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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Spotlight: Shilpa slams 'wild accusations'!

Shilpa Shetty has hit out at "wild accusations" that she helped ruin another woman's marriage.
The Celebrity Big Brother winner has been romantically linked with British-based Indian businessman Raj Kundra, 31.
But his estranged wife Kavita, 25, the mother of his 10-month-old daughter, claimed her husband's obsession with the Bollywood star ruined her marriage.
A spokeswoman for the 32-year-old actress said she and Kundra were just friends.
The star has now released a statement criticising the "baseless allegations against me of ruining her [Kavita Kundra's] marriage".

She said: "My understanding is that Raj and Kavita's marriage was over a year ago and they have filed for divorce and have been living separately for over a year.
"I met Raj Kundra three months ago in a business capacity, so where the question of me breaking up her marriage arises, this is impossible as I have known him for 12 weeks.
"I am disgusted by her reported comments and completely refute the allegation."
She warned of legal action if the allegations continued.
"My culture and upbringing does not permit me to break marriages and I am the least interested in knowing or hearing any more about her."
Shilpa said her "conscience is clear" over the "wild accusations".
Kavita has been quoted as saying: "Now I look at the pictures of them together and think, she's with my husband, she's living my life.
"She can have any man she wants and there are plenty of single men about."

In a no holds barred interview, Shilpa Shetty talks about the recent controversy of her breaking Raj Kundra’s marriage, Max Clifford dumping her and m

Allegations that Shilpa Shetty is a home-breaker rocked India recently when an article appeared in the Mail on Sunday and the tabloid The News of the World on Sunday 22 July.

While the story died a natural death in the UK and the quotes were put down to a woman scorned who was seeking to blame anyone in the failure of her marriage, India's news channels were ablaze and curious with the story trying to get the full picture. Shilpa had just returned from a 21 day trip to London which was consistently delayed due to an increasing amount of commitments in the UK which included her appearance on prime time TV shows, launching the India Now initiative, meeting the Mayor of London and receiving an honourary doctorate. She returned to India excited about all that had happened and raring to begin rehearsals for the musical titled Miss Bollywood which aims to showcase the rhythm, vibe and soul of Indian cinema on an international stage. She was greeted with questions about the story which had just broken in the UK linking her to Raj Kundra and which contained an interview with his estranged ex wife who accused Shilpa of being the reason their marriage broke up.

When contacted, Shilpa said in response to the media storm that was brewing:
"I've just come back from a very productive trip to the UK where I launched the India Now initiative which promotes Indian culture in London, aims to strengthen the ties between the countries and celebrates our contribution to London's multiculturalism. I also met the Mayor of London, laid some groundwork for the musical and was honoured with a doctorate by Leeds University. My perfume was released and reached the top 3 perfumes in the UK."

"Apart from this I've done some press and TV appearances in between business meetings and had a fantastic and positive trip, which leads me to only say I am disappointed yet again that when I go overseas and promote my country, my heritage and am seen as an ambassador of sorts for Indians abroad that our own press focus on speculations and rumours trying to turn a high trip into a low point fuelled by gossip. I'm not going to react to any false accusations, simply say I'm disappointed that of all the good I'm trying to do only negative things are being reported and fabricated."

"Lets not give the world a reason to point its fingers at our press and say India eats its own, and instead be proud of what every Indian is achieving wherever they are in the world because we are all ambassadors of our country. I love home and I've missed it after a much prolonged but worthwhile trip. I hope I don't have to come back to such negativity every time I go overseas and shout about how great my country is."

Yesterday, Raj Kundra, the perfume licensor at the centre of the allegations refuted his ex-wife's claims and set the record straight in his own press statement and apology to Shilpa's family, which said, "I would like to make a statement following the recent barrage of misinformation provided to press from my ex-wife, Kavita Kundra.

My wife and I separated nine months ago and filed for divorce four months ago; we had agreed a mutual divorce. The reasons for the divorce are too personal for me to discuss and it would bring down my ex wife and I do not wish to stoop down to her level as it's very degrading. At this time I had no association with Shilpa Shetty whatsoever.

I was introduced to Shilpa three months ago by her manager Mr Farhath Hussain with a proposal to launch a perfume with her. This began my professional association with her. My wife has made an accusation that Shilpa was the reason my marriage broke up which is untrue as I had no association with Shilpa at the time of our separation. My association with Shilpa is purely professional and over the past few months we have become good friends."

Reports followed of Shilpa's publicist Max Clifford dumping her in some newspapers and of her agent Farhath Hussain having financial problems in another. Today, in the last few minutes, Shilpa Shetty made the following statement:

"After having been the subject of unwarranted media speculation in the past 48 hours, I feel the need to express my absolute shock at the way there is negative publicity generating in the papers and television media from someone called Kavita Kundra, who seems to be latching onto my name with baseless allegations against me of ruining her marriage."

"For someone I have never met or heard of to make such a public attempt to tarnish my name is inexcusable, uncalled for and I would like to respond and make a clarification ONCE and for all:
I do know who Raj Kundra is as he was introduced to me three months ago regarding the perfume as he is a business associate of Farhat Hussain, who is handling some of my work. I met with Raj in the capacity of the perfume deal and we have had discussions and meetings regarding finalising the perfume S2 which released in stores earlier this month."

"As I have had an active involvement in every aspect of the perfume we have had numerous interactions which culminated in a perfume launch for the press and another for the public which involved visiting perfume stores in the UK around the launch to promote the new fragrance. As a result of this we would obviously have been seen together in stores when the perfume was being launched."

"Raj has handled the perfume launch very well, worked hard on it and is not only a part of my team, but we are also now friends, which by no angle is a crime in any part of the world. If I was linked to every friend I had I would have no friends left. From what I have read and heard in all press including radio, television and even on the news (as if there aren't more important actual news stories to report) Kavita Kundra has accused me of being the reason her marriage fell apart to which Raj issued a statement and public apology for the way his ex-wife was attacking me."

"My understanding is that Raj and Kavita's marriage was over a year ago and they have filed for divorce and have been living separately for over a year. I met Raj Kundra 3 months ago in a business capacity, so where the question of me breaking up her marriage arises. This is impossible as I have known him for 12 weeks. I am disgusted by her reported comments and completely refute the allegation."

"On another note, some Indian TV media also reported a statement from a man who supposedly knew Raj and Kavita who claimed to have introduced them who categorically stated their marriage was over due to other reasons, and the reason he cited was her cheating on her husband."

"I feel for her if she is going through some frustrations in life but refuse to STAND for her using my name to vent these frustrations or to gain her marriage or break up any mileage, as my culture and upbringing does not permit me to break marriages and I am the least interested in knowing or hearing anymore about her. If she continues to TARNISH my name out of any insecurity or otherwise, I will consider taking legal action as I see no reason why my name is being dragged into this mess."

"As for the reports about me being "dumped" by Max Clifford, I just want to say I have respect for Max and all he has achieved and while we worked together recently, it was good while we were together and as Max himself has stated our 6 month term was over and we parted ways mutually so there is no question of being dumped! When a contract ends, it ends, it's not one party disowning the other."

"I am not a resident of London and had to come back to India to complete pending assignments which included METRO and APNE both of which have been publicly and critically acclaimed. I have been very busy working hard 15-18 hours a day which may have not made me as accessible as I needed to be after winning Celebrity Big Brother, but I could not leave my producers or anyone I had made a commitment to, or let them down just because I won a reality show in the UK."

"As far as my agent Farhat Hussain is concerned and the report of him not paying up his bills, I am led to believe there were some discrepancies which are being sorted out. As a result of all these recent potshots at me and attempted maligning of my image, it is very evident there is some vested interest from people who are seriously trying to damage my image but my conscience is clear and those who have taken this very hectic journey with me recently know how hard I have worked. My family and friends know me and know the truth and my well wishers are the reason I keep going despite having to answer wild accusations from irresponsible quarters which exhausts me. And with that comes a plea to the press to not give rumours the importance they are given because the world is too fragile for there to be so many hurtful untruths."

"I really have nothing more to say except I work hard every day to make my family and supporters proud, and I know the people will continue to have faith in me as they know the person I am. Thank you."

With a story that dominated the airwaves for the past few days, the final word has come from Shilpa herself sending a clear signal that anyone wishing to make allegations against her should not be given importance without an investigation of the facts. Her perfume is riding high in the UK occupying the number 3 position and with talk of her being invited to visit the White House later this year, it seems Shilpa's journey is far from over.

Sudhir Mishra to merge Hamlet with Devdas

After K.L Saigal, Dilip Kumar and Shah Rukh Khan, it’s Shiney Ahuja's turn to play the ultimate tragic hero of Hindi literature.

"It's not only Devdas," explains director Sudhir Mishra. "Devdas is just the takeoff point. Like if you see Westside Story it's directly linked to Romeo & Juliet. In my film from Devdas I also go into Shakespeare's Hamlet. I feel when Saratchandra wote Devdas in 1901 he must have had Hamlet in mind. The protagonists are very similar. I'm putting both the tragic hero's into a modern context and political leaning. It would be dramatic debate on Devdas, Hamlet and Indian politics. Chandramukhi will be portrayed as a keeper of dark political secrets while Paro will be a part of an opposing political party." Sudhir has always had very strong political leanings. "All my films have a strong political base. I’m seeing Hamlet and Devdas as take-off points for a political drama set in present times."

Sudhir Mishra and his regular writer Joydeep Sarkar are preparing the screenplay. "I want to re-interpret the love story of Devdas and Paro into a modern political context."

The idea was born out of a conversation with producer Pritish Nandy. "He suggested I re-do Devdas. I thought about it. And now we're both damn excited."

Sudhir's favourite hero Shiney Ahuja who has been part of the director's much-celebrated Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi and the just-completed Khoya-Khoya Chand will play the protagonist

Apna Asmaan awarded the "German Star of India"

Debutant Director Kaushik Roy has won the 'German Star of India' award for his film Apna Asmaan at the Stuttgart Bollywood and Beyond Film Festival. The Irrfan Khan-Shobana starrer was screened at the festival on July 14 and was selected from eight other movies short-listed for this award, which included Bheja Fry by Sagar Ballary, Manhattan Biryani by James Edward Duff and Anuranan by Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury amongst others. The awards were announced at a ceremony held on Sunday evening.

Delighted with this development, Mr. Kaushik Roy who was there for the screening exclaims, "My first film, my first Festival, my first award. I am very encouraged and going by the theatrical success of last year’s winner here (Mixed Doubles), I'm very optimistic that Apna Asmaan will do very well."

Co - produced by Umang Pahwa, under the ImaginationWorks banner, Apna Asmaan boasts of a stalwart cast, with Irrfan Khan, Anupam Kher, Rajat Kapoor and South veteran actor Shobana. The film is about a teenager's journey to be loved and admired for what he is rather then what his parents want him to be. Apna Asmaan takes this story line and gives it the sensibility of an urban thriller, making it an entertaining yet thought-provoking film about parents and their demands of their children.

The Annual Stuttgart Festival selects and screens a mixture of mainstream and art-house cinema from across the world. Apna Asmaan was also screened at the Cannes Film Market in May 2007.

Shirish Kunder turns producer

Here's a scoop and, as always, it's first on IndiaFM.

Shirish Kunder has been maintaining a low profile ever since JAAN-E-MANN released last Diwali. There’s tremendous speculation vis-à-vis his next film [with SRK?]… what has fuelled the rumors is Shirish’s non-committal stance. But the normally reticent director has decided to set the record straight.

The talented director has floated his production house – Shirish Kunder Film Company – and has announced two projects in the first round. “The first project will be helmed by me, the second by an established director. I can’t reveal the name right now since we need to complete the formalities,” Shirish informs me.

The two projects, both multi-crore ventures, will be co-produced by a leading corporate house. “The deal is finalized, but it has to be put on paper,” Shirish enlightens. Shirish isn’t ready to divulge the star cast of his film, but on prodding, does disclose details. “Mine will be a 2-hero project. One of the heroes has been finalized, the second is in the process of finalization,” he adds.

Meanwhile, Shirish isn’t ready to speak about the other film that’s written about by the media. “I am not at liberty to speak about that film,” he says. Ask him if wife Farah Khan will direct a film for his production company and he replies instantly, “We’ve several interesting projects lined up. It’s a bit premature to talk about it,” he answers.

Anil Sharma's next venture

Now here's another news-break!

Guess what is GADAR and APNE director Anil Sharma making next? Any guesses? No, it’s not another paarivarik film [like APNE]. It’s not a prem kahani [like GADAR]. It’s not a vendetta film either [like HUKUMAT]. Phir kya? It’s a comedy!

“It has been a khwahish to make a comedy film since the past 20 years. At last it’s being fulfilled,” Anil Sharma sounds elated. The director has already started work on the script of this comedy. But, he adds, it’ll be different from films of its ilk. “My film wouldn’t hurt the sensibilities of the viewer. It would be subtle, but humorous,” he adds. The director hasn’t finalized anyone for the principal lead. “My sole concentration at the moment is to complete the script. The casting will follow later,” he states.

Meanwhile, he has already received numerous offers from reputed production houses. There’s a film with the Deols again. “That’ll only happen next year,” he clarifies. Also, there’s a project with the Zee Group in the pipeline.

"John & I don't have to do ads together " - Bipasha

Bipasha Basu isn't enjoying the way her relationship with John Abraham is being linked to her absence in the new shampoo ad for the brand they endorse.

"People can say what they like. They do that anyway, no matter what explanations we give. John and I are not answerable to anyone."

Regarding the speculation about John doing the shampoo ad with another model, Bipasha sighs, "When we signed the contract for the shampoo we didn't even know we'd be doing any of their ads together."

Bipasha and John signed their contracts separately. "And my association with that brand of shampoo continues. At this point of time John and I are advertising different brands of shampoo. So the question of me being replaced in the new ad doesn't arise. People can continue to speculate as much as they like. It doesn't bother me."

All the loose talk about the status of her relationship with John has begun to annoy Bipasha. "Let them say what they like. My life is mine alone. I'm answerable only to myself, my family and my close friends. Beyond that, does it really matter? What I'm doing in my personal life shouldn’t be of any consequence to anyone except me. I mean no harm to anyone. So why harm me with such endless speculation?"

The gossip mongers have been going to town with the now-off-now-on observations. Says Bipasha. "Precious news space shouldn't be wasted on such trivia. There's so much more worth writing about. From now I won't discuss my private life in print."

700 plus prints of Cash to be released

If all goes as per plans, Cash will indeed turn out to be cash making preposition for its investors.

The film is aiming for a mega release on 27th July. Arriving with anywhere between 700-800 prints worldwide, Cash is going to be one of the biggest releases of the season.

"That's true", confirms producer Anish Ranjan, "For a big movie like this, one needs to think big and aim big. We are confident about the product and ADLABS (who are distributing the film) is pleased with the result too. They have massive distribution plan for Cash."

Tell him that 700 + prints is an unheard of number, especially when it comes to a film belonging to action genre, and he says with a smile, "True. Not just that, in fact Cash is the biggest ever release for an Ajay Devgan starrer too. I don't remember when was the last time a film of his was released at such a scale."

Though the promos of the film look quite slick with a promise of an adrenalin ride, one hopes that it's not the case of entire action being highlighted in those few seconds. "Don't worry about that", he assures, "what you see is just a tip of the iceberg. There is a lot which is left unrevealed and I can promise one whale of a ride in this comic thriller."

What about the film's strengths? "The film carries a unique look due to its shoot in South Africa. Also, the action and stunt sequences are entirely unseen. We have applied out of the box thinking to make Cash a unique experience. Mark my words, Cash is going to be an unforgettable experience for the viewers worldwide," says Anish before signing off.

Kim Sharma's special appearance in Heyy Babyy

Sajid Khan’s Heyy Babyy is making record of sorts for the number of cameos that the big-n-small stars of Bollywood are making in this Akshay Kumar, Fardeen Khan, Ritesh Deshmukh, Vidya Balan starrer fun-caper. Firstly, the title track Heyy Babyy music video featured some of the hottest babes in tinsel town ranging from Celina Jaitly, Koena Mitra, Malaika Arora Khan, Amrita Arora, Dia Mirza etc.

Then there have been reports of Shahrukh Khan making a friendly appearance along with DDLJ Pops Anupam Kher. Now the latest entrant is Mohabbatein girl Kim Sharma. “Kim is one of the actresses in one scene of the film,” Sajid Khan confirmed. There are rumours that she is part of the climax. “I can’t comment on that,” Sajid said. What we have heard is that even Shahrukh Khan is part of this scene in the climax. But for confirmations on that we guess one would have to wait for the film to release this August. Meanwhile the music of the film is doing well and it is undoubtedly one of the best scores to have come out this year.

Kareena Kapoor, R. Madhavan voted cutest vegetarians

Film stars Kareena Kapoor and R. Madhavan have been crowned winners in the first-ever "Cutest Vegetarian" online poll conducted by petaDishoom – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' (PETA) India's youth division. It was a close race with stiff challenges mounted by a bevy of hottie runners-up, including Mallika Sherawat, Mahima Chaudhary, Shahid Kapur and Rajneesh Duggal.

One look into Bollywood beauty Kareena Kapoor's radiant hazel eyes and there's no doubt that cute and vegetarian are one and the same. The youth icon and reigning screen queen also has the talent to match her captivating looks: Kareena recently won the Best Actress Star Screen Award for her performance in Omkara.

In the male category, it's no surprise that heartthrob Madhavan has triumphed. A veteran of Hindi TV serials before going on to star in dozens of films – including the much acclaimed Alaipayuthey and Guru- Madhavan has always encouraged young people to go vegetarian for their health, the animals and the environment. He has also helped his friends at PETA help animals every chance he gets. He shot an ad in which he crammed himself into a cage to show how chickens suffer, made a pro-vegetarian public service announcement, did an introduction in Tamil for PETA 's "Compassionate Citizen" education program and launched petaDishoom.com’s popular pro-vegetarian online e-card.

Explains Madhavan, "Chickens may not be cute and cuddly like some animals, but they still feel pain just like you and me. It's simple – I love animals, so I don't eat them".

Why are so many celebrities shunning meat faster than you can say "veggie burger"? Celebrities cite many reasons for forgoing flesh, from avoiding the cruelty inherent in all meat production to improving their health and energy levels and helping the environment by not contributing to factory-farm pollution.

Priyanka Chopra attends fund raising musical night for old age home


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