Bollywood controversy

First ‘Simran’ and then ‘Manikarnika’: This is Kangana Ranaut’s good-bad week

In a legal notice, Ketan Mehta has accused the actress of hijacking his project ‘Rani of Jhansi – The Warrior Queen’.

Kangana Ranaut is fighting on two fronts at the moment. She is defending herself from having taken undue writing and story credits for her upcoming film Simran. Another movie starring the Queen and Tanu Weds Manu actress is the subject of a legal notice by Ketan Mehta. The filmmaker has claimed that Ranaut stole a project that he had planned to direct with her and started work on the idea with another producer.

The project in question was launched as Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi, through a 20-foot tall poster and a dip in the Ganga in Varanasi earlier this month.

Manikarnika is being produced by Zee Studios and Kamal Jain and directed by Krish, who has previously made Gamyam, Gabbar and Kanche. Mehta told The Indian Express in an interview that Ranaut had agreed to star as the nineteenth-century queen a year-and-a-half ago. The film, titled Rani of Jhansi – The Warrior Queen, was meant to have an English version too.

Mehta said that he was shocked to read that Ranaut had announced the film with Jain, who was allegedly a prospective co-producer on the original Rani of Jhansi film. “We had shared several drafts of the script, all the visual material and references of the film and designs over a period of time with her,” Mehta said. “We had already tied up with an international co-producer and we’re looking out for an Indian co-producer.”

The development comes on the heels of the Simran controversy. Hansal Mehta’s upcoming movie is about a Gujarati housewife in America who becomes a criminal. The September 15 release is loosely based on a BBC profile of an Indian-American nurse named Sandeep Kaur, who became a bank robber to support herself.

Apurva Asrani, who has collaborated on the writing and editing of five of Hansal Mehta’s films, has accused Ranaut of eating into his contributions to Simran. Asrani is credited with the film’s story, screenplay and dialogue, while Ranaut has “additional story and dialogue credit”.

In an interview to the Mumbai Mirror tabloid, Asrani claimed, “I didn’t know that Hansal had promised Kangana part of the writing credit till I had finished the edit. By the time I got to know, the announcement had been made.” Asrani was dropped as the editor of Simran after the interview.

Kangana Ranaut and Hansal Mehta on the sets of Simran.
Kangana Ranaut and Hansal Mehta on the sets of Simran.

A Facebook post in which Asrani asked Hansal Mehta, who had chosen to stay silent all along, to “show some spine” finally evoked reactions from Simran’s producer Shailesh Singh, Ranaut and Mehta. Shailesh Singh said in a press release, “Apurva has a legal document in his possession signed by all parties — Kangana, Hansal, the producers and himself wherein he agrees to the credits given by us.” Singh claimed that a “printing error” was the reason for the order in which the credits appeared on the film poster. “If this is about him versus Kangana, I want to clarify that to please an actress; I’d have paid her more… Once the film hits screens, we will release the script online for the world to judge,” he said.

Ranaut told the Huffington Post that she hadn’t stolen anybody’s work, and didn’t want to be short-changed for her alleged contributions to Simran. “Nobody can take away from the fact that if Simran today is a story of a divorced woman, it’s entirely introduced by me,” she said in the interview. “If the film has feminist undercurrents, I included that... Even Apurva cannot take away from that, why should I be giving my precious time when I already have other commitments.”

Hansal Mehta too finally broke his silence and put out a series of tweets, declaring that “My spine is whatever it is, weak or strong.” The last word on the subject hasn’t been said yet.

Hansal Mehta's tweet.
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From catching Goan dances in Lisbon to sampling langar in Munich

A guide to the surprising Indian connect in Lisbon and Munich.

For several decades, a trip to Europe simply meant a visit to London, Paris and the Alps of Switzerland. Indians today, though, are looking beyond the tried and tested destinations and making an attempt to explore the rest of Europe as well. A more integrated global economy, moreover, has resulted in a more widespread Indian diaspora. Indeed, if you know where to look, you’ll find traces of Indian culture even in some unlikely cities. Lisbon and Munich are good cities to include in your European sojourn as they both offer compelling reasons to visit, thanks to a vibrant cultural life. Here’s a guide to everything Indian at Lisbon and Munich, when you wish to take a break from all the sight-seeing and bar crawling you’re likely to indulge in.

Lisbon

Lisbon is known as one of the most vibrant cities in Western Europe. On its streets, the ancient and the modern co-exist in effortless harmony. This shows in the fact that the patron saint day festivities every June make way for a summer that celebrates the arts with rock, jazz and fado concerts, theatre performances and art exhibitions taking place around the city. Every two years, Lisbon also hosts the largest Rock festival in the world, Rock in Rio Lisboa, that sees a staggering footfall.

The cultural life of the city has seen a revival of sorts under the current Prime Minister, Antonio Costa. Costa is of Indian origin, and like many other Indian-origin citizens prominent in Portugal’s political, business and entertainment scenes, he exemplifies Lisbon’s deep Indian connect. Starting from Vasco Da Gama’s voyage to India, Lisbon’s historic connection to Goa is well-documented. Its traces can be still be seen on the streets of both to this day.

While the Indian population in Lisbon is largely integrated with the local population, a few diaspora groups are trying to keep their cultural roots alive. Casa de Goa, formed in the ‘90s, is an association of people of Goans, Damanese and Diuese origins residing in Lisbon. Ekvat (literally meaning ‘roots’ in Konkani) is their art and culture arm that aims to preserve Goan heritage in Portugal. Through all of its almost 30-year-long existence, Ekvat has been presenting traditional Goan dance and music performances in Portugal and internationally.

Be sure to visit the Champlimaud Centre for the Unknown, hailed a masterpiece of contemporary architecture, which was designed by the critically-acclaimed Goan architect Charles Correa. If you pay attention, you can find ancient Indian influences, like cut-out windows and stand-alone pillars. The National Museum of Ancient Art also has on display a collection of intricately-crafted traditional Goan jewellery. At LOSTIn - Esplanada Bar, half of the people can be found lounging about in kurtas and Indian shawls. There’s also a mural of Bal Krishna and a traditional Rajasthani-style door to complete the desi picture. But it’s not just the cultural landmarks that reflect this connection. The integration of Goans in Lisbon is so deep that most households tend to have Goa-inspired textiles and furniture as a part of their home decor, and most families have adapted Goan curries in their cuisine. In the past two decades, the city has seen a surge in the number of non-Goan Indians as well. North Indian delicacies, for example, are readily available and can be found on Zomato, which has a presence in the city.

If you wish to avoid the crowds of the peak tourist season, you can even consider a visit to Lisbon during winter. To plan your trip, check out your travel options here.

Munich

Munich’s biggest draw remains the Oktoberfest – the world’s largest beer festival for which millions of people from around the world converge in this historic city. Apart from the flowing Oktoberfest beer, it also offers a great way to get acquainted with the Bavarian folk culture and sample their traditional foods such as Sauerkraut (red cabbage) and Weißwurst (a white sausage).

If you plan to make the most of the Oktoberfest, along with the Bavarian hospitality you also have access to the services of the Indian diaspora settled in Munich. Though the Indian community in Munich is smaller than in other major European destinations, it does offer enough of a desi connect to satisfy your needs. The ISKCON temple at Munich observes all major rituals and welcomes everyone to their Sunday feasts. It’s not unusual to find Germans, dressed in saris and dhotis, engrossed in the bhajans. The Art of Living centre offers yoga and meditation programmes and discourses on various spiritual topics. The atmosphere at the Gurdwara Sri Guru Nanak Sabha is similarly said to be peaceful and accommodating of people of all faiths. They even organise guided tours for the benefit of the non-Sikhs who are curious to learn more about the religion. Their langar is not to be missed.

There are more options that’ll help make your stay more comfortable. Some Indian grocery stores in the city stock all kinds of Indian spices and condiments. In some, like Asien Bazar, you can even bargain in Hindi! Once or twice a month, Indian film screenings do take place in the cinema halls, but the best way to catch up on developments in Indian cinema is to rent video cassettes and VCDs. Kohinoor sells a wide range of Bollywood VCDs, whereas Kumaras Asean Trades sells Tamil cassettes. The local population of Munich, and indeed most Germans too, are largely enamoured by Bollywood. Workshops on Bollywood dance are quite popular, as are Bollywood-themed events like DJ nights and dance parties.

The most attractive time to visit is during the Oktoberfest, but if you can brave the weather, Munich during Christmas is also a sight to behold. You can book your tickets here.

Thanks to the efforts of the Indian diaspora abroad, even lesser-known European destinations offer a satisfying desi connect to the proud Indian traveller. Lufthansa, which offers connectivity to Lisbon and Munich, caters to its Indian flyers’ priorities and understands how proud they are of their culture. In all its India-bound flights and flights departing from India, flyers can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options, making the airline More Indian than You Think. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalised by Lufthansa to the extent that they now offer a definitive Indian flying experience.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.