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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Javedji's criticism made me win: Prashant Tamang

After Abhijeet Sawant and Sandip Acharya, it is the turn of Prashant Tamang to revel in the limelight. He still cannot believe it, though – still thinks it is a dream. From his chowki to a recording studio – he recalls his journey from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

Q. What was your life like, as a constable in a chowki?
A. Nothing like this! The only thing in common between my life then, and my life now, is music. It has always been a part of my life. It has brought me here, and I am happy.

Q. Did you ever imagine that one day you would be here?
A. Absolutely not. In fact, when I had come here to audition, I never imagined that I would win.

Q. You have not only won the 'Indian Idol 3' crown, but also a contract and a car? Which of these is the most precious to you?
A. The love and support of the audience. I am proud that I did not let down those who believed in me. Their joy is my biggest reward. Anybody can earn money, but I have earned both money and made a name for myself. I am excited about that.

Q. What are your future plans? Will you work even harder now to make a mark in the music industry, or will you go back to your previous job?
A. The Kolkata Police Force, where I was working, want me to move forward. I want to work harder. I want to fulfil the expectations of those who have pinned their hopes on me. I want to be a singer. However, I want to meet my colleagues and seniors once – they have given me a lot of support and strength.

Q. Now that you have won the title, what do your family members have to say?
A. They are very happy. My mother has always wanted to see me on television. When I won the title, I called her on stage, and paid my respects to her. That was my most memorable moment.

Q. We have heard rumours that you will make an appearance on either 'Jhalak Dikhla Ja 2' or 'Nach Baliye 3'.
A. (laughing) I know nothing about this. You are the first person who has mentioned this to me.

Q. The previous winners of this title disappeared after a few days of fame? Where do you think you are headed?
A. I understand that this contest is just a platform – an entry into the music industry. This is where we were noticed. The journey has just begun. How hard we work, depends entirely on us. It is not like Abhijeetda and Sandipda are not doing anything. Abhijeetda recently recorded and released his album.

Sandipda is also going to launch his album soon. Karunya and Amit Sana are also launching their respective albums. God willing, I will be able to record and release my own album, when the time is right.

Q. Three judges thought that Amit Paul deserved to be the winner. In fact, Javed Akhtar had once mentioned that you are not good enough to be a contestant. How did that feel?
A. I do not think that Javedsaab said that to belittle me. I always thought his criticism was constructive, that he made comments so that we could improve. He always saw where we were going wrong, and mentioned it. Whatever I am today, I am because of his honesty.

Q. One contestant, Richa Aneja, refused to sing with you, earlier in the contest? How did you feel then, and what do you think now?
A. Yes, I remember. I was a little hurt, because she had not heard me sing, and yet she refused to sing with me. Then I realized that she is a kid, and that was her childishness. I did not take the incident too seriously. It was all sorted out in the end.

Q. How does it feel to be an Indian Idol?
A. Great! I still think I am dreaming, and then I think that my dreams have come true. Responsibilities have increased now. I have to work harder, and be more sincere now.

Q. According to you, is your co-contestant, Amit Paul, a better performer than a singer?
A. He was good at both. I prefer his singing – he has a great voice.

Q. What is your relationship with him?
A. We bonded well at the beginning of the contest, and both Amit and Abhishek became very close friends of mine. I was shocked when Abhishek was eliminated. I missed him a lot.

Q. Are you planning to settle down in Mumbai, or will you go home?
A. I have not decided that as yet. Let's see what the future holds, and I will make that decision accordingly. Right now, I leave it to fate.

Priyanka's secretary withdraws case against her

The allegations made against Priyanka Chopra by her secretary, Prakash Jaju, have been taken back by him. Jaju has withdrawn the petition against the actress in the Supreme Court.

Jaju knocked the doors of the Supreme Court when the decision of Madhya Pradesh High Court went in favour of Priyanka and her father Ashok Chopra. Jaju had accused Priyanka of directing Chotta Shakeel to criminally intimidate him because of a financial dispute prevailing between him and Priyanka. Priyanka had also appealed to the Supreme Court to hear her side of story as well.

A bench comprising C K Thakker and Altamas Kabir heard out the counsels appearing from the both the parties and finally accepted the plea of Jaju to withdraw the case.

Priyanka is currently busy with her shoot for a number of films which includes Love Story 2050, God Tussi Great Ho and Drona

SRK may perform with Tulsi, Parvati at Ekta's Awards

Ekta Kapoor's television awards ceremony to be held in December in the UAE is growing bigger by the day.

The latest news on that front is either Salman or Shah Rukh Khan is going to perform at the function. And one of them will be dancing on stage with 'Tulsi' Gautami Gadgil or 'Parvati' Sakshi Tanwar.

Says Balaji’s Business Head, Harsha Chugh Khanna, "Right from the start Ekta was sure of one thing, her television awards will be as big as the film awards. To that extent, she has been working towards getting the biggest of Bollywood stars to perform at her awards. However there's only one pre-condition. Each of these Bollywood icons has to be in some way associated with television."

So is it Shah Rukh or Salman for the main performance? "We're currently in negotiation with Shah Rukh and hopeful that he'll agree. He's a source of inspiration not only in cinema but also on television. If you recall he started his career on television with Fauji and recently made a spectacular impact on Kaun Banega Crorepati. So it would be wonderful to have him perform," says Harsha.

Ekta's buddy Karan Johar will be facilitated at her awards named Balaji Global Indian Tv Honours 2007. Karan will also host a segment of the awards. Adds Ekta, "When I decided to have the awards I wanted television to get the recognition it deserves. Today I feel apart from a few filmmakers television is able to deliver more glamour grandeur and density than the average 'multiplex' film. The home medium has certainly come a long way. And that's what we'll be celebrating at our awards."

Shilpa Shetty stars in Miss Bollywood

The tag of Big Brother celebrity has definitely worked wonders for Shilpa Shetty. She is all set to make her debut on stage in the musical, Miss Bollywood.

Miss Bollywood is the story of a young Indian woman named Maya, played by Shilpa, who lands in UK with the dream of setting up a dance academy. Shilpa has a troupe of 40 dancers from Bollywood with her for this musical.

According to Shilpa, Miss Bollywood would not only cater to the lovers of Bollywood but also to the mainstream audiences who are crazy about dance and musical theatre.

Shilpa Shetty and her crew will begin the tour on September 29 in Berlin and finally performing at the Opera House in Manchester, UK on November 3.

Karan Nath in Tera Kya Hoga Johnny

Sudhir Mishra is all set to relaunch Karan Nath in Tera Kya Hoga Johnny. He faced the camera for the first time as a child artist in the film, Mr. India. Karan Nath’s career graph nevertheless remained stagnant with films like Yeh Dil Aashiqanaa, Tum, and Sssshhh and Loc Kargil.

However, Sudhir Mishra’s Tera Kya Hoga Johnny brings him again into limelight. Sudhir seems to be confident about his choice and says, “Karan Nath has a great potential as an actor and I fail to understand why anyone in the industry hasn’t recognized it yet.” He also adds, “It’s an actor whose potential when tapped, becomes a star, nobody is born star.”

On asking, what role does Karan play in the film; Mishra says, “Karan’s character is very unconventional. His has his own business, which perpetually runs into loss; he is a drug addict as well. Karan’s effort and the quality of work he puts in will definitely be recognized.”

Zabardast, Love in Kashmir, and Kayanaat are some of Karan Nath’s films, which are yet to be released.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I am single and want to be in Love

First it was John Abraham during Salaam-e-Ishq. Now it's Akshay Kumar. 

Vidya Balan has been shooting two back-to-back films with the Kumar. "And we had ourselves a ball in Jaipur and Australia. That's where we shot Priyadarshan's Bhul Bulaiya and Sajid Khan's Hey Baby."

Vidya has just returned after four months of hectic shooting. And she can't help chuckling at the memory. "Akshay is a major prankster. I had to be on tenterhooks all through the two schedules. One never knew what Akshay was up to.

My one ambition in life is to get even with him for all the pranks he has played with me. Shooting has seldom been so much fun. I didn't even realize how these two long schedules for two completely contrasting films passed by." 

Vidya is aware that tongues will start wagging all over again. "I'm quite prepared for stories to filter back. I've gone through this before. During Salaam-e-Ishq they linked me with John Abraham for the same reason. Because people saw us having so much fun together. Now there'll be gossip because Akshay and I had ourselves a great time."

Remind her that it's only healthy for a young attractive single girl like her to be linked with co-stars and Vidya sighs, "Yes, I'm young and single and most certainly looking forward to being in love. 

Unfortunately both John and Akshay are attached. And that creates an embarrassment more for them than me. So that's that…Come to think of it, where are the eligible single guys in our industry? I'll have to look elsewhere."

Nana Patekar to play truck driver in Horn OK Please

Nana Patekar and surprises go hand in hand. The passionate actor is yet to start his second directorial venture (a generation-challenged love story for which he wants Rani Mukherjee in the female lead).

But he's busy with various acting assignments, the latest being a Raj Kumar Santoshi production to be directed by Rakesh Sarang. The film, a comedy entitled Horn Ok Please will feature the volatile Nana as a truck driver.

"It's an out-and-out comedy," says a source from the film. "Nana Patekar excels in comedy. He was the first and last choice for the trucker's role."

Raj Santoshi who's busy with the post-production work for Halla Bol (featuring Ajay Devgan and Vidya Balan) and the pre-production work on his Ramayan epic (featuring Ajay Devgan as Rama, Kajol as Sita , Riteish Deshmukh as Laxman and Prakash Raj as Ravan) is determined to give outside directors a chance.

Rakesh Sarang who will direct Horn Ok Please has done commendable work on television so far. This would be his first feature film and a road movie at that.

Ben Kingsley to play Shah Jahan to Ash's Mumtaz Mahal

For long now Aishwarya Rai has been destined to play the eternally extolled object of undying love.

Earlier she was to star as Mumtaz Mahal in a film to be produced by Bharat Bala. Nothing has been heard of the project since then. But now Ben Kingsley is all set to play Shah Jahan opposite Ash’s Mumtaz Mahal. The epic film to be produced by Sir Ben's company ‘SBK Pictures’ will be shot in Agra and Fatehpur Sikri in the middle of 2008. 

Confirming this stunning historical creative union, Ben Kingsley spoke to me from London. "It's a project on the building of the Taj Mahal. Aishwarya and I spoke about it while we were shooting The Last Legion last year. She very generously agreed to do the project with me. Aishwarya and I will be playing Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. My production company is right now working with a screenwriter. I've very clear ideas about my approach to this subject. The romance will also include Shah Jahan's abject isolation for years in a prison cell." 

When I tell him people will forget Gandhi after they see him play Shah Jahan, Sir Ben quips. "I hope not! Maybe for a little while they will. But I hope I continue to be remembered by Gandhi. We want to beat the monsoons when we shoot next year. I've always been very attached to India and its people. I don't get to visit the country as often as I'd like to. This is my opportunity to do so." 

Mahesh Bhatt to act in C Company

Mahesh Bhatt is all set to act in Sachin Yardi’s directorial debut C Company. The film will be made under Ekta Kapoor’s production banner. Tusshar Kapoor and Raima Sen have already been signed for the lead roles. However, to everyone’s surprise, Mahesh Bhatt will be seen in a small role in C Company, all thanks to the director of the film, Sachin Yardi, who managed to convince him. Bhatt will be playing the role of a chat show host in the film.

Yardi says that Mahesh Bhatt was not willing to act initially, even after he narrated him the story. It was only after learning that he won’t have many lines to say in the film that Bhatt finally agreed to do the role.

This is however not the first time that Mahesh Bhatt will be seen onscreen. He was seen in films like Haque (1991) and Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar (2000) in the past. 

I'll try not to hurt the contestants: Urmila Matondkar

The diva herself will judge the show, 'Jhalak Dikhla Ja', on air from September 28. We ask Urmila Matondkar is she thinks she can control herself, when all the pairs get jiggy with it. 

Q.: How did you agree to become a judge on 'Jhalak Dikhla Ja'?
A.: When I got the offer I was just stunned and at the same time excited, too. I have some time before I begin my next project, and I though this was a good opportunity to utilize that time constructively. 

Q.: This is your first time on television. Will we be seeing more of you?
A.: Not at all. The silver screen has always been my first love. As far as this programme is concerned, it's just for the time being. However, it's also true that this programme will give me a chance to interact directly with the audience who has made me what I am today. 

Q.: "Dil se naachenge…dil jeetenge" – this is the tagline for the show. How much do you identify with it?
A.: That is not just a tagline, that is a fact. If you do something from your heart, it is bound to touch the hearts of others. 

The song, 'Lakdi ki kaathi...', made people see the potential I had to become a heroine one day. The funny thing is that my family was completely non-filmy. And the truth is I cannot dance, and I never had any formal training. 

Any item number or song sequence that you have liked, was possible only because of my passion for my work. I believe that passion and honesty towards your work will bring you success. 

Q.: Is training really necessary? 
A.: Yeah, absolutely. I have never learned classical dancing, technically, but I had some training. Whenever I danced, I danced from my heart. And my suggestion to anyone who will listen – always give your hundred per cent. 

Q.: You said that you never learned dancing and yet you are going to judge a dance competition?
A.: I may not have had formal training, but I have a lot of experience. 

Q.: How will the participants be judged?
A.: We will not judge them solely on their dancing. We will take other factors into consideration - steps, posture, expressions, and of course, how honest they are to the tagline. Expressions will be the most crucial point of our judgment. 

Q.: Do you think there will be some controversy in the show?
A.: I can only speak for myself. My entire career has been free of controversy, and I am sure I can manage the same with this show (laughs). 

Q.: How much glamour will your presence add to the programme?
A.: I have no idea. But I am taking the programme quite seriously. I'll be the judge so I'll have a lot of responsibilities. I'll try not to do or say anything that may hurt contestants. 

Q.: The programme will be based on the western style of dancing. Don't you think that will be difficult to judge?
A.: In the film industry, we dance however we are asked to. However, certain dance forms follow rules. I remember that I saw a salsa sequence for the first time in the song 'najar se mila najar to…'. 

Now we concentrate more on salsa, jazz, samba and dances like hip-hop than Indian dances. For example, the song 'Mehbooba Mehbooba' in 'Aag' showcases American Latin dance.

I don't think I'll have any problem judging the show. The only condition is their dance must come out from their hearts so that it can touch ours. 

Q.: What was the most difficult dance sequence for you?
A.: All of them. During the 'Chhamma Chhamma' period, I used to work two shifts a day. When I came from the first shift, and saw the dance that was expected of me, I was simply stunned. 

I told the director that I could never do that, even if I danced the whole night. The next day I reached the set by 9 am and danced. My effort paid off. 

Q.: Any unforgettable moment regarding your dance?
A.: When I was shooting my second film, 'Narsimha', I had to dance to the song 'Jao tum chahe jahan…' with an expert dancer. I was sure I would never be able to keep up. I finished that somehow, and danced live at Minerva Theater. 

Some people started throwing money. A one-rupee coin fell at my feet, and that was the best award for my effort. I will never forget that evening.

I am single and want to be in Love

First it was John Abraham during Salaam-e-Ishq. Now it's Akshay Kumar.

Vidya Balan has been shooting two back-to-back films with the Kumar. "And we had ourselves a ball in Jaipur and Australia. That's where we shot Priyadarshan's Bhul Bulaiya and Sajid Khan's Hey Baby."

Vidya has just returned after four months of hectic shooting. And she can't help chuckling at the memory. "Akshay is a major prankster. I had to be on tenterhooks all through the two schedules. One never knew what Akshay was up to.

My one ambition in life is to get even with him for all the pranks he has played with me. Shooting has seldom been so much fun. I didn't even realize how these two long schedules for two completely contrasting films passed by."

Vidya is aware that tongues will start wagging all over again. "I'm quite prepared for stories to filter back. I've gone through this before. During Salaam-e-Ishq they linked me with John Abraham for the same reason. Because people saw us having so much fun together. Now there'll be gossip because Akshay and I had ourselves a great time."

Remind her that it's only healthy for a young attractive single girl like her to be linked with co-stars and Vidya sighs, "Yes, I'm young and single and most certainly looking forward to being in love.

Unfortunately both John and Akshay are attached. And that creates an embarrassment more for them than me. So that's that Come to think of it, where are the eligible single guys in our industry? I'll have to look elsewhere."

Photo Feature: Chak De girls on Seventeen

Welcome the Chak De girls in their all new Avtaar of glamour charisma and confidence alike. But when you first see the same set on screen, simple, stoic and sporty is how you would describe the look of these hockey players.

They flaunted their passion on field with such dynamism in characters that even SRK's usual magnetism that he is so famous for fell dull in front of the women brigade. Portraying different states and regional languages, the girls not just represented India's team spirit but integrity as whole and what emerged in the end was women power. So today when you see them all over the place representing the youth and their winning aspiration, you can't help but scream Chak De girls! Featuring on the latest edition of teenage magazine, “Seventeen", the girls pose for the cover in their glamorous look with the same attitude that shouts "Ek hockey doongi rakh ke".

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

'Namaste, Tera Baap Chor Hai'

Celina Jaitley has revealed how she once made the director of her first "foreign" film Love Has No Languages, Ken Khan, greet Indian guests at a party by saying "Namaste, tera baap chor hai" (Greetings, your father is a thief).

The actress, who has acted in about 10 Bollywood movies since winning the Miss India contest in 2001, said that it was just a prank, and that she had later admitted before people that she was behind it.

"You should have seen the expression on the guests' faces when Ken actually said that to them. They were just stunned and did not know how to react," a tabloid quoted her as saying.

"Later I told the guests that it was a prank that I had played on him," she added.

'Love Has No Languages' is based on a cross-cultural romance. It stars Jaitley as an Indian girl brought up in New Zealand who falls in love with Kiwi actor Ben Mitchell.

Deepa Mehta signs Preity for Heaven On Earth

Of late Preity Zinta has been gravitating towards a neo-realistic cinema. After working with Rituparno Ghosh and Jahnu Barua in The Last Lear and Har Pal, Preity's latest creative acquisition is none other than Deepa Mehta who has earlier worked with 'method' actresses like Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das.

Now in a sudden and unexpected move Deepa has finalized Preity Zinta to play the battered Punjabi wife in Heaven On Earth. Preity is over the moon. "I met Deepa a while back at the IIFA. She saw my film The Last Lear and loved it. I'm so glad I did this film. It has opened an entirely new door for me. I feel I'm born anew. Right now I'm hungering for a new kind of acting challenge. Doing Deepa's film is another step in the same direction. She's one director I've been longing to work with. When I read the script I said, this is it."

Deepa who decided to do this start-to-finish quickie before plunging into the Hollywood biggie Luna with John Abraham, Rachel Weisz, Dustin Hoffman and Chris Cooper, was on the look-out for the right face, personality and approach for the role.

"And I think Preity is perfect!" says Deepa from Toronto where she's now preparing to shoot Heaven On Earth. "I first met Preity at IIFA earlier this year. I was stuck by her positivity and her hungering for opportunities to stretch herself as an actress. We talked about the real-life character of a Punjabi housewife who goes through the nightmare of domestic violence. Preity was keen. But the dates were a problem. They've now been worked out. And Preity is on."

The shooting for Deepa (and Preity's) first Punjabi film begins in October. But before that in the middle of September Preity will be attending a workshop in Toronto. "To understand and come to grips with the character's milieu and body language. I think Preity can look very very Punjabi," observes Deepa.

Rajat Kapoor gets the PNC deal rolling

After the success of Bheja Fry, Rajat Kapoor has become one busy man and the reason being him signing a whopping 5-film deal with PNC a couple of months back. Raat Gayi Baat Gayi and Rectangular Love Story are the two films which would initiate this deal.

Raat Gayi Baat Gayi is a story that revolves around married couples, with reference to an urban relationship a la Mixed Doubles, and will go on floors by December” says Rajat Kapoor. This film stars Rajat himself along with Vinay Pathak and Neha Dhupia and will be directed by Saurabh Shukla.

Talking about the other film, Rectangular Love Story, Rajat says “It’s a story about three boys and a girl. It would go on floor by June and the star cast would include Ranvir Shorey. And since, I am directing the film I won’t be acting in it,” states Rajat. He also added that this film was supposed to be the first to go under production with respect to the PNC deal, but, got delayed as the actors didn’t have the required dates.

He has already finished directing his film Mithya starring Naseeruddin Shah, Ranvir Shorey and Neha Dhupia. His forthcoming films as an actor include Khoya Khoya Chand, Tere Sang, I Think I Am 24, Krazzy 4 and Halla.

Eklavya is India's official entry to the Oscars

Its Oscar time folks! It is that time of the year whereby millions of ‘directorial’ hearts broken to make one heart happy. Every year, movie fans eagerly wait to know as to which film would be selected as India’s official entry to the Oscars.

This year’s Indian entry to the much coveted award is Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Eklavya-The Royal Guard, starring the Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt, Saif Ali Khan, Jackie Shroff, Sharmila Tagore, Jimmy Sheirgill, Vidya Balan, Raima Sen and Boman Irani.

The film though heavily publicized did not really create a bang at the Box Office. Apparently, some of the industry folks are unhappy with the jury’s decision of selecting Eklavya as the Indian entry for Oscars since they feel that there are some other releases of this year which are more deserving.

Dharmendra replaces Amitabh Bachchan in Har Pall

They've always been terrific co-stars. Now they're in a position where they can exchange roles …comfortably.

Amitabh Bachchan was slated to play a key role in Jahnu Barua's second Hindi film Har Pall which has Preity Zinta and Shiney Ahuja in the lead. In fact, Barua had even announced the indefatigable superstar's name in an interview. However, the dates proved to be the culprit. And the Big B had to bow out. Now it’s Dharmendra who has stepped into the part.

Says Preity, "I've just completed a stunning film with Amitji entitled The Last Lear . It would've been great fun to work with him again. But Dharamji is adorable. I've done so many films with Sunny and Bobby. But I've never worked with Dharamji before. It's an experience worth cherishing."

Gallery: Team India Gets Grand Welcome

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Dhoni is best captain at the moment, says Yuvraj

MUMBAI: Lending support to victorious Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, his deputy Yuvraj Singh said the Jharkhand player, who led the team to Twenty20 World Cup win, is the best possible skipper under present circumstances.

Yuvraj said he was not bothered about captaincy and tried to cooperate with Dhoni during the Twenty20 tournament in South Africa.

"It does not matter who is the captain. Whoever is the captain, we got to support him. Dhoni has captained well in the World Cup and he is the best captain at the moment," Yuvraj said after the felicitation of the Indian team on their arrival from South Africa on Wednesday.

Appreciating the captain, Yuvraj said, "Dhoni is calm and knows what he is doing."

About his six sixes feat in an over against England, Yuvraj said he was "fired up to give the best."

Ace off-spinner Harbhajan Singh said he was confident about his ability and delivered the goods when required.

"I continued to bowl well. I knew what I can do and I can do it again and again. I am just 27 and hope to play my part for the team's cause in future," he said.

On the team's success, Harbhajan said, "we played brilliantly throughout the tournament. Yuvraj was in brilliant form. Obviously it was a batsman's game, but we got ready for the fight. It was grace of god that we won."

"I enjoyed every moment, the way I bowled, my bhangra," he said.

Reliving the catch of Misbah-ul-Haq, which was the most decisive moment in final, pacer S Sreesanth said he moved a bit earlier which helped him take the catch without any problem.

"When he (Misbah) moved, I also moved back. The improvement in fielding was because of Robin (Singh) Sir," he said.

The Kerala speedster said he was overwhelmed by the response of the fans and grand welcome accorded to the team on its return.

Sreesanth's new ball partner RP Singh also echoed the similar sentiments, saying "the rousing reception offered was 1000 times more than what he had expected."

He said the job was "challenging for the bowlers" in the Twenty20 World Cup. (PTI)

'Hansika was treated harshly'

'Composer-Singer' Himesh Reshammiya is a thing of the past. The now-successful leading man of Aap Ka Surroor will now have 'actor-composer-singer' on his calling-card.

That's right. Himesh will only let his music be heard in films that feature him in the lead.

"I've several offers as a leading man. But I'll only be doing three films a year per year. And since I'll be doing such sparing work as an actor I might as well restrict my music to my own films. If I do music for outside films then the USP of my acting vehicles will be lost.

I don't want to cheat the producers who'll sign me. I'm now going to represent a never-before package of music-singing-acting. My next music score will be for my next starring vehicle, 8-10 months from now."

In the meantime Himesh might do a non-film album. "I think my minimized exposure will enhance the prospects of all the three films that I'll sign as an actor."

Isn't he scared that once he is out of sight-and-sound he'll be out of mind? "Certainly not! Once you reach that certain level of success, less becomes more. Earlier when I was finding my way in the entertainment business I needed 30-40 assignments. Now, just 3 is enough."

Himesh is enthused like never before. "Even those who thought my acting career was doomed have changed their minds. I don't blame them. My journey from composer to singer to acting has been odd."

Suddenly Himesh is being called a superstar.

"The boxoffice is very powerful parameter of stardom. I'll continue to treat my acting career like I did my singing and composing careers…. like a newcomer. If I start thinking of myself as a brand I'll be finished.

Though the critics have been harsh on his acting debut Aap Ka Surroor is doing roaring business everywhere. It's so far the biggest hit of the year. There're at least 8-10 film offers from the biggest banners of the country.

"I don't know how it happened. But now that God has been kind I've much more to strive for. I see a long struggle ahead. I had faith in my fan base. When I did my shows and my music videos they always warmed up to my screen presence. So I had an inner belief they'd come and watch me.Thankfully I was right."

Himesh is disturbed by the critical backlash. "My consolation is that they had ripped Sholay and Hum Aapke Hain Koun on release. And when my music in Aashiq Banaya Aapne came out they blasted me. They said this nasal voice cannot be the typical Bollywood hero's voice.

But my unconventional voice became the convention. Aashiq Banaya Aapne turned my fortunes as a musician. Aap Ka Surroor has taken me to another phase in my career. After the backlash they even gave me awards for my singing. Am I expecting acting awards ? Not at all."

Himesh is determined to win over the critics in his next acting vehicle. "But not at the cost of the commercial success. Like my music in Varanasi was appreciated by the critics. But it failed commercially. I want both."

He refuses to admit that Aap Ka Surroor was a hit solely for him. "Nahin! If everything else didn't work the film wouldn't. My director Prashant Chedha did a fantastic job. But the critics were really hard on him. I'm already planning a sequel to Surroor with Prashant.

As for leading lady Hansika I don't know why she was treated so harshly. The film has to be viewed in the right spirit. It's meant to entertain, not bring a revolution to society."

He sighs, "God has been kind. I can't say the same about my critics. First they predicted that no one would go to see me act. Then they predicted that there would be no takers after Monday. Then when there was no drop in collection they're saying Surroor is a fluke success, that when I don't play Himesh I'll be a flop.

Now I'll be playing other characters. I've lots of offers to act, and in none of them will I play myself. I'll give the same passion to my acting as I did to my singing."

Himesh is now being called the common man's hero. "That one-to-one connection I've made with my audience is divine intervention. I've come so far only because of my fan base."

Karan: I'll marry Ekta Kapoor if...

There's more than super-success at work here. Both Karan Johar and Ekta Kapoor are 30-plus fiery, feisty, famous and eminently single. And although they're both off-camera celebrities they get mobbed big-time in public places.

Once upon a time, more than 30 years ago both of them were overweight, bratty, spoilt kids from very very filmy families who were fated to take their somewhat-shaky family fortunes to unimaginable heights.

Ekta was the over-possessive daughter of the superstar of the 1970s Jeetendra. As a child she once chased one of his father's heroines with a slipper because she found the leading lady misleading her precious father by batting her eyelids too hard.

Karan was so much younger than his father he grew up thinking producer Yash Johar was actually his grand-dad.

As hopeless kids Ekta and Karan would run into each other at birthday parties. Both blissfully fat and moorless. Both grinning from year to year into impending nothingness.

Laughs Karan, "I don't think our parents ever thought we could make much of our lives. Ekta, I believe was seen more as the eternal couch potato than someone who'd one day be weaning millions to become couch potatoes. I think she wanted to be a journalist at one point. So did I. At one point I even strayed into acting as a child."

Karan did the children's serial Indradhanush on national television and later even played Shah Rukh's nerdy sidekick in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge.

Karan chuckles hard. "Both Ekta and I were very maladjusted very overweight kids. Today we've both turned out rather well. Our parents must be proud of us. I'm as proud of her as she's of me. We bond as people who evolved almost simultaneously from wastrels to people who could make a difference."

"Whom can we marry?!" they both lament today. Ekta feels her power and fortune block all bachelors from honest courtship. Karan hasn't found the girl jissko dekh kar kuch kuch hota hai.

Sighs Karan, "I don't think I ever will find the right partner. If finally neither Ekta nor I find someone else we'll marry each other," quips Karan Johar about the other half of the K- Klub.

Guffaws Karan, "At least my mother will be very happy. Not only because I'll finally get married. But also because she'll get to to know the plot line of her favourite serials from beforehand."

Karan sees Ekta as part of the very exclusive K club.

"I love Ekta! She's an absolute darling. I truly admire her tenacity and her ability to do the work she believes in,despite the snobbish opposition."

There's one more factor that binds the two talkative tycoons together. It's their mutual affinity to numerologist Sunita Menon.

Laughs Karan, "Ekta and I have both clawed Sunita's hands out of her body. Both of us suffer from an incurable fear of flying. And we've often flown with Sunita. Her hands bear the tell-tale signs of our flying phobia."

Ekta reciprocates all of Karan's compliments. "I'd love to marry Karan. When is he proposing? Whenever we do meet we hug like long-lost pals. Karan is one of my closest friends from the film industry. I don't have friends in Bollywood. I prefer to stick to my tv crowd.

I remember I had gone to see Karan's Kal Ho Na Ho with an unbiased Friday-evening audience. (I don't like to watch films at the filmy previews). And I saw how audiences cried and clapped. I called him up and said, 'You've a winner on hand.'

Even with his earlier Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham they came down on him like they do on my serials. I told him not worry, K3G will rock. And it did.

I feel in some ways we both are a victim of an elitist attitude. He makes the biggest hits with the biggest stars. And yet, like my serials, Karan's films somewhere get cheated in the critical evaluations."

Ekta now really warms up to her favourite subject. "Karan, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and in a different way Sanjay Gupta are my favourite filmmakers. But Karan is the only filmmaker I chat up with and attend his parties.

I rarely attend parties. But I remember at this party an actress was being very rude to me. I was getting progressively uncomfortable. I can never forget how Karam came up to me and just put his arms around me.

I realized that evening how important it is to make guests feel comfortable at your parties. That evening Karan and I bonded for life."

Ekta mentions the Sunita Kapoor bonding. "She's the only one who can advise me and Karan fearlessly.We both are vulnerable people easy to win and exploit.. Sunita has been a source of strength."

Ekta is also very fond of Karan's mother. "Aunty's inputs to my soaps are invaluable. Both Karan and his mom have always been very supportive."

I am not okay with Kissing: Rimi Sen

The Bengali damsel still has a long way to go. Rimi Sen has recently broken ties with Priyadarshan and comedies, and thinks her last movie, 'Hat Trick', was excellent, despite its fate at the box office. These days she is excited about her recent film 'Johnny Gaddaar'. While we wait to watch how she will fare in this one, we chat her up.

Q.: What are you looking forward to in 'Johnny Gaddaar'?
A.: This is the first time that I have acted in a genre that is not comedy. I think if the director is good, then everything goes well. I did this film for Shriram ji. I have seen his last film, 'Ek Haseena Thi', and I was spell bound by the way he presented Saif and Urmila.

Q.: Tell us about your character in this film.
A.: Shriramji has simply forbidden me to say anything about my role. All I can tell you is that I'm playing a simple girl named Mini, someone who wants to live life happily. The role required me to wear clothes styled from the 70s – wrap around skirt, simple churidars, etc. I am not glamorous in the film I look good. My character has many shades.

Q.: What was it like, working with Neil?
A.: It was a great experience. The best thing is that I did not have to stand on a piece of wood. As all my previous heroes were much taller than me, so I needed to stand on something to gain height. People make you dance on their finger tips, but I have always had to dance on a piece of wood!

Q.: There are some hot scenes in the promo of the film.
A.: And that is all you see in the movie as well. There are no kissing or love-making scenes between Neil and me. I am not very comfortable with those, and Shriram ji kept that in mind.

Q.: And what was with like working with Dharmendra?
A.: I have only one scene with Dharmendraji. It was wonderful meeting him. I have earlier worked with Esha and Hema ji, now I have to work with Bobby and Sunny very soon.

Q.: You have worked with two generations of actors. How was that experience?
A.: Actors of this generation are more liberal. They think in innovative ways. Actors from the previous generation, on the other hand, are more serious – they think over a shot for quite some time before they are ready to take the shot.

This is an art and it comes out of experience. Till I become a senior actress, I'll completely depend on my directors.

Q.: Are you happy with the characters you are playing?
A.: Absolutely. The most important thing for me is that I'm working with better directors. I have been in Mumbai for three years, and I have learned a lot. My last film 'Hat Trick' was a good movie, but it's a different issue that it didn't wok well at the box office.

Q.: Tell us about your upcoming films.
A.: There is 'De Taali', the story of four friends, where I'm working with Ayesha Takia, Reteish Desmukh and Aftab Shivdasani. The schedule will be over by the end of this year. Nana Patekar and Mohit Ahlawat are my co-stars in the film 'Shagird', where I'm playing a reporter in this film. That was a tough job.

Q.: Why?
A.: I found it tough to get the expressions of a reporter. I always thought that reporters were not to be trusted with whatever you said, but I found out that is not the entire truth. They also have responsibilities in relationships. If you ask them not to publish something, they won't.

Q.: What do you think of reporters now?
A.: I used to think that it was all hype, but now I feel a reporter deserves some respect. It is a merciless job.

Rs. 20 crore deal?

Multi-crore deals are ‘in’ these days and almost every notable production house is into signing actors/directors for multi-film assignments.

The latest khabar is, Sanjay Dutt has inked a 3-film deal with producer-friend Bunty Walia. The films are LAMHAA, to be directed by Rahul Dholakia, JUST PUNJABI, to be directed by producer turned director Jaspreet Singh Walia and GANGS OF LONDON, to be directed by ad film maker Shamin Desai. The three films will go on floors between 2008 – 2010. Reportedly, Dutt will be paid Rs. 20 crores + for this 3-film deal.

“The amount is undisclosable,” Bunty Walia informs me. Meanwhile, the balance star cast is under finalization.

Kajol with Ajay in 'Toonpur Ka Super Hero'

Eros International has signed Kajol opposite husband Ajay Devgan for TOONPUR KA SUPER HERO, a 3D film with animation. The film marks Eros’ second production with the husband-wife duo after YOU, ME AND HUM.

Directed by ad film maker Kireet Khurana, TOONPUR KA SUPER HERO tells the story of a reel-life hero accidentally landing in a world of cartoons and transforming into a real-life hero. The film will have Ajay Devgan playing himself.

Cinemax launches in Panipat

Cinemax launched its 14th multiplex facility in the country at Panipat, Haryana on 25th September, a first of its kind in the state. Cinemax Angel Prime Mall opened up its plush and high-tech interiors to moviegoers with DHOL, CHAK DE INDIA and DHAMAAL. The swanky new property was inaugurated by Mahendra Kumar, Hon. District Commissioner of Panipat.

The 720 seating capacity three-screen multiplex is a symphony of style with a front foyer and intelligent lighting, along with top-of-the-line amenities with the latest technology. Besides the regular Bollywood flicks, the new multiplex will also host regional movies to suit the preferences of its patrons.

India's Twenty20 Cup heroes welcomed home

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India's triumphant Twenty20 World Cup squad arrived home from South Africa on Wednesday with thousands of joyous fans gathering at the airport to greet them.

Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his team mates were greeted by the region's chief minister before being taken on an open-top bus to the Wankhede stadium for a reception hosted by the national cricket board.

Elaborate security measures were in place on the 35- kilometre journey from Mumbai airport, with giant hoardings on display to congratulate the surprise winners.

India beat arch-rivals Pakistan by five runs in a thrilling final in Johannesburg on Monday, a victory to compare with their upset 1983 World Cup final win over West Indies.

The Indian board has announced a win bonus of $3 million (1.49 million pounds) and a special cash award for batsman Yuvraj Singh, who hit six sixes in one over in a match against England.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Pakistunned! India lift Twenty 20 World Cup

A youthful Indian cricket team, full of vigour and determination, made history here Monday by beating Pakistan by five runs to clinch the Twenty20 World Championship when all seemed lost.

India kept their nerves to clinch the win with three balls to spare and sent the New Wanderers Stadium, packed with Indian supporters, into wild celebrations. There were also millions of Indian across the globe who rejoiced the sweet triumph.

Off the last over, bowled by pacer Joginder Sharma, Pakistan required 13 runs to win with the last wicket remaining - and all seemed lost for India. But Joginder, the man with the golden arm - he had also bowled the crucial final over in the semi-finals upset of Australia - castled Misbah-ul-Haq to help script an epoch-making win with and signal wild celebrations at the New Wanderers Stadium.

Scores: India 157 for five in 20 overs after winning the toss and Pakistan 152 all out in 19.2 overs.

While Joginder successfully bowled the final over, it was left-arm pacer Irfan Pathan who captured three crucial wickets in an excellent spell to tilt the tide in India's favour. His final bowling analysis of 4-0-16-3 fetched him the Man of the Match award and helped India win the maiden edition of the newest version of the game.

On a day when the Indian batsmen - barring Gautam Gambhir's resolute and enterprising 75 off 54 balls (8x4s, 2x6s) and Rohit Sharma's unbeaten 30 off 16 balls (2x4s, 1x6) - failed, the bowlers did the trick again.

Left-armer Rudra Pratap Singh also bowled superbly to start Pakistan's downfall and also ended up with three wickets. Joginder took two wickets.

Their efforts meant that Misbah's 38-ball 43 (4x6s) - the top score for Pakistan - as well as Imran Nazir's 33 (14 balls, 4x4s, 2x6) went in vain.

The only consolation for Pakistan was that Shahid Afridi, who failed to score a run and take a wicket, was adjudged the Man of the Series.

The win wiped out bad memories of the World Cup five months ago, when India - as also Pakistan - had crashed out in the first round, leading to prolonged national mourning and criticism.

The win - achieved without Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly, who all had opted out - also kept India's slate clean against Pakistan in cricket's global competitions. India have never lost to Pakistan in the ODI World Cup - and now in Twenty20 too.

It was India's second win over Pakistan in the 12-nation tournament, and Mahendra Singh Dhoni's boys won both. In the Super Eights, India had won the 'bowl out' tiebreaker 3-0 after their scores were tied after the regulation period.

India and Pakistan were playing for the first time in the final of a world-level tournament - if the 1985 World Championship of Cricket is not taken into account - and Dhoni's team gave much to shout about at the end of it.

India had also beaten Pakistan in the final of the World Championship of Cricket in Melbourne. Although all the Test-playing nations had taken part in that competition, it was a one-off venture organised by Victoria.

Wild celebrations erupted when Sreesanth caught a lofty shot from Misbah when the game could have gone either way.

As a despondent Haq sank to his knees while Indian players went crazy with joy, it was jubilation time for Indians.

Good bowling from Pakistan restricted the Indian batsmen, but an admirable and determined counter-attack led to Pakistan's collapse.

Chasing India's total, Pakistan got a shock early on in their innings when R.P. Singh, who is going through a purple patch, struck off the fifth ball of his first over.

As opener Mohammed Hafeez tried to guide the ball over the slips, he managed to give Robin Uthappa an easy catch at first slip. Pakistan: two for one.

With the addition of 24 runs, R.P. Singh struck again, castling an experienced wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal for nought. Pakistan: 26 for two.

Imran Nazir, who looked in ominous form, and Younis Khan then tried to steady the ship, but after adding only 26 for the third wicket Nazir (33, 14 balls, 4x4s, 2x6) became the target of Uthappa's direct throw after he reacted late to Younis's call for a run off Sreesanth.

Younis made 24 in as many balls and hit four boundaries but Joginder in the ninth removed him as he mistimed a fuller length delivery, giving Yusuf the catch at mid-on.

Soon, Malik and Afridi were also back in the pavilion. Misbah and Yasir Arafat (15) added 27 for the seventh wicket to keep Pakistan in the hunt.

Then Misbah and Sohail Tanvir added 34 crucial runs for the eighth wicket. But once Sreesanth got rid of Tanvir, all the responsibility fell on Misbah's shoulders in the company of Umar Gul and Mohammed Asif.

Eventually, Misbah also caved in under the pressure as he tried to play the scoop shot over fine leg off Joginder only to hole out into the hands of Sreesanth - and signal India's win.

Earlier in the day, Dhoni won the toss but the Indian batting failed to live up to expectations after Virender Sehwag was ruled out of the match with injury.

Even the total of 157 would not have been possible but for Gambhir's knock of 75 and young Rohit's cameo towards the end of the innings.

Yuvraj Singh, who has been in fabulous form in this competition, failed to click and managed only 14 off 19 balls (1x4) as the Pakistan bowlers and fielders looked sharp and purposeful.

Debutant Yusuf Pathan, Irfan's elder brother, had a sensational start to his international career by hitting pacer Mohammed Asif for a six as his first scoring stroke. But he scored 15 (8 balls, 1x4, 1x6) before getting out.

Pacer Umar Gul was the pick of the bowlers as he took three wickets for 28 in four overs.

Earlier, India got a scare off the very first ball of the match when non-striker Yusuf barely avoided being run out after hesitating to take a single called by Gambhir.

Undaunted, Yusuf hit the fourth ball of Asif's opening over for a huge six. He hit another boundary off a wide ball from the same bowler in the third over. But off the next ball Asif took his revenge.

Asif had the tall Vadodara batsman caught off a miscued pull shot. As Pathan tried to pull the short delivery over midwicket he mistimed it and captain Shoaib Malik at mid-on ran back to grab the catch.

As Uthappa attempted to hit over the infielders off left-arm pacer Sohail Tanvir he mistimed the shot and Shahid Afridi at extra cover took a comfortable catch.

A 63-run third-wicket partnership between Gambhir, who looked in fine touch, and Yuvraj saved the innings from total collapse and India from complete embarrassment.

However, Yuvraj failed to reproduce his form Monday and was out, top edging a forceful pull shot. Gul easily took the catch off his own bowling.

After that partnership, there was not much fight seemed to have left in the Indian camp, though young Rohit came up with another gutsy knock.

I don't want to be a Lover boy: Neil Nitin Mukesh

Neil Nitin Mukesh, who plays Vikram in Sriram Raghavan's 'Johnny Gaddar', worked as a child artiste in 'Jaisi Karni Waisi Bharni'. Now he is a confident young man, with a smile to kill for, and, of course, a face that makes women go weak in the knees. This hunk is all set to rock Bollywood with his confidence. We manage to speak with him on his life.

Tell us something about 'Johny Gaddar'.
The movie is about five friends who want to make quick money. I am playing the character of Vikram, the most ambitious, because of whom the others get into a soup.

One of the five friends turns out to be a crook, and another is murdered. Everyone tries to solve the mystery of this murdered man, and there is huge twist towards the end of the movie.

What was it like, working with Rimi Sen?
Rimi is fabulous - a very composed actress. She has been in the industry for over three years, and that makes her a senior. She is extremely helpful, and a good human being.

Tell us about yourself.
I had a normal childhood, like most other children. I graduated from HR College, with a B.Com degree. At my father's insistence, I have been very focused on my career since I was in the 12th standard. I did a 4-month workshop with Kishore Namit Kapoor and also at Anupam Kher's institute, during vacations.

I also assisted Aditya Chopra in his movie 'Mujhse Dosti Karoge', when I was in college. I did receive offers as a lead actor earlier, but I did not want to debut with a love story. I chose to wait.

Then Sriram offered me this movie soon - I was impressed with the script, which demanded an ensemble cast.

Does this mean that you will not do any love stories?
Nothing like that, it's just that I did not want a set image as a lover boy. People learn a lot of things before coming into the industry. I chose to learn how to act. I am confident that people will remember me on the basis of my work.

You come from a family of singers, yet you chose to be an actor.
I have always wanted to be an actor. It has been my childhood dream. I have also worked in Yash Raj's movie 'Vijay' and Vimal Kumar's 'Jaise Karni Wiasi Bharni' as a child artiste when I was around 4 years old.

Yash Raj uncle used to give me a box of chocolates everyday. I loved my job because of those chocolates at the end of the day.

When I played the role of Govinda as a child in 'Jaise Karni Waise Bharni', I was appreciated more than Govinda and that left an impression on my mind. If I had become a singer, people would have expected a lot more from me because of my father and grandfather.

Do you regret not being a singer?
No, not at all. My grandfather and father entertained people by singing and I do that with my acting.

Did your father ever force you to become a singer?
Never. He is the most supportive father, guiding me in the right direction. I had the freedom to choose whatever career I wanted, wherever my interest lay. He is not a friend, but a father. He never imposed anything on me, and, at the launch of the movie's music, he was more excited than I was.

Actors take to singing quite a bit these days. Do you think you will consider such a step?
Of course (laughs). I am not that bad and you know the background I come from. I will consider singing if the script of the movie demands it.

What are your future plans?
After this movie I am doing 'Tera Kya Hoga Johnny', which is a Sudhir Mishra movie. The 'Johnny' factor in the title is a co-incidence, and it is not a sequel to my first movie. Apart from that I have signed two movies with Adlabs, but I would not like to discuss it now.

No 'Johnny Gaddaar' in U.K.

Adlabs has decided against releasing their biggie JOHNNY GADDAAR on U.K. screens. Normally, all keenly anticipated movies, even if loaded with violence and sex [considered a put-off by the Overseas junta] open at cineplexes there. But Adlabs aren't releasing JOHNNY GADDAAR in theatres in U.K.

"The holy month of Ramzan has hit film business hard. The Pakistani audience, which forms a large percentage of film-going audience in U.K., stays away from movies in Ramzan. As a result, the business hits an all-time low. Instead of ruining the business prospects of JOHNNY GADDAAR, we decided against releasing the film in theatres. Besides, the adult certificate will also keep the kids away, so why take the risk?," Pranab Kapadia, Business Head, Adlabs Films – U.K. tells me.

Wise move indeed!

Kareena, Deepika opp. Saif?

Will Kareena Kapoor and Deepika Padukone enact the love interest of Saif Ali Khan in Saif's home-production AGENT VINOD, the desi Bond flick? Rumors are rife that Deepika had been zeroed for one of the lead parts, but Kareena Kapoor is now being considered for a pivotal role.

Director Sriram Raghavan, who has JOHNNY GADDAAR opening this Friday, doesn't deny the news outright. "See, the film is expected to star an Indian actress and a foreign girl, but we haven't finalized anyone yet. That's because Saif wants me to lock the script before we begin casting," Sriram states.

However, Sriram says that the casting might change once they okay the script. "We might settle for two Indian actresses, if need be. It's premature to comment on it right now," he states. Will Kareena star opposite Saif, is to be seen.

Aftab turns producer

It's finally confirmed! Since quite some time back, there were whispers that Aftab Shivdasani was planning to turn producer, like most of his contemporaries. Of course, Aftab was reluctant to divulge details till everything was in place. Well, here's the official statement...

Aftab will make his debut as producer with a love story. "There're two principal characters here. Just the two lovers. It will appeal to people from 6 to 80, since the film will have a lot of energy to appeal to people of all age groups," states Aftab. The director hasn't been finalized yet. "I haven't reached there yet. I am writing the script currently with another writer. The casting as well as the director will happen once we're through with the script," he clarifies. The film is expected to roll early next year.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Nikita Anand's Dil Dosti

Her upcoming movie Dil Dosti etc. is a Prakash Jha movie where she was caste opposite to Shreyas Talpade and Naseeruddin Shah's son Imaad. But that is not enough when u talk about her. She was the Ms. India Universe 2003.


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