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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Celina follows Ash to Hollywood

These days Bollywood stars are too desperate to be a part of Hollywood. But all they end up doing are miniscule or insignificant roles which serve only as publicity material back home.

One big example is Mallika Sherawat in "Myth". Ethereal beauty Aishwarya Rai has been trying to break in for a long time and even after 'Bride and Prejudice', 'Mistress of Spices', 'Provoked', 'Last Legion', nothing concrete has happened.

How she fares in 'Pink Panther' will be known only when the film releases. Same goes for Shilpa Shetty's 'Hanuman'.

Joining the bandwagon now is Celina Jaitley, who has been signed for historical epic "The Quest of Sheherzade".

The international production will tell the tales of the legendary "1001 Nights" woven by a mystical warrior princess, Sheherzade.

Says producer Shani Rigsbee ("Crash", "One Night with the King"): "I was aware of Celina's work and was anxious to discuss the project with her. After our meeting, we knew that she truly had the sensitivities and the passion for the theme of the film.

Besides her beauty, that was an attribute we felt necessary for our project."

Executive producer Deborah Davis ("Borderland", "Nightlife") says: "Our version of the Sheherzade story will be approached as a Hollywood style epic which will be both cinematically beautiful and also story driven. We are planning to reach out to an international audience and Celina is the perfect leading lady for us."

On her part, Celina finds this a great opportunity, especially since there are two top Hollywood stars, one senior and one junior, opposite her. "I would like to explore and experiment with different kinds of cinema. In fact, being fluent in German, I would like to do a German film too," she says.

However, Bollywood would always remain a priority for the actress, who has consciously decided to do two good Bollywood films and one international film every year.

Learning a lesson from her past mistakes, Celina says: "I will be very selective about the kind of films I do from now on. I will focus on quality. It's every actor's dream to be taken seriously."

Although this venture might not make much of a difference to Celina's career, hopefully, working with professional managers in the West will refine her as an actress.

As of now, Celina must be happy that she didn't have to struggle to bag the project, as much as she has to do to get good Bollywood movies.

I always craved for a boyfriend: Natasha Grover

In our society obsessed with external beauty, women, more than men, are always expected to have the ideal looks. Natasha Grover, the female contestant who came second in "Biggest Loser Jitega" spills her heart out about what difference the show has made to her life.

Q: Now that the "Biggest Loser" contest is over, how does it feel?
A: It feels lighter (laughs). It feels amazing, I had never thought that I will get so far, nor had I expected to lose so much of weight. I gave Sandeep good competition. The margin between us in the end was a mere 2 per cent. He was a tough contender and he inspired me a lot.

I have learnt a lot in this span of four months. I have gone through a healthy route of losing weight and I feel every one should take some time out to make their lives better and simpler.

Q: What made you join this show?
A: I was turning 27. I had thought of taking a break for a few months and pampering myself. I was all set to go to the Jindal health farm in Bangalore. Looking beautiful was always on my mind because even though I had everything there was one thing that was missing in my life -- I craved for a boyfriend.

All my friends were into relationships. Everyone loved me, but no one actually wanted to go out with me. And amidst all this one day one of my friends messaged me about this "Biggest Loser" contest and I got excited about it.

I thought it was a cool idea. My friends filled up the forms for me, they negotiated with the channel and after clearing the interview and the medical tests I was on.

Q: Did you ever feel in between that you wanted to quit the show?
A: No, I was way too determined. I wanted to make it to the top three. I wanted to be in the game, which was my motivation.

Q: What kept you going?
A: Competition kept me ticking. I always had a goal. The fear of losing made me work harder. You have to be a fighter. If you are not in the game of losing weight, how will you get into shape? I kept saying these lines to myself.

Q: Tell us something about the fitness regime that you followed?
A: We used to work out 2-3 times a day. For all these days, I have just seen gym machines. Now that I have attained the desired shape I just need to maintain it. I have joined aerobic classes, it is a really nice way to tone your muscles and is also good for health. I do spinning as it burns a lot of fat and is very good for the lower body.

I do keep a check on my diet, I eat in small portions. When we were in the contest, I used to eat every two hours but in small quantities. That helped push up my metabolism rate. It is very important to have a high metabolism rate.

Q: Out of all the contestants who do you think was the most dedicated?
A: Everyone was dedicated, especially Sandeep and Ajay. They emerged as the heroes. They not only proved themselves but were a source of inspiration for others in the contest, including me. We three are good friends now, we work out together.

Q: Besides weight loss, what else have you gained from the show?
A: I have been a winner, and will retain that fighting spirit for life. My whole life has changed, offers from Bollywood sound like a fairytale, but it's a truth. Suniel Shetty has signed us and will be making a movie with us.

Seemanto Roy of Sahara has also promised to make a movie with us. Lots of things are coming my way. So apart from gaining a new rhythm in life, I have gained a new look for both my body and soul.

Q: You took up this challenge to prove to somebody or did you want to prove to yourself?
A: I did it for myself. I had to prove myself and when the show offer came my way, I just couldn't stop signing up.

Q: You have bagged a film contract along with a cash prize. There is no doubt about your potential. But just how much interested are you in acting?
A: I always had a desire to act but was shy to admit it. Sandeep, however, was open about it from Day One. I wanted to prove myself first and then talk about it. I have done English theatre, and have also acted when I was in Mithibai college. I have never worked towards acting, so now I have to prepare myself.

Q: What's next for you?
A: As of now, I want to rest for a few days and relish all that I have missed these four months, including my favourite dishes. I want to be prepared for acting so I will be taking acting classes and also dance classes, as the latter is a very effective way of staying in shape.

Q: You said you wanted to have a boyfriend. Now that you have achieved the desired looks, are you planning to get someone?
A: Huh! Frankly speaking, my perspective towards life has changed, now I want to stay away from all this. I want to focus on my career and not a guy. Love will happen on its own when it has to. I have got unexpected things so far, and I am sure love will also be unexpected.

Q: There are a lot of people who are obese and lack confidence. What message would you like to give them?
A: You need to believe in yourself that you can do it. If you think you can shed that extra flesh, you will surely succeed. If I can do it so can you. Just fix a goal for yourself and believe in yourself.

Bhansali to launch Adnan Sami?

There’re whispers that Sanjay Leela Bhansali is planning to launch singer – music composer Adnan Sami as the lead man in his next production, which will mark the directorial debut of Bhansali’s sister, noted editor Bela Sehgal. Reportedly, Bhansali will make the official announcement once he’s through with SAAWARIYA.

True? Bela is non-committal. “What should I answer? I am not in a position to reveal anything at this stage. But, seriously, where did you hear this?” she smiles. We can’t reveal our sources, Bela. “Well, I’d love to work with Adnan. But I wouldn’t like to talk about my film right now. Sanjay will make the official announcement when the time is right. He’s currently too involved with SAAWARIYA.”

After a pause, however, she does talk about her film. “All I can say is that the film will have a simple story and will be made from the heart,” Bela states.

It must be recalled that Bela had directed the videos of Adnan’s album, which starred a string of leading ladies from Bollywood. If the news is indeed true, Adnan will be the second composer – singer, after Himesh Reshammiya, to be launched on the big screen in the recent times.

'The Last Lear' well received at Toronto film fest

Rituparno Ghosh’s Amitabh Bachchan THE LAST LEAR had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday, 9th September. The premiere, held at Roy Thomson Hall, was packed to capacity, with close to two thousand people attending the gala event.

Writes Shubho Shekhar Bhattacharjee, CEO - Planman Motion Pictures from Canada, “At the red carpet, hundreds of fans were screaming when we got down from our cars. Mr. Bachchan, Preity, Arjun, Jisshu, Prosenjit Chatterjee came along with Rituparno Ghosh, producer Arindam Chaudhuri and myself.

“We also wanted to make a statement that it’s not just Hollywood that can make a big presence at these international festivals. Given the kind of fan following we have around the world, we can also make as much of presence felt with our films. So we had actually gone to the red carpet with four stretch limos with all the glitz and glamour that usually happens at a world premiere of a big film.

“The response was overwhelming! There was a brief presentation on stage before the screening where Cameron Bailey, the programmer of the Festival, invited Rituparno, Prof. Chaudhuri and myself on stage and then the stars came to the stage, starting with Jisshu and finally Mr. Bachchan.

“The show was received too well. The audience just loved the film. There was a ten-minute standing ovation after the screening got over and most people were seen coming out of the theatre with moist eyes. People were stunned with the performances of Mr. Bachchan, Preity, Arjun, Shefali Shah and Divya Dutta.

“This was followed by a grand luncheon party and then a gala dinner organized by the Toronto Festival in honor of THE LAST LEAR team. In fact, at all the parties in Toronto, THE LAST LEAR seems to be the topic of discussion.”

'Allah Ke Bande'

Sharman Joshi, Naseeruddin Shah, Atul Kulkarni and Anupam Kher will head the cast of ALLAH KE BANDE, to be produced by Ravi Walia [FIGHT CLUB, DE TAALI, FAUJ MEIN MAUJ] and directed by Faruque Kabir. The film will look at juvenile crimes being committed across the world. “ALLAH KE BANDE will highlight kids being used for armed conflicts and separatist movements,” Faruque informs me.

Faruque is in the midst of finalizing the shooting dates of the film, but is simultaneously also working on its music. Singer Kailash Kher’s band will be recording the title track shortly. Incidentally, Kailash became a sensation overnight with the ‘Allah Ke Bande’ track from the Arshad Warsi starrer WAISA BHI HOTA HAI.

Faruque is yesteryear actor Murad’s grandson, Raza Murad’s nephew, costume designer Sabiha’s son and singer – actress Sanober’s brother. He has done film-making and screen writing diploma from New York Film Academy, besides assisting names like Aziz Mirza and Santosh Sivan. Faruque had also directed a short film with Ajay Devgan on the 26/7 floods in Mumbai.

Deepa can't stop raving, AB can't take It

"Jesus! This is getting a little scary!" exclaimed the senior Bachchan from London on Tuesday. He was on the way back to Mumbai from the Toronto Film Festival where the response to his performance in Rituparno Ghosh's The Last Lear was overwhelming to us out here, scary to the actor himself.

Says the enraptured director, "In all my life I've never seen an Indian actor, or for that matter any actor, give such a passionate and complete performance. Mr Bachchan just sweeps you away. I can't wait to work with him."

Preity Zinta adds, "He's even better in Last Lear than he was in Black. And that's saying a lot!"

Tell AB about these comments, and he grunts, "Did she say that? Oh my gosh! This is getting seriously embarrassing. I won't compare Last Lear with Black. They're different films and different roles conceived by different filmmakers. I know Deepa saw Last Lear and she liked it. We met over dinner after the screening. I've worked on several different graphs for my character in the Last Lear. I wonder if everyone would catch them! We now take Last Lear to the Rome and London film festivals."

AB lands in Mumbai tomorrow and heads straight to Delhi to receive his National award for Black. "I'm rushing to Delhi before they change their minds," he deadpans.

Shilpa Shetty

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Shilpa Shetty attends the World Film Premiere of "Music and Lyrics" held at the Odeon Leicester Square on February 5, 2007 in London, England.

Shilpa Shetty walks the ramp to display the creation of designer Rocky S at a fashion show in Mumbai, India.

Shilpa Shetty arrives to attend the world premiere of the movie 'Life In A... METRO' held at the Empire Leicester Square in London on May 8, 2007Shilpa Shetty offers flowers to Hindu God Ganesh at a temple in Mumbai, India.

Hollywood actor Richard Gere, left, hugs and kisses Bollywood actor Shilpa Shetty during an event for HIV-AIDS awareness in New Delhi, India, in this March 15, 2007 file photo.

Shilpa Shetty walks with children at risk of HIV from the Committed Communities Development Trust (CCDT) in Bombay, India.

Shilpa Shetty leaves the Celebrity Big Brother House, having been announced as the winner of series five during the grand final at Elstree Studios on January 28, 2007 in London, England.

Shilpa Shetty looks on during a promotional event for the United Breweries group in Bombay, India.

Shilpa Shetty, left, and Shamita Shetty pose during promotion of their upcoming film "Fareb" in Bombay, India, Friday, July 1, 2005.

Shilpa Shetty smiles during an event in Mumbai, India.

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Shilpa Shetty presents a creation by Indian designer Tarun Tahiliani during the India Fashion Week in New Delhi, India.

Chairman of the United Breweries Group Vijay Mallya, left, presents a souvenir to Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty during a promotional event for the UB group in Bombay, India.

Shilpa Shetty Promotes Her Film 'Life in a METRO'.
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