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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Shabana is ambassador of Action Aid

From 22 to 26 September Shabana will be joining several eminent activists from world over to head for the UN headquarters in New York to plead for food for the entire globe. These activists include the Brazilian prime minister and a Nigerian actor.

Assuming her adamant activist's stance Shabana asserts, "It's very simple, really. Food needs to be put on everyone's plate. In the UN General Assembly they had promised that by 2015 they'd remove hunger from the world. They haven't even achieved 50 percent of that target. So all of us from the worldover will have just one chant. Put food on everyone’s plate."

Getting more serious Shabana says, "How can we think of making progress when everyone doesn't get enough to eat? In fact people are still dying of hunger. After I finish at the UN General Assembly I'm going to Yale for a panel discussion. Finally I'll be doing a panel discussion on the BBC on India’s 60 years of independence."

Shabana spends more time outside the country than she does at home these days. "In any case my home is being renovated and is in a shambles. On my birthday on 18 September all my friends were huddled together in one room in one corner of our house."

I am not seeing Mauli Dave: Aditya Narayan

He came, he spoke, and he conquered, against all odds. Aditya Narayan has become a favourite with the audience of 'Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2007', and he has hung on, despite all criticism. We ask him how it feels, now that the show is coming to an end.

Q. What was it like, growing up as a famous singer's son?
A. It was great. Both my parents are singers, and my understanding of music began when I was a year old. I ate music, I slept music, and I am proud of that.

Q. 'Sa Re Ga Ma Pa' is a very successful show, and this is your first time as an anchor. How do you feel about it?
A. I had to fit into Shaan's shoes, and that was a challenge. There were a lot of expectations. I worked hard, so that nobody got a chance to complain. Before hosting the show, I knew that I would not become an extraordinary anchor, but I also knew that I could be good.

Q. Was it your own decision to become a singer? Or did your parents want you to become one?
A. I was never forced into singing. It came to me naturally. Singing is in my genes.

Q. You have a diploma in contemporary English music. You seem to have more on your mind?
A. Yes, I do. You just wait and watch.

Q. Have you noticed any changes in yourself since you began anchoring this show? Do you still get nervous?
A. I was never nervous. I think hosting is my biggest strength. I used to fumble and forget lines earlier, but I have become very confident now.

Q. What do you think contributes to the success of the show?
A. There is more than one reason. Each and every person involved in the show has given it their best – from the director to the producer, to each member of the unit.

Q. What is your equation with the judges and the contestants?
A. Great. They have been a constant source of encouragement for me, and I would really like to thank everyone related to the show – they were with me every time I needed them.

Q. You have received proposals, and contestants have even kissed you. Are you considering any?
A. No, no, no! It is my work that gets the appreciation and love, not me.

Q. You have worked hard to maintain a certain look on the show as well. Any inspiration?
A. I am inspired by hard work. I work out, I eat healthy, and I even go for facials, manicures and pedicures. I am a complete foodie, but every time I overeat, I work out extra. Looking good has become part of my lifestyle.

Q. How have your friends reacted to the new you? Do you give them tips?
A. My friends are with me whenever I have some free time. They are all aware of my style funda. I experiment a lot with my clothes, from suits to jeans, etc.

Q. Your father is a judge on 'Indian Idol 3' and you host a similar show on a rival channel. Do you discuss things related to the two shows, when you are at home?
A. I know my show is the best, although I do not say this to him. Jokes apart, we discuss the shows at home, in detail.

Q. Who is your favourite contestant, and who do you think should win the show?
A. All of them are fantastic. The person who deserves to win, will be the winner.

Q. After this show, will we see you as a singer or as an actor? Or do you want to be successful at both?
A. I wanted to be a wrestler, but things did not work out. Now I want to be not only a successful singer, musician and actor, but anything that is related to the entertainment industry.

Q. You had played Salman Khan's son in a movie. What was it like, sharing the stage with him as a host?
A. He was very surprised to see me, as I am now all grown up. We relived some moments of those days.

Q. Your best friend, Mauli Dave, is out of the show. Are you still in touch with her?
A. I am, since she is in Mumbai, and plans to be here for some time. I never understood why all those rumours floated around.

Q. Any messages for your fans? Especially your female fans?
A. I would want to thank everyone for all the love and support that they have given me. They have accepted me as I am, and for that, I am really thankful.

'Saawariya' release update

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What does one look forward to this Diwali? Fireworks, of course! With Eros announcing a 2,000 + screen release for SRK and Farah Khan’s OM SHANTI OM, everyone’s curious to know the release strategy international giant Sony Pictures are adopting for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s SAAWARIYA.

Talks are rife that Sony Pictures, the producers/distributors of SAAWARIYA, are pitching Bhansali’s latest outing as an international film by giving it an extensive release, not just in India, but also in the international territories.

However, Uday Singh of Sony Pictures isn’t commenting on the exact number of prints [reportedly, there’re whispers that they haven’t booked the theatres yet]. “Let’s set the record straight! We’ve already booked 250/300 single screens in India. Yes, we haven’t booked the multiplexes yet, but that should happen soon. The screen count will keep increasing as the release date draws nearer,” he clarifies.

What about the international release? “We’re targeting the Indian diaspora in the first round,” he states, “Even CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON and MONSOON WEDDING opened with minimal prints, but the numbers [movieplexes] grew after they found acceptance internationally. SAAWARIYA will be released like a big-budget Hindi film internationally, but we will increase the screens in phases. We will tap the non-traditional markets in phases, not at one go,” he enlightens.

Javed Akhtar's birthday treat for Shabana

Last week on Star's music contest Voice Of India which was a family – reunion special, Shabana Azmi brought about a rapprochement between the estranged musician-brothers Jatin and Lalit.

"Trust me, it wasn't planned or orchestrated. It happened spontaneously because of the electrifying atmosphere. That evening I realized how sentimental we Indians are."

Guess what Bollywood's golden couple did on Shabana's birthday on Monday? Javed Akhtar brought in his wife's 56th birthday by watching Chak De India at a suburban theatre.

Says Shabana, "Would you believe we hadn’t seen the film as yet. I came back from Chennai and we went straight for Chak De India. Javed and I hadn't seen it as yet. 10.30 in the night people were clapping and whistling….Lovely film. Only the two of us. The girls are so spontaneous. Shah Rukh Khan is a revelation. My respect for Aditya Chopra has shot up manifold. To convince the producer to put money into something so removed from the norm isn't easy."

Photo Feature: Sania Mirza with Sachin Tendulkar!

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Master blaster Sachin Tendulkar and tennis sensation Sania Mirza greet each other at a press conference in Kolkata, on Tuesday, September 18, 2007.

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