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Monday, August 20, 2007

Some Ramblings - Chak De! India

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Diversity, unlike how it is portrayed on big screens, doesn't work all that well in real life. Refer back to all the national integration videos made by PrasarBharati (it was the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting back then) for public consumption on public television, back in late 80s, with all the artists from the four corners of the world coming together to sing in unison, hitting the right notes, without missing a beat, in just the right harmony - the Tamilian rubs shoulders with the Punjabi, the Malayali locks his hands with the Manipuri and the Telugu guy seems to be at home with the U.P.Bhaiyya. The country couldn't look any closer, any friendlier and any stronger. The diverse cultures amalgamating in a glorious melting pot, producing an profound product, vibrant in its variation, richer in texture and enriching in its experience. Now, the reality - the linguistic basis on which states have been split, statuses have been accorded, produced the first deep cut, clearly separating one set of people from another. Though the criterion felt very logical and very intuitive back in the 50s, the country found a great way of feuding with itself. The limited resources, when distributed, invariably, unequally among two sets of peoples, became the focal point of allegations like partiality, partisanship and favoritism. If Cauvery waters are accorded more, by the impartial Water Tribunal, to one faction, it could cause the other side to rise up in arms, literally, target particular groups and perform ethnic cleansing. When Mumbaikars feel (justly or unjustly is a matter of different discussion for a different time) that outsiders (Madrasis, Bangladeshis, or Northies) are invading their city, denying them of their jobs, resources and opportunities, new slogans are unveiled, agitations are launches, specific groups are targeted, and thereby wresting the privilege initiative back to home team. Despite belonging to a common heritage and somewhat similar culture, the country, celebrating its 60th year of independence, seems to be unified, only in despair, disaster and gloom seem to pass over, while during the rest of the time, is busy bickering, bringing the development and progress to, either a snail pace or sometimes, dead halt. Amidst such vitriolic atmosphere, it begs to asked, does diversity work for the benefit or for the detriment of the society.

In a country with such a diverse landscape, the only two areas, where diversity doesn't cast its debilitating shadow, if one can discount the times of disasters, are, armed forces and group sports. Both these areas strive for one thing, and one thing alone, at all costs - victory. In both these arenas, the constant strife for excellence, dwarfs the obvious differences and glaring irregularities of everyday life. They accept the big elephant in the room, the cultural chasm, and move on to bigger and better things, than get bogged down tangled up in the trivialities. And this is just with the cultural divide. Throw in religion into the mix, and it adds even more complexity to the already muddled issue of diversity. As an example, it is an accepted fact that Wasim Akram is probably the greatest left arm fast bowler that ever graced the field. Imagine the same fact blurted out in a nonchalant way by a Hindu and it goes largely unnoticed. Now, if the same fact is reiterated by a Muslim, living in India, it suddenly brings up issues like allegiance and patriotism to the fore. A country that is faith-blind when it comes to supporting sides (again, the only two that enjoy such universal unequivocal patronage - military & sports), suddenly finds itself asking questions about loyalty, when it comes to individuals within those selected groups. A country would gladly embrace a Muslim captain, but when one of its own Muslim citizens starts talking about the talent on the other side of the fence, eyebrows rise and looks are exchanged. The double-standard that exists on the outside, thankfully, hasn't crept into the above said institutions yet, for the only reason that the inherent discipline in both these structures refuse to give away, even in the face of trying conditions. Discipline wipes away the fine lines that separate classes, bridges the deep gorges that divide cultures, and instill a value of brotherhood, a sense of pride and a constant drive for accomplishment. And in effect, Chak De India is all about inculcating discipline in a diverse mob. Though individual brilliances are always celebrated in such group atmospheres, the emphasis is more on the means than on the ends.

Diversity in Hindi films has always been very Utopian. Whenever a Ramu Kaka gets into trouble, there is always a Qadir miya from the neighborhood, or a Baljeet bhai who seems to be passing by, coming to Kaka's side and aid, in a way that fit the grander scheme of national integration. Only a few, a very minor few, chose to depict the reality of the Indian society without smoothening out around the edges - Tamas, Earth, and the recent Black Friday - for the sole reason that the average audience is uncomfortable to confront his prejudices and shatter his stereotypical mindset. While the above movies try to ask the serious questions in a confrontational way, a slightly palatable way to pose those same questions is what is attempted in Chak De, in what is considered to be a sacred arena - sports. Get a huge production house, known for its dreamy, escapist entertainment fares, to have a change of heart, hire the right technicians to back up a story that is devoid of any candy-floss and glossy finishes, give complete creative freedom and the right to reserve the final judgments to the maker, and importantly, not bother about the commercial viability of such a venture - the result is Chak De India, the first movie that Yash Raj Productions could feel proud about (returning the company to the roots and the visions of its founder, Yash Chopra, the maker of many off-beat, artistic, serious fares such as Lamhe, Silsila, Kabhie Kabhie, Kala Patthar, Trishul to name a few). Terming Chak De as just as sports movie does gross injustice to what it was aiming for - a social experiment aimed at making diversity work for the advancement of a cause, an inspired way to instill discipline to tackle the task at hand. Just like how "Sarfarosh", a few years ago, became the first movie to name names involved in cross-border terrorism, Chak De is certainly the first Indian movie to depict the many facets of diversity in an honest, sincere and realistic way.

In India, hockey has been added to the list of the items about the glorious past to gloat about, probably next to the mighty Mughal Empire and Sepoy Mutiny. With lack of patronage, and consequently, lack of sponsorship, the sport has completely lost its sheen, and the only time it attracts any attention (and that too, for all the wrong reasons) is when the opponent is Pakistan. With such a lackluster sport as the backdrop, and upping the ante even further by siding with the women's side of the sport, India's chances of becoming an economic and military superpower overnight might sound a credible statement next to proclamation that the fictional women's hockey team in going to win the World Cup. Making the impossible possible has always been the mission statement of movies, but to do so without compromising on conventional wisdom and basic logic, makes Chak De a unique production, that does not pander for easy cheers and quick claps. In its constant comparison to cricket, that has all the eyes and ears of the nation in terms of popularity, money and importantly, acceptance, the movie paints a very grim portrait of the only sport that is still considered as the "national" sport, despite the support and the encouragement it has received from the government. The movie deserves a sound round of applause for the way the hockey matches are staged. The hand-held camera constantly creating an effect of kinetic confusion only to be cleared out by expert editing, takes the games to near-realistic heights, a feat quite difficult in sports involving constant movement. Above all Shah Rukh Khan brings not only the star power to drag the audiences into the theater, but also the credibility, a certain gravitas to the role, helped by the fact that he, a Muslim, can understand and emote quite well what a fellow Muslim sportsman goes through, catching a raw deal at the admiration table, in real life situations. It does not pull any punches, it gives all it has got, and in doing so Chak De races all the way to the goal post, rarely fumbling or stumbling. Now, if only, the makers hired that Spanish commentator who cries out GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAL!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Dino's production house takes off with Kareena-Karan Ad

Dino who's about to be seen in a clutch of movies including Ananth Mahadevan's Anamika, Pavan Kaul's Brahm and Apoorva Lakhia's short-film Sex On The Beach, is now finally entering a new phase in his career.

Says the excited actor turned producer, "My new production house Clockwork Films got delayed for various internal reasons."

Dino's earlier partnership for his production plans came to nought. "Now I'm in partnership for Clockwork with my younger brother Santino. On 25 and 26 August we're shooting our first film. It's actually a multi-starrer featuring Karan Johar and Kareena Kapoor. Can't start any higher than that can I?"

Jokes apart, Dino's first production is an ad for a paint brand featuring Kareena and Karan. "Hopefully it's only the beginning of more exciting things to come," Dino has his fingers crossed.

'I had to wait alot for Preity...'

During the last one month Rituparno Ghosh has been in and out of Mumbai dubbing for his first English-language film The Last Lear.

It's been a grueling month of travel for the prolific director, as he had to fly down separately for each of the actors.

Says Ritu, "I first got Divya and then Shefali to do their dubbing. They've very important roles in the film and Divya specially had a tough dubbing schedule as she has assumed an accent for her character."

Then it was Preity's turn.

Says Ritu, "She was busy with several things. I had to wait patiently for her. But now that she has done her dubbing she has added so much to her performance in the dialogue. As for Amitda he's the last to dub because he was shooting in Hyderbad.

It's a first for all of them since they've never done an English-language film before. They've all surprised and delighted me," says the director who's flown between Kolkata-Mumbai so many times during the last one month that the airline has decided to allot him two frequent-flyer passes.

Laughs Ritu, "But it has been worth it. People tell me I should've shot in sync sound for The Last Lear. But actors like Arjun and Divya add so much to the performance through their voice. As for Amit-da his dialogue delivery as he does long Shakespearean passages in the dubbing provide a textbook on aural emoting."

'Negar Khan episode hurt me'

Although not box-office hits, "Excuse Me" and "Style" left most in the audience and in Bollywood impressed with Sahil Khan's physique. After staying away from tinsel town for almost two years, the actor is finally ready to make a fresh start.

When asked about the reason for the break from acting, Sahil replied with modesty: "I don't want to say that I was away because I wasn't getting proper offers. I know there are other actors who are better than me in acting skills. I was away because of my much-hyped personal problems. I was out of the country for almost two years, so I have lost all contacts in the industry. Actually, I wasn't around at the right place at the right time."

The only venture Sahil is looking forward to right now is "Fauj Main Mauj", starring biggies like Mallika Sherawat, Paresh Rawal and Rajpal Yadav. Inspired by "Private Benjamin", almost 50 per cent of the scenes in the two films are the same.

The movie got delayed for almost a year due to weather and date problems. Yet, such is the timing of the film's release that Sahil calls it a "perfect comeback vehicle".

Then there are other reasons too for which the actor holds the film very dear. Most of the shooting was done in Cochin, and since the director and the production team are associated with Priyadarshan, Sahil got to gorge on authentic Southie food on the sets.

Coming back to work, sharing screen space with veterans was also a learning experience. "There was a bit of pressure as well, because Mallika and the rest used to give their shots in a single take. So I had to put in my best also."

Sahil is also scheduled to do a third movie with N.Chandra, as part of a three-film contract that he and Sharman Joshi, his costar in "Excuse Me" and "Style", had signed.

"I am proud that I will be working with Mr. Chandra again, though he is busy currently shooting "BreakingNews"," Sahil said excitedly. But at the same time, he was doubtful whether the lead pair will remain the same as in the previous two films.

"Sharman is quite busy these days with his projects. He has done remarkably well, and has established himself as a fine actor. Today, Sharman Joshi is a big name is Bollywood and I am proud of his growth."

Sahil attributed Sharman's success to his association with theatre for a long time. "When we were shooting for "Style", my legs used to shiver as I was just picking up the ABCs of acting.

On the other hand, Sharman already had the experience of working in "God Mother" almost two years back." The actor dismissed rumours that he was envious of Sharman's success.

"He has immense potential and he deserves it. Why would I be jealous? I don't want to be compared with him. I know he has worked hard and is a better actor today than me. Getting into this profession was a fluke for me, not for him."

Though lagging behind Sharman in acting, the latter is no match for Sahil's physique. "When I would have put in the same dedication towards acting as I have in developing my physique and yet don't achieve success, I will have reason to be unhappy. But not right now," Sahil reasoned.

The only grudge he has is against the media. "I was disheartened with the way media had made news about my ex-wife (Negar Khan). But now when I see media treating others the same way, sometimes even worse, I feel it's all part of the game. Today, every newcomer gets noticed, it's all because of the media."

The actor has already started approaching directors and producers and building his contacts once again. "Hard labour never goes in vain," he chips in optimistically.

Bond girl in a Bollywood flick!

Although it's still doubtful whether one of our Bollywood beauties will land a role in a Bond film, a Bond girl has already been roped in for a Hindi film. Caterina Murino, who played the sexy seductress Solange in Casino Royale will star in director Anubhav Sinha's next venture Chase.

Anubhav had reportedly approached the Italian actress for doing an item number in his latest movie Cash. But he changed his mind and decided to cast Caterina in a lead role in his forthcoming action flick to be shot in Italy. Along with Caterina, Anubhav will be introducing three newcomers in the film whom he is grooming himself.

Caterina's took part in beauty pageants in 1996, before studying drama and acting in theater. Her television career took off in 2002, which was followed by a number of Italian films. But it was Casino Royale that finally brought her into the limelight in 2006. And now, it's Bollywood calling.

I was scared of Sush not Big B

Prashant Raj who plays the role that Amitabh Bachchan did in Sholay had a tough time getting used to the idea of having THE Sushmita Sen as his co-star in Ram Gopal Varma's Sholay.

"But that was only until she came on the set, and we met. In two minutes she had me completely relaxed. Till the end of the shooting not for a minute did I feel I was shooting with someone with such an aura around her.

But yes, initially I was more intimidated by Sushmita than Mr Bachchan and all the other seasoned troupers I worked with."

Now that Sholay is over, Raj feels blessed. "Imagine, I got to play Mr Bachchan's role from Sholay. But nowhere have I tried to impersonate his Jai. Me and Ajay Devgan have played Jai and Veeru in our own way. You won't find any traces of the earlier actors in our performances."

The young actor is incensed by the comparisons that have already started. "The news channels are putting my picture next to Mr Bachchans from the two Sholays. I find that very unfair. He's like this God way way above.

To even mention my name in the same breath is ridiculous. But I guess such comparisons are bound to happen. And each one of us will be compared with all those unforgettable performers in Mr Ramesh Sippy's Sholay."

Raj has no choice but to lie back and enjoy it. "Fortunately I'm not sitting at home waiting for Sholay to release in July. I'd have gone crazy sitting quietly waiting for things to happen.

I'm already almost done with my second film Toss directed by Ramesh Katkar where I've Arati Chabria for a co-star. I play this ordinary guy called Samay caught in an extraordinary situation. A far cry from Sholay."

Er…..from Sushmita to Arati Chabria?…..

Raj is pragmatic about the climb-downs that await him. "I know I couldn't have started any higher than Sholay. But should I have not done it just because it was such a dizzying place to start? Every director won't be Ram Gopal Varma and every co-star won't be Sushmita. And every film can never be Sholay."

Abhi-Ash going to Parents?

They call her 'Pari' in the Bachchan household - a nickname given to Ash by mom-in-law Jaya. And now we hear that our beloved Pari and Bachchan junior are on their way to becoming parents.

According to the hush-hush news the new baby Bachchan is on the way and grand pa Big B is very ecstatic about it.

In an interview with a leading daily, Abhishek, who shares his initials AB with dad Amitabh and wife Aishwarya was asked if he would name his child with the alphabet A?

"I haven't thought about it, but it's a cool idea. And I think kids shouldn't be planned. Such things should just happen," he responded.

The couple tied the knot on April 20 this year.

I don't follow fashion blindly: Mandira Bedi

Q: Where do you mostly shop from?

A: I shop both in India and abroad…. it depends on what I want. I think India is a nice place to shop in. You have great dealers, nice shops, and most importantly, the variety of colours and fabric you get in this country is beyond comparison.

Q: Anything else?
A: The price is very much affordable in India even with designer products.

Q: Any specific brands you prefer?
A: Not really, but I like Guess jeans and Miss Sixty, it's an European brand that has amazing style and fit.

Q: Do you adorn yourself with accessories?
A: Yes, very much. I buy a lot of accessories. I bought loads of semi-precious stones from Rajasthan recently. But I wear them occasionally. At times I go for a clean look, as I don't think I can put on my accessories with everything I wear. It needs to gel well with the complete look.

Q: Which brands do you favour for footwear?
A: Nothing specific. In fact, for my sports wear I have Nike, Addidas and even Reebok. Mainly, it should fit well and be comfortable. The brand doesn't matter actually.

Q: What is Mandira Bedi's style mantra?
A: I don't have any style mantra, all I believe in is wearing something that goes well with my personality and makes me feel comfortable. I think one should not become a victim of fashion trends. There are many things that are in vogue but may not look good on me. So I don't follow fashion blindly. One should wear clothes that sync with the person's personality.

Q: Which perfume do you like the most?
A: I have been using Pleasure by Estee Lauder for a long time now.

Q: How do you keep yourself in vogue during the monsoons?
A: I opt for convenience rather than fashion. I wear a lot of capris, three-quarters, and I have a few pairs of flotters. They are safe, as well as trendy.

Q: Brand you prefer for lingerie?
A: I don't restrict to just one. I have Triumph, La Senza and Victoria's Secrets as well. Nothing in particular.

Q: What according to you are essentials in any woman's wardrobe?
A: A pair of good-fit blue jeans, a nice fitting white, collared shirt and a couple of jackets, as they go well with everything.

Anupam Kher to film his life

Anupam Kher will soon be making a film based on events in his own life. The actor-producer's new protégée Neeraj Pandey who's also scripting Anupam's second directorial venture Dosti Badi Cheez Hai is working out the modalities of making the actor's eventful journey from Simla to Bollywood into a movie featuring Anupam in lead. This would be a rare Indian film where the protagonist would star in his own story.

"It won't be so difficult for Neeraj to direct a film on my life," says Anupam who's getting ready to be seen as a dead man in Rahul Rawail's comedy Buddha Mar Gaya. "Neeraj has a ready reference point in me. Not too many directors get to make autobiographical films starring the subject of the autobiography. Neeraj also has my long-running play Kuch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai to refer back to."

There's just one hitch. The title Kuch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai has been registered by playwright Feroz Abbas Khan as his legal property. Shrugs Anupam. "That's sad. Because a film based on my play without the title Kuch Bhi Ho Sakta is unimaginable to me or to the thousands who have watched the play. However it doesn't matter. We'll give our film another title."

Interestingly, Anupam won’t be the first actor to make a one-character film on his life. In 1964 Sunil Dutt made the ultra-experimental Yaadein based on his own marriage to Nargis.

Would Anupam's autobiographical film have other characters, or would it be a one-character vehicle like the play?

"It will be as true to my life as the play, even if we change the title," says Anupam tongue firmly in cheek.

Vishal Bhardwaj to compose for Mira Nair's next

Vishal Bhardwaj is all set to compose music for Mira Nair’s much talked about film Shantaram. On his 42nd birthday Mira Nair offered him to compose for Shantaram.

Interestingly, Vishal’s forthcoming short film on AIDS named Blood Brothers is produced by Mira Nair. Busy in shooting Blood Brothers Vishal confirmed that Mira Nair has offered to compose for her forthcoming film Shantaram and talks are going on. Shantaram is an international venture based on the book by Gregory David Roberts. The film will star Johnny Depp in lead role and may also star Amitabh Bachchan.

Vishal’s next release is Blue Umbrella which stars Pankaj Kapur and Shreya Sharma. The film is releasing this week.

Fans almost beat Saif-Bebo!

Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor had the worst experience of their life in Ladakh where the two are whooting for Yash Raj Films' Tashan. The duo had to face the frenzy of their fans but both the stars were unhurt however their bodyguards ended up bruised.

Reports have it that the two stars were quietly enjoying their lunch when a huge crowd gathered outside to have a sneak peek at them.

Things heated up when Saif and Kareena’s bodyguards prevented some fans from coming inside the restaurant. Angry words were exchanged and one of the bodyguards allegedly roughed up a fan.

Things began to get out of hand when the angry crowd began roughing up the two bodyguards. Saif tried to pacify the situation but the mob was not willing to listen to him. In fact, some hooligans in the crowd hurled abuses at Saif. The actor, in turn, got angry and gave a befitting reply.

The staff and the manager of the restaurant intervened and got the situation under control. However, Saif and Kareena’s bodyguards had to be given medical aid for minor injuries.

Bhatt protégé Rehan Khan takes to horror

Rehan Khan, who owes the upswing in his career to the Bhatts, is looking at good times ahead. After an unsung debut in Jaana - Let's Fall In Love followed by a miniscule but important role in Emran Hashmi starrer Awarapan, he is playing a parallel lead in Sangeeth Sivan's next film Click.

"It would be an understatement to say that I am feeling over the top", says an ever chirpy Rehan, "For a 24 year old boy whose career has just kick started, it feels great to be recognized by some of the best film makers in business."

What is Click all about? "It is a young horror film where Shreyas and I play the main leads. The film has an urban youth flavor throughout and promises to be like Sangeeth's last Apna Sapna Money Money though with a horror flavor", reveals Rehan who confesses that his young age and chocolate boy looks restrict the kind of roles he can enact.

"I cannot be playing a police officer for some more years at least", laughs Rehan, "Nevertheless, it works in my favor since for a few more years to come I am happy to be slotted as a romantic hero."

Sangeeth Sivan had a big role to play in establishing Ritiesh Deshmukh's popularity. The actor was at his comic best in both Kya Kool Hai Hum and Apna Sapna Money Money. What expectations does Rehan have from the film maker here? "Obviously to get similar results and turn lucky like Ritiesh", says Rehan with dreamy eyes, "Ritiesh hasn't looked back since Kya Kool Hain Hum and I am sure that after I am through with the three films that I have signed with Sangeeth, I should be in the reckoning as well."

Adds Rehan, "One thing I like about Sangeeth is his ultra friendly nature. He is such a cool man in real life. I like his sense of humor and the way he gets you involved in a friendly conversation. I have always liked South Indian people and Sangeeth now sits very highly in the list of people with whom I share a jovial relationship. I am looking at having a whale of time while working with him over the next few months."

Isn't he disappointed by the fact that Awarapan didn't quite use his full potential? "On the contrary I am tremendously elated by the fact that Bhatts gave me a new lease of life with Awarapan", he shoots back, "I could have been completely out of circulation had Mahesh Bhatt not shown trust in him. He kept his hand on my shoulders and said - 'Rehan, you have to die to be reborn'. It was such a meaningful statement to be made."

Talking about his association with the Bhatts, he added, "Today, I can proudly say that I am a part of Bhatts family. They treat me as their own child and have a career plan chalked out for me. I share such a relationship with them that there is no question of remuneration or length of role in their films. I am always available for them"

Other than Click, Sangeeth Sivan has roped in Rehan for two more films which are expected to be completed next year. In addition, film maker Nikhil Panchammiya, the man behind Dil Maange More and Anthony Kaun Hai, has also signed Rehan for his upcoming production to be directed by Kabir.

Shifting the topic, one moves on to talk about his home production that his father was planning with Amitabh Bachchan in a central role. Whatever happened to that? "Dad is still in the process of writing that script. It is happening for sure though the veteran actor we are looking as a central protagonist is still not finalized", reveals Rehan, "Though let me be honest that we haven't approached Mr. Bachchan yet. Dad had written his Kasme Vaade and our ties go decades back. We are sure that he will give our script a good hearing before taking a decision."

Sunil Shetty turns entrepreneur

Actor Sunil Shetty is all set to give life to his new interest and that is, retail business. Taking some time out of his busy schedule, he will be introducing Brand Bollywood to the stores. Actor turned entrepreneur will be opening a chain of stores having salon, run by hairdressers in Bollywood, coffee shop, artefacts and some cloth brands like 109F as well.
It will be a joint venture of Sunil Shetty with textile retailers Creative Garments and will be called Creative Crossover. The agreement will be finalized on Sunil Shetty’s birthday, August 11. And the large and the small stores would be called ‘Crossover’ and ‘Bollywood se’ respectively. Also, sharing this interest of his are stars Jackie Shroff and Bipasha Basu, who will show case their labels at the stores.
The first store will be opened in Mumbai in November.

Bridal look for Aishwarya's new wax statue

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan will unveil her new wax statue at Madame Tussauds in Times Square, New York. She already has a wax statue at Madame Tussauds in London which was created before her marriage, while her new statue will have her post marriage bridal look.
Aishwarya has been briefed about the wax statue. Her statue will be dressed in bridal wear and will also wear a Mangalsutra. She is however caught with her film commitments and is yet to take some time out work on the detail of her wax replica.
Currently, Ash is busy with the dubbing of Jodhaa Akbar. Besides, she is also shooting for RGV’s Sarkar Raj starring herself with Big B and Abhishek Bachchan in Hyderabad.
Ash’s wax statue is likely to be unveiled early next month.

Benegal bestowed with Dadasaheb Phalke Award

Renowned filmmaker Shyam Benegal, who created his niche in film faternity, with some wonderful films to his name, has been honoured with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award. This award didn’t come as a surprise to Benegal as he had been expecting it since a year now. But nevertheless, the award has been a tribute to all his hard work all these years.

His first feature film Ankur in 1971, came as refreshing treat for movie lovers who expected some sensible cinema. Benegal does not seem to stop his directorial journey here. He feels that these awards give one an encouragement that the show must go on.

Bose: The Forgotten Hero was the last film Benegal directed in 2005.

Shyam Benegal wins Dada Phalke award

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Veteran art filmmaker Shyam Benegal won the most prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke award for the year 2005. The announcement of this award for 2005 got delayed by an year because the jury could not come to the conclusion about whom should they give award to. The names of Sulochana (Marathi) and Suchitra Sen (Bengali) were also considered. Shyam Benegal directed over 69 films. His first film was Ghar Betha Ganga (1962) and the latest film was Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: The Forgotten Hero (2005). He made many award winning films and won four national awards for Zubeidaa, Trikal, Bhumika: The Role and Ankur.

Reel Buzz: Ash and Abhi may soon be parents!

Baby B to be more precise. Yes, the most beautiful woman in the world, Aishwarya Bachchan, is reportedly expecting and Abhishek is gonna be a dad. Amitabh Bachchan, meanwhile, is going to be the grand-daddy of them all!
There are already three ABs in this power family — Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Bachchan, and when media had asked Abhishek in an earlier interview whether he would name his child with the alphabet A, he had said, “That’s actually a cool thought. I haven’t thought about it, though.” And on plans of starting a family, he had said, “Kids shouldn’t be planned.
They should just happen.” So, if the couple is indeed expecting their first child, all we can say is ‘Here’s to Baby B!’ The couple tied the knot on April 20 this year.

Screen Talk: Salman Khan’s Prem kahaani

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Salman Khan’s name in the soon-to-be-released film Marigold, is Prem.
While he is Sooraj Barjatya’s Prem (his character was called Prem in Maine Pyar Kiya , remember?) he is also Willard Carol’s Prem.
Salman Khan’s name in the soon-to-be-released film Marigold , is Prem. So when we asked him if he considers the name to be lucky, he laughed and said, “Actually my character is very close to the character I played in Maine Pyaar Kiya.
It has the same innocence and vulnerability. Now, I play the same guy after 17 years.” Director Willard Carroll thought that the name Prem suited Sallu best. Some prem kahani, this!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Spicy Stills 08-08-07 Album

Gauri Khan steps into acting shoes

Om Shanti Om directed by Farah Khan under Shah Rukh’s banner, Red Chillies Entertainment, is the most awaited film of the year. And what adds on to the excitement is that SRK’s wife Gauri Khan will also be seen in the film.

Gauri has shot for the traditional end-credit song where she would be making her presence as an official producer of the film. Shah Rukh himself accompanied her to Film City on Monday. It was in Farah Khan’s Main Hoon Na that Gauri actually was supposed to make her first onscreen appearance but she backed out at the last moment as she was very shy.

Gauri Khan is not new to bollywood as far as the talent display is concerned. She managed the costume and wardrobe department of Shah Rukh's in his early films including Baazigar (1993), Darr (1993), Anjaam (1994) and Ram Jaane (1995). Later, she turned producer. Interestingly, Gauri had once modeled for the diamond jewellery designed by Maheep Sanjay Kapoor for Notandas jewellery.

Anurag Kashyap stars in Shagird

Writer-Director Anurag Kashyap is all set to give another shot to his acting career with his appearance in Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Shagird, starring Nana Patekar and Mohit Ahlawat. He plays a role of a gangster in the film and is already done with three-day shoot in Mumbai.

Anurag says he couldn’t say no to Tigmanshu as he is a good friend and wanted someone like Kashyap to play the role of gangster. Kashyap explains that Shagird would be his last film as far as acting is concerned and he would concentrate on direction which he always wanted to do.

Anurag Kashyap has certainly made an indelible mark in his career so far. And if he turns out to be a winner this time, then he will be Jack of all trades and master of all as well.

"There was no scuffle for Kareena" - Saif

Saif has just completed a grueling schedule of Yashraj Films' Tashan in Ladakh. He returns to stories in Mumbai about getting into a 'scuffle' over Kareena with rowdy fans in Ladakh.

Says Saif, "That's not quite correct. Yes, there was an unpleasant incident. But it didn't end with me getting physical with anyone."

So what happened? "Some guy wanted to shake hands with Kareena. The lady didn't want to. We requested the 'fan' to respect her feelings. The guy chose to get offended and called five of his friends."

Ever since Saif and Kareena came together for J.P. Dutta's LOC they've shared a very special bonding. So it comes as no surprise if Saif stepped in to rescue Kareena from aggressive fan attention.

However before anything untoward could happen in Ladakh, Saif and the Tashan team called security. Laughs Saif, "If they were 5, we called 11 persons from security. For a while there was a loud and heated argument in Marathi, and that was that. However let me repeat, I didn't have to resort to physical violence to protect the lady. The security intervened quickly."

Incidentally Saif has grown a moustache for his role in Tashan. "It's part of that discipline I've acquired during Omkara. There, I was so apprehensive about shaving off my head. Once I got over the typical star-vanity of looking glamorous I realized a physical makeover makes a helluva difference to the characterization.

Watch out for more of Saif’s altered physicality in his coming films

National Awards, delayed but not denied

The National awards seem extraordinarily Alzheimer-friendly this year. Two portrayals of that terrible disease of memory loss by Amitabh Bachchan in Black and Anupam Kher in Maine Gandhi No Nahin Mara got lavish recognition.

Ironically the honour came a year late when people had almost forgotten the judicially -challenged 53rd National awards for the year 2005. It almost feels like sweet revenge. In the same week that Anil Kapoor released his Gandhi film, Anupam Kher won the special Jury's award for his performance as the demented Gandhian in Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara.

It was Kher's decision to do his own Gandhi film which ousted him from the Mahatma’s role in his best buddy Anil Kapoor's Gandhi My Father. Speaking from his parents' home in Simla, Anupam said, "It feels good to be awarded for a film that I produced and which is so close to my heart. This project caused so many heartburns…if you know what I mean. I'm sure there're people out there who are not very happy with my victory in a Gandhian film. All I can say to them is, Gandhiji Ki Jai Ho."

Victorious on a far less aggressive note is Amitabh Bachchan who has waited patiently for the delayed verdict on this year's National awards. Says the Big B, "This is my third National award. I had won my first National award for my very first film K A. Abbas' Saat Hindustani. The second was for Agneepath. I feel honoured humbled and happy that the third National award is for Black a film which I hold very close to my heart." However there's some puzzlement over Black getting the National award for best Hindi film since a large portion of the dialogues are in Hindi.

Says Sanjay Leela Bhansali, "Since I'm a near-stranger to the National awards. I'm very very happy to get whatever the jury decided to give me. Black was a very special film. And the fact Amitji has got the National award for best actor makes it all the more special. I only wish Rani Mukherjee had also won. Though I'm sure Sareekaji is stupendous in Parzania, Rani, I feel, is extraordinary in Black. Such a performance cannot be encored."

The lead actor in this year's National award winner for best film is over the moon. "I can't believe my lucky streak. First the retrospective in Toronto. Now Kaal Purush wins the National award for best film. It’s a great honour because it was my most challenging work to date. I had to learn a special strain of Bengali for the part and get into role that required severe acclimatization," says Rahul Bose who seems to have suddenly found superstardom in Bengal.

Rahul's new Bengali film Anuranon with Raima Sen is running to packed houses in Kolkata.

"Can you believe it?" laughs Rahul. "Now that I've found fame in Bangla maybe Buddhadeb Dasgupta's Kaal Purush will finally release. Though the Bengali spoken in the two films is very different."

Esha Deol to endorse Garnier

Esha Deol has been chosen as the new brand ambassador for a fairness cream launched by Garnier. Before Esha many pretty faces like Kareena Kapoor, Simone Singh and Isha Koppikar have endorsed Garnier brand.

According to the executives at Garnier India, Esha is a perfect fit for the brand as this brand is aimed at the youth and Esha Deol is an appropriate match for the same. Garnier has always been introduced as new, different and better product for their consumers.

Esha is a style icon as she endorses clothing brand Provogue and has been flaunting her new sexy self in most of her recent films which include Cash and her upcoming film Darling.

Anjana gets ready for Golmaal Returns

Casting of Golmaal Returns continues to get interesting with every passing week. After Kareena Kapoor, the second lady to be signed for the laughaton is none other than Anjana Sukhani. A popular face in the advertisement world, she has been making steady progress in Bollywood with her small but significant part in Salaam E Ishq garnering good appreciation.

"My debut film Hum Dumwould always remain close to my heart and so will Jaana - Let's Fall In Love, Sun Zarra and Salaam E Ishq. Now with a lead role in an A class film like Golmaal Returns, I can't help but feel truly elated", says Anjana while beaming with excitement.

She continues in the same breath, "It feels great to be a part of winning team. Ajay Devgan, Arshad Warsi, Tusshar Kapoor and director Rohit Shetty were such a great team in Golmaal Returns. I am sure that sequel would be only bigger and better. With Kareena Kapoor and Shreyas Talpade added to the cast, I am happy to be in great company."

Anjana has already worked with Rohit Shetty in Kumar Mangat's Sunday. Is it a good professional association in the making? Laughs Anjana, "You can say that. It was during the shooting of Sunday that Rohit asked me if I was interested in being a part of Golmaal Returns. My jaws just dropped and I couldn't react for a few seconds. Poor Rohit, he got worried and asked me if I wasn't interested in the film. The fact was I just waiting for the feeling to sink in."

Is there any particular image that she is looking at setting for herself? "First and foremost I want the world to know that I have no intentions of playing a sensuous character for some time to come at least. I am happy to be a girl next door. Whoever I meet tells me that they are better off seeing me as a cute girl they can hang out or take home to parents rather than visualize as an object of desire."

What is she looking at instead? "I don't have any intentions of wearing tiny-miny costumes or play a hot babe scorching the town. Instead, I would be happy making people laugh through a series of comedy films I am doing. Sunday and Golmaal Returns may just be the beginning."

What else is she doing apart from facing the camera? One learnt that she was also concentrating hard on her dancing skills. Says a chirpy Anjana, "You heard it right. I have just enrolled myself to a 7 year Kathak course. To think of it, I will be back to my exam days again. The course requires an yearly exam. Nevertheless I am happy about it. Moreover, I am looking for a 7-10 days break when I could learn some hip/hop too. I also love to play guitar; let's see when do I get time to explore it further."

So many things happening at such a young age for Anjana? Isn't she stressing herself out? "You must have heard this saying that if you enjoy your work, it is not work anymore. All that I am doing is just to polish my personality further. These things only help your character, your personality to develop further. Ultimately, they only help in improving your overall performance and imbibe confidence in you as a complete actress", she reveals.

On a parting note, one can't help but ask her if she is still writing poems. One of her poems was up for view at Bollywood News early this year when Salaam E Ishq released. Anjana gets sentimental here, "Yes, I had written that poem with my heart in. It talked about each of the six tracks in the film. I am quite emotionally attached to it. Though I haven't written much about it, let me try giving it a shot for my subsequent films."

Sure Anjana, do that. You never know, you may get a Guinness entry for the only mainstream actress in the world to be dedicating a poem for each of your film releases! Amen.

Rakhi's hot number in Krazy 4

After her appearance on Koffee with Karan, Rakhi is fast shedding her image of a crass silicone propped item girl and emerging as a main stream Bollywood actress.

The 29 year old daughter of a Mumbai policeman, whose real name is Neeru Sawant has bagged an item number in Rakesh Roshan's comedy thriller Krazy 4.

Rakhi may lack sophistication but not humility. She knew whom to thank when she bagged the role. "The first person I informed was Karan Johar. I thanked him for inviting me on his show. My career has taken an upward swing after featuring on Koffee with Karan."

Rakesh Roshan confirmed he had signed up Rakhi saying, "Rakhi is performing a song in my film."

Rakhi is excited about her item number to be choreographed by Ganesh Acharya. She will undergo a major makeover for the number and has shed six kilos to look svelte.

"Everything, from head to toe, will look brand new!" she says.

"I have lost around six kilos in the past few weeks. I want to look my best, and the song is so hot it will blow you away."

Hansika played a prank on us

The posers thrown at Hannsikkaa Motwani in the talk show Santa and Banta Unlimited on channel Zoom were stinging enough. Did you take hormonal injections to grow up suddenly?

Did you call Mallika Sherawat 'aunty' on the sets? Did you deliberately try to hide the fact that you were a child actor? Do you love being in the midst of controversies?

And then…. Much to the horror of hosts Siddharth Kannan and Baba Sehgal, Hannsikkaa broke down. It was only later when the teenage actress revealed that she had pulled a fast one on them, did the prank masters feel relieved.

We guess the show is bringing out the wild side in all its celeb guests. So don't miss its forthcoming episode.

SRK won't sign to 'Save Sanju'

Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan on Tuesday said he was not part of any signature campaign to "save" jailed actor Sanjay Dutt, saying "we understand that the law will take its own course."

"We are not illiterate nor are we stupid. We understand that the law will take its own course and I am sure his (Dutt's) family also realises that. I don't know where this news has come from," Shah Rukh said here on the sidelines of a promotional event here this evening.

"Of course, as a friend I do wish him all the best. But we do realise that we cannot change the way the law functions. Nor would I want that the courts change their decisions just because some say so. That is not how it works at all," the superstar added.

Shah Rukh's name had figured in a section of the media as one of the Bollywood personalities who were thinking of starting a signature campaign in support of Dutt who has been sentenced to six years in prison for illegal possession of arms by a special TADA court which tried accused in 1993 Mumbai serial blasts.

Special Public Prosecutor in the case Ujjwal Nikam had lashed out at such campaigns, saying they amounted to contempt of court.

The 48-year-old actor is lodged in Pune's Yerwada Jail and his lawyers on Tuesday approached the Supreme Court against his conviction and also applied for bail.

Mallika to play Sexy Sheela!

Mallika Sherawat is all set to replace Zeenat Aman in Feroz Khan’s Qurbani remake.

Feroz has apparently been searching for a heroine for a long time. Priyanka Chopra was reportedly considered for the role but was not finalized. Now, reports allege that Mallika has bagged the part.

In the film, Mallika will be paired with Fardeen Khan who plays the role enacted by his father in the original film.

Hunt is still on for another hero to play the role enacted by Vinod Khanna. Saif Ali Khan was initially finalized for the part, but the actor opted out of the project due to date problems.

However, this time Feroze Khan will not play the lead role of the suave thief Rajesh. Instead he will step into the shoes of the eccentric inspector Amjad Khan, played by late Amjad Khan.

Fans almost beat Saif-Bebo!

Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor had the worst experience of their life in Ladakh where the two are whooting for Yash Raj Films' Tashan. The duo had to face the frenzy of their fans but both the stars were unhurt however their bodyguards ended up bruised.

Reports have it that the two stars were quietly enjoying their lunch when a huge crowd gathered outside to have a sneak peek at them.

Things heated up when Saif and Kareena’s bodyguards prevented some fans from coming inside the restaurant. Angry words were exchanged and one of the bodyguards allegedly roughed up a fan.

Things began to get out of hand when the angry crowd began roughing up the two bodyguards. Saif tried to pacify the situation but the mob was not willing to listen to him. In fact, some hooligans in the crowd hurled abuses at Saif. The actor, in turn, got angry and gave a befitting reply.

The staff and the manager of the restaurant intervened and got the situation under control. However, Saif and Kareena’s bodyguards had to be given medical aid for minor injuries.

I'd never make a move on a guy: Deepika Padukone

Qualities you look for in your man?
Honesty, good natured, helpfulness and a nice sense of humour are the ‘must haves’.

Do ‘good looks’ also find place in your list! And how high in the order?
‘Good looks’ is obviously there in my list, but it does not figure that high in the pecking order.

If you like a guy would you make the first move?
No, I am too traditional in that the sense. If he likes me, he will have to make the first move.

Would you ‘dress to kill’ on the first date?
No, I would rather wear something I will be comfortable in, rather then something which might attract him, but make me look like a complete fool.

Would you offer to foot half the bill on your first date?
Yes I would definitely do, but it would be up to him to accept.

How would your reaction be, if other girls made a pass at your guy?
I would not loose my cool for sure because if we are together, then the trust factor has to be there.

Would you like him dictating you what you should wear and what not?
If he likes me, he will have to accept me as I am. So definitely, he would have no right to dictate any terms on me.

If you and your guy had to go away from the busy life, where would you be heading out to?
We would go to Rishikesh for some serious mountaineering and river rafting. I love adventure sports.

One general trait of men you dislike?
That it's not manly enough to cry.

Among the current Bollywood hunks, who comes nearest to your man?
That a tough question, I think I better give it a pass.


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