‘The Test Case’ on AltBalaji is worth watching

s Ekta Kapoor and Nimrat Kaur’s The Test Case the feminist Hindi entertainment series we’ve been waiting for?

Could it be that India has finally delivered the answer to Netflix? And given us not just shows made specifically for online telecast, but also shows worth tuning in for and maybe even binge-watching? Okay, before I get carried away, have we finally got a show—in singular—which is of the same calibre as what is available on Netflix? And is the person we have to thank for it, no less than the doyen of all things trash and soapy and popular, Ekta Kapoor?

The answer it seems is a resounding yes.

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Around two weeks back, Ekta Kapoor’s new endeavour, AltBalaji hit our broadband waves. AltBalaji is Kapoor’s answer to Netflix. She’s producing various series on it, which are made for an online audience, not for TV. Much like Netflix and Amazon Prime, some of these shows have three to four episodes which are released in one shot. So you can binge-watch them if you’re so inclined, as opposed to the appointment viewing we have to indulge in for TV programmes.

All good, till you watched the first set of shows which were uploaded. They were supposedly risqué content, which Kapoor may not have found an audience or advertisers for on a traditional TV entertainment channel. But they veered between average at best and puerile at worst. There was a show on a group of 30-year-old male friends who’d been together since school, called Boygiri. There was Dev DD with a young woman playing the role of Devdas. There was Ram Kapoor and Sakshi Tanwar playing an alcoholic has-been superstar and a counsellor, respectively, in Karrle Tu Bhi Mohabbat. There’s also a show about an extra-marital affair between two 30-something married people. The acting across the shows ranged from over-the-top to simply bad. The scripts were weak. The situations didn’t make sense and the dialogue was very amateur. It took all my effort to watch beyond one episode of each show.

Till I saw The Test Case, starring Nimrat Kaur as the first female officer to be sent to be trained to be a commando with the Purple Berets. The fact that Kaur is acting in it is a winner in itself. It would make the most cynical TV watcher tune in. So, hats off for the casting coup. While the trailer had been quite disturbing, starting as it did with Sagarika Ghose, the first episode more than delivered on what was expected.

The Test Case is directed by Nagesh Kukunoor, and stars Kaur as the protagonist. The cast includes Juhi Chawla as the minister of defence, Atul Kulkarni and Rahul Dev as commanders and Kaur’s superiors in the training academy. The story, which I have not heard of before and suspect shockingly maybe original—another novelty for Indian TV and film—is about the defence minister deciding to implement President Pranab Mukherjee’s statement that women should be enlisted in combat positions. The defence minister chooses Shikha Sharma/Kaur to be the test case for the army, much against the wishes of the generals. The show is essentially about Kaur’s experiences while training in the decidedly sexist environs of the army, alongside men who think she’s being given special privileges. And as she is informed, whether she may be capable or not, she is part of the training programme only because the minister/Chawla insisted she join the programme.

What works is the realism of the production. It seems well-researched. I’m simply impressed that Balaji Productions knew about the Maroon Beret, which is worn by 50th Parachute Brigade, the President’s Body Guard and the Special Forces Unit. This does not look like a Balaji production from any angle. Kaur is not roaming around looking like she’s lost her way, while going to shoot Naagin. She wears au naturel makeup, looks fit and not thin, and acts flawlessly—which is her wont. The rest of the cast is extremely well-chosen. The dialogue is as normal as it gets. These are young men who think that the world is their oyster and that they’re men’s men. They say “fuck”, “balls”, “piss” in everyday dialogue. It’s actually a delight to hear Kaur say “pussy” and “vagina” while trying to establish that she doesn’t scare easy. The men affectionately call her Military Barbie. And the dialogue slips effortlessly between Hindi and English. The pushback Kaur gets, both from the commanders as well as from her colleagues, is palpable. But most importantly, it all seems very real. And without artifice. Once again, very unlike anything we’ve seen out of the Balaji stable till date.

There is a segment towards the end of the 41-minute first episode, which seems a little too pat. Almost a let-down after such a tight beginning, but I suppose one must give some leeway for Hindi entertainment. There’s much to appreciate in this show, at least till now. It’s great to see an entire series hinged on a female character who isn’t prettied up or playing a mother, sister or wife alone. As if that is the defining aspect of the character. It’s also great to see a show tackle the hardcore sexism that is ingrained in the army, head on. No film out of India has till date done so, nor has any TV show. There’s also a very nuanced moment where we see the casual racism that is commonplace against people from the northeast, in the way one of the men speaks to another called Thapa. The exchange is barely 10 seconds in duration, but it’s hard to miss.

If indeed Kukunoor and Kapoor stick to their guns and don’t give in to having Kaur fall in love with one of the commanders or start dancing in the rain, this may well turn out to be a turning point in Hindi entertainment programming. Yet, as talented as Kukunoor and Kapoor be, if it wasn’t for an actor of the calibre and skillset of Kaur, this show wouldn’t be half as effective as it is. Should you watch this? I would say definitely give it a shot.

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We wish you didn’t wear that Nimrat Kaur; we used to like you

Nimrat Kaur is one of those class-apart classy kind of women in the industry that everyone looks up to. Her ground-breaking performance in The Lunchbox launched her into critics’ list of favourites, grabbing a spot most commercial-film actresses don’t all their careers.

The lady’s fashion choices in the past few years have also reflected her classy persona perfectly. With her latest outfit, however, Nimrat seems to have gone a little off track.

Spotted recently at the screening of a new digital show, Nimrat wore a simple, black off-shoulder top and statement black buckle-belt by Zara, and crazy, colourful, weird palazzos by Shivan & Narresh. She completed her look with black Christian Louboutin peep-toes, and we have to say, this is one of the worst looks we’ve seen on the actress.

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While that one-shoulder Zara top and the peep-toes are just fine, it’s the palazzos that are making us not want to give this ensemble a second look, unless we absolutely have to.

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The tragedy is, had those pants not been in the picture, Nimrat would have maintained her “classy woman” image.

We hope you make better choices in the future, Nimrat!

Nimrat Kaur: I can’t give impulsive reactions on a sensitive topic

Actor Nimrat Kaur believes in speaking her heart out and doesn’t really care if it is not in tune with the prevailing thought of the day. Recently, actors Sushant Singh Rajput’s and Parineeti Chopra’s refusal to comment on the sensitive Kulbhushan Jhadav case (about an Indian national, who has been given death sentence by a military court in Pakistan), sparked a debate on whether it’s right to expect celebrities and public figures to have an opinion on everything under the sun.

 Nimrat, who has worked in films such as The Lunchbox and Airlift, further feels that one has to be extra cautious of not being captured by cameras at the wrong time. “While on a stage, if the spotlight is on me, and I can see cameras are pointing towards me, I [try to] maintain a graceful silence. It’s very important not to react, or else that two-second clip will be replayed on TV channels over and over again and you would be made to look like someone who knows nothing about what’s happening in the country.”

Maintaining that everybody can’t know everything, Nimrat adds, “Many people, half of the times, haven’t watched the biggest of films, which actors would expect them to watch. So, if we talk about it professionally, everybody cannot watch or know current affairs or be everywhere or have the know-how of everything.”

Nimrat also points out that since an actor is mostly travelling and shooting at remote locations, it’s tough to keep track of newsy developments. “And then when we come back to Mumbai, so much has happened — newspapers are flooded, social media is going crazy about some controversy or the other. And suddenly we’re bombarded with questions, ‘Can you please answer this’, and if then we choose not to answer, why is that’s a problem?” she asks..

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Trailer of Ekta Kapoor’s ‘The Test Case’ featuring Nimrat Kaur

 

Nimrat Kaur, who is known for her incredible on-screen performances, have nailed it again but this time on the digital platform. The actress will be seen in the role of a combat specialist in the Indian Army in her upcoming YouTube series. Titled The Test Case, the web series marks the digital debut of Tv queen Ekta Kapoor’s app ALT Balaji.

The first poster of the series was released on Wednesday and it was simply amazing, with Nimrat Kaur dressed in the uniform and holding a gun in her hands. The Test Case was in news from the very beginning, firstly because of its unusual storyline and secondly for Nimrat Kaur’s presence in it.

The makers have now unveiled the trailer of the series and it talks about women empowerment in the most powerful way. Featuring Nimrat Kaur as Captain Shikha Singh, the 3-minuyte video will make you realise the strength of a woman. It gives a sneak peek into the life of a woman who is preparing to be inducted in a combat role in the Indian Army and the hardships she faces while her training.

Nimrat’s powerful dialogues and bold performance is the USP of this series and that fierce look on her face is simply incredible. Directed by Nagesh Kukunoor, The Test Case is set against the backdrop of the Indian Army. The trailer of the series was shared by Nimrat on her Twitter account with the caption: The tip of the iceberg! No turning back, no time for fear.

The Test Case also stars Juhi Chawla as Minister Of Defense, Shraddha Pandit and Rahul Dev as Subedar Kirpal Bhatti. While the trailer raises some serious questions about gender equality, it ends with a question, ”Does she deserve a chance to die for her country?”

The show will start streaming from April 25 this year.

 

Nimrat Kaur seen shopping at the newly revamped Phoenix Marketcity mall

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Bollywood actress Nimrat Kaur who recently visited the mall was visibly delighted – “Considering how massive the mall is, it’s fantastic that Phoenix Market city has installed digital directories to help visitors navigate through the place conveniently. I was impressed especially impressed by the smooth touch screens and digital mall directory.” she exclaimed , Fashion is about constant reinvention and evolution. Keeping this mantra in mind, Mumbai’s Phoenix Market city Mall has gone through a complete make over to become the ultimate shopping and entertainment destination. With revamped interiors, spacious stores and improved services, this incredibly massive mall promises to offer you the complete experience.

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Nimrat Kaur and Fatima Sana Shaikh in Saif Ali Khan’s Baazaar!

The two actresses will play leading ladies to Saif Ali Khan and Rohan Mehra
Nikkhil Advani’s Baazaar is all set to go on floors. A thriller set against the backdrop of the stock market, the script, after a few alterations is ready. Saif Ali Khan will play the lead in the film, which will also mark the debut of Vinod Mehra’s son Rohan.

Says a source from the team, “The casting is done. Saif plays the older hero while Rohan plays the younger parallel lead. Arjun Kapoor was approached for it, but he didn’t have the dates they wanted to shoot for.”

And now, they have approached two prominent leading ladies opposite Saif and Rohan. Adds our khabri, “Nimrat Kaur has been offered the main leading lady’s part opposite Saif where she will play his love interest. There will be another young, fresh romantic angle with Rohan Mehra’s character. For that, Nikkhil has cast Dangal girl Fatima Sana Shaikh. Nikkhil has loved her in Dangal and feels she will be brilliant in this thriller too.”

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The Lunchbox, and Delhi’s best dinner, at the Food Oscars

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It’s the dinner of the year, the one Delhi’s swish set skips lunch for, but the discussion started with a lunchbox at the Times Food and Nightlife Awards 2017, held in Delhi recently. That was no surprise, considering the chief guest was Nimrat Kaur, she of the delicious lunches in The Lunchbox, who, together with Times Group MD Vineet Jain, unveiled the two Times Food Guides and the Times Nightlife Guide. The glittering ceremony had in attendance film and TV actors, bureaucrats, top police officials, designers and many others, including singer Babul Supriyo, MoS, Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises; politician Amar Singh; CBFC member Vani Tripathi Tikoo and top cop Dependra Pathak.

Emcee Anuj Gurwara kept the ceremony fun as over 120 awards were given out in various categories, covering eating out, eating in and going out. The guides have been edited by Marryam H Reshii (the Food Guides) and Deepali Gupta Bhatia (the Nightlife Guide). The awards, held at the ITC Maurya, were followed by the famous dinner spread at the Nandiya Gardens, to which presenters and guests made a beeline – after all, that’s exactly what they’d skipped lunch for! From North Indian to Bihari, and French desserts to a mouth-watering array of desi mithai, there were more than enough reasons for attendees to overeat.

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Too much PR, publicity can be counterproductive: Nimrat Kaur

New Delhi: Nimrat Kaur doesnt believe in having a “big PR machinery” behind her, and she lets her work do the talking. The actress says she likes to be a “little conservative” in professional matters.

She feels too much publicity sometimes backfires, and so she prefers to abstain from it.

“I just love to do my job more often than not and then looking at what I am doing next. If I get publicity by the virtue of my work, fantastic, great and if not then work keeps happening on its own anyway,” Nimrat told IANS in an email interview.

She added: “I also feel sometimes too much PR or publicity around something can be counterproductive, so I like to take a little conservative take on this in my professional matters.”

The critically-acclaimed actress, who has worked in films like “The Lunchbox” and “Airlift”, has made her presence felt internationally after being associated with foreign TV shows like “Homeland” and Manoj Night Shyamalan’s TV series “Wayward Pines” – which was aired in India on Star World Premiere HD.

Nimrat, who has been roped in to play the lead — of a combat role in the Indian Army — in Ekta Kapoor’s new web series, feels “it’s so important for one’s work to speak for itself”.

“And sometimes I think to each his own, as long as you think you can do justice to what is expected of you whether or not you have big PR machinery behind you,” she said.

The actress likes to keep a “little bit of a balance”.

She said: “I find it exhausting to constantly have to be in too many different places even if it literally to attend different things at one time. I am little bit of a one-thing-at-one-time kind of person.”

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Nimrat Kaur’s wonderful message for Women’s Day

Actor Nimrat Kaur is busy with filmmaker Nagesh Kukunoor’s web series, in which she plays an army officer. This yet-to-be-titled project is Ekta Kapoor’s ALT Balaji’s first original series. The video has a cameo by Bollywood star Juhi Chawla, and will also star actor Akshay Oberoi.

This is the first video from the series where Nimrat is seen giving out a warm message on the occasion of International Women’s Day. She quotes poet Maya Angelou, “You may shoot me with your words, you may cut me with your eyes, you may kill me with your hatefulness, but still, like air, I’ll rise!”
 

Talking about her experience of acting in the empowering web series, Nimrat was quoted by India Today, “Roles that have an edge and are perceived as unconventional in nature have always drawn me towards them. This digital show, a medium I hadn’t explored so far, was a great follow up to Homeland and Wayward Pines, which were my earlier attempts at the same.”

Did she relate to her character? “The connection to the story came almost instantly, owing to my love and passion for the armed forces,” added Nimrat.