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Monday, July 30, 2007

UTV signs co-production deal with Kher and Kaushik

UTV announced that it has signed a co-production deal for the entire slate of productions to be launched by Anupam Kher and Satish Kaushik under their banner of Karol Bagh Film and Entertainment.

Anupam Kher and Satish Kaushik will each direct one production per year and produce atleast two others, which means UTV and Karol Bagh will together release at least four co-produced films per year.

The vision of this association is to make movies that span a variety of genres with varying themes, scales and budgets. The intention is to develop a blend of projects featuring established talent from the industry while also tapping into the wealth of young talent trying to get a foothold in the industry today.

UTV will co-produce, market and distribute all these productions, while Karol Bagh will focus on creative development and line production.

Announcing the association, Ronnie Screwvala of UTV said, "UTV has had a long creative relationship with both Anupam and Satish, and we are very happy to be associated with them in their new venture under the banner of 'Karol Bagh'. I am confident we can combine our strengths to make movies that break through the clutter, both commercially and creatively."

Anupam Kher and Satish Kaushik said, "This association is the best thing that could have happened to a creative team such as ours as it will enable us to concentrate on the creative aspects of film-making. We think that UTV would make an ideal combine with us, as it not only has an enviable record in the business, but it also has a global vision for the industry."

Karan's last Koffee with Ash-Abhi

Karan Johar’s celebrity chat show ‘Koffee With Karan’ has come to an end and to make its grand finale more special, Karan will have Bollywood’s currently hot couple Abhishek and Aishwarya Bachchan.

He has also planned some Koffee awards like Best Rapidfire Contestant, Best Supporting Guest etc. These awards will be judged by Malaika Arora Khan, Cyrus Broacha, Rahul Bose, Rohit Bal and Karan himself to select best of the guests of this season.

Speaking about his future television project he informs that he is in talks with Sameer Nair about a variety show. He intends to start his film first and then he will get back to television.
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Blog: Bollywood making idiots out of automobiles

Visualise this. Amitabh Bachchan, playing a simpleton, just retired from service, walks past a car showroom with his wife when he stops to admire one of the cars parked outside. He knows that he cannot afford it, but hey, there are no costs for admiring a car. An eager, friendly, car salesman coaxes him to take a test-drive, which Amitabh is not very keen to do as he knows - and I have already told you so - that he cannot afford the car. But, being a human being and persuaded very convincingly by the car salesman, he reluctantly agrees to take a test drive. Test drive over, the unrelenting salesman again tries to sell him the car through attractive finance schemes. Our simpleton Amitabh is apologetic as he cannot afford the car, really, and I don't doubt him, as even my retired government official dad cannot afford a Rs 15-lakh car. Now this is where things go nasty. The cheerful Dr. Jekyll of a salesman suddenly turns into Mr. Hyde and starts uttering profanities against Amitabh. Not stopping at this, he then proceeds to slap and shove the old man around.

Holy cow! Pause. Rewind. Replay. Now that was a Ford India showroom and the car was a Mondeo.

Now you know why the Accord sells so much and the Mondeo finds it tough reaching double-digit sales. “They beat up people at Ford India dealerships,” not a statement that I ratify, but precisely the unfortunate message that came out of this movie sequence. The movie in question was Baghban, which was released a few years back and was a moderate success.

On a serious note, my friends in Maraimalai Nagar in Chengalpattu down south wouldn't even have noticed the movie, and even if they had seen it and felt infuriated, they could hardly have done anything about the issue. For, when once a movie with such a thoughtless sequence is released, the damage is already done and there is no point in raking the issue. Actually, raking the issue is just snowballing it into a controversy and getting the movie more eyeballs and ensuring more damage to the product. Most often the long reaction time of the judiciary to take up such issues will see to it that major damage has already been done to your company's repute even before the court can decide on stopping the screening or making necessary changes to the movie. Anyways, it is difficult to raise any objections against a movie on grounds of misrepresentation of products or a company and be taken seriously.

Ironically, I have a feeling that the director didn't even think twice before going ahead with the sequence. Ford India can take comfort in the fact that they are not the only victims of this Bollywood automotive ignorance. Most of us will remember the 'Road' sequence where a Tata truck catches up with a Tata Safari.

That's why they sell more trucks than Safaris.

I guess they would have accelerated the Safari Petrol programme after the sequence in Road came out. Such apathy towards, otherwise sound vehicles, has been common in Bollywood movies with numerous sequences of dogs, monkeys, horses, hero-on-a-cycle, hero-on-a-tonga, hero-on-a-bullock-cart and even hero-barefoot chasing sleek, fast cars and catching them, much to the horror of automobile marketing executives across the country.

There was this sequence in the recent multiplex masala madness 'Main Hoon Na' which had Shahrukh Khan on a cycle-rickshaw catching up with the bad guys running away in a Mahindra Scorpio. Sure its diesel and not that fast but catching a Scorpio on a cycle-rickshaw is a bit too much. To add to the insult, Shahrukh catches the Scorpio, not once, but twice and then takes one of the doors off its hinges in one gunshot. Now why didn't they use a Hyundai in place of the Scorpio, considering his wife was listed as the producer of the movie and Shahrukh endorses the brand?

In fact, Main Hoon Na would count as one of my all-time favourites in terms of making idiots out of automobiles. Where else, but in St. Paul's in Darjeeling in Main Hoon Na would you find the whole college, including the hero, riding LML Freedoms.

Freedom from studies, Freedom from teachers, Freedom from logic…Package deal or what?

On a serious note, its hardly product placement, it's a sheer mockery of the audience's intellect.

One just has to look at a James Bond or Lara Croft movie to see what effective product placement is. The product has to be subtly placed and should not occupy every frame of the movie. So when a pensive Zayed Khan absent-mindedly surfs channels and stops for just five seconds at a particular one where a LML Freedom commercial is on, it just isn't subtle anymore, not when the audience has had 250 frames of the LML Freedom already. Think of it, that's a lot of LML money and brand goodwill down the drain, all thanks to sheer Bollywood ignorance on automobiles and their placement. On second thought, maybe it's just a lack of common sense.

That may be just one of the reasons why LML's plant is under a lock-out.

More than that, the product and movie (or the character) should match each other in attributes. You could associate the Cadillac CTS and Matrix II, you could also co-relate Lara Croft and the Land Rover Defender. Now try co-relating Lara Croft with the CTS and Land Rover Defender with the Matrix II - I hope you get what I mean.

Taking this topic further - and by now you must be aware that I have a warped sense of reasoning - I propose that car companies start using product Bollywood movies as marketing weapons. Imagine this. Shahrukh gets out of a car, any car, as long as it's not a Hyundai. Preity Zinta, standing on the kerb, squeals, “Raj, How could you drive this stupid Leo Weasel. I only go out with guys who drive Bigfoot Yetis.”

And for the next three minutes they discuss the features of the Bigfoot Yeti while thoroughly trashing the Leo Weasel. All this time, the Leo marketing guys will be busy pulling their hair out because there is little they can do otherwise.

What they can do is to have Hrithik return the favour in the next blockbuster by thoroughly trashing the Yeti and glorifying the Weasel.

Now if some of you voice murmurs of dissent and talk of business ethics, I would like to point out that automotive marketing executives sold soft drinks in their last jobs.

From the Files: Rajkumar Santoshi's tiff with Meenakshi

It had to happen. They were destined to part ways. But they reached the dead end much sooner than expected.

Raj Kumar Santoshi and Meenakshi Sheshadri. Two people as different as chalk and cheese. Yet they have become synonymous with each other.

Raj Kumar Santoshi was attracted to Meenakshi the moment he set his eyes on her. She was the heroine of his film, and with the passage of time, she became the queen of his heart. But he knew that he had no right to express his feelings to her. Their relationship was definitely not on the same footing. He was just a struggling director, a nobody, while she was already an established star.

Raj bided his time till the release of ‘Ghayal’. The success of the film instilled confidence in him and so with a smile on his face, he went and proposed to Meenakshi. Only the smile was erased when the proposal was sweetly turned down. The rejected suitor, in a fit of depression, broke down and gave interviews proclaiming his love for her.

Success to him was not as important as winning over the woman he loved. He hoped and prayed for the day when she would say yes to him. It seemed as if he was not wrong in hoping for Meenakshi, perhaps unconsciously, seemed to encourage him. Long drives, long conversations on the telephone, suggestions, discussions had become part of their daily activities. Well wishers of Raj prophesized a doom but all their advice fell on deaf ears. He saw nothing wrong in hoping. After all he was a man in love.

Then began the shooting of ‘Damini.’ Every shot went into innumerable retakes before Raj would be finally satisfied. Though Meenakshi never complained, it irked her mother no end. She felt that Raj was purposely trying to humiliate her daughter. Nothing was said openly but the seeds of discontent and frustration were sown.

Then followed a series of events which worsened the situation. One day, Meenakshi approached Raj Santoshi with a request. Satoo Singh, producer of Aag Aur Suhag in which she had a very good role, was in financial difficulties. It is believed that she felt that if Satoo Singh announced a film with Raj, he would be able to get finance for his new film and that money they would be able to complete ‘ Aag aur Suhaag’. Then with the profits that came from this film they would complete the next project. Soon Satoo Singh announced a film with Raj and Meenakshi in the trade papers.

Raj was livid when he saw the advertisement. The same day an angry Raj landed up at Meenakshi’s place to straighten out the matter once and for all. ‘You do not know the difference between a proposal and a proposition’, he told Meenakshi’s mother. ‘I was asking your daughter to marry me not to sleep with me.’ Heated words were exchanged between the two.

No Sholay print for Hema at Bangkok film festival

The scarcity of proper prints to honour Bollywood stars at international retrospectives has a come to light again. In 2005, Amitabh Bachchan had to abandon the idea of taking Sholay for a retrospective to the Lincoln Centre in New York.

Now it's another Bollywood legend's turn to get Sholay-fatigued. Last week Ramesh Sippy's historic potboiler almost couldn't make it to the retrospective of Hema Malini's films at the Bangkok International Film Festival.

Now in Chennai, the marquee queen reveals, "They screened Sholay on a DVD and without subtitles. Nobody could get a hand on the print. So they just blew up the DVD print and projected it on the screen and that too without subtitles. Nowadays every Hindi film is immediately subtitled. I guess it wasn't so easy back then. We need to do something about this right away."

At the festival in Lincoln Centre, Mr Bachchan had refused to allow Sholay to be screened on a DVD.

It's generally felt that the authorities need to get more alert over the ready availability of films for such retrospectives. Says Hema, "My brother handled the whole thing here while the embassy in Bangkok monitored everything from there. Our Indian ambassador Lata Reddy in Bangkok took very keen interest in my retrospective. It was very difficult to locate the prints of my films. Now that the Hindi film industry is becoming popular all over the world we need to have a bank of every artiste's film ready for international events. The authorities should take every artiste into confidence and select 10 of his or her best films."

The Thai papers are crammed with complimentary reports on Hema's sojourn. "The reports were very flattering. All part of my past glory," she laughs. "A retrospective means I'm part of the past, right? The Festival is on at a centrally located multiplex. But I left Bangkok after Sholay. Indians came from all over South Asia. And they seemed quite excited to see me. There were many big stars from Asian cinema all over the world."

Now she's back in Chennai. "I went to meet my daughter in Pondicherry where she's shooting for a film called 123," says the indulgent mother. "Now they want to hold my retrospective in Moscow in September. The Russians are very fond of my films like Alibaba Aur Chaalis Chor and Seeta Aur Geeta. I wonder if I'll be able to get the prints!"

Mahesh Bhatt to make a film on Lahore's Heera Mandi

Mahesh Bhatt is known to make films on real life drama. He is planning to make a film based on Fauzia Saeed's book titled, Taboo. The film will revolve around Lahore's Heera Mandi.

Mahesh Bhatt confirms that his next film deals with the hidden culture in this red light area of Lahore. This film will be collaboration between Vishesh Films and Sohail Khan, the co-producer of Awarapan, and will be shot in and around Lahore. Bhatt says that they have not yet finalized the star cast but it will be a huge surprise.

Apparently, there is a buzz doing rounds that Sanjay Leela Bhansali is also planning to make a film on the same subject. It is said that he has already bought the rights of a book written by Mayank Austen Soofi titled A Sudden Visit to Pakistan: Heera Mandi, The Dream Home of The Whores and that he plans to make a big budget film with a big starcast.

Screen Buzz: Mandira Is Highly Desirable!

Do you know who the highly desirable actress in Bollywood is? Sources said that almost every hero is approaching Mandira Bedi to pair up with her. The list of those heroes is excluding SRK and Salman. When Mandira says 'no' to them, then they would go for other heroines, say the sources. Mandira claims for bigger remuneration on par with top slot heroines of Bollywood, and that is why she is not getting lined up offers.

The main reason for this is that Mandira got this craze ever since she boldly posed with bra and underwear for MAXIM. It is certainly an accepted truth that interest boots up among many when a traditionally looking girl comes out with 'show off' suddenly.

But Mandira is too reserved in accepting the roles. That's putting her in demand. Well, what is the use when the demand is not cashed? Is Mandira listening?

Raj-Shilpa affair is an open secret

The actress plans to buy a Mayfair apartment to be with her ‘friend’

LONDON: Kavita Kundra’s outburst against her ex-husband Raj Kundra and actress Shilpa Shetty has created a dilemma for the couple who now cannot come out into the open about their ‘relationship’.

Friends of Raj Kundra, told media that Raj and Shilpa were ‘close’ but denied that the relationship had begun while Raj and Kavita were still together. “Kavita left Raj long before he met Shilpa, so how can she blame Shilpa for the break-up of her marriage,” said a close friend of the film producer and UK businessman, Raj Kundra.

“Their daughter was only about two- month old when Kavita insisted that she could not live with Raj anymore and left him,” said the friend. He insisted that Raj met Shilpa much after she won Celebrity Big Brother in January, by which time Raj and Kavita had already separated and were well on the way to a divorce.

“Kavita simply saw pictures of them together and got jealous and wanted to put a spanner in the works, and she has been successful,” said the friend.

Shilpa is also hoping to buy an apartment in the exclusive Mayfair area as a second home. With her relationship with Raj thriving, Shilpa is interested in spending more time in the UK. However, now thanks to Kavita’s outburst, Shilpa and Raj are on the radar of the British tabloids who follow them hoping to snap the two of them together.

Screen Talk : Tanushree's makeover story

Tanushree Dutta is taking fellow actress Bipasha Basu's advice seriously and is going in for a complete makeover.

It all started with a recent chat show in which Bipasha was asked which glamourous actress needed a makeover, Bipasha replied that Tanushree is so good looking and sensuous, but she if would change her stylist, she would be one of the most glamourous actors around.

“When it was brought to Tanushree’s notice, she took it very positively, especially since it came from Bipasha,” a source said. Tanushree has decided now to work on her looks and outfits. Now, international fashion designer Babita Malkani will be styling her.

When she started out in Bollywood, Tanu was slim but she had to put on some weight because after winning the Miss India Universe title she had got some offers from the South, so the directors and producers there insisted she put on some weight.

Tanushree is now on a fitness spree and has joined a gym and dance classes to keep herself fit. Bong connection works!


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