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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Teji Bachchan passes away

Teji Bachchan, mother of superstar Amitabh Bachchan, passed away yesterday afternoon at Mumbai’s Lilavati hospital. She was 93 years old and had been ill for a long time.

Teji, an amateur actor and singer herself, was the wife of Hindi literary great Harivanshrai Bachchan. She had been hospitalised for almost a year now and was shifted to the ICU last month when her condition deteriorated.

Amitabh and Ajitabh Bachchan along with Jaya Bachchan, Abhishek, Aishwarya, Shweta Nanda and Namrata were present in the hospital ever since Teji Bachchan became critical early Friday morning.

Other prominent personalities who came to express their heartfelt condolences included Anil Ambani, Amar Singh, Subroto Roy and actors like Sonali Bendre and Danny Denzongpa.

The funeral is to take place at the Juhu cemetery today (Saturday) morning.

T-Series challenges RGV's allegations

Bhushan Kumar, CMD, Super Cassettes Industries Ltd. (T-Series), has responded to Ram Gopal Varma's Public notice in kind, by stating that Ram Gopal Varma's allegations of "breach of various provisions and industry norms by Super Cassettes" are completely false and incorrect as T-Series has fulfilled all the obligations as per the terms and conditions of the Memorandum Of Understanding (dated 13th June 2006) between Ram Gopal Varma Films Pvt. Ltd. and Super Cassettes Industries Ltd. (T-Series). The MOU relating to the Audio and Video rights of fourteen films is valid, subsisting and binding and is in full force and T-Series is legally entitled to exploit the Audio and Video copyright of all the aforesaid 14 films.

RGV had categorically stated that the audio and video copyright of Sarkar Raj would be a part of the deal after which T-Series entered into the agreement. At this late stage, if RGV claims Sarkar Raj to be an independent film, it amounts to fraud and cheating and T-Series has the right to initiate legal proceedings against him.

Says Bhushan Kumar, "With respect to Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag, T-Series has spent huge sums in the publicity of the film for and on behalf of RGV against which RGV has given adjustment letters against the Video Rights. In fact, in the MOU, RGV has clearly stated that the World Audio rights and India Video copyright of RGV Ki Aag and Sarkar Raj and the other films shall irrevocably be with T-Series only."

"Neither have we committed any breach nor do we owe Ram Gopal Varma anything. The entire consideration amount for Sarkar Raj has already been paid and there has been no breach of the MOU as falsely claimed by RGV. Hence, the alleged termination of the MOU is absolutely incorrect and T-Series still retains the Audio and Video rights to the 14 films as per the agreement."

With the battle lines drawn, it'll be interesting to see which of these two stalwarts emerge victorious.

Prakash Jha to produce Nana's directorial venture

After the hilarious takeoff on the cult of goofy gangsterism in Welcome, Nana Patekar is in a great mood. He received a call from Ratan Jain of Venus asking him to direct another film.

"I'm deeply moved by the industry's faith in my directorial abilities. But I'm an actor, first and last,” says Nana from his home in Pune where he's recovering from a foot injury. He directed his first film Prahaar 16 years ago.

"And now I’m directing another film for producer Prakash Jha. For now that's the only film I'm going to direct," says the versatile actor who was recently seen giving a moving performance as a man remembering moments with his dead wife in the short story Gubbare for Dus Kahaniyaan.

"Whether it’s a comedy like Welcome or a serious role like Gubbare, I do my job as an actor and leave the rest to God and the director." Anil and Nana seem to have had a lot of fun doing the press meets together. "Oh yes, we didn’t plan any of those funny lines that we threw at the press conferences. We just kept making them up. In fact, I joked with Anil that he should produce my next film so he won't be able to throw me out if he had differences with me as an actor."

Nana intends to stay confined until his foot heals completely. "If I walk on it, it might get damaged again."

SRK adds glamour to Nokia ad campaign

It's not normal practice for a brand which is a market leader by a distance to rope in a celebrity and that too for the first time since it entered the Indian market.

But that's exactly what Nokia has done by getting on board Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan for its latest brand campaign. The first campaign featuring the actor goes on air with a TV commercial from December 21.

Explains Devinder Kishore, director (marketing), Nokia: "As a brand we have always ranked high on facets such as reliability, authenticity and our image among the youth, something which Shahrukh too stands for."

Other handset majors such as Motorola and Sony Ericsson already have celebrities like Abhishek Bachchan and Hrithik Roshan, respectively, sporting their products.

Kishore feels the campaign is all about telling people the integral role the brand plays in their lives. "Just like in Shahrukh's life, Nokia has been an integral part of so many other people's lives," he adds.

Nokia in the past has used celebrities like Naseeruddin Shah but only for product specific campaigns. Globally too, Nokia has refrained from using any brand ambassadors.

The TV commercial features Khan using various Nokia phones in different circumstances and highlighting their functionality.

For instance, he is shown checking his e-mail on one of the phones while in another frame he is interacting with his fans as they take his pictures on a Nokia handset. The commercial ends with the six-pack Khan declaring that Nokia has been an integral part of his life for the last ten years.

Khan, who already endorses brands such as Hyundai, Hewlett Packard, Tag Heuer, Diageo's Masterstroke, Videocon, Sunfeast, commands close to Rs 5 crore per deal.

While Nokia refused to divulge the ad spend, Kishore says the campaign would be "hard to miss" and one can gauge the magnitude of the spend by watching it. Apart from television, the company will use mediums such as print, outdoor, points of sale and digital media to publicise the campaign.

Nokia's ad campaigns in the recent past have had more of a global look and feel. But Kishore feels that the company's strategy is to pick "horses for courses". For instance, a product like N-series, which targets the high-end segment, will have less local touch due to its global appeal.

So with Shahrukh on board, will the brand alter its communication strategy? "No," says Kishore, "we have always had consumer centric campaigns, which tell the buyers how the phones can simplify their lives."

The mobile handset market in India is pegged around Rs 15,000 crore, with Nokia having a market share of about 70 per cent. While Nokia might be ahead of its rivals as far as market shares are concerned, analysts feel that it's an "interesting move" on the brand's part to use Khan for a brand campaign.

"Though it's not following suit for competition, it would definitely add more spice to the communication aspect in the market," feels a Delhi-based analyst.

A film on Mumbai's notorious Stoneman

Bollywood doesn’t like to leave any stone turned. Remember the stoneman in Mumbai who bashed pavement dwellers' heads in while they slept? The psychotic guy's life is being filmed by producer Bobby Bedi in a film directed my Manish Gupta, better known for his association with Ram Gopal Varma.

The film entitled Stoneman presents the notorious real-life criminal in the thriller format. It features K K Menon and Arbaaz Khan as cops. Says Arbaaz, "What makes this real-life story interesting is the way it has been written. Manish Gupta who has written Ram Gopal Varma's Sarkar has converted the gruesome serial killings into a thriller. Such is the screenplay that the needle of suspicious points to all the characters including me and K K Menon."

Stoneman is the latest film on real-life crimes. Decades ago, R. K Nayyar shot Yeh Raaste Hain Pyar Ke about a real-life murder. Most recently, Anurag Basu's Gangster was inspired by the life and crimes of Abu Salem.

Madhur signs Arbaaz Khan for Fashion

Things are finally happening in Arbaaz Khan's career. After playing marginal characters in Priydarshan's comedies and sundry supporting roles, Arbaaz Khan has moved into principal roles in significant films.

He has just been signed to play the main male lead opposite Priyanka Chopra and Kangana Ranaut in Madhur Bhandakar's Fashion. "When Madhur offered me this role I wasn't the least worried about the space I'd have in the film. Even though two beautiful ladies Priyanka and Kangana were already signed I'm handsome enough to hold my own," Arbaaz jokes.

"I am the principal main lead and guy who's instrumental in the rise of the Priyanka character in the fashion world. Fashion would be interesting because I get to work with a director of Madhur's caliber. I also get to work with the two actresses for the first time. Priyanka, I've known well since she has been in many of my brother Salman's films. But Kangana I've only met socially. She's a wonderful girl."

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