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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Deepika favourite for lead role in 'Robot'

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After a dream debut with Bollywood 'Badshaah' Shah Rukh Khan in 'Om Shanti Om', Deepika Padukone appears set to storm the south with a possible role opposite Tamil superstar Rajinikanth in the big-budget film "Robot".

Padukone's name is "on the top of the list of contenders for heroine" in the Rs 100-crore venture by director Shankar, sources in the film production unit here said.

Shankar, who directed last year's runaway hit "Sivaji - The Boss" also starring Rajinikanth, has already teamed up with the style icon and renowned music composer A R Rehman.

The 22-year-old model-turned-actress has received the Star Screen award for "most promising newcomer" and Stardust "Superstar of Tomorrow"" award.

Going by the mantra that actresses make a dent in Kollywood after starring opposite Rajinikanth or Kamal Hassan, the media began the buzz about Deepika acting in "Robot".

The speculation earlier was that Shah Rukh Khan would play the lead in the the film, to be made in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi, before Shankar succeeded in getting the Tamil matinee idol to agree.

Ash & Hrithik have no rivalry: Ashutosh Gowariker

Troubled and tired of all the controversies surrounding the release of Jodha-Akbar, Ashutosh Gowariker finally speaks from his bed where he's recovering from a back problem.

Is it true that a company dumped the music of Jodha-Akbar?
It's true that we were looking at an association with Big Music. But we didn't agree on certain rights issue for the music….so we parted.

UTV Music, a label that Ronnie Screwvala wanted to start later during the year, is being launched in a hurry to release our Jodha-Akbar music. We're having the music release function on the 9 Jan. An on 15 the music is in the stores.

The Maharani of Jaipur Rani Padmini, who's a direct descendent of Jodhabai, and her husband are flying down to release the music.

Is it true you're cutting two of the songs?
No. There're only five songs recorded for Jodha-Akbar. And we've retained all of them. I treasure every song that I record and wouldn't dream of cutting them for length.

Even if we had nine songs only two would wind their way into the charts.Though we've five songs I've worked on making each hummable.

How do you think the younger generation would react to the music?
The response to the first two songs has been surprisingly positive. People were expecting archaic songs. But they like the modern adaptation of the 16th century sounds.

The songs were never made to blare at pubs. Never targeted at the youngsters?
Why do you say that? When Pyar kiya to darna kya was created it was youngsters who were throwing coins on the screen. When Dev Saab sang Khoya Khoya chand it was the young who swooned.

And when Shammi Kapoor said Yahooo it was the young who responded. I'd say the film comes first. Whatever emerges from it should be suitably marketed.

The music of Jodha-Akbar can't be Bhangra and Hip-hop. Just because the film has Aishwarya please don't expect an introductory song and dance. It's not a star vehicle. It's about the characters.I'm showcasing Jodha and Akbar.

How will you be there?
I have to be there. It's a big function. And I have to manage in spite of a slipped-disc situation. I'm just grateful it didn't happen during the shooting. Imagine me being out of circulation on location in Rajasthan.

Have you strained or injured yourself?
No I strained my back while lifting a heavy bag.

Did the bag contain Hrithik?
(laughs) Well Hrithik, Aishwarya and I have certainly been carrying an awesome burden on our shoulders. I'd like to compare my struggle to release Jodha-Akbar to a video game where you play the first level very easily. As you go to other levels the game gets complicated.

What's the truth about Hrithik and Aishwarya not doing the publicity for Jodha-Akbar?
Not true at all. We now have a publicity plan for them. It had to be aligned to the music and film release.

And what about these stories of how the two couldn't get along?
Absolutely untrue! I don't know how and why this is being said. Aishwarya and Hrithik get along really well. Even at the wrap-party they were fine with each other.

There was no rivalry between them. Aishwarya is the most professional actress I've worked with. She never bought any guests on sets, or her cellphone for that matter.

There were stories about how she was asking a spotboy for chai while Hrithik was rehearsing. Yeh sab bachkani baatein hai.

Did Abhishek ever drop in?
Only when he was shooting in Karjat nextdoor for that song in Ra Gopal Varma's Aag. Even then he'd drop in before the shooting started, have chai and leave.

I just want to say both Hrithik and Aishwarya were extremely dedicated professional and sensible. They knew exactly what they had to do. It wasn't as if they were shocked by getting into a period piece.

Specially after Dhoom 2 it must have been tough for them to get into the Moghul era.
Yes, but even for Dhoom 2 they had to assume an alien body language and personality. In Jodha-Akbar too they've worked to create a new persona. That couldn't have happened if they weren't focused.

Did you miss Aamir Khan in Jodha-Akbar?
They were showing our old film Baazi the other day…I'm dying to see Taare Zameen Par. He came to visit me twice during my confinement. But I can't sit up for long hours.

When is Jodha-Akbar releasing?
We were very keen on Jan 25. But because of my back problem I was told to be in bed for 21 days. I couldn't go to Chennai for the background score. A R Rahman had to travel down to Mumbai. That delayed things quite a bit.

So my cabin in office was being used to prepare the background score. That was most inconvenient. Now we're coming on Feb 15. At the moment that's the date.

Valentine's Week for co-stars who aren't the least attached to one another?
(laughs) That sounds like a good idea for an intensely romantic film. So far we've been looking at festival weeks to release Jodha-Akbar…Eid, then Independence Day…Now any Friday when Jodha-Akbar releases is celebration week.

It's been a tough film for you.
I wouldn't say so. The process of filming Jodha-Akbar has been really enjoyable. I've no issues except the back problem. 'It's not going to be postponed any more.' That's my Hanuman Chalisa these days.

I ran screaming to Salman: Katrina

Currently Katrina Kaif is in Australia shooting for Vipul Shah's comedy Singh Is King.

Speaking from Australia Katrina says, "I'm here till the middle of December. And I do miss Mumbai. But right now I've my mom and sister with me. So that makes it so much better."

For Katrina Kaif it's been a somewhat different Diwali this year in Australia.

"Vipul had organized some awesome fireworks on the beach. So all of us from the unit, Indian and Australian, were down on the beach for Diwali. Then we went to an Indian restaurant. Luckily nobody played cards. The fact that we did sociable things rather than play cards made this Diwali very special."

Katrina has been entering the laughter zone once too often in her career.

Is she getting wary of doing comedies? "I wouldn't say that. But it's true that in our comedies the heroines have very little to do except smile vacuously and watch the boys have a good time.

However Vipul is very very special to me. I'd be a tree in his film if he wanted to be. It just so happened that the people who were comfortable working with me initially were dabbling in comedy.

My debut Maine Pyar Kyun Kiya, then Partner and now Welcome are all comedies. The territory is getting a bit too familiar with me. Initially it was important for me to get those commercial hits to my credit. Now that it's happened I'm consciously doing other kinds of films."

One non-comedy role that Katrina is currently shooting is Subhash Ghai's Main Yuvraaj.

"And I get to play the cello in Subhashji's film. The thing with the cello is, you can't completely learn to play it all at once, like the piano or the sitar. It's an instrument that takes years to master."

Katrina sat with an orchestra player in Bombay to get the body posture of the cello player right. "Luckily for me Subhashji's films have an ongoing theme piece running through the music soundtrack.

That's the one which I've familiarized myself with on the cello. I learnt the chords for that piece like a piece of choreography. When people see me doing that piece they wouldn't find me faking it.

We were shooting in a castle in Austria with a German orchestra conductor guiding my movements. When I got it right I ran screaming to Salman, Arjun and everyone on the sets. Subhashji had to calm me down. 'Theek hai, beta. Now the next shot.'

She describes Singh Is King as a complete comedy. "It'll be my funniest comedy so far, and for a change not slapstick. I've been doing quite a lot of comedies. This is my second comedy in a row with director Anees Bazmi after Welcome, and that too with Akshay Kumar again."

She admits Akshay's comic timing has been a learning experience. "You do learn from everyone you work with. He's the master of his genre. He knows what works best for him. And that for any actor is a big USP."

'I married Priyanka last year'

E Niwas could've been gone out of circulation after his last film Bardasht bombed at the boxoffice.

But Niwas married his sweetheart and his luck changed. "I got married a year back to Priyanka. It was a love marriage."

"I finished scripting two films. Then I approached Riteish Deshmukh who loved the script of the comedy De Taali. I thought after Bardasht he wouldn't want to work with me. But Riteish loved it.

And he said he wanted to shoot immediately. I for married on 9 August last year. We started shooting after ten days. We went for our honeymoon and I cleverly started shooting De Taali there for fifteen days.

I had warned Riteish De Taali would take time, that I'd do it between breaks for My Name Is Anthony Gonzalves which was a big responsibility for me since I was producing directing and launching a new boy Nikhil Diwedi. Riteish was game, And we completed De Taali in-between schedules of Anthony Gonzalves."

Niwas describes Anthony Gonzalves as a slice-of-life drama. "It's about dreams and ambitions and a friendship between a film struggler Nikhil and a much older man, a gangster played by Pavan Malhotra. These two opposites form the core of the plot."

Gonzalves and De Taali are both original scripts. "That's right. Shool was inspired by Zanjeer, Love Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega was taken from Fargo and my Dum was an remake of Telugu films.

But De Taali and Anthony Gonzalves are original works. I had to gain the confidence to do something that isn't inspired from other sources."

Nikhil Diwedi who plays the title role was Niwas' first and only choice. "As for my leading lady Amrita Rao, everyone wants to know why I've changed her image to a glamorous one after her traditional role in Vivah.

But I always saw Amrita as glamorous. When I asked her to do an item song she had no hesitation in getting into the grooves."

Interestingly Niwas works with three generations of actors in My Name Is Anthony Gonzalves.

"Mithun Chakraborty who plays a priest never let us feel his seniority although Pavan Malhotra was a junior and Nikhil was a kid. Mithuda was one of us.

He often had to wait for us on the sets. I needed this kind of support. Considering I was stepping into production for the first time."

I danced in TZP too: Darsheel

Darsheel aka Ishaan Awasthi, the child actor in Aamir Khan's directorial debut "Taare Zameen Par", did not dance on-screen to the song "Bum bum bole". However, the little actor danced during the retakes of the shots.

"I have trained in Shiamak's (Davar) school and I am a good dancer. Everyone in 'Bum bum bole' danced, excluding me. I was very upset. So, every time they shot a retake, I would start dancing," Darsheel wrote in Aamir Khan's blog www.aamirkhan.com.

Recounting memories of the shoot, he added: "Acting with Tanay and Sachet was great fun and partying with them was amazing fun."

In the film released Dec 21, Darsheel plays the role of a dyslexic child.

Aamir was at Darsheel's house for lunch with wife Kiran and wished one could have seen the boy's face as he read the blog posts.

However, before handing over his laptop to Darsheel, an overwhelmed Aamir penned: "I want you to know that I am absolutely thrilled with what I have been reading through your posts."

"Every stress and every pain-filled moment that I may have gone through to make TZP feels worth it after reading your responses. I am humbled with your generosity, and I feel stronger and filled with courage to do better and more challenging work in the future."

For the record, Aamir's post, which was largely about his films, attracted 532 comments from his fans.

Viveik Oberoi wanted my role

It almost didn't happen for the first debutant of 2008.

Nikhil Diwedi was almost ousted from his debut film My Name Is Anthony Gonzalves when the corporate house which director E Niwas approached to produce the film, insisted the director work with Viveik Oberoi instead of the newcomer.

When confronted with this historical trivia on the destiny of his debut Diwedi demurs. "I wouldn't like to name anyone.

But an actor who was very hot and happening a few years ago did want to do My Name Is Anthony Gonzalves. My director Niwas was very clear that the script would only work with a newcomer, and that too me.

He threw all caution to the winds and decided to produce Anthony on his own along with Sahara One," divulges Diwedi who claims to be a diehard Bachchan fan.

"I remember as a child watching Mr Bachchan in Suhaag. Today it's a coincidence that my debut film gets its title from a popular song in a film featuring with Mr Bachchan. That isn't all. No one knows this.

But I was actually supposed to make my debut with a small role that E Niwas had offered me in an Aftab Shivdasani-Esha Deol romance called Jaane Kaise Kab Kahan, again a song from a Bachchan flick.

I love that title, and I've asked Niwas to give it to me for a future film," gushes the newcomer who claims to be finely- tuned to every detail about Hindi cinema.

Fortunately for Nikhil, he desisted from playing the bit role of Esha's fiancé in the shelved film."What has to happen, will happen," philolosophizes the youngster with oodles of confidence.

Nikhil plays a bartender and a Bollywood struggler in My Name Is Anthony Gonzalves. He's all praise for his co-star Amrita Rao.

"Five years have passed since she came into the industry. Even today Amrita's hunger and anxiety to excel in every shot remains unchanged. I like that. Somewhere I too want to be insecure even after 25 films."

In fact Nikhil has already got three more films in his kitty. "One is a remake of Rahul Rawail's 1978 Sunny Deol starrer Arjun which Shivum Nair is directing and Anurag Kashyap is writing."

The original film about an unemployed youth being sucked politics and corruption is no longer valid. Kashyap is re-writing the script for Nikhil Diwedi.

"Unemployment is no longer a burning issue," opines Nikhil. "Today with so many avenues of work for youngsters like call centers, I think Arjun needed a new interpretation. Besides Arjun I have two other films to be produced by K Sera Sera and Sahara One."

Nikhil Diwedi seems to have found the most appropriate godfather in Shah Rukh Khan who apparently has taken the newcomer under his wing.

Nikhil apparently hangs around Khan quite often.

Surprisingly the debutant pooh-poohs the sugar-daddy theory. "I think too much has been made of Shah Rukh's interest in my career.

It isn't even a fraction of what it's made out to be. Sure his company Red Chillies is the line producer of My Name Is Anthony Gonzalves. But that's because he believed in the project Beyond that, Shah Rukh's interest in me and my career is, I think,reasonable and very sweet.

He did release the music of my film. Wouldn't he do that for any newcomer who requests him to?"

Clearly this newcomer has his act together. "I'm aware that 2007 had a large number of commendable male newcomers. Should I be happy to be coming in 2008 ? I don't think so. Every film and actor have their own destiny.

How I'm accepted by audiences doesn't depend on the competition but my intrinsic merits.I'll survive not because of competition or Shah Rukh's backing but only if audiences approve of me"

That we shall find out on Jan 11 when My Name Is Anthony Gonzalves releases.

'I can't do films with Sonam'

It has happened before. The parent is always wary of being seen with their star-child specially at the beginning of the newcomer's career.

Dimple Kapadia said no to Sanjay Bhansali's Khamoshi with daughter Twinkle and Dharmendra agreed to play Sunny and Bobby Deol's father in Apne after so many decades in the industry (Dharmendra did play Sunny's dad in his second film Sunny but they didn't have scenes together).

To no one's surprise Anil has turned down a chance to co-star with his daughter in her second film the much talked-about Dilli 6.

Says Anil, "It's true Rakeysh Mehra offered me a role in Dilli 6. But I regretfully declined. Who wouldn't want to work with Rakeysh after Rang De Basanti? Sonam is lucky to be working with him in her second film, after THE Sanjay Bhansali as her debut."

For now Anil has decided to stay away from offers to share screen space with his daughter. "In fact there have been 8-10 offers. But nothing that would tempt me into making this move right away.

Unless something really exceptional comes up I wouldn't like to work with my daughter at the moment. In fact she is even more against the idea than I am. She feels even more strongly about it. So I'd just like to wait."

He lights up at the mention of Saawariya. "The figures have come in straight from Sony Pictures in the US. And they're very heartening. I'd have been happier if the film had done even better in India. But it's done well enough.

Sonam has been appreciated unanimously. People like Amitji and Dilip Saab have praised her. Sonam couldn't have hoped for a better debut.

I'm very proud of my daughter. Yes, she has a long way to go. I think her second film is as exciting,if not more."

Adds Sonam, "I've done two shoots with my father and one AIDS feature.All through he was more worried about me than himself. So I don't think it's fair to him to put have me as a co-star.

Also, right now I'm too raw to separate my father from the character he'd play with me. Besides I wouldn't want to do any and everything with him. It has to be something special for both of us.

But if he produces a film that has a role for both of us I'd definitely want to do it. Because he produces only quality-conscious products."

I want to be a father: Johar

Earlier this week there was quite a scene at a multiplex in downtown Mumbai when one familiar grownup man sat sobbing in his seat long after a show of Aamir Khan's Taare Zameen Par was over, while another man tried to console him.

As curious onlookers moved closer to the emotional enclave they were surprised to see that the man so moved by the film was none other than filmmaker-anchor Karan Johar.

Karan who left on Sunday afternoon for Goa to bring in the New Year with his friends admitted Taare Zamen Par was one of the most emotional experiences of his movie-going life.

"I couldn't move from my seat for ten minutes after the show. I just sobbed like a baby. I was so moved by the story of the parents discovering the core of their child's spirit that I now want to be a parent.

I'm neither married nor have I ever intended to be a father in real life. But after watching Taare…I truly want to a father, to connect with a child on a level that only a parent can understand."

An ardent friend and fan of Shah Rukh Khan, Karan wholeheartedly praises the other Khan superstar.

"After seeing the film with a regular ticket-paying audience,I called up Aamir and told him that a sincerity of vision was part of his DNA.

He just can't help being the creator and the artiste that he is. It's hard to believe Taare is his first film as director. Look at the performance he has got out of the child actor Darsheel Safary."

Sighs Karan, "Taare Zameen Par is a landmark film. Definitely one of the best films I've seen in recent times."

Sushmita Sen in illegal deal

Sushmita Sen has distanced herself from the controversial illegal import of her Toyota Landcruiser, which has almost invited prosecution for the former Miss Universe.

In a reply to a notice issued by the Bombay High Court asking her to explain as to why appropriate action be not initiated against her for alleged illegalities committed in import of Toyota Landcruiser purportedly using fake documents and further manipulation for getting the vehicle registered, Sushmita has said that she had no intention to defeat any provision of law and that she was not involved in import of the Landcruiser.

The court had on October 11, 2007 upheld Sushmita's petition for quashing order of the BMC's Joint Commissioner asking her to cough up more than Rs 23 lakh towards octroi and ten times penalty for importing the car.

At the same time the court had taken serious note of allegations made against Sushmita, including non-payment of custom's duty, preparing false records, registering the new car as used one, importing it under transfer of residence, mentioning wrong engine and chasis numbers, undervaluing the vehicle and submitting false declaration to the registration authorities and had issued the notice to her.

In the reply Sushmita has also said that, she had not indulged in any irregularities or illegalities or in any blameworthy conduct, on the contrary as a law abiding citizen she had approached the Settlement Commission on her own, when the Custom's officials raised an issue of under-payment of duties, and paid Rs 20,33,386 to them.

Thereafter, she had duly paid the octroi amount of Rs 2,16,988 when the BMC issued demand notice, she has added in the reply.

Besides, the actor has also stated that all the papers with respect to the vehicle were prepared by M/s Jai Mata Enterprises proprietor Haren Choksey, who had purportedly offered her the Landcruiser, and signed by him on behalf of Vasu Thamala, the alleged owner of the vehicle and an allegedly non-existent person.

She has said, she was shown registration papers of the Landcruiser before it was handed over to her and categorically made it clear that it was not specifically imported for her.

Meanwhile, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice J P Deodhar today issued a non-bailable warrant against Vasu Thamala and adjourned the matter for further hearing after two weeks.

SLB burns his sets for money?

The Supreme Court Tuesday sought noted Bollywood film director Sanjay Leela Bhansali's response on a plea seeking resumption of his prosecution for allegedly setting fire to the sets of his film 'Black' in 2004 to claim insurance.

A Bench of Justices C.K. Thakker and D.K. Jain issued notice to Bhansali for his response on a plea by antique dealer Farida Husseinally, who had supplied furniture for the film set.

Husseinally, who claims to have lost antique furniture made of bronze, copper and other metals worth Rs.20 million in the fire, had earlier lodged a complaint in 2006 in Borivali's magisterial court, contending that the use of LPG cylinders, which led to the fire, was a criminal offence under the provisions of law regulating the use of petroleum gas.

The Borivali magistrate had ordered investigation of the case. But Bhansali had challenged the probe before the Bombay High Court, which suspended it.

Appearing for the antique dealer, advocate Vishwnath Chaturvedi contended before the apex court bench that the director was in the habit of setting his films' sets on fire to dupe insurance companies.

He made a fervent plea to the court to order resumption of Bhansali's prosecution after setting aside the Bombay High Court order.

Chaturvedi alleged that during the shooting of the film on Feb 18, 2004, the set was deliberately set on fire to seek hefty insurance compensation.

The antique dealer alleged that on enquiry she had come to know that before the fire, Bhansali had removed all the items supplied by her from the sets.

Shilpa's last resort to Fame?

Shilpa has also signed her first bollywood film after Big Brother back home. The film titled 'The Man' will be produced by Sunny Deol and has been written by Neeraj Pathak. In the film Shilpa plays a star who suddenly shoots to international fame.

A source associated with the project says: “Shilpa’s character in the film seems to be derived from her real persona. She plays a woman who suddenly shoots to international fame. In a way, the role is very biographical.”

Reports also have it that the film’s co-director, Neeraj, has decided to use in the movie the real footage of Shilpa’s experience in London after she won the Big Brother show last year.

‘The Man’ is set to go on the floors in the first quarter of 2008.

Isha gets steamy in bathtub

Isha Koppikar is back in news for her hot act. We hear that the sultry siren has shot a few hot sacene with a newcomer Arav Chowdhary in her upcoming film Right Or Wrong though she refused to kiss him.

One such sizzling scene shows Isha and Arav lying face-to-face in a bathtub. Isha raises her bare leg from the foam and begins caressing Arav’s bare chest with the toe of her foot.

While shooting this scene Arav wore nothing but shorts. Isha wore minimal clothes that were covered with foam to give the impression of nudity.

Apart from this, the duo has also shot a bedroom scene.

‘Right Ya Wrong’ is a story that raises some important moral questions. The film has Sunny Deol and Irrfan Khan playing cops. Konkona Sen Sharma plays a lawyer.

Himesh has slowed me down

Thanks to Himesh Reshammiya's decision to curtail his work, Bollywood's most prolific lyricist Sameer Anjaan who has written over 5000 songs, has reduced his work load.

"You see Himesh and I had formed a team. I did some of my finest and most popular work recently for Himesh in films from Tere Naam to Aap Ka Surroor.

But now that he has decided to compose only for his own starrers, I too have been forced to slow down. Yes I'm doing the words for Himesh's three films Karz, Kajra Re and A Love Ssssshtory."

For Karz Sameer will re-write the whole Anand Bakshi theme song Ek haseena thi. "I'll take the opening line as a starting point and then weave my own words."

Quite a tribute, coming from a self-confessed fan of Majrooh Sultanpuri and Anand Bakshi.

"Look at their body of work. How prolific they were! They were poetic and yet so accessible to the common man.

That's what I've been aiming to do all along, although I've been criticized and condemned for playing to the galleries. But when today Gulzar Saab write populist numbers like Ticket to Hollywood and Beedi he's praised for moving with the times.

When I've been doing the same I was accused of making compromises. But it's very important to keep up with the times. For a recent film Phir Hera Pheri I wrote All day all night which was in four languages Rajasthani, English, Hindi and Punjabi….That's the effect of globalization on cinema and our music. That's how today's youngsters speak. That's the spirit one has to capture in our film songs."

Sameer lights up like a gallery of diyas when he talks about his latest triumph in Saawariya.

"By the grace of God, the songs in Saawariya were appreciated for their poetry. When I'm pulled up for the lack of poetry in today's songs I want to know where are the creative artistes like Sanjay Leela Bhansali who demand and expect poetry in their songs?

When I was writing poetry for films like Aashiqui and Saajan in the 1990s I also wrote Main to bhelpuri kha raha tha in Coolie No 1. Because that was a song for a street-smart guy. One has to write according to the demand of the character and film.

I know my father (Anjaan) wrote poetry like Chandan sa badan in Saraswatichandra. But that was the demand of the times and the character. Today when Sanjay Bhansali offers me a chance to write songs like Jab se tere naina and Sawar sawar gayi I do it happily."

Sameer fondly recalls that historic moment when Sanjay Bhansali called him.

"He told me there are two songs of mine that tilted the scale towards me when there were so many more distinguished poets wanting to do the lyrics of Saawariya. Those songs were Tumse milna baatein karna in Tere Naam and Mohabbatein lutaoonga for Abhijeet Sawant."

Sameer wrote the first lyric Masha Allah for Saawariya in three days. "That's how long it took me to write each of the lyrics for Saawariya. I'm a fast worker. And I've survived so long because I know the art of writing lyrics. It's not enough to be a poet. You've to know how to connect your words with the common man."

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Abhishek and I had some fun too

2007 was a year of tremendous turmoil for Priyanka. There were legal and police hassles regarding financial endeavours. At home her dad struggled with a serious illness.

Sighs Priyanka, "In 2007 I've just been busy doing commercials. And then there were other problems created by various people. I've accepted those as an enevitable part of each year.

The more popular you get the more the number of people who want target you. That's fine. It's a professional hazard. You've got to take it in your stride. I'm glad I've my family to stand by me. They're my strength and my weakness."

Sighs the discreet diva, "The end of 2007 seemed to be the beginning of the year for me because I started Fashion. I'll soon be starting Karan Johar production with Abhishek and John. Both the films will be over by July. So the first-half of 2008 is packed."

She's looking forward to working with Abhishek and John again.

"Abhishek and I had some fun times during Bluff Master and with John I did one of my toughest roles in Karam. I enjoyed that though it didn't work at the box office. But then a film doing well or not is in nobody's hands," says the actor who in five years has given the maximum number of hits and has earned the tag of the new-millennium Hema Malini.

She hopes to fashion a new success in Fashion. "It's actually becoming a much bigger film than what it was meant to be. Let's face it, success is important. And to me the boxoffice is very important."

Fashion is a special challenge. "The character requires a lot of hard work. The graph is so steep. Madhur Bhandarkar is keeping me on my toes constantly.

Yes, I admit Krissh and Don didn't have as much space for me as Fashion. But one does all kinds of movies. I enjoy the experience of trying something new each time.

In Fashion I'm far more at the forefront than Krissh or Don. But the challenge is the same."

Reel Buzz: Two Hot Ladies With Rajni Kanth

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With the news that the mega project 'Robot' is on, the entire media is abuzz with activity and it is heard that the makers are looking at roping in not one but two heroines for the film and the most likely choices would be the Bollywood beauty Deepika Padukone and our very own South Indian hottie Nayantara.

While the official announcements are yet to be made, this pair looks quite likely to be alongside superstar Rajnikanth who will be the hero of the film. Will have to see how Shankar brings up this brainchild story of his.

On the other hand Rajni Kanth visited Tirumala to seek blessings of Lord Venkateshwara before getting into the actual job of 'Robot'. And it seems that the time started for us to talk about 'Robot'.

Shaan to perform at a musical event in Qatar

After garnering praises for style of singing or even hosting musical shows, Shaan, is all geared up to perform in Qatar for his grand Bollywood musical show, ‘Shaan Se’. The show is being sponsored by Consolidated Gulf Co (CGC).

CGC Business Development Head said that since Qatar is home to many Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi expatriates. They would surely love to dance on the tunes of popular Bollywood numbers live from a famous voice and his team of artists. Hence, CGC will be the main sponsor of the show.

The musical event will be held on Jan 10 at the Khalifa Tennis and Squash complex.

Sajid Khan to host Star Screen Awards

Ace compere and director of the blockbuster hit Heyy Babyy, Sajid Khan, would be hosting the 14th Annual Star Screen Awards to be held on January 10 in Mumbai. Shreyas Talpade and Saagarika Ghatge will also share the stage with Sajid.

The Star Screen awards which are usually among the first few award functions of the year are in their 14th year running. This year’s event sees some of 2007’s top films like Taare Zameen Par, Chak De India, Life…In a Metro, Om Shanti Om and Guru vying for the top honours.

“I have lost 19 kgs for my grand performance on Saawariya’s title song. Then Shreyas and I would be seen emulating the Chak De India girls. Another notable thing about this year’s event is that the script has been written by Milap Zaveri who has penned films like Masti and Pyare Mohan”, says Sajid Khan in his trademark humorous way.

With such an entertaining line-up of acts, this event will surely be one rollicking affair.

I'm ashamed for not watching TZP: Ayesha Takia

We have all seen Ayesha Takia in different roles in various Bollywood flicks. We have even known about her ambitions and plans as an actress.

Here we present a different Ayesha Takia who talks about music – her likes and dislikes.

Q: What's playing on your iPod these days?
A: Since I am doing a lot of workouts these days, it’s mostly Trance and Techno music on my iPod now.

Q: Of the recent films released – ‘Taare Zameen Par’, ‘Khoya Khoya Chand’, ‘Welcome’ and ‘Dus Kahaniya, which, according to you, has the best music?
A: I would say that the music scored in all these films are great. While the music in ‘Welcome’ is mind blowing, I liked the music in ‘Khoya Khoya Chand’ too.

I have not watched ‘Taare Zameen Par’ and am ashamed about it. I have heard that the film as well as the music in this movie is tremendous.

Q: Which are your five all-time favorite songs?
A: Come on, this is too tough a job. Nevertheless, I will try. I like all the songs in ‘Lamhe’ and ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’.

You may choose any song from these films. I also love the song in ‘Dil’ – ‘Khambe Jaise Khari Hai’.

I like the song so much that I have watched the movie at least 50 times in my childhood. I honestly don’t know why.

Again, I also like the title track ‘Soncha na tha’ from my film ‘Soncha na tha’. Besides, these I am also fond of the ‘Krishna Cottage’ song ‘Soona soona lamha lamha’.

Q: What type of music soothes your mind and which ones irritate you?
A: For me music is fun, and it all depends on my mood. My liking for music changes according to variations of my moods.

If I am in a trance mood, I like Trance music and when in a rocking mood, I prefer Rock music.

And there are times when I also listen to Sufi music. (Smiling) As far as irritating music is concerned, I must tell you that the music my sister prefers is really irritating.

She keeps the door of her room open and plays loud Rock music. This is really irritating for the entire family and whoever hears it.

Q: Is there any music that makes you dance as you hear it?
A: I personally like ‘Hip-hop’, ‘Rock’ and ‘Trance’ music a lot. At the same time, I am very fond of the song ‘Loot liya’ in my film ‘Sunday’.

It is a hilarious as well as jamboree kind of a song usually associated with the immersion of the Ganapati.

Q: Which is your favorite romantic song?
A: Once again I need to mention the title song in ‘Soncha na tha’ as I like this song very very much.

At the same time, I also like the song ‘Jeena kya tere bina’ from my movie ‘Kya Love Story Hain’.

Q: Do you prefer remixes or original songs?
A: It is a simple fact that remixes are made from original songs that have more value to any music aficionado.

The idea behind making remixes is to make a hit song a hit again.

The two are different and they offer a different kind of fun. I like both.

Q: According to you, is the music of the day better than that of the yesteryears, as good or worse?
A: No doubt, the music of the yesteryears was far better. These days anything passes off as music and can you imagine the riot when all these are played together?

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Beyonce in Kambakth Ishq

Producer Sajid Nadiadwala is a man on a mission these days. An industry source reveals that Sajid is all set to roll his next magnum opus Kambakth Ishq to be directed by newbie Sabir Khan in Los Angeles in May.

Apparently the producer has a few surprises up his sleeve. Says our source, "Sajid has managed a casting coup in Kambakth Ishq. Apparently Arnold Schwarzenegger no less has agreed to play an interesting cameo in the film. And that is not all. Pop Sensation Beyonce is all set to do a bootylicious act in the film. The film stars the super hit pair of Akshay Kumar and Kareena Kapoor."

"Akshay plays a Hollywood stuntman in the film and hence the presence of Arnold. Our desi action hero will be seen with the international action icon. Beyonce too is reportedly doing a sizzling act in the film. Everything is almost finalized."

Prashant Shah line producer of Kambakth Ishq in LA says, "Yes we are in talks. We are in talks with Beyonce and we have also received a letter from Arnold's office. We are yet to work out the logistics. Things will be confirmed shortly and we will be making a formal announcement when that happens. We are also looking at other Hollywood names to join the cast of Kambakth Ishq. "

Photo Feature: Now Sexy-Then Cute-Who's This?

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The girl is looking very cute and that is a unanimous opinion. Now the grown up girl looks sexy and decent now. She is the heart throb of many youngsters when Murari, Indra and Manmadhudu were released and when the song 'Nuvvu Nuvvu' in Khadgam turned popular. Yes, you got it. She is Sonali Bindre. This photograph was taken when she was 2 years old.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

SRK out of Rs.1 billion 'Robot'

SRK out of Rs.1 billion 'Robot'

Following the huge box-office success of 'Sivaji-The Boss', director Shankar has again roped in Rajnikanth for his next film, the Rs.1 billion-sci-fi film 'Robot'.

The Britain-based Ayngran International, which has distributed more than 1,500 Indian films, and Eros Multimedia, distributors of films like 'Munnabhai MBBS',will produce the film.

It will see the sure-fire combination of Rajnikanth and A.R. Rahman with Shankar.

The film will be in three languages, Tamil, Telugu and Hindi. Speculation was that Shah Rukh Khan would play the lead role but now producers have confirmed it will be Rajnikanth, south India's darling.

The cast and crew is being finalised, a release from the producers said here Monday.

Director Shankar has been dreaming of making 'Robot' for a long time, with a big budget.

'Robot will be the grandest and most entertaining film ever made in Indian cinema and be produced in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi and be a high-tech film with the use of the state-of-the-art technology,' the release said.

Sushmita goes the Aamir way!

After Aamir Khan and Ajay Devgan it is Sushmita Sen's turn to wield the megaphone for her magnum opus.

Sush has long harboured the dream of making a film on Rani Laxmibai under her production company Tantra Entertainment so that she doesn’t have to compromise with her vision.

To direct the project, she had considered noted director Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi to direct the film, but the things couldn't materialize.

Now, Sush has apparently decided to direct the film herself. She would be assisted in this new task by her good friend Mudassar Aziz in whose film Dulha Mil Gaya she has been working.

The film is likely to roll early this year.

Saif tattoos Kareena's name

He loves Kareena and wants to announce it to the world too. We hear that Saif has got Kareena's name tattooed in Devnagri on his arm at Hakim's Alim in Bandra.

Saif and Kareena left for Greece Friday, January 4, to savor the salubrious climate and food there before other crew members of Tashan catch up with them for a shooting schedule there.

Saif has apparently been planning to get the tattoo for last few months and has been browsing through various calligraphic styles to finalize the shape of the tattoo.

Last week, on Thursday, the actor finally took the decision and walked into Hakim's Alim in Bandra and sat for a two-three hour session to get Kareena’s name tattooed in Devnagari, an ancient Indian language.

The tattoo was reportedly done in indelible ink.

Bebo isn't jealous of me and Shahid

Stardom is definitely a boon, but it extracts a price too. And following the success of her 'Vivah' Amrita Rao is learning this the hard way.

The current controversies about Amrita leaving the 'girl next door' image, has put her in a state of disbelief and shock. And things are getting worse as Amrita is just hopping mad now!

Recently, a Mumbai tabloid reported that she was spotted with Shahid Kapur and his family watching a film at a suburban multiplex.

Shahid of course has already denied the story, and the actor feels that he is being dragged into too many meaningless controversies off late. Amrita too is livid by the allegations.

Hurt by such 'baseless' reporting, the actress says, "It is shocking how people can make up such stories. I was nowhere around. I was celebrating the New Year's at home with my cousins.

After that I took an early morning flight to Delhi for the promotions of 'My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves'. During the past few weeks I have been on a roller coaster promoting the film in Ahmedbad, Delhi and all over."

Defending her cause, Amrita goes on to add, "I haven't even met Shahid for months and the last time I met Shahid was almost two months back when I shot for a promotional campaign for 'Vivah' when it was being shown on television for the first time. After that I left for Jaisalmer for a month-long outdoor with Harman Baweja for 'Victory'.

As soon as I came back, I've been touring cities for the promotion of 'My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves'. Where is the time for me to go and watch a film in the theatre in all this mad rush? That too, with Shahid and his family!

It is preposterous. I wish the person who wrote the story got his facts right. I really want to know where exactly I was spotted." The actress is surely indignant at this malicious rumor.

She is also upset that her name is being linked with her 'Vivah' co-star Shahid. "Shahid and Kareena's spilt came as a shock to me. I was shooting in Hyderabad for my Telugu film when I heard about their split.

After that it was reported that Kareena got upset because I was spotted coming out of Shahid's van. This is utter nonsense and plain rumor mongering.

I'd like to remind everyone that it is Kareena herself who has openly praised my performance in 'Vivah' in the media. She has always been more than nice to me, so where is this rumor starting from? It is baseless," retorts Amrita.

The actress is so angry over the reports that she just cannot stop rebutting. "First, I had to counter that. Now I'm being spotted in some theatre watching a film with Shahid, when I was never actually present! It is blatant misreporting.

Shahid is an extremely dignified person and a gentleman to the core. He has always been a wonderful co-star to work with and such baseless stories only make a working relationship uncomfortable.

Fortunately for me, Shahid has the grace to laugh these rumors off. But I have to take a stand because it is utterly ridiculous."

So, this is Amrita setting the record straight once and for all.

Kunal Khemu injures his back

Kunal Khemu playing a double role in his forthcoming flick Superstar injured his back while working out in the gym. When asked about it, Kunal replied, “Nothing serious, it was a small injury and I am back to work now.”

The promos of his upcoming film Superstar is all over the television. Giving a gist of the film, Kunal says, “The film revolves around two identical looking guys who are very different from each other in every aspect, be it their upbringing or ambitions in life. Being poles apart how their lives change after they accidentally meet each other face-to face, is what the story is in totality,” says Kunal.

Kunal claims to share a great rapport with Rohit Jugraj, the director of Superstar. “I have been fortunate enough to work with directors who have such distinct style of filmmaking, be it Bhatt Saab whom I really look up to or Mr. Madhur Bhandarkar, who have created a niche for themselves in the industry.” He also adds, “Rohit Jugraj is full of life and filled with zest, he transfers the same attitude into his film.”

Kunal Khemu is known for his versatility to do any character or role. On querying about his variant roles in the near future, he informs, “It gives me immense pleasure and satisfaction to be accepted by my audience in all that I have done so far. As an actor, I feel accomplished having explored different genre every time. Even in future, I would love to do action and romantic films.”

Cherishing the pleasant moments during the entire shoot he laughs, “It had become an everyday routine for me and Tulip (who plays his love interest in Superstar), to laugh for no reason. The entire unit had become habitual to our craziness and pretended to be oblivious to it.”

As far as the promotions of the film are concerned, audience will get to see two Kunal Khemu's giving interviews in their respective characters.

Kunal also claims Superstar to be a refreshing treat for his fans who have always wanted to see him dancing and singing on screen. To which he says, “Superstar brings me in a new light. The story sounds very cliché but trust me the USP of the film lies in its story. Superstar is a complete commercial entertainer.”

Hrithik-Aishwarya fame will help: Ashutosh Gowariker

He had a directorial life before. But it's with Lagaan followed by Swades that Ashutosh Gowariker has acquired the reputation of being one of the most influential and socially awakened filmmakers of our times.

With his new epic Jodhaa-Akbar he goes into the historic alliance between a Mughal Emperor and his Rajput wife with much diligence and passion. Gowariker talks about the film with Subhash K Jha.

After Lagaan, you return to a period film in Jodhaa-Akbar?
You might say that. But I call Lagaan a period film. Jodhaa-Akbar is to me a historical.Anything after 1857 is a period film for me. Anything before that is a historical. Jodhaa-Akbar is certainly not a costume drama.

It isn't set in a never-never land. I'd call Mughal-e-Azam a historical though its focus was different from mine. I feel if today we make a story about the past it must be co-related to the present.

And Jodha-Akbar is as relevant to present times as arranged marriages. Jodha and Akbar shared a perfect arranged marriage. I was fascinated by how their relationship must have grown after marriage.

There was no reference in any books about what happened between them. I've taken extreme care to make sure viewers believe in the relationship.

How much have you stressed the religious different between Jodha and Akbar?
It's important but not stressed in my film. Let's not forget, Akbar's marriage to Jodhabai was no common occurrence.

It had a nationwide reverberation 450 years ago when society was far more conservative. How did their marriage affect those times? That's a question relevant even today. But I'm not jingoistic in my treatment.

Aishwarya Rai and Hrithik Roshan have very contemporary personalities?
That won't be a problem. The audience will come in and forget everything about Hrithik and Aishwarya. I've no fear of that. The two are brilliant Ultimately the audience will be watching not the stars but the two characters that they play.

Hrithik-Aishwarya's pairing is incredible. They're extremely charismatic and good-looking. They were a huge success in the contemporary Dhoom 2. That can only help my film, not harm it.

What audiences will see in my film are Jodha and Akbar. At least that's what I've tried to ensure through their looks, body language and behaviour. I wanted to make my historical as believable as I'd like to see it being.

Every element big or small, from the texture of the clothes to the sets, décor, dialogues and the protocol, even the incidental sounds of birds and animals, they all had to be just right for me.

I'm tired of filmmakers wondering where those good old days have gone. I wanted to reclaim those days. It took me two years of pre-production before I got into my first shot..

Is this the most difficult you've made?
It is. But the process has been so enjoyable I didn't mind the toil. My crew made the process of creation very interesting. Just working hard isn't a virtue. Otherwise I should not make a film. And I definitely shouldn't make a historical.

Film analysts feel history has no relevance for today's average youngster?
I agree. Even as a child myself historical films never interested me. But when I saw Mughal-e-Azam on television I connected to it because it was a story of lovers separated by parental opposition. That the parents were historical figures was incidental.

I feel the story has to be connectable to the audience. Hyder Ali who wrote Jodha-Abkar told me, 'In Mughal-e-Azam the focus was so much on Salim and Anarkali nobody asked a fundamental question.

How did Akbar come to marry Jodhabhai in spite of their religious and cultural divide? I immediately reacted to their alliance. I saw an interesting story there that needed to be told.

As for the youngsters, I had one rule of connectivity in my range of vision. Any word or dialogue that I didn't understand in Urdu, I kept out.

I've no interest in impressing audiences with my knowledge of Urdu, Hindi or even literature. I feel literature is for the books, and that's where it should stay. I needed to reach out to the masses.

So is Jodha-Akbar kitsch?
No. I've referred to literature and academia. But the Akbar-nama was in Pharsi. It doesn't mean I'd use Pharsi in my film. I want Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Bengal to understand the film. I'm dubbing the film into Telugu and Tamil.

Each language has its own regality and I'm going by the individual regality of the province. I had one vision before me when I started making this film. It was the world of the Amar Chitra Katha. I've grown up on that world.

Are you happy with the end-product?
Oh it has been tremendously enriching. So far the Mughal period was part of textbooks. I always wondered about the battles and the durbar intrigue.

The mughal period was known for its lavishness, so much so that studio bosses in Hollywood from the golden period were not called movie czars or movie nawabs. They were called movie moghuls.

Govinda's name- switching spree

The titles of Govinda's films are being changed quite often these days. "That is true," laughs Govinda. "My film with Ravi Chopra was called Pappu Paas Ho Gaya. Now it’s titled Bandaa Yeh Bindaas Hai. It's a fabulous socially relevant subject questioning the loopholes in our legal system. Though serious, the mood is forever-light. So, the title is just right."

Now another Govinda comedy to be directed by Neeraj Vora has undergone a change of name. Earlier entitled Run Bhola Run, the film has now been christened Lucky 2. "I think this title suits the mood of the film far better. I enjoy comedies, always have. But I won't call Bandaa Yeh Bindaas Hai or Lucky 2 out –and- out comedies. These are comedies with a strong romantic element. So I'd like to call them romantic comedies. We've just completed Ganesh Acharya's Money Hai To Honey Hai in Mauritius. That again is a comedy but with serious undertones."

Govinda says he hasn't signed anything new at the moment. There's Dharmesh Darshan's proposed film with Sushmita Sen. They get together again after the Ekta Kapoor’s fiasco Kyunki Main Jhooth Nahin Bolta. "I'm no longer that emotional about signing films. I'll only work with big banners that will ensure my films get a proper release," vows Govinda as part of his New Year resolution.

A. R. Rahman launches his dream-project

Music Maestro A.R. Rahman brought in his birthday last Sunday (January 6). While other stars prefer to either throw a bash or celebrate with friends on their special day the normally shy music-director had other plans.

He fulfilled one of his long term dreams to launch a music conservatory on Sunday. The institution named KM Music Conservatory will be India’s first Apple authorized training centre where professors and musicians from India and abroad will provide training and education to students in Indian and Western classical music.

The institute located in Chennai, will also help in fine-tuning the skills of students who play instruments like flute, trumpet, violin, French horn and percussion. Needless to say there will be more career options open for these young talented kids once they combine their musical skill with the latest knowledge in production technology.

Through this institute, Rahman would also fulfill his vision of having a full-fledged orchestra in India so that Indian composers don’t have to go abroad when they have to record with orchestras.

Must say this initiative by Rahman is indeed one unique way of giving back something to the world of music.

Ayngaran to produce Shankar's 'Robot' with Rajnikanth

Tamil media and entertainment company Ayngaran International, which is an Eros International company, has announced the production of Shankar‘s ROBOT, starring superstar Rajnikanth.

After the grand success of SIVAJI, Rajnikanth, director Shankar and music maestro A.R. Rahman are coming together once again in the much anticipated film. Expected to be the grandest film ever to be made in Indian cinema, ROBOT will be produced in Tamil, Hindi, Telugu and other languages.

Anthony Gonsalves not to be released in Biha

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The ban on Mithun Chakraborty's films in Bihar, due to an ongoing tussle between the actor and a local producer-distributor, has taken its toll in unlikely quarters. The casualty is none other than director-turned-producer E Niwas whose on-release film My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves has been prevented from release in Bihar.

Niwas who's running helterskelter trying to find his bearings in his new role as a producer, is aghast. "I had no clue about Mithun-da's ban in Bihar. It seems so strange to be kept out of the state where my first film Shool was set. I really wouldn't want My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves to be kept out of Bihar. But I don't know how I can help the situation."

The ban on Mithun's films in Bihar has its antecedents in a Bengali film entitled Coolie which its producer dubbed into Bhojpuri without the actor's consent and by using someone else's voice in dubbed Bhojpuri film. The incensed actor retaliated by refusing to return money paid as signing amount for another proposed film to be made by the same Bihari producer-distributor.

Mithun who plays a priest in My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves is determined to see the fight to the last. For the moment the big beneficiary is Raj Kumar Santoshi's Halla Bol which gets a clear unrivalled run in Bihar this Friday. Incidentally, the last film that got left out of Bihar was Aamir Khan's Taare Zameen Par, apparently because the producers demanded too high a price for the Bihar territory.

Irrfan Khan beats his Hollywood co-stars

Two months after the release of Irrfan Khan's latest international film Darjeeling Limited which was shot in India, the verdict is out. In a brief role, the fast-rising Indian actor has beaten his well-known co-stars namely Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman and Adrien Brody who play brothers.

While the reviews have largely panned the film and performances, Irrfan has been singled out for praise. Says the London Times reviewer, "There's only one performance that rings true in this shambolic odyssey. It's incidental and it's played by….Irrfan Khan." But the downsized part could be a downer for the actor's fans. The international audience which warmed up to Irrfan's scintillating performance in Mira Nair's The Namesake and Michael Winterbottom's A Mighty Heart, are disappointed by the length of Irrfan's role in his new international film, the British director Wes Anderson's just released comedy Darjeeling Limited on brotherly bonding.

Believe it or faint, but Irrfan who now wants to do only centralized characters, has a walk-on part .How come? Irrfan currently shooting dangerous stunts for Neeraj Pandey's Black Or White, is unfazed. "Yes, the role in Darjeeling Limited is small. But it's a very decisive moment in the script and the critics have loved my work." In fact, the British critic James Christopher from The Times has singled out only Irrfan for praise in what he calls a dissapopinting comedy. “Yes, that felt good," Irrfan grins about the critical approval. "Even an actor of Bill Murray's stature has a walk-on part in Darjeeling Limited. So I see no reason for audiences or me to feel let down. I did it with my eyes open. I wanted to work with director Wes Anderson ever since I saw his earlier comedy Rushmore. And do you know? He wrote the role especially for me."

Irrfan sure has come a long way. "I don't know about that," he shrugs. "For me international recognition isn't a be-all. I'm currently shooting with Sunny Deol and it's a dream-come-true for me to be working with him."

Is Item Dancer Going For Breast Reduction?

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This is the gossip that is making rounds in a few segments of Film Nagar. It is known that women in glamour world tend to improve the glory of their feminine assets by artificial means. Rakhi Sawanth and Sushmitha Sen have gone for silicon breast implants and some other heroines have chosen the steroids method to increase the size of their assets.

But here is an item dancer who is planning to reduce the present size of her assets. It is needless to give the clue and the hot top item dancer keeps on revealing the same in every number she acts.

But why is she going for that surgery is not known. Concrete reason is not known so far. But inside sources say that she is undergoing pain due to heaviness!

Bucknor sacked, Harbhajan can play in Perth Test

Melbourne(IANS) Team India heaved a sigh of relief as controversial West Indies umpire Steve Bucknor will not be officiating while Harbhajan Singh can play in the third Test against Australia in Perth starting Jan 16, the top International Cricket Council (ICC) official announced here Tuesday.

In a hurriedly convened press conference at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed said that Billy Bowden of New Zealand would replace West Indies' Bucknor, an Elite Panel umpire. Pakistan's Asad Rauf will join Bowden in Perth.

Speed said that some people would be unhappy with ICC's decision at India's insistence to remove Bucknor.

"I can understand that people will take that view," he said. "It is an extraordinary set of circumstances and we want to take some of the tension out of the situation."

The move comes a day after the Indian cricket board drew the ICC's attention to the horrendous umpiring mistakes that cost India the Sydney Test Sunday.

Umpiring was one of the two issues India were unhappy with following that match, along with the three-Test suspension imposed on off-spinner Harbhajan.

The off-spinner was Sunday suspended for three Tests after he was found guilty of racially abusing Australia's Andrew Symonds in Sydney by allegedly calling him a "monkey".

India have appealed against the ban, and a fresh hearing is to be held.

But Speed could not say when that hearing would be held. He was hopeful it would occur before the next Test, starting Jan 16.

If the hearing on Harbhajan's ban was not held before the start of the third Test, the Indian off-spinner would be eligible for the match in Perth, Speed said. The ICC chief executive was hopeful India's tour would continue, but could not guarantee that.

Speed said the ICC needed to take a "pragmatic view" towards the issue, and needed to be "flexible" to resolve the crisis.

He was confident Bucknor, 61, would umpire again at Test level. Speed said match referee Ranjan Madugalle, the former Sri Lankan captain, would be appointed as a mediator between the Australian and Indian sides.

Meanwhile, a racism hearing against Australian spinner Brad Hogg will also go ahead, after the Indians alleged he called captain Anil Kumble a "bastard" in Sydney. Hogg's hearing will be held some time before the third Test by match referee Mike Procter.

Speed said Procter and an ICC-appointed code of conduct commissioner would re-hear the Harbhajan case, with the witnesses to be called again.

'Mere Baap Pehle Aap'

Priyadarshan has teamed up with Akshaye Khanna once again. After making HUNGAMA and HULCHUL, the director and actor combo will be seen in yet another rib-tickling comedy MERE BAAP PEHLE AAP. Another interesting aspect of the film is that the director has signed powerful actors like Naseeruddin Shah and Shobhana along with Priyan regulars Paresh Rawal, Om Puri, Rajpal Yadav and Manoj Joshi for the project in question. Genelia D’Souza, who made her debut opposite Ritesh Deshmukh in TUJHE MERI KASAM, is the leading lady of this film that’s produced by Shemaroo Entertainment P. Ltd.

Meanwhile, Shemaroo is planning to start a string of projects. There’s a co-production with Vishal Bharadwaj next, titled ISHKIYAN, to be directed by Abhishek Chaubey, who was the associate director in MAKDEE, MAQBOOL and OMKARA.

Next on the cards is CHANNO, to be directed by E. Niwas and of course, the remake of PADOSAN, which will star Sanjay Dutt, Ritesh Deshmukh and Paresh Rawal. Talks are on with one more lead man. Neeraj Vora will direct this film.

Now 'Jab We Met' in South languages

All of us loved JAB WE MET, didn’t we? Well, one of the finest films of 2007 will now be remade in four South Indian languages -- Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam -- by corporate entity Moser Baer. In fact, Shree Ashtavinayak Cinevision, the producers of JAB WE MET, and Moser Baer have shook hands already and would be signing the deal in the next few days. The star cast and directors of the four versions are yet to be finalized.

Meanwhile, Moser Baer is ready to take its first step in Hindi films in 2008. Their first production SHAURYA, directed by Samar Khan, will hit the screens on April 4, followed by SANKAT CITY, directed by Pankaj Advani, which is slated for May/June release. “SANKAT CITY is two hours of non-stop dhamaal, starring Kay Kay Menon, Rimi Sen, Anupam Kher and Chunkey Pandey. It’s a joint venture production with Anubhav Sinha,” Harish Dayani of Moser Baer informs me.

Moser Baer has also signed Priyadarshan for a film, which should roll in the early part of 2009.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Happy Birthday Bipasha Basu

Happy Birthday

Bipasha Basu

Bipasha Basu and Koena Mitra are turning a year older today on 7 Jan.

And they both have their own secret plans for the day. Bipasha brought in her birthday with beau John Abraham in Goa.

"I'll spend my day tanning on the sunny beach and trying to swim. I'll also be visiting the spa. And of course I'll be trying out the most delicious Goan food. The birthday is the high point of a divine holiday."

But Bipasha's celebrations don't end there. "We're coming back on the the 8th to celebrate the birthday again with my parents and close friends. Like she does on my birthday every year, Mom will cook all my favourite food that surely includes gajar ka halwa."

Koena Mitra is very much in Mumbai and looking forward to her friends making the day special for her. "I know Tanushree Dutta has planned something. But I don't know what it is," she giggles.

Tanushree seems enormously excited by Koena's birthday. "She's my best friend and naturally I've plans. Me and a few other friends will go to her house to bring in her birthday.

Then after our celebration we'll crash out at Koena's house. Then during the day we have little surprises planted for Koena all over the house."

Shilpa the world's sexiest Yogi

Shilpa Shetty, the actress who has always been termed 'the best bod in Bollywood', has now released a special edition of a DVD called 'Shilpa's Yoga' targeted at the European market. Here, she reveals her fitness secrets to create a lean and toned body while retaining all the feminine curves.

"Shilpa is the sexiest yogi the world has ever seen," quips her publicist Dale Bhagwagar. "In 'Shilpa's Yoga' she demonstrates simple techniques against the stunning coastal backdrop of Kerala.

She explains how to transform mind, body and soul, with unique ways to build stamina and get revitalised, while discovering inner peace," he adds.

With careful and precise instructions, the DVD demonstrates specific sequences that enhance concentration, agility and flexibility.

The workout aims not only to strengthen and tone, but also to heal. 'Shilpa's Yoga' is designed to help improve posture through a series of calming poses which focus on slow movement and breathing control.

It outlines various benefits of yoga, including stress and tension release, increased energy and vitality, weight loss, improved circulation and digestion, and comes with a free audio-CD of chill out ambient music to help unwind and relax after practicing the yoga techniques.

"Go for it. It might even improve your sex life," says Bhagwagar.

The DVD is released at an exciting time for Shilpa. Her perfume S2 continues to top the sales charts in Britain, while the tour of her musical 'Miss Bollywood' has met with stupendous success in 16 cities across Europe.

'Who's Kash to talk about me'

She no longer cries at the drop of a hat, like she used to on Bigg Boss.

"But you've to understand that I had never been away from home, always a papa's pet. Suddenly I was thrown among all these people like Kashmera and Rakhi who were far more in-charge, women of the world.

I had no choice but to deal with the situations in the best way possible. And if tears were the solution, so be it," explains Rupali.

Rupali, who recently started shooting her first new serial since Bigg Boss, is appalled by Kashmera's suggestion that she 'played' the crybaby on the reality show.

"Who is she to talk about what I was doing there? I can't talk for the others whom she has named in her interview.

But speaking for myself, every tear that I cried on Bigg Boss was genuine. I came out of the experience wounded and cringing. And if I hadn't been eliminated I'd have probably jumped the wall and fled."

To compound her woes, Rupali came out of Bigg Boss to find het father, the renowned director Anil Ganguly seriously ill.

"From then on it has been a whirlwind of hospitals, anxieties and prayers. Fortunately my father is out of danger. And I'm back to work. My father is not cut out to be a part of Bollywood's rat race, or to deal with the star system. He now helps me out with the ad agency that I own."

She started shooting for a new serial Ek Packet Ummeed this week.

"It's something new for me from the same people who produced my last serial Sarabhai Versus Sarabhai. Actually I lost a lot of time because I was waiting for another season of Sarabhai to start.

But I'm glad I'm doing Ek Packet Ummeed with such talented actors like Neena Kulkarni and Sulabha Deshpande. The whole idea of being an actor is to grow, and make my parents proud."

Rupaly's father was livid when she played the Bad Woman on the medical saga Sanjeevani.

"To him my role of the scheming Simran was an out-and-out vamp's role, a cross between what Binduji and Padma Khannaji used to do. It was only later when people told him they liked me in the serial that he forgave me."

But the sweet-natured Ganguly has realized she isn't cut out fir cattiness in soaps or on a reality show.

"In Ek Packet Ummeed I play a very positive character. It's about a family of strangers, people who stay together in a hostile city. The tagline Bin Rishton Ke Rishte says it all."

Tell her she's the small-screen's Shabana Azmi, and Rupali is delighted. "I've been told about the facial resemblance. I saw her at a play and she was smiling at me. I almost burst into tears. But I had the presence of mind to gather myself together and say hello to Shabana."

I don't want to waste Kangana

Anurag Basu whose achievements include defeating death (after a terminal illness) and making an absolutely original and exciting film like Gangster, is all set to direct a stark and real film called Suicide Bomber with his ex-mentor Mahesh Bhatt's son Rahul in the lead.

Speaking about his painful parting with the Bhatts, Anurag says, "My equation with Mahesh Bhatt Saab isn't what he shares with others who work with him. I never assisted him and I'm not related to him.

Bhatt Saab had seen my work on television and he gave me a break to make Saaya. There was a producer dormant in me all the time. With Metro I was on-line producer and executive producer with UTV.

This wasn't possible with the Bhatts. I was only a director there. Maybe in a couple of years I'll turn a full-fledged producer….Even now I consult him regularly on the phone."

Now Anurag is all set to direct another film for the Bhatts. " Suicide Bomber is a film based on true happenings in London during the subway bombings."

Launching Mahesh Bhatt's son (Pooja Bhatt's broether), it would be Anurag's most realistic film to date with newspaper headlines screaming in the background. He feels Rahul Bhatt is perfect as the Suicide Bomber.

"Bhatt Saab didn't force me to cast Rahul. We had thought of casting him in Murder and Gangster. But he wasn't suitable for those films. I love working with new actors.

I love moulding them to my own vision. With established actors you've to first make them unlearn then make them learn. My discovery Kangana had a great actor within her. I just helped her to bring it into the surface."

Would Kangana star in Suicide Bomber? "It's a hero-oriented subject. I don't want to waste Kangana. When I started writing Suicide Bomber I thought I'd do it myself.

But I realized all my knowledge of the London bombings was based on internet knowledge. I thought Mahesh Bhatt Saab would be far better able to handle the subject. He's doing the writing."

Metro was Anurag's episodic homage to that feeling called love. "Making Gangster wasn't an easy experience.. With Gangster, God seems to be giving me the courage and inspiration to do work I believe in.

He's making up for the pain he gave me. There're some episodes in Metro taken from my own experiences. One of the stories is from a play I used to do in college."

Since almost the entire industry wants to work with him now,how important are stars to Basu? "When I write a script I want to film it immediately. But it's not possible for stars to give you dates immediately.

That's how Shiney Ahuja came into Gangster. I has planned to cast Sanjay Dutt who didn't have the immediate dates. With Metro, I was lucky. Everyone I approached said yes. Everyone was finalized within a month."

Anurag cast his Gangster pair Shiney and Kangana first. "The rest of the cast just followed, Konkona being the last of the cast. It's a little tough to direct so many different actors.

However shooting wasn't as difficult as co-ordinating dates. We had a ball once the dates were in place. Fortunately no one except one actor had aproblem with the dates.."

Anurag had a problem with Irrfan Khan's dates. "He had to shift locations for that Daniel Pearl film he's doing with Brad Pitt.."

Now that the whole industry wants to work with Anurag whom would he like to work with? "Govinda," comes the prominent reply. "I think he's hugely talented."


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