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Who is behind the Newton controversy?

Last updated on: September 26, 2017 13:10 IST

'The minute Newton was selected for the Oscar, the Iranian film came into the picture.'
'Almost as if the attempt to pull Newton down was planned.'
Subhash K Jha gives us the latest...

In what seems to be a well-timed move to hurt Amit Masurkar's lauded Newton, a sudden charge of plagiarism has hit the film out of nowhere, triggering off a heated debate on how eligible Newton is to represent India at the Oscars.

While Masurkar dismisses the charges of Newton being inspired by the Iranian film Secret Ballot as "baseless", Supran Sen, the secretary-general of the Film Federation of India -- which selects the film to go to the Oscars each year -- wonders how these allegations surfaced after the film was selected as India's official entry to the Oscars and was given a grant of Rs 1 crore by the Indian government.

"The Iranian film has been around for 16 years so all the learned critics, who watch global cinema, were aware of its existence. Newton was premiered at the Berlin film festival in February. If at all there were similarities between Newton and the other film, why didn't anyone at Berlin notice it? Why did this question come up after the film was selected by us to go to the Oscars?" asks Sen.

Sen says this controversy doesn't change anything for Newton.

"No rule for the Best Foreign Film category at the Oscars states that any likeness to any other film in any form is a disqualification. We've full faith in the team behind Newton and we stand by the film, as of now," Sen says.

A source close to the developments finds the timing of the plagiarism charges suspicious.

"The minute Newton was selected for the Oscar, the Iranian film came into the picture. Almost as if the attempt to pull Newton down was planned."


Kapil Dev: They're making a film on the 1983 World Cup, not me

IMAGE: Mohinder Amarnath and Kapil Dev at the 1983 World Cup. Photograph: Rediff Archives

Ranveer Singh will play Kapil Dev in a Kabir Khan film that will be based on the 1983 World Cup, and India's historic win.

But the star cricketer says the film is not a biopic.

"It's not a film on me, so it is not my biopic," Kapil says. "It is apparently a film on the 1983 World Cup, not me."

Wasn't he an integral part of that sporting triumph?

"I was! But so was Sunil Gavaskar, Mohinder Amarnath and many others. The film will probably be as much about them as me," he says.

Photograph: Kind courtesy, Ranveer Singh/Twitter

How does Kapil feel about Ranveer playing him?

"I've no idea. All I know is that they are making a film on the 1983 World Cup. I repeat, it's not about me and we've all been invited to be there in Mumbai for the formal announcement on September 27. So I guess we will be there."



Waheeda Rehman remember her friends

IMAGE: Jabeen, Shakila, Waheeda Rehman and Nanda. Photograph: Kind Courtesy, Jabeen

"Bichde sabhi baari baari... First, my close friend Nanda, then Sadhana and now Shakila. I am losing all my friends," says an upset Waheeda Rehman. "But that's life, I suppose."

Shakilajiji and Waheedaji go back a long way to Guru Dutt's CID in 1956, where Shakila was the heroine and Waheeda the vamp.

"Never for a minute did she let me feel like a newcomer. Halaanke woh koi bahut senior nahin thi (she wasn't too senior to me) but she had done more movies than me in Hindi whereas I was just starting out. She was very nice and helpful," Waheedaji says.

"You tend to remember those who are good to you at the beginning. Shakila and I didn't have even one shot together in CID, but we stuck up a friendship that lasted 62 years," Waheedaji tells us.

Shakilaji would give her advice on career and life.

Later, she worked with Nanda in Kala Bazar and there began another friendship that endured till her death.

She met Jabeen through a common dance teacher, but they never worked together in a film.

"Shakila, Nanda, Jabeen and I became an inseparable foursome," Waheedaji says. "We went for movies and dinners, picnics to Lonavla and Khandala..."

She remembers the old days.

"In those days, there were open spaces, the air was fresh and clean, bahut saaf-suthri thi hamari duniya. The four of us sang and laughed and shared giggles together."

"Although we were actresses, there was never any sense of competitiveness among us. We never discussed our careers. We spoke about everything else under the sun, except films," she remembers.

Once Shakilaji got married and moved to Germany, their communication diminished.

"There was trouble in that marriage. Shakila moved back to Mumbai, remarried, and moved to London. Both of us lived in Mumbai during past years, but we didn't meet as often as we would have liked to. But we were constantly in touch, right till the end."

"I spoke to her a few days before her death. She told me she had been to Lilavati hospital for a checkup. I admonished her for not giving me time to meet her. She promised to meet me very soon, but she didn't keep it."

Subhash K Jha