A nondescript subway grate in Manhattan lifted the skirt of Marilyn Monroe in Billy Wilder’s Seven Year Itch (1955), casting the film-loving world forever in the role of Tom Ewell’s gasping wonderment. We dig Nushrratt Bharuccha’s tepid copy for the clever way her flimsy skirt is attached to the belt of her short dress and that radiant smile that shows she’s had loads of fun. She has good reason too—Nushrratt is one of the busiest actresses in town, going by the films lined up for her. The first, alongside Akshay and Jacqueline, is the thriller drama Ram Setu, shot in Ayodhya and, we note with some trepidation, “deeply rooted in Indian cultural and historical heritage”. Then there is the comedy Janhit Mein Jaari, where the girl plays a condom sales executive—an unlikely event dreamed up for a fantasy comedy sure to be laden with coarse jokes. The most promising is a Hindi remake of the Marathi horror film Lapachhapi. In a burst of candour, Nushrratt admits, “It is difficult to crack.”
Sunny Leone’s acceptance across India—first as eagerly handled titillation, then as full-bodied obsession—shows that miracles bestow their benediction randomly. Verily, somebody else might just have aroused foul-mouthed excoriation. From when she appeared about a decade back, Sunny has led a charmed life: adoring husband and three children, homes in Mumbai and LA, enough work across linguistic regions to bring in the gold and a remarkable ability to maintain a wholesome image even as directors dream up sleaze for her to inhabit. Here, then, is an image from Maldives for worshipping fans to lap it up: a classic, raised pose supported by powdery sand; a dark mauve swimsuit that bears another look and shades to keep out the intrusive sun. If we found ourselves in those huts yonder, we’d have been adequately kitted out with telephoto lenses.
There’s something ageless about this—the colour tones whisper of so many of our ’80s snaps mouldering away; the workaday jeans and T-shirt on him; the timeless, belted dress on her, and the porch of a classy club in the background. The subjects are Leander Paes—our go-to man for tennis glory in the long interregnum between Vijay Amritraj’s exploits and the late ’90s—and actress Kim Sharma, who’s swum in and out of our ken, depending on the man she has dated (Yuvraj Singh, or recently, Harshvardhan Rane). Rumours of a romance were being bruited around, but no one told us. A vacation in Goa alerted people, while Kim’s post on Instagram, remembering the 25th anniversary of Leander’s Atlanta Olympics bronze win confirmed the news. The couple looks much in love, and that settles matters. We await the docu-drama of Leander and Mahesh Bhupathi’s 1999 triumph at Wimbledon.
Ever since an 18-year-old Brigitte Bardot startled the still then staid Cannes film festival in 1953 with her unabashed sexuality, such jamborees have been a congregation of red carpet glamour. Then there’s the intellectual stimulation of directors, actors, writers and critics getting together to watch great movies. Who, indeed, would pass over a trip to watercoloured Venice, sun-soaked Cannes or glamour-wrapped Berlin? An odd, discordant note is sruck, however, by Richa Chadha, at a time when such fests are severely truncated. “It is very convenient to attend various film festivals online and view great cinema. This was not the case in the pre-pandemic world that required us to travel,” says the actress who has been jury member in festivals in Marrakech, Nara and Melbourne. In a hideous leathery-synthetic gown that unfatteringly catches the glaring light, Richa here tries her best to appear as a red carpet star. If she dressed well, making those cameras swivel towards her, she’ll certainly look forward to film fests.