‘Race 2’ actors jet down to Dubai: Starry tempers put a brake on action

Silence between Saif Ali Khan, John Abraham spoke volumes, while Deepika Padukone and Ameesha Patel turned political with their views on the Delhi gang rape that has outraged the world

Entertainment journalists are often a revered lot, regularly rubbing shoulders with the crème de la crème of the industry and possible confidantes of the star’s many little (even dirty) secrets.

Click to see gallery of Race 2: Dubai hosts Saif, Deepika, John…

Sorry to burst that little bubble, but this couldn’t be further from the harsh truth.

What usually lays in wait for the fourth estate is tardiness that stretches into hours, mood swings, temper tantrums and an overall distrust of the media; which, on its part, isn’t exactly blameless in its cut-throat race to nab that next scoop with invasive inquiries into the celeb’s private affairs.

The most recent marketing blitzkrieg for ‘Race 2’ in Dubai lived up to the stereotype, and how, with its six stars, two directors and one producer arriving 90 minutes after the scheduled time.

However, adding a third dimension to the proceedings during the press conference were hushed whispers and awkward silences between the film’s two leading men ­ namely Saif Ali Khan and John Abraham – that provided all the gossip fodder.

And while the two exchanged not a single word in front of the audience, it was left up to the likes of Ameesha Patel, Deepika Padukone and Jacqueline Fernandez to dodge most of the media queries.

Meanwhile, Anil Kapoor appeared to be smirking at a private joke that none were clued into.

Racier than ever or sensible cinema?

When quizzed to describe the Abbas-Mastan-directed thriller in a nutshell, Patel jumped in to quip: “The sequel to ‘Race’ is steamier, racier than its predecessor, with even more sexy women.”

The remark, albeit said in jest, was the match that lit the fuse of a powder keg that had people questioning the objectification of women in Indian cinema in light of the brutal Delhi rape case that has caused global outrage and resulted in a young woman’s death and protests across the country.

However, good sport that she was, Patel refused to shy away from the controversy that has seen the role of women on screen and its influence on youth.

“By this argument, if cinema has had a negative influence on its audience, then surely, the flipside is also true and it can have a positive change too,” said Patel. “Stealing, using drugs and rape, this is not cinematic influence but a person’s mindset.”

Padukone piped in to add: “You can’t blame cinema for flaws in society.”

Criticising the Indian government, the feisty actress continued to say: “Laws in our country need to be stricter and action needs to be taken. This people who commit the crimes think they can get away it in our country and that is what needs to change.”

Khan finally spoke up to lend his two-bit to say: “Violence on screen is sensitised. I won’t say it isn’t worrisome that some college kids laugh at violent scenes but targeting cinema is wrong when games such as ‘Grand Theft Auto’ or any such shooter games are way more gruesome.”

Silence speaks volumes

However, even as the film of the hour was being promoted, a pattern in the question and answers soon began to emerge, one that obviously saw both Abraham and Khan refraining from responding to the same query unless pointedly probed.

When Emirates 24|7 quizzed the three actors turned film producers, namely the above mentioned duo and Kapoor on whether IMAX and 3D is the next big thing in Bollywood today, Khan was quick to respond and say: “We have a lot achieve in comparison to Hollywood as yet and frankly we don’t have the technical expertise or the capability to match that as yet.”

Kapoor added: “My film, ‘Mission Impossible 4’ was shot in IMAX and in fact, I saw its first rushes her in this Meydan theatre (where the event was being held). I am quite optimistic that in five to 10 years, we will be on par.”

Abraham declined to respond.

The proceedings got even more strained when the cast were asked if life were a race, what would they be chasing.

Khan said: “Is this a press conference or a Stardust convention?” He then added: “I guess happiness and success.”

When thrust with the mic, Abraham asked: “Do you really want me to answer?” Then stated: “Burning 600 calories daily.”

The rest of the afternoon also saw the actors refraining from even acknowledging each other, while the cold vibes saw them sit across the spacious Meydan venue on opposite sides with organisers and press scuttling back and forth.

Ego issues or an argument over maximum screen time? Speculations are rife and will certainly provide enough gossip fodder for press and fans.

But the show goes on as they say, and the promotions for ‘Race 2’ have almost reached the finish line, with the film releasing in UAE cinemas on January 24.

All we can say is hang in there guys.

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