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Oscars 2019: Diversity in spotlight after drama

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No host, a historic push to a superhero movie, a backlash to plans to give away some awards off-screen: much drama surrounds the 91st Oscars even before the main show. But the question that lingers on is whether “The Favourite” and “Roma” — the BAFTA winners — will continue their golden run or will the Sunday’s mega gala spring a surprise?

Despite the pre-show hiccups, viewers will be expecting lots of diversity at the event on February 24, which for the first time in 30 years, will be held without an official host.

This comes after comedian Kevin Hart stepped down after being criticised over some past ‘homophobic’ comments.

The neck-to-neck competition was expected to keep the audience hooked. Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma”, a memoir of his childhood in the 1970s while living in Mexico, and Olivia Colman’s period drama “The Favourite”, are in a tie with 10 nominations each for the 2019 Academy Awards, to be held at the Dolby Theatre here.

Both movies are nominated for Best Picture alongside “BlacKkKlansman”, “Black Panther”, “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Green Book”, “A Star Is Born” and “Vice”.

“A Star Is Born” and “Vice” are also dominanting the nominations, earning eight nods each, followed by “Black Panther” with seven, “BlacKkKlansman” with six, and “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Green Book” with five each.

“Black Panther”, about an African superhero, has become the first superhero film ever to make it to the Best Picture category at the Oscars.

Also it will not be a no-show for India.

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Although India’s official entry for the Oscars — Rima Das’ Assamese film “Village Rockstars” failed to make it to the initial shortlist–, but “Period. End of Sentence”, an India-set film on the taboos around menstruation and featuring the real ‘Pad Man’ Arunachalam Muruganathan, is nominated in the Documentary Short Subject category.

It is backed by Guneet Monga’s Sikhya Entertainment, which has credits like “The Lunchbox” and “Masaan”.

Apart from this, three films — “Green Book”, “First Man” and “Ready Player One” — backed by Anil Ambani-led Reliance Entertainment, have scored a total of 10 Oscar nominations.

“Roma” director Alfonso Cuaron will be fighting with an ‘all-male’, ensemble, including Yorgos Lanthimos (“The Favourite”), Spike Lee (“BlacKkKlansman”), Adam McKay (“Vice”) and Pawel Pawlikowski (“Cold War”) to get the coveted golden statuette for Best Director.

Bradley Cooper might have missed getting a nod in the directing category, but he is in the race to win the Actor in a Leading Role. He is pitted against Christian Bale (“Vice”), Willem Dafoe (“At Eternity’s Gate”), Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”) and Viggo Mortensen (“Green Book”).

In the Actress in a Leading Role category, Yalitza Aparicio (“Roma”), Glenn Close (“The Wife”), Olivia Colman (“The Favourite”), Lady Gaga (“A Star Is Born”) and Melissa McCarthy (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”) are in contention.

For Actress In A Supporting Role, Amy Adams (“Vice”), Marina De Tavira (“Roma”), Regina King (“If Beale Street Could Talk”), Emma Stone (“The Favourite”) and Rachel Weisz (“The Favourite”) are in the race.

Among the men, Mahershala Ali (“Green Book”), Adam Driver (“BlacKkKlansman”), Sam Elliott (“A Star Is Born”), Richard E. Grant (“Can You Ever Forgive Me”) and Sam Rockwell (“Vice”) will be fighting it out.

Aiming to trim the show’s run time, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had earlier decided to hand out four awards, including Best Screenplay, during commercial breaks. It retracted after a backlash.

There will be a performance by rock band Queen with Adam Lambert on vocals. Cooper will also perform with Lady Gaga on the Oscar-nominated song “Shallow”.

Despite minus a host, the event will have a dozen of the biggest names in Hollywood, who have joined the impressive roster of presenters.

There is Michael B. Jordan, Michael Keaton, Helen Mirren, Javier Bardem, Angela Bassett, Chadwick Boseman, Emilia Clarke, Laura Dern, Samuel L. Jackson, Stephan James, Keegan-Michael Key, KiKi Layne, James McAvoy, Melissa McCarthy, Jason Momoa and Sarah Paulson.

The award ceremony will aired in India early on Monday morning and then repeated in the evening on Star Movies.

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Review of ‘Mirzapur S2’: Divyendu Sharma shines in a Dreaded Mirzapur.

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The highly-anticipated season 2 of web series ‘Mirzapur’ will be streamed on Amazon Prime Video on October 23, 2020. To keep the momentum going, the makers have for now released the brand new trailer of ‘Mirzapur 2’. The dark, gritty narrative of ‘Mirzapur Season 2’ features Pankaj Tripathi, Ali Fazal, Divyenndu, Shweta Tripathi Sharma, Rasika Dugal, Harshita Shekhar Gaur, Amit Sial, Anjum Sharma, Sheeba Chaddha, Manu Rishi Chadha and Rajesh Tailang.

Pankaj Tripathi that had dominated the first season of Mirzapur that had stormed the OTT medium back in 2018. The man is in very good form all over again in the second season as well, the first couple of episodes of which were made exclusively available to this writer. Whether it is sarcastically asking his wayward son [Divyendu Sharma] whether he has any business plan in mind to him admonishing a senior politician in his own bungalow to go quiet or dealing with the cops, he is up there.

It’s just that this time around, the series seems to be built on isolated moments rather than a seamlessly exciting narrative, something that was the hallmark of the first season. The screen lights up each time when Divyendu is there. He is a villain, of course, but then there is such childlike enthusiasm in him, coupled with inherent humor that he brings in most crass of the situations, that you can’t help but actually wait for him to keep coming back. Watch out for the way in which he gears up to re-establish his business empire and you would know.

In the first season, it was the battle that was fought between the heirs of all things illegal, Divyendu Sharma, and the ‘bhai bhai jodi’ of commoners Ali Fazal and Vikrant Massey. With a neat six minute long recap of the first season that kick-starts the second season, you are reintroduced to the battle that ensued, something that resulted in the death of Vikrant Massey and Ali’s wife Shriya Pilgaonkar. The story moves ahead with Ali Fazal, his sister [Harshita Gaur] and Shriya’s sister [Shweta Tripathi] on the run.

Thankfully, there is a new angle introduced by makers [Puneet Krishna and Gurmmeet Singh] which promise a lot of excitement ahead in eight episodes that would follow. In the first season, there was just a glimpse of a rival gang in motion at Jaunpur. This time around the set up is promising a full throttle battle ahead as the next generation has arrived on the scene, the ones who want to play it with brains instead of bullets, and hence draw up a deep rooted plan. Entry of Vijay Verma on the scene, albeit briefly, further makes it all promising.

One truly hopes though that soon enough there is good character development for Ali Fazal as well because he was truly the ‘jaan’ of the show. In the first season, his character was pretty much inspired from Sanjay Dutt in Mahesh Bhatt’s Naam, what with even the dialogue of ‘crime is a one way street’ being mouthed. Here, he unfortunately goes through a severely clichéd scene featuring his parents (Sheeba Chaddha really hamming it out with Rajesh Tailang just being a little behind). For the sake of the audiences, hope that was just an aberration.

After all, there isn’t much of fun to see the family patriarch [Kulbhushan Kharbanda] continuing to solicit his daughter-in-law [Rasika Dugal] at very given moment. While that has lived its life in the first season, what would be interesting to watch is the plan ahead with the honest cop [Amit Sial] confessing (after witnessing a bloody shootout) that he is now worried only about his family.

So what if that means picking up a bribe up to 10 lakhs from ‘Kaaleen bhaiyaa’ despite not being offered to eat from the same plate as the Tripathi family. It’s the money that counts after all, and this time around the battle lines are drawn between Mirzapur and Jaunpur territories.

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