On the ‘face’ of it, this is the visage of a reasonably well-preserved 52-year-old. Except that when it answers to the name of Ajay Devgn, diehard fans and their network of followers on social media term it ‘graceful’ and ‘dashing’. All in all, it’s good news for us rapidly graying punters that such salt-and-pepper gravitas has caught on at last here—decades after Cary Grant and, lately, George Clooney, drove a different route to sexiness. The look, by the way, is what Ajay will sport in Thank God, which also features Sidharth Malhotra and Rakul Preet Singh. One acid test then—we have to see if the girl digs Ajay’s looks, even over the handsome Sidharth. If she does, cynics might attribute our satisfaction to an overly willing suspension of disbelief. But we’ll take heart from it, and we’ll tell Rakul to play along in advance.
They stopped in their tracks, gawking, the grandest people in the Grand Pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival, as Azmeri Haq Badhon strode down the staircase, a shimmering vision in a beige Dhakai Jamdani sari with traditional motifs that was set off by a stunningly stylish halterneck blouse. Emerald earrings and a modernist bracelet were just accoutrements too. And as addled onlookers gaped while the Bangladeshi actress turned towards the seafront, they could only admire the belted embellishments that lent her look a touch of strength. Azmeri was there for her film, Rehana Maryam Noor, where she plays a medical professor who stands up to ingrained patriarchal filth when she decides to support a victim of sexual abuse. The film—the first in Cannes from Bangladesh—shadows Azmeri’s own life. A dentist, she survived a bad marriage, divorce and a custody battle for her child, but fell prey to depression. We wish her good health.
In Lahore’s fabled Heera Mandi, bejeweled courtesans held court over perfumed soirees of ghazals, thumris and kathak. As evenings wore drunkenly into nights, more fleshly matters would be countenanced. The subject, put to cinematic use, would have elicited a gritty, shabby-genteel neo-realist feature if Sadat Hasan Manto could be persuaded to sit in the director’s chair. Alas, Heera Mandi is a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film, and we expect gaudiness masquerading as a ‘lavish’ production. Small mercies—it features Huma Qureshi and our subject here, Sonakshi Sinha, who is already prepping for the role by taking kathak lessons. Now that she’s worked hard to establish an image of stylish divadom, we use this as a counterpoint: her richly brocaded jacket, accentuating her full figure, is muted and flashy at the same time, and is paired with an artfully twirled skirt. And oh, a breeze that blows across her face, stretching her tightly wound coiffure to its limits. We meet her next in old Lahore.
If you aspire to be a glam doll, you gotta ooze archly held confidence—that one quality that transmutes itself into a web of oomph that preys upon blubbery bumpkins like us. Remember, Brigitte Bardot was nothing when she turned it on, topless, at Cannes 60 years ago. The one girl who’s practically brimful of the substance in recent months is Janhvi Kapoor—swimsuits or gymwear, gowns or casual outfits…eyes, hearts and honourable intentions are locked on to her when she steps out. On a similar occasion, Janhvi answered our calls and slid into this short, figure-hugging bodycon. Comparisons to a finely modelled hourglass is appropriate, though unnecessary for being in plain sight. Instead of the fulsome praise that she deserves, compliments came in the shape of heart emojis and a likening to Kylie Jenner. Sigh…it’s the banishment of poetry that hurts the most.