drama, films and Indian content of this kind will be completely banned in Pakistan,” she had shared.

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Momal Sheikh says Shahroz, Shahzad were proud of Bollywood debut

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Actor and producer Momal Sheikh has made her mark on the local television scene. However, belonging to a family of notable actors, including her father Javed Sheikh, made her joining the world of films a fated reality. She made her film debut in the 2016 Bollywood romantic comedy Happy Bhag Jayegi. In a recent television appearance alongside her brother, Shahzad Sheikh, the actor spoke of her experience being offered the film.

“When I got the offer, I had no intentions of actually going ahead with the film. My son was two months old when I got the call, and he was three months old when I went for the audition,” the Dil-e-Momin actor explained. 

“When I first got the offer, I turned towards [my brother] Shahzad and [my cousin] Shahroz and teased them about trying to be the hero while I was here, going to Bollywood! You would not believe it, but both of them had tears in their eyes,” she heartily said.   

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Shahzad poked fun at the family’s reaction at Momal bagging her first Bollywood role. “When Momal was in Bombay for the shoot, I was overthinking about how she well would do on the film. I didn’t know what she would do and whether she’d let the family down. I also wanted to see if the film would open any new doors for me,” the Main Hoon Shahid Afridi actor teased. 

“When the film did get released, I must say, I was very proud. Momal did a great job with it. It was a very nice performance,” he proudly added. 

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