Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Much-awaited 'Jodhaa Akbar' gets lukewarm response in Mumbai

Director Ashutosh Gowariker's much-awaited epic drama 'Jodhaa Akbar' opened to a lukewarm response at the box office here Friday.

Despite the media hype and large-scale promos, the initial box-office collections in Mumbai stood between 75 percent and 80 percent - not a handsome percentage for a film made on a whopping Rs.400 million budget and starring Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai.

Set in the 16th century, the epic love story explores a marriage alliance between two cultures and religions for political gain. Gowariker has tried to portray this political alliance as a romantic tale.Jodhaa Abkar

Younger audiences reacted unfavourably to the movie, primarily because it was a historical and many felt Akbar's role did not suit Hrithik.

Vinita, a college student, said she couldn't reconcile to Hrithik playing Emperor Akbar, at least at this stage of his career.

The usually bankable A.R. Rehman's music also proved to be a letdown as none of the songs will stay with the audience, unlike some of his memorable tunes in 'Bombay' or 'Lagaan', said trade analyst Amod Mehra.

The fact that 'Jodhaa Akbar' has not been released at many city multiplexes, except the PVR chain, could be another reason for its discouraging box office performance.

The film has already run into trouble with the Rajput community of Rajasthan, which felt Gowariker has distorted facts. Rajput organisations said Gowariker has presented Jodhabai as Akbar's wife, which is they claimed was factually incorrect.

According to them, Jodhabai was not the daughter of Raja Bharmal of Amber as shown in the film. The princess was the daughter of Motaraja Udai Singh of Marwar and she was married to Akbar's son Salim alias Jehangir. And Mughal king Shahjahan was her son, they say.

However, Maharani Padmini, the direct descendant of Jodha Bai, not only attended the music release function of the film held here, also showered praises on Gowariker for keeping historical facts intact and doing justice in portraying the relationship between Akbar and Jodha Bai.

Gowariker is also said to have consulted several eminent historians for the film.

If the first day's collections are any indication, the movie will find it difficult to set the cash registers ringing in the coming days. Mehra also felt that barring grandeur, the film has very little to offer to the audiences by way of entertainment.

Some also complained that the movie was a bit long - 200 minutes - especially for youngsters and for what is essentially history retold.

Aishwarya, Hrithik upbeat about 'Jodhaa Akbar'

'Jodhaa Akbar' lead pair Aishwarya Rai and Hrithik Roshan are optimistic that the historical romance will do well and the controversy over distortion of facts would disappear once people go to watch the film.

Both stars were in this suburb near the national capital Friday evening for the premiere of director Ashutosh Gowariker's film.

Rubbishing any controversy, an upbeat Hrithik told reporters: 'I just want everyone to relax, munch popcorn and enjoy the film. There is no controversy!'

Aishwarya, who was accompanied by husband Abhishek Bachchan, said: 'Ashutosh (Gowariker) comes for a couple of minutes in the beginning of the film and clarifies that the character (Jodhaa) is documented under five different names. Among them, Jodhaa is most popular name and hence the director used it so people can relate to the character.'

'After the audience watches the film they will understand and the row over distortion of facts will fade away,' she added.

The Karni Sena, a Rajput organisation, is protesting against screening of the film as they claim Gowariker's representation of Jodhabai as Mughal emperor Akbar's wife is incorrect.

The community claims Jodhabai was not the daughter of Raja Bharmal of Amber as portrayed in the film, but the daughter of Motaraja Udai Singh of Marwar. They say she was married to Akbar's son Salim alias Jehangir. And Mughal king Shahjahan was her son.

The film was not screened Friday in Rajasthan following protests by the Karni Sena.

Every day with Abhishek is Valentine's Day: Aishwarya

Valentine's Day didn't turn out the way Bollywood stars Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan had hoped for, but they are not complaining. For the couple, every day is full of romance.

'What a wonderful Valentine's Day gift (the premiere of 'Jodhaa Akbar'). Everyone who has seenAbhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai 'Jodhaa Akbar' feels it is the perfect love story. And it doesn't really matter if Abhishek couldn't make it. For us, every day is Valentine's Day. Every time we're together, it's Valentine's Day,' Aishwarya told IANS.

Eyebrows were raised and whispers began when Aishwarya showed up with her in-laws Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan for the premiere of Ashutosh Gowariker's epic romance Thursday. There was no Abhishek. He arrived at the end of the event because of a delayed flight.

Aishwarya admits that spending quality time with her husband is a problem.

'His schedules are gruelling and so are mine. We're trying to spend as much time together as possible. Whenever I've some time off I join him wherever he is shooting. I've been to Jaipur where he has been shooting for the past few months,' the actress said.

'We make time. We find time for one another. We need to be happy with whatever is available. Just how happy or unhappy we make the situation is entirely in our hands,' she added.

Abhishek compensated for his absence on Valentine's Day at the Delhi premiere of 'Jodhaa Akbar' Friday. He was by his wife's side before flying back to Jaipur to join Rakeysh Ompraksah Mehra's 'Dilli 6' unit.

In Delhi, Abhishek, Aishwarya and Hrithik Roshan were an inseparable threesome, laughing joking and basking in the success of the movie.

Shah Rukh to make Bollywood's costliest movie

Indian screen superstar Shah Rukh Khan is spending an estimated Rs.1 billion for perhaps the costliest Bollywood movie to be made so far. The movie for children will be in the VFX medium, using computer-generated special effects.

It will be a movie featuring a lot of children who wish for bad things, but get a shocking reality check when they come true, Shah Rukh told Patrick Frater of Hollywood's top trade magazine Variety in a recent interview in Berlin.

He is talking to Eros Multimedia and Charles Darby (of 'The Matrix' and 'Minority Report' fame), the visual effects guru, who recently co-ventured with Eros to launch Mumbai-based special effects Eyeqube Studios.Shahrukh Khan

Shah Rukh said he was planning the movie under his home banner, Red Chillies Productions. The new venture - to be directed by Anubhav Sinha - had a budget of $25 million (almost Rs.1 billion), making it the most expensive Bollywood movie to date.

'We are dedicating the next eight or nine months to taking the best technicians from around the world and asking them to help us make the best VFX film India has ever made. It will be madcap, over the top. I want it to be as beautiful as 'Spider-Man' in terms of effects,' Khan told Variety.

The VFX medium uses computer-generated effects that give movies a fantasy-like feel. The best example of a VFX movie is Steven Spielberg's 'Jurassic Park', where computers made the dragons fly.

Asked why he has not yet been courted by Hollywood, he replied in his characteristic tongue-in-cheek manner: ''I'm waiting for someone like Steven Spielberg or James Cameroon (of 'Titanic' fame) or some other great person like Ang Lee to make a film, a film about a brown, thin, scrawny Indian guy who doesn't speak English too well. If they ever have a character like that and Google it, I'm sure they'll find me.'

He said he'd love to do an action-comic movie like Chris Rock and Jackie Chan.

'As a producer I would like to make an Indian film that genuinely crosses borders, not a crossover film, where you forget that it has a language, like 'Life Is Beautiful'. I didn't realise at first that it was an Italian film. Or 'The Lives of Others'. I think I can do it in my lifetime, maybe in the next five years.'

Shah Rukh admitted to the interviewer that his last year's home production, 'Om Shanti Om,' was full of cliches of Indian cinema. 'But it is full of heart. I think we need to make more movies like this and gradually more and more people will come to like that,' he said.

Ashutosh Gowarikar hits a Sixer with Jodha Akbhar

Lagaan’s director Ashutosh Gowarikar surely knows how to blend in the east with the west, and by striking the right chords, he surely knows what he wants. He once again hits it well, with a hat trick, in Jodha Akbar. A fine crafts man ship is once again shown by the director.

Jodha Akbar is a historic saga of the Mugal ruler (Akbar) and his hindu wife (Jodha). As always in Ashutosh’s movie, here too there’s a social message involved, and that is to promote unity between the Hindu and the Muslim. The movie has a lot more to offer than just that. The most highlighting point in the movie is the cinematography. The battle where Akbar is crowned as theJodhaa Akbar king, was beautifully shot. Followed by the songs: Azeem - o - Shaan Shensha, and the Sufi melody - Khwaja Mere Khwaja. The back ground scores add the perfect touch to the scenes. The sets seem quite real, and the difference between in the Rajput and Mugal Palaces and their ambience is very well portrayed. Scenes like Akbar’s encounter with the elephant, Jodha’s pre marriage agreements, Jodha’s secret meeting with her brother, Akbar disowning Jodha, Akbar and Jodha’s sword fight, are sure to capture your hearts. Haider Ali and Ashutosh’s screen play is quite crisp, though the movie seems dragged towards mid way, but soon takes on the pace post interval. The songs of the movie are quite situational, but Jodha and Akbar’s song where they confess their love, could have been scrapped off to save time. Kehne Ko Jashne Bahara Hain, is sure to make you smile, while Khwaja mere Khwaja leaves you spell bounded.

Hrithik and Ashwariya do complete justice to the characters. Though Hrithik brings in a modern touch with the romantic scenes, specially when Akbar goes to bring Jodha back, his action scenes are sure to take your breathe away. Ashwariya blends in the perfect touch of attitude and grace. Big B re creates magic with his voice over. Ila Arun’s negative shades are very well highlighted. Sonu Sood delivers a brilliant performance as well.

Leaving apart the historical loop holes, over all Jodhaa Akbar is a movie with flawless technicalities and a breathe taking cinematography. Though the movie might work 50-50 in the international markets due to the time frame, but the movie’s a must watch to know what the real India was all about.

'Jodha Akbar' will get two cultures together

Mumbai is now a days hot with two news. One being the action against the North Indians and the second is the Ashutosh Govariker’s much waited movie “Jodha Akbar”. Now just imagine if we can get these things together. What will happen?

Actually Aashutosh Govarikar was promoting his new film “Jodha Akbar”. He was surrounded by several journalists. He looked happy responding to their various qJodhaa Abkaruestions. Suddenly one Marathi journalist popped up from amongst others and asks Aashutosh his opinion about the other hottest news in Mumbai.

We all know Aashutosh himself is Marathi. All people around kept silence waiting to get Aashutosh’s reply. You also must be thinking about his reply.

We all see that hearing the question Aashutosh looked little hesitant. The reporter who asked that question looked winning half the race. But to all other’s amazement Aashutosh then turns his back towards the Marathi reporter and looking at Hindi reporters he says “I would like to talk only about Jodha Akbar, Jodha Akbar and Jodha Akbar. In this film I have shown two different cultures coming together. I would like to see people taking lessons from the four and half a century old story”.
Aashutosh looked relieved telling that to all the reporters. Like Aashutosh we also hope all the other people will take lessons from that incident. Maybe problem amongst people will lessen little

Minisha wants to be war-reporter

It has been noticed well that when people have many options to chose from for their career they become actors. It’s the same with Minisha Lamba. Since her childhood she had only dream-career of becoming a war-reporter. It was not possible and at last she became an actress in Bollywood.
Now a days she is really happy as what she couldn’t achieve in her real life she can now enjoy in her reel life. In Samar Khan’s “Shaurya” Minisha is portraying a war-reporter.
Minissha Lamba
It’s not all that we have to tell you about Minisha’s career options. As we all know that there always been an inspiration behind what one wishes to be. In case with Minisha there was a reporter named Christiane Amanpour, the million dollar war reporter of CBS News and CNN. Christiane is famous for her reports of Persian Gulf War as well as the reports of Bosnian War. Many times she faced controversies because of her so-called biased reports. But she continued her job and due to her reports of tensed war-zones of Kashmir, Czechoslovakia, as well as Middle East countries she achieved incomparable fame. Now a days she is spending time helping others and sharing her own loneliness.

Of late we see ladies engaged in film journalism or can witness actresses acting as reporters in films. But we don’t realize that we require ladies to work as reporters in different sectors like crime, politics, sports, economics and of course international news.

Well, that’s what Minisha thinks. Why? It’s only because she thinks women work better as neutral reporters and they can bring the humane part of the news to the front.

Well, one must remember that before Minisha, Preity Zinta has also played the role of the war-reporter in the film “Lakshya”. Now we have to wait to watch Minisha in “Shaurya” to settle on whether she really can feel what she says

Neetu Chandra will control Suneil Shetty

It might have been dream for any new actor to reign over veteran actors and iNeetu Chandraf the actors are Suneil Shetty and Paresh Rawal the dream becomes more intense to touch reality. Albeit the control of those well acknowledged actors are in hands of their wives Swarup Sanpat and Mana Shetty, of late their remote control has landed in the hands of Neetu Chandra.

Actually Neetu is playing the role of Mayabati Choutala, a Jutt police officer in Ashwini Dheer’s “One Two Three”. The story of the film is based on robbery and Mayabati, the Hariyanvi speaking inspector, is investigating the case. And for the sake of investigation she doubts all the other characters in the film. Thus she rules over all others.

Neetu is very excited for her character as well as the film. When she is asked about the matter Neetu said, “they are all veteran actors. How come anyone controls them so easily? And having the chance how can I let it go?” Not only that Suneil Shetty is controlled by Neetu but he is also playing the role of her love interest. So, Neetu has two reasons to reign over Suneil.

Now the bossy attitude that Neetu is offered in the film may be showing the future where Neetu will have control over the whole film industry. And that’s not prediction but hope that Neetu lives with.

When Neetu's trouser is eyed torn

Yeah, it’s absolutely true that Neetu’s trouser was torn but that’s during a shooting not in real life. In the film “One Two Three” Neetu Chardra, playing the role of police officer, had so tight a trouser to wear that when she pulled her leg to kick in a fight scene the trouser got torn open. Fortunately she had tight inner that day.

Well, it’s not the only incident that made the making of the film “One Two Three” conspicuous. Neetu being the fighting star of the film punched her co-actor Murli Sharma so hard that he couldn’t move for two hours. Now it’s upto you to think about the place where theNeetu Chandra unfortunate guy received the punch. When Neetu was asked about the incident she told in her Bihari style “I don’t know where he got the punch because he didn’t tell me. Actually when I was rehearsing the scene he was absent and when the scene was ok he jumped in at behind my back. Now it’s his misfortune that he stood at the position where I targeted to punch.”

An excited Neetu added, “I am a Taekwondo Karate champion. If my box couldn’t have made such impact then people wound have doubted my championship. But I am really sorry that Murliji had to go through that pain because of my punch.” Neetu further said, “next we were to shoot an action scene with Tushar Kapoor. Tushar was really tensed thinking about the case with Murliji”.
When I mentioned about the torn trouser she told me, “police officer cannot wear baggy trouser. And here people are making much sound about nothing. I expected it to happen and that’s why I wore tight inner”.

All the co-actors of Neetu know very well about her being the karate champion and they never dare to mess with her. As far as “One Two Three” is concerned, we can think less about the action hero like Suneil Shetty, but problem is still hovering on stars like Tushar Kapoor.

Diya Mirza has super-blast in her first comedy

Diya Mirza is all set to change her prim image. She is acting in a comedy, 'Fruit & Nut', directed by television's funny man Kunal Vijaykar.

She giggles: 'It's meant to be a comedy. But it's an absolutDiya Mirzae horror because someone as wacky as Kunal is directing it. Boman Irani and Cyrus Broacha woo me in the movie. Can you imagine! I'm having a super-blast. It's my first full-fledged comedy. And it also involves a lot of physical comedy, which I've never done. It has been challenging, and finally a lot of fun to just let go. The smallest of actors in 'Fruit & Nut' are seasoned troupers, so I am constantly on my toes.'

Diya says she's tired of being asked why the 'big chance' eludes her. 'How can I answer that? For some people, it happens quickly. For others it takes time. I'm lucky to be getting roles in spite of so many unsuccessful films. I'm still getting offers from people like Naseeruddin Shah and Shojeet Sircar, who is making a movie with Amitabh Bachchan. The fact that someone like Naseer thinks of casting me is a big compliment to me.'

Diya sees 2008 as a huge turning point in her career. 'The line-up of films is versatile. And there're going to be many more lead parts. I think I am going to take giant steps this year. Even in a crazy film like 'Cash', I carried myself with dignity.'

She has several films in the pipeline. 'I'm part of Rakesh Roshan's 'Krazzy 4' though I'm one of the sane members of the cast. That's sad because I'd have happily played one of the nuts. It's been good fun because I got to work with artistes I've always admired like Irrfan Khan, Arshad Warsi and Juhi Chawla. I adore Juhi, to be working with her is like a dream come true.'

I want to cater to kids: Shah Rukh Khan

New Delhi, Feb 15 (IANS) Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan, who is all set to make a children's film in the VFX medium, using computer-generated special effects, says he is overwhelmed by the response he gets from children and wants to cater to them.

'I love kids and I am overwhelmed by the response I get from children. Adults like me by chance,' Shah Rukh Khan told IANS.

'I have maintained my love for kids since long and want to cater to them because they have the shortest attention span. I want to make a place in the hearts of the little ones and then I will automatically reach the families. As children handle the remote control these days, everyone has to watch what they like.

'Theatre director Barry John, my acting teacher at Delhi Theatre, used to say: 'if you can capture the interest of kids, you will be always successShahrukh Khanful' and I stick to that,' he added.

Shah Rukh was recently in Berlin to promote 'Om Shanti Om' and was interviewed by Hollywood trade magazine Variety. The magazine reported that the proposed children's film would be made at a budget of $25 million (Rs.1 billion), the highest budget in India.

But commenting here about the money to be spent on making the film, Shah Rukh said: 'Media is speculating about the budget. We are still working on the script.'

The actor, also the owner of the Kolkata team franchisee Red Chillies Entertainment, said through all these initiatives - investment in sports and VFX film - he wants to do something for the country which has given him so much.

'My dream is to invest money and bring better technology in our country that has given me money, love, respect... everything one can ask for! Not only cricket, we want to invest in all kind of games.

'I think if children are allowed to play all the time along with little bit of studies, 'creative' aggression would develop in them. It would prevent them from indulging in vices like smoking, drinking or drugs.'

And when is the superstar planning to kick the butt!

'I have been trying to kick the butt since long. But it is very difficult to give up bad habits. And I can't be dishonest in saying I will quit smoking and then don't do it.'

'However, I would appeal to children that they must not pick up this habit from me, as fans have a tendency to imitate their favourite stars. This is a bad habit and is injurious to health. They must never do it,' he stressed.

King Khan is now set to host a television quiz show 'Kya Aap Paanchvi Paas Se Tez Hain' and says the medium doesn't matter because he is an entertainer.

'I started my career with television and with time the small screen is becoming better. However, being a jester, my idea is to entertain by films, by stage shows... by all possible formats.'

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Bachchan family celebrates Abhishek's Birthday

Unfazed by reports of their house getting attacked in Mumbai, the Bachchan family has gathered in the city to celebrate the birthday of Abhishek on Tuesday.

“Amitabh has come here, and so have Jaya, Aishwarya and Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh,” a source told IANS here Monday.


The family plans to celebrate Abhishek’s birthday at a farmhouse located outside the city.

For Abhishek and Aishwarya, the city holds special memories as it is here that love blossomed between the two during the shooting of J.P. Dutta’s “Umrao Jaan”.

Aishwarya and Mallika among most desirable women in world

Bollywood glamour queen and sultry Indian actress Mallika Sherawat have been named in the “Top 99 Most Desirable Women” list of the online AskMen magazine.

Aishwarya at no.27 and Mallika at no.67 are joined by Indian American model and food show host Padma Lakshmi at no.66.


Over five million readers cast their votes to identify the females from the worlds of music, fashion, sports, and entertainment who have the characteristics they value in a potential companion, like intelligence, humour, charisma and ambition.

Katherine Heigl, Emmy wining actress of “Grey’s Anatomy” TV series, and the star of box-office hit “Knocked Up”, takes the top spot for the 2008 list released Jan 31 by the men’s lifestyle magazine.


Mallika’s citation at the site reads that “her complete comfort with her body is apparent, both in her brashness off-screen and her on-screen performances”.

She came to international limelight for her short role with Jackie Chan in “The Myth”. She is now starring in English-language films-”The Aquarian Gospel” and “Unveiled”.

Aishwarya is described by the magazine as “the most beautiful woman to come out of Bollywood” to have mark on the American audiences.

In 2007 she appeared in films like “Guru” and “The Last Legion”, and was signed on to co-star in the Steve Martin-helmed “Pink Panther 2″.

Her getting hitched - to actor Abhishek Bachchan - has not made a difference, the site says.

Padma Lakshmi, the estranged wife of author Salman Rushdie, the magazine says, “is best known for her hosting gig on ‘Top Chef’, making men throughout the country take an interest in the culinary arts for one hour every week”.

The three Indian divas are more desirable than tennis star Maria Sharapova (74), actress Lindsay Lohan (95) and Lucy Pinder (69), British glamour model who has received the title of “Best Breasts in the World”.

Mallika’s showdown with Ranvir Shorey

he shooting of “Ugly Aur Pagli” (a rather strange name for a movie) is getting uglier and “paglier”. Last week, leading lady Mallika Sherawat stormed out of the sets of the wacky film when Ranvir Shorey arrived hours late for the shooting.

Ranvir, known to be headstrong and adamant when the occasion demands, doesn’t deny the incident.


He told IANS: “Yes, we did have a spat last week. We keep having differences of opinion and then keep making up. But this one was more serious.

“I wasn’t well at all. I had viral fever. I popped some pills and came for the shoot. But I was about three hours late. Mallika left in a huff. So I had to shoot solo scenes that day.”

“I got a lot of flak from the entire unit except (producer) Pritish Nandy who sent me a supportive and eloquent SMS. It really cheered me because I was feeling hugely shitty about what happened. Nandy suggested that I make up with Mallika because she had walked out of the sets.”

Getting more into the Mallika mode, Ranvir says, “I’ve worked with her earlier in ‘Pyar Ke Side Effects’. To be honest, this is the first experience I’ve had with a temperamental actress.

“Not that I hold it against her because Mallika becomes your chum while she’s working with you. Mallika works as a team when she’s on camera. Yeah, she’s pagli (mad) and I’m ugly and I keep joking that we could reverse roles. But I’ve never worked with a moody diva before, not even the mythic Madhuri Dixit - she was very down to earth in ‘Aaja Nachle’.”

With his newly discovered niche-stardom Ranvir better get used to moody actresses. “I’d rather not. I’m having a tough time dealing with one of them,” he joked.

Amitabh, Sarika pair up for Sircar’s next

Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan will be seen with a different co-star in Shoojit Sircar’s untitled film - the talented Sarika. The two are shooting an autumnal love story in the snowy landscape of Shimla and Manali.

Amitabh has reportedly been for some time been somewhat concerned about the absence of suitably strong and charismatic co-stars.

According to a source close to the Big B, “Rekha, he won’t act with. He has done enough films with Jaya Bachchan and Jaya Prada. Hema and he were a smashing success in ‘Baghban’ but a flop in ‘Babul’.

“Dimple Kapadia and Sharmila Tagore don’t click with Mr. Bachchan. Hence he has lately gone into an experimental mode with co-stars, like Shefali Shah in ‘Waqt - Race Against Time’, Rani Mukerji in ‘Black’, Tabu in ‘Cheeni Kum’ and Preity Zinta in ‘The Last Lear’.”

After her bravura performance in “Parzania”, Sarika is an actress whom the Big B has wanted to pair himself with for some time now.

The opportunity came after Tabu said no to Sircar’s film. The pair is kindling unique chemistry in the frozen Shimla and Manali.

At 65, and with two major near-fatal illnesses behind him, Amitabh continues to surprise everyone including himself, with his zest for energy and drive for excellence.

Consider this. All of last week he shot from early morning till dusk for Sircar’s film, earlier called “Shoebite”. Then in-between he flew to a remote village in Uttar Pradesh for the inauguration of a girls’ school named after his daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai and rushed back to join the unit in Shimla - all within a week.

The film is about an autumnal couple rekindling their love.

The deeply appreciative Sircar told IANS: “Amit-ji is turning out to be a role model for all of us over here. In Manali and now in Shimla, we’re frozen to our bones. Adding to our woes is the fact that all the scenes are being shot outdoors in the snow where most of us can’t even see let alone feel anything.

“Amit-ji takes to the camera as though the freezing weather was just a prop. He is the first one to reach the location. He rehearses rigorously in the freezing temperature with Sarika-ji, who plays his wife.”

The last time the Big B was in Shimla, it was to shoot a portion of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Black”. Snowfall had to be recreated in the studio for that film since snow obstructed the camera lenses.

Sircar, of “Yahaan” fame, has no such problems.

“I’m not shooting snowfall. Just capturing these two aging people in the snow. I find the snow very romantic. In fact, I shot my first film ‘Yahaan’ with Jimmy Shergil and Minissha Lamba in the supposedly forbidden snowscape of Kashmir.”

Jimmy also features in Sircar’s second film. “He has a beautiful role. I owe it to him after the way he stood by me during ‘Yahaan’. And Diya Mirza plays a beautiful role.

“Also on board are Gulzar saab and Shantanu Moitra, who wrote the lyrics and composed the music for ‘Yahaan’. I couldn’t make my second film without them.”

As for Sarika, the director just can’t stop raving about the actress. “She brings a certain freshness to the film. Amit-ji and Sarika-ji look so much like an abiding couple I wonder why nobody thought of casting them together before.”

Bollywood’s never-ending fascination with Mughal era

Epical romances set in the courts of the Mughal rulers have enamoured filmmakers and audiences alike and the fascination continues even today with director Ashutosh Gowarikar mounting magnum opus “Jodhaa Akbar” set for release Feb 15, which marks Valentine’s Day weekend.

Bringing together the hit pair of Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai, the epic will recreate the romance of Mughal emperor Jalaluddin Akbar and Rajput princess Hira Kunwari (Jodhabai) that blossomed from a political alliance more than 450 years ago. “Jodhaa Akbar” shows how the couple broke cultural and religious barriers and shared a perfect arranged marriage, say the makers of the film.

“The way they handled their relationship is relevant for couples today,” said Gowariker, who shot to fame with 2001 period film “Lagaan” that was short-listed for an Academy Award for the best foreign film. As is common with most historical movies, certain sections of society are alleging that “Jodhaa Akbar” has distorted historic facts but the film is likely to be released on schedule.

The film is replete with all things associated with the Mughal era including massive battlefield settings with elephants and horsemen, regalia and exotic costumes.

The Mughal era, a period of Muslim rule on the subcontinent that stretched from 1526 to 1707, has had the most influence on the Indian moviemaking industry since it began in the 1930s till today.

That era gives the perfect setting for Hindi mainstream cinema to infuse each frame with lavish sets, ornate costumes, picture-perfect locales, drop-dead gorgeous actors and elaborate song and dance routines.

Films like “Mughal-E-Azam”, “Anarkali” and “Pakeezah” have set standards that are still benchmarks. “Mughal-E-Azam”, which was re-released after it was converted from partial black-and-white into a completely coloured film, went on to become a hit again.

It was the first film to be coloured for a big screen release. The original blockbuster that released in 1960 was in 85 percent black and white and 15 percent colour format. The refurbished version was completely coloured with Dolby-DTS Surround Sound.

“Razia Sultan” and “Taj Mahal” are recent films that tried to recreate the same magic. Some other films that are under production will also give a peek into Mughal era like “Laxmibai”, “Bajirao Mastani” and “Gautam Buddha”. Even veteran filmmaker J.P. Dutta has been planning to make a movie on the last Mughal king Bahadur Shah Zafar titled “Aakhri Mughal”. But after he burnt his fingers by remaking “Umrao Jaan”, Dutta seems to have kept the project on hold.

Dutta wants Amitabh Bachchan to play the aging king Bahadur Shah Zafar in the film and Abhishek to play son Mirza Mughal.

Not just theme, Muslim actors too have dominated the formative years of Bollywood even though, like Jews in Hollywood, many changed their names for wider acceptability.

Yusuf Khan became Dilip Kumar, Meena Kumari was once Mahajabeen and it was an Afghan woman, Mumtaz Begum, who entranced audiences as Madhubala. Popular comic actor, Badrudin Kazi, adopted the Christian name of a much-favoured imperial tipple: Johnny Walker.


“Jodhaa Akbar” is releasing at a time when Pakistan’s parliamentary panel has recommended lifting of a four-decade-old ban on Indian films in the Islamic country. Pakistan’s numerous Bollywood fans may soon get to watch their favourite stars on the big screen and no longer have to depend on pirated DVDs.

The Standing Committee on Culture of the Senate, the upper house of Pakistan’s parliament, has submitted a report recommending the lifting of the ban and also advocating a mechanism for importing Indian movies on a reciprocal basis, news reports say.

“We have devised a mechanism for allowing the import of Indian films for a period of one year, after which the arrangements can be reviewed,” Senator Zafar Iqbal Chaudhry, the chairman of the committee, told the media in Islamabad last week.

The government would have to clear the proposal before the import of Indian films is allowed, Chaudhry added.

The culture ministry has forwarded the committee’s report to caretaker Prime Minister Mohammedmian Soomro, who is expected to take a decision on it in near future.

Chaudhry did not give details of the mechanism that was devised by the Senate panel, but reports said the import of 12 Indian films would be allowed against the export of an equal number of Pakistani movies to India.

On two occasions, Indian movies were distributed in Pakistan only after the intervention of two military rulers, late Gen. Zia-ul-Haq and President Pervez Musharraf.

Musharraf personally backed the release of Indian classic “Mughal-E-Azam” in 2006 after receiving a request from Akbar Asif, son of legendary filmmaker K. Asif.

Indian movies were banned in Pakistan after the 1965 war between the two countries. Only a handful of Bollywood productions have since been released in the neighboring country. The result was a disaster for Pakistan’s film industry.

Commercialism stifled creativity. Since nobody could see Indian movies, Pakistani producers shamelessly plagiarised the Mumbai originals. The lifting of the ban may be just the shot needed to bring viewers back in halls and healthy competition.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

‘Rama Rama Kya Hai Drama’ putrid tripe masquerading as comedy

Film: “Rama Rama Kya Hai Drama”;

Cast: Rajpal Yadav, Neha Dhupia, Ashish Chowdhary, Amrita Arora, Rati Agnihotri, Anupam Kher, Sanjay Mishra;

Director: S. Chandrakaant; Rating: *

You know that feeling you get while undergoing molar surgery or when you have a head on collision with another vehicle while driving down a dark road? You get the same dreaded feeling of disgusted disbelief while seeing “Rama Rama Kya Hai Drama”.

This movie is a piece of putrid tripe masquerading as mirth and camouflaged as comedy. At the end of this dreadfully droll drama, you look around and ask: “Why me?”

“Rama Rama Kya Hai Drama” could be a contender for the trophy of the worst comedy ever made in India. The lines that the two couples, Rajpal Yadav-Neha Dhupia and Ashish Chowdhary-Amrita Arora, throw at one another make you question the institution of marriage.

The plot is intensely anti-marriage. Perhaps the director or writer doesn’t believe in it, but does he believe in cinema? The awry proceedings try hard to convince us that there are no rules governing the genre of comedy. Sure, but show us at least one genuine moment of humour in this homage to bilge.

Rajpal plays a man who is acutely unhappy with his wife and runs around on a fantasy binge, imagining other people’s wives and girlfriends to be his own. Ashish, poor guy, looks constipated while Amrita Arora, who plays a hi-fi harridan, shrieks at him for imagined trespasses.

All this helter-skelter chaos of comedy would have been mildly amusing if the director had cared to even borrow a chapter or two from the protocol of comedy.

Director Chandrakant seems inspired by B.R. Chopra’s “Pati Patni Aur Woh”. We even get a reference to that lovable and naughty comedy, slipped into the domain of Rajpal’s domesticity on a television screen. Regrettably, the director has neither the sense nor the sensitivity to bring that sparkle which makes a sex comedy a beehive of chortles.

The buzz, if any, is in the screenwriter’s head as he puts together episodes from badly written stand-up comic acts on marriage. While Rajpal’s habitual hilarity fails to carry the show, a talented actor like Anupam Kher is reduced to a parodic prop in this ode to amused anarchy as seen through the eyes of a director who has probably never known the difference between gags and genuine comedy.

Technically as shoddy as it gets, the camerawork and the sets remind us of a washed-out village that has been plundered by a particularly uncontrollable wild bull. Overall, the movie is a big bore.

Shah Rukh, Kareena add glamour to Balaji awards nite

Bollywood badshah Shah Rukh Khan was there and so was Kareena Kapoor, looking gorgeous in a slinky red sari and backless blouse, with current boyfriend Saif Ali Khan in tow at Balaji Telefilm’s gala television awards function here.

The Future Group Global Indian TV Honours event Friday night at the Andheri Sports Complex, in northwest Mumbai, also had Lara Dutta, Suniel Shetty and Karan Johar adding to the Bollywood presence.

Shah Rukh came to the function not because he had begun his acting career on television. He came as a Bollywood superstar and proved it when he presented an inimitable act at the function.

Balaji honoured him for being the best anchor in the quiz show “Kaun Banega Crorepati Season 3″. Siddharth Basu, who put together the show for Star Plus, announced at the function that Shah Rukh would again host the show that is to be telecast soon.

While Lara Dutta came to perform at the show, Suneil Shetty conferred the Global India TV Honour to Karan Johar, whose chat show “Koffee With Karan” (Season 2) was adjudged as the Best Talk Show of 2007.

Karan and Ekta Kapoor, the owner of Balaji Telefilms Ltd, broke into an impromptu jig on the stage together. Later, both did a short spoof on “Koffee With Karan” when Ekta interviewed him.

“What will be the title if he ever made a serial on ‘Kabhie Khushi Kabhi Gham’ with Shah Rukh Khan heading the cast?” Ekta asked. Karan replied: “Kabhi Saas, Kabhi Devdas”.

The next question: “If you roped in all the Khans of Bollywood for a serial, what title will you give to it? “Khan-Dan”, Karan quipped.

Bollywood’s star turnout was also the biggest at Ekta’s show. Most of them were called up on stage to confer the honours, unlike in other television award functions where TV artistes hand over awards to one another. The Bollywood touch added glamour to her show and made it all the more alluring.

Perhaps, the head honcho of Balaji Telefilms planned it that way. Otherwise why would she choose to confer an honour on Kareena Kapoor at a television function.

Kareena’s tantalizing presence in red sari and backless blouse as she sashayed to the stage to accept the award from Jeetendra and Raakesh Roshan fetched loud cheers. Boy friend Saif Ali Khan was there among the audience cheering lustily.

Anu Malik’s daughter sings item song for Mallika

Anu Malik’s daughter Anmol is just 17 and she has already sung a sizzling item song for Mallika Sherawat in “Ugly Aur Pagli”.

“It was a very proud moment for me when Mallika rang me up thanking me for giving her the song. It made me even prouder to know that she didn’t know Anmol was my daughter,” Malik told IANS.

“I want Anmol to get her own identity. Though I’m there to help her in every way possible, I don’t want her to be recognised as my daughter,” added the proud father.

“When I came to the industry, I had no godfathers. I struggled, fell to the ground and rose again. Today, I’m doing some of the best work of my career. And I want Anmol to be the best in the business, without having to struggle the way I did.”

The item song is part of the Ranvir Shorey’s fantasy song where Mallika plays out every teenaged fantasy from “Baywatch” to “Barbarella”.

Anmol sang for her father in J.P. Dutta’s “Umrao Jaan” and has lent her voice for debutante Sheena in Satish Kaushik’s upcoming film “Tere Sang”.

Big banners ensure high visibility for me: Irrfan Khan

His career is going great guns. Irrfan Khan, who has proved his mettle once again in “Sunday”, has now signed multiple-movie deals with two leading production houses and says big banners mean more visibility.

“I like the idea of doing films with big banners because you’re ensured high visibility. I’m enjoying this new phase where I’m working with people like Sunny Deol and Rakesh Roshan for the first time,” Irrfan said.

Talking about his deals, the actor said: “While I’m committed to doing two films with UTV, I’ve signed a deal for several films with Sanjay Gupta. In addition, I’m also doing a film with Milan Luthria, a director I’ve admired for a long time,” Irrfan told IANS.

It does look like a full plate for Irrfan in 2008. “It is! And I’m happy to be working in all kinds of films from a comedy like Rakesh Roshan’s ‘Krazzy 4′ to a drama like Sunny Deol’s ‘Right Ya Wrong’.”

Not that Irrfan has forgotten his authentic roots. “In Nishikant Kamath’s ‘Mumbai Meri Jaan’, I play a south Indian coffee seller on the roads. That’s as real as it gets,” informed Irrfan.

Marriage is on cards for Saif-Kareena

Saif Ali Khan has solemnised his affections for Kareena Kapoor in an unexpected way. He has got her name tattooed on his arm.

Admitting for the first time to the permanent love mark, Saif told IANS, “Yes, I’ve tattooed her name. It’s on my forearm. And very visible to the world.”

According to friends of both, he has never been more committed in a relationship. Marriage is definitely on the cards.

A close friend said: “There’s a kind of fierce and single-minded determination in Saif to make this relationship work for keeps. And it isn’t a defiant determination to disprove the cynics who say it won’t last. Saif doesn’t give a damn about what people say. He has always gone by his gut feelings, regardless of others.

“Earlier, after Rosa left, there were whispers of Saif being involved with various ladies. Saif doesn’t like the image of the Casanova at all. He thinks he’s too grown up for it. He wants stability in his life and a relationship that’s for keeps. He believes he has found it in Kareena. Come what may, Saif will make this relationship work.”

Earlier, when the couple were together in Bangkok shooting for Kunal Kohli’s film, Saif’s co-star Rani Mukerji was privy to many sessions of his outpourings on his love.

Kareena and Saif then brought in the New Year in Hong Kong with Saif’s two children.

Now shooting in Greece for Yash Raj Films’ “Tashan”, Saif and Kareena spend as much time together as possible, oblivious to all around, though they don’t have too many scenes together in the film.

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi Directed by Aditya Chopra

Eight years after he directed Mohabbatein, Aditya Chopra will Direct another film. Titled Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, the film will star Shah Rukh Khan

The female lead will be a newcomer, to be chosen by a talent hunt competition.

Aditya Chopra , the man made the most successful film in Hindi cinema, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, (Running Till Now)took a break from direction to establish the Yash Raj studio in Mumbai. He went on to produce many hits like Dhoom, Dhoom: 2, Hum Tum , Bunty Aur Babli , Salaam Namaste and Chak De! India.

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi will be produced by Yash Chopra and scripted by Aditya Chopra . The shooting will Start in May, and the film is likely to in Theater in Year End.

From the heart! Kamal Haasan to help little patients

Actor Kamal Haasan will be an ambassador of a social service project that is aimed to help marginalized children suffering from heart ailments.

Kamal Haasan Thursday decided to get associated with the cause titled “Hridaya Raagam”.

The World Malayalee Council, in association with the Madras Medical Mission and the Malayala Manorama group of publications, will help 100 children from the marginalized sections of society and suffering from cardio disorder, to get medical aid through “Hridaya Raagam”, according to sources.

A fundraiser musical programme “Shoba Hridaya Raagam” will be organised here Feb 24.

Music director Ilayaraja will inaugurate the event and a large number of south Indian film stars are expected to participate.

Preity, Amrita at a joint birthday party

Birthday girls Preity Zinta and Amrita Arora had a grand bash to celebrate their joint birthday, and they even cut a cake together. Both Bollywood actors share their birthday on Jan 31 and Preity was present at Amrita’s theme party Wednesday night. “Amrita is a really sweet girl and has been inviting me every year for us to celebrate our birthday together,” Preity told IANS.

She added: “This year I said I had to go. Besides, it was a theme party - wigs and hats. And I love hats. I’m a very hat person. So, I went in one of my favourite hats. Thank god I didn’t wear the big blonde wig as I was planning to because the whole industry was there. How would I’ve looked?”

The fun-loving Aquarian side to Preity remains predominant. “All us Aquarians are gregarious and hassle free. Maybe Abhishek (Bachchan), Urmila (Matondkar), Amrita and I can have a collective birthday party next year. We’re all chatterboxes. But I’m now learning to listen more carefully.”

Preity, who is now pursuing a career in business as well by bagging the franchise of the Mohali cricket team in the Indian Premiere League, is trying to be a better listener.

“I have to be. I’m in all these board meetings for my cricket deal. And there I better shut up and listen. There’s so much to learn,” she said. Preity was in fact attending a series of meetings on the eve of her birthday.

“But on my birthday I’ve just decided to chill out. I’m at home watching a DVD, relaxing, sleeping. Last year was a sad birthday for me. My dog had died. This year I’ve lots to look forward to. And I’m happy. The only thing that irritates me is the constant reference to my age from media persons,” rued the actress.

I don't like being told what to do - Shah Rukh Khan

Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan has taken another dig at Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss for the latter's quit-smoking-on-screen appeal to him, saying he does not like anyone telling him what to do and what not to.
Shah Rukh Khan on smoking. "I do not endorse smoking and I do not like anyone telling me personally what to do and what not to do," Khan said in an interview to a news channel.

"You cannot tell me how to earn a packet, you cannot tell me what to eat and what to wear, what not to say to my wife, these are personal things. So, I guard that very jealously," he said.

Ramadoss had, earlier this week, said Khan should not have smoked in the stands while watching a cricket match in Mumbai and that he and Amitabh Bachchan can learn a thing or two from superstar Rajnikanth regarding smoking on screen.

But Khan had this piece of advice for everyone. "I tell children all the time, please do not smoke because it is the worst. If I do not smoke, I would be a big movie star for many, many years to come or maybe I won't be because I smoke that is such a bad thing to do. Do not do it," he pleaded.

Khan (42) has earned the ire of anti-smoking groups on different occasions for lighting up in public in violation of a 2004 ban.

In October, the National Organisation for Tobacco Eradication slapped a legal notice on him asking him to explain his actions after he was spotted smoking at a cricket match and at a media conference.

On rumours of his entry into politics, Khan said despite having a good relationship with the young scions of the Gandhi family, there is no question of joining politics.

"Half of the people think that I am very close to the Congress and am going to join politics. I am very close to Priyanka, Robert and Rahul. I tell everyone, I say this whenever I meet them. Why don't you ask them, are you going to join films," the actor said in the interview to be telecast on Saturday.

"I have another friend who is a software engineer. That does not mean I can design softwares like Azim Premji. So, these are my friends but what they do as a job is incidental to my relationship with them."

Khan, who set a new trend of sporting six-pack abs which he adorned in his last film "Om Shanti Om" said his son prompted him to go for the new look.

"My son told me Papa, you're fat... Though I wasn't, I didn't think I was fat. And I told him that, listen dude, I am not fat, I am okay.

"But he said no, you are fat papa... So I said okay give me some time and as this film required it..."

On his plans this year ahead, Khan said, "This year I would like to dedicate myself to make movies for kids, not childish movies but movie for kids, take technology of Indian cinema further. So I set parameters for myself and I try to work towards that."