Dhaka, Jan 1 (UNB) – Veteran Bollywood actor-writer Kader Khan passed away due to prolonged illness on Monday. He was 81.
Khan was admitted to a hospital in Canada and his son Sarfaraz Khan confirmed that his last rites will be conducted in the country, reports the Times of India.
“My dad has left us. He passed away on December 31 at 6 pm as per Canadian time due to prolonged illness. He slipped into coma in the afternoon. He was in the hospital for 16-17 weeks,” the son said.
“The last rites will be performed here in Canada only. We have our entire family here and we live here so we are doing it," said Sarfaraz.
"We are thankful to everyone for their blessings and prayers," he added.
The news of the death of the actor-screenwriter, who was at his peak in the 1980s-90s, comes days after his son dismissed media reports of his demise.
Reportedly, he suffered from progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), a degenerative disease that causes loss of balance, difficulty in walking and dementia. Kader also underwent surgeries for his knees in 2017.
Born in Kabul, Afghanistan on October 22, Kader Khan is known for his work as an actor and a writer in several films. He has been part of numerous blockbusters including Khoon Bhari Maang, Biwi Ho To Aisi, Bol Radha Bol, Main Khiladi Tu Anari, Judwaa, Dulhe Raja and Haseena Maan Jayegi. He was last seen in 2015 in Ho Gaya Deemag Ka Dahi.
Dhaka, Dec 30 (UNB) - Mrinal Sen, the legendary director of Indian cinema based in West Bengal, is no more.
Part of the Pantheon of visionary filmmakers to emerge in the ‘parallel cinema’ of West Bengal in the 20th century, with the likes of Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak, Sen died of a cardiac arrest at his residence in Kolkata’s Bhabanipur on Sunday. He was 95.
Tracing his roots to Faridpur in Bangladesh, Sen was born on May 14, 1923. He has directed a handful of critically acclaimed films that put Bangla Cinema on the map including “Baishe Srabon”, “Chorus”, “Akaler Sandhaney”, “Bhuvan Shome”, “Parasuram” and more. His fanbase, not surprisingly, spanned the entire Bengal, including Bangladesh.
He won Silver Prize in Moscow International Film Festival in 1975 for Chorus; the Grand Jury Prize for Akaler Sandhaney in Berlin International Film Festival in 1981 and the Jury Prize in Cannes Film Festival in 1983 for Kharij. Additionally he won numerous accolades at home and abroad.
He is survived by his son Kunal Sen.
New York, Dec 22 (AP/UNB) —The dominant online video streamer started 2018 with almost 118 million subscribers, went on to win its first feature-film Oscar, briefly surpassed Disney as the most valuable U.S. media company, lured the likes of superstar show runners Shonda Rhimes, Kenya Barris and Ryan Murphy — not to mention Barack and Michelle Obama — and is expected to end the year with 146 million subscribers and a likely best picture Oscar nominee in "Roma."
In a sign of how influential the giant streamer has become, it also got what every celebrity gets — a gentle mocking on "Saturday Night Live." The sketch comedy show's season-ending episode this month aired a fake ad highlighting Netflix's enormous effort to produce as much content as possible.
"Our goal is the endless scroll. By the time you reach the bottom of our menu, there's new shows at the top," explained the voice over.
For a dominating 12 months, Netflix has been named The Associated Press Entertainer of the Year, voted by members of the news cooperative.
"There's been so much amazing entertainment this year, and we're proud of the part we've played and humbled by this recognition from the AP," Ted Sarandos, Netflix's chief content officer, said Thursday after being told of the honor.
"We are thrilled to be working with the best creators who have helped us to entertain the world with shows, films and specials from Hollywood, Mumbai, Madrid, Seoul, Berlin and everywhere in between."
Netflix topped other candidates including Donald Glover, Ariana Grande, Bradley Cooper and Michelle Obama, among others. Previous AP Entertainer of the Year winners have included Lin-Manuel Miranda, Adele, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lawrence, Lady Gaga, Tina Fey and Betty White.
Though Netflix doesn't release ratings, 2018 was a year when it seemed to really flex its digital muscles, showing off its deep reservoir of titles, from original unscripted shows to those produced in other countries, to even becoming a home for shows canceled elsewhere.
The company that once concentrated on sending DVDs through the mail in little red envelopes scored its first feature-film Oscar in March, with a best documentary trophy going to "Icarus," Bryan Fogel's investigation into doping in sports. (Netflix won its first ever Oscar last year with the short doc "The White Helmets.")
Netflix movies, specials and shows were all over popular culture this year, including "The Kissing Booth," ''Nanette," ''To All the Boys I've Loved Before," ''The Kominsky Method," ''The Haunting of Hill House," ''GLOW," ''Lost in Space," ''The Great British Baking Show," ''Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat" and "Queer Eye." ''House of Cards" — Netflix's first original series — debuted just six years ago.
It has backed such Oscar bait as "Roma" and "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" and TV fans await more episodes from "Stranger Things," ''The Crown" ''Orange Is The New Black" and "Ozark." The company has even seen the phrase "Netflix and chill" part of the mainstream vocabulary.
In May, Netflix's market capitalization — or the total value of its stock — shot higher than the capitalization for mighty Disney, previously the most valuable media company in the world. The Champagne-popping moment didn't last very long but it was a sign of how a maverick company could disrupt the order.
Netflix then knocked HBO off its longtime perch — 18 years — as the most nominated Emmy Award platform, eventually earning 112 nods. The streaming behemoth would go on to tie the premium cable network with 23 wins at the Emmy Awards. Netflix also dominated the television categories at the Screen Actors Guild Awards with 15 total nods, nearly double any other network.
Top filmmaking talent like Martin Scorsese, the Coen brothers and Michael Bay are working for Netflix, and the streaming giant convinced Charlie Brooker to bring his "Black Mirror" to its platform. It hired Channing Dungey from ABC Entertainment and Kira Goldberg from 21st Century Fox. It has promised to spend more than $8 billion on content this year alone.
In 2019, Netflix will likely face stiffer challenges from the likes of Amazon, Hulu, Apple, WarnerMedia and Disney, as well as needing to handle its long-term debt. But Netflix is looking for more subscribers in India and South America and the company's market value is over $100 billion.
"At Netflix, we're always working to give our members great choice and a better entertainment experience, and we're excited about what's in store for 2019," Sarandos said.
Dhaka, Dec 21 (UNB) - Outlandish in more ways than it can possibly orchestrate without going into frequent tailspins, Aanand L Rai's Zero, a superstar vehicle with wildly wobbly wheels, is a monumental mess. The film possesses a certain scale for sure, the visual effects create the desired illusions and an energetic Shah Rukh Khan lends the vertically challenged male lead a degree of charm and chutzpah but it is let down by a hopelessly muddled screenplay, reports the NDtv.
The unlikely Meerut-to-Mars voyage of the protagonist, Bauua Singh, is undermined by a slew of whimsicalities that defy logic and an uneven tone that borders on the gratuitously facetious. The heavy-handed humour that it generates hinges on the character's lack of inches. Not funny at all. If that isn't sickening enough, the film brings in a woman grappling with limited motor skills for the purpose of mirth and emotional manipulation despite this individual being a person who has discovered water on the surface of the red planet.
Zero is also purported to be a romantic drama about a dwarf seeking his place in the sun and employing means fair and foul to get there but at no point does the often unlikeable man's tribulations strike a genuine chord. Take SRK out of Zero and it would be just big-budget twaddle masquerading as a movie with a difference.
The garrulous hero, a man not averse to conflicting impulses by way of a defence mechanism against the constant ridicule he faces on account of his short height, makes up for his perceived inadequacies with an unending torrent of words. He has an avid listener in his best pal Guddu (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub), a man of severely weak eyesight who carries a large torch in order to 'see' things.
Bauua takes on far too many avatars to be convincing. His 'superhuman' qualities do not bestow on him either bionic strength or the zeal of a crime-busting crusader. Instead, they turn the dwarf into a lover, a fanboy, a runaway bridegroom, a dancing champ, a guinea pig for a scientific experiment and an accidental spaceman who stands in for a chimp that plays truant. The character, endowed with the magical ability to literally pluck stars off the sky, is constantly on the move but the film he is supposed to power never reaches the point of propulsion.
Zero opens in Meerut - in the first sequence, the set makes the Uttar Pradesh town look like the Wild, Wild West - where Bauua has repeated run-ins with his exasperated father (Tigmanshu Dhulia) while his mother (Sheeba Chaddha) has a hard time shielding him. The 38-year-old matriculate's repeated attempts through a matchmaker (Brijendra Kala) to find a bride for himself also yields no results. He is at his tether's end.
Bauua's life changes when he chances upon the wheelchair-bound Aafia Yusufzai Bhinder (Anushka Sharma), a brilliant half-Pathan, half-Punjabi space scientist whose ambition is to see India in the forefront of the global mission to send a manned spacecraft to Mars. For him, it is love at first sight - he mistakenly presumes that the amiable Aafia is his equal because she is the first girl he can look her in the eye. For her, his antics are mere temporary diversions. She is only on a brief visit to the land of her birth from the space centre where she works in the US.
Bauua first humours Aafia by dancing Shashi Kapoor-style to Humko Tumpe Pyaar Aaya (a robust Kalyanji-Anandji composition from Jab Jab Phool Khile, about a humble Kashmir boatman who falls for a rich tourist). Then he gets a full-on love ditty staged in a hotel corridor complete with Holi colours and rain machine-induced showers.
Before the first half draws to a close, Bauua's obsession with a troubled, a hard-drinking movie actress Babita Kumari (Katrina Kaif) leads him astray. A day before his wedding to Aafia, an inebriated Babita, coming off a painful breakup, kisses Bauua smack on his lips for all of three seconds. He turns his back on Aafia and scoots.
Post-intermission, Zero flies too high and too helter-skelter to make any real sense at all - you watch with steadily declining interest solely because a superstar is at the heart of the effort. If nothing else, Zero is Bollywood's first film that does not wind up with a desperate race-against-time reunion in a railway station or an airport but on the launchpad of a spacecraft headed for outer space.
If only the film hadn't been so utterly spaced out and the physical disabilities and shortcomings of the two principal characters been treated less cavalierly, Zero might have added up to something more than it eventually does. It yields no percentage because of its unacceptable, insensitive central premise that defines a four feet-something man and a cerebral palsy-afflicted woman primarily in the light of what they lack. Their drawbacks drive the drama but the constant harping on what they aren't at the expense of what they could be can only leave is cringing.
For Bollywood fans, Zero offers a parade of luminaries - Sridevi, Karisma Kapoor, Kajol, Rani Mukerji, Juhi Chawla, Deepika Padukone and Alia Bhatt in a party scene, in which the hero seeks to demonstrate the unique talent for doing a rapid-fire countdown and sending stars streaking across the night sky and Salman Khan along with choreographers Ganesh Acharya and Remo D'Souza in a passage that has Bauua win a dance competition without breaking a sweat.
Of course, in this latter sequence, we do not see any of the other contestants. Understandable: giving the dance stage to extras would amount to waste of precious footage in a 164-minute film designed for a Bollywood megastar exploring new pastures. After all the film also has to account for Abhay Deol and R Madhavan in walk-on parts.
Shah Rukh cannot be faulted. He gives his hundred per cent to liven up Zero, but for a film running on empty that is only a zero-sum game. Anushka contorts her face and angles her lips to deliver her lines - Full marks to her for effort. Katrina, who inevitably makes her entry with an item number, tries her best to convey the angst of a public figure whose life is a series of mishaps.
Zero, riding on SRK's back, reaches for the stars. But its astral ambitions are thwarted by a lack of imagination and genuine understanding of the minds of people struggling to ward off undeserved ridicule and earn rightful recognition. But whoever expects such niceties from a movie that rarely rises above the level of unalloyed bilge?
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma, Katrina Kaif, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Abhay Deol, R Madhavan, Sheeba Chaddha, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub
Director: Aanand L Rai
Rating: 2 Stars (out of 5)
New York, Dec 21 (AP/UNB) — The movie theater was dead, they said. After ticket sales slumped in 2017 , due largely to the worst summer season in more than a decade, pundits far and wide predicted the hastening demise of moviegoing, an inevitable casualty to the rise of streaming.
This year, the movies flipped the script.
This weekend, as "Aquaman," ''Bumblebee" and "Mary Poppins Returns" arrive in theaters, ticket sales will reach a new record for the year, passing the previous 2016 high of $11.4 billion. Driven in part by zeitgeist-grabbing cultural events like "Black Panther," ''Crazy Rich Asians" and even documentaries like "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" the box office is expected to end up around $11.8 billion for the year. The overall domestic gross is up nearly 9 percent from last year; ticket sales are up about 6 percent.
And it's not just in North America. Propelled by Chinese moviegoers, global ticket sales should, for the second time ever, exceed $40 billion. Saudi Arabia declared itself open for business to Hollywood, after more than 35 years without theaters. In the United Kingdom, cinemas are headed to their best year since 1971.
"This year serves to confirm that the movie theater business is strong and growing in the long term, even though it can be cyclical in the short term," said John Fithian, president of the National Organization of Theater Owners, the trade organization known as NATO. "Last summer of 2017, when there just weren't very many movies coming out that had any traction, we confronted the inevitable story about the impending death of the movie theater business. And we said back then: It's all about short-term product supply."
"We knew that once the movies came back, we would be fine," said Fithian.
Even in a year where "Star Wars" flopped, the hits have indeed returned, even if they've come from some predictable places. All of the year's top 10 movies were either sequels, reboots or based on a comic book. Even this year's Oscar front runner, "A Star Is Born" ($376.6 million worldwide and counting for Warner Bros.), is a remake. The top three films of the year — "Black Panther," ''Avengers: Infinity War," ''Incredibles 2" — all come from market-leader Disney, which is also in the process of gobbling up 20th Century Fox.
But there were some less likely hits, too. Mid-budgeted films like "Bohemian Rhapsody," ''Halloween," ''Creed II" and the year's best-selling original movie, "A Quiet Place," had a significant role in driving the record box office. For the first time ever, four documentaries — "RBG," ''Free Solo," ''Three Identical Strangers," ''Won't You Be My Neighbor" — each cleared $10 million. Surprise successes — a franchise-birthing "Spider-Man" spinoff ("Venom"), a well-reviewed "Transformers" movie ("Bumblebee") — outnumbered the disappointments ("Skyscraper," ''Robin Hood").
Above all, the movies were often in the center of the cultural conversation, never more so than with the history-making "Black Panther," which became the third-highest grossing domestic release ever ($700.1 million) not accounting for inflation.
Hollywood executives say the year has demonstrated that 2017 was an aberration.
"When the experts out there were talking about the end of theatrical moviegoing, I just didn't buy that to begin with," said Jim Orr, distribution chief for Universal Pictures, which had hits in "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," ''The Grinch" and "Halloween." ''It was just some scheduling moves that happened along with some movies that just underperformed. People want to go out. They want the social experience. They want to be in theaters. And we proved that exponentially this year."
The box-office rebound came in a year during which Netflix launched its most ambitious original movie slate, premiering some 70 new films. Though Netflix this fall relented to a degree by playing three of its films ("Roma," ''The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" and "Bird Box") exclusively in theaters before premiering on its streaming service, Netflix and exhibitors remain at odds over the benefits of the traditional theatrical window.
Yet there is a growing sense that Netflix may not be public enemy No. 1 for movie theaters, after all. In 2018, Netflix has gained millions of subscribers, just as movie theaters have surged. Co-existence is possible. Last month, a NATO survey found that 33 percent of moviegoers who see nine or more movies a year also spend 15 hours per week on streaming platforms.
"We have maintained for years that streaming in the home is not taking away from the moviegoing experience," said Fithian. "If anything, streaming in the home is damaging other forms of home entertainment. Cable television, for example. DVD sales, for example."
Streaming will only be more omnipresent in 2019, when Disney and Warner Bros. are set to debut their own Netflix-like services. But both studios remain resolutely devoted to exhibition and in releasing some of their biggest releases in traditional slow periods on the calendar. The year's biggest movie, "Black Panther," opened in February. Three of Warner Bros.' top performers — "The Meg," ''Crazy Rich Asians" and "The Nun" — benefited from the typically quiet dog-days of summer.
"There were some really good movies that were spread out through the year," said Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros. distribution chief. "That's the real takeaway: Make good movies, people will come."
But disruption is still at the door. Subscription services remade the moviegoing experience, led by the swift rise and fall of MoviePass, which took credit for the box-office revival before its inexpensive pricing structure proved unsustainable. MoviePass ran out of cash, repeatedly revamped its business model and descended into chaos, lawsuits and even a fraud investigation.
The box office still chugged along (Fithian calls MoviePass' impact "overblown") and other subscription services (notably one by AMC , the world's largest chain) entered the fray.
Other threats to the movie theater loom. When Disney's acquisition of Fox is made official, there will be one less major studio in Hollywood. Further consolidation is expected, something Fithian grants "poses a challenge" for exhibitors that depend on a steady supply of movies. But he pointed to others that have picked up the slack: STX, Annapurna, A24, Bleecker St., Amazon and Apple, which last month partnered with A24 for a slate of films.
Whether 2019 will continue the box-office trend or see a repeat of last year will come down, as it always does, to the movies. Analysts are bullish, predicting another record-setting year thanks to a Disney-heavy lineup including sure-fire blockbusters "Avengers: Endgame," ''Captain Marvel," ''Frozen 2" and "Star Wars: Episode IX."
"On paper, that year is going to make this year look like small potatoes," says Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore.
Of course, similar predictions were made for 2017, too. That's the problem with movie scripts. They can always be rewritten.