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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

'People don’t realise that my life is not entirely John-centric'

Bipasha Basu says we should all just be happy that ‘Water’ was nominated for the Oscars.
Bipasha Basu got up early yesterday morning to catch boyfriend John at the Oscars. “It was such a high watching him walk down the red carpet. I was excited like a school girl. It doesn’t really matter that the film didn’t win.”
Indian-born Deepa Mehta’s ‘Water’, starring John and Lisa Ray, lost out to Germany’s ‘The Lives Of Others’ at the 79th Academy Awards held in Los Angeles yesterday. The movie, though a Canadian entry, had created much excitement in India, which was hoping for its first Oscar for best foreign film.
However, Bipasha is not the least bit disappointed and says that she’s glad John got a chance to be at the prestigious awards ceremony this early in his career, “Not many get a chance to do that. Plus, he looked so hot!” When asked if she thinks he will get some international offers now, she promptly says, “I hope so!”
The actor hopes to be a part of Oscar event, but for her own film, “John had a fantastic time there. Watching it on television, the ceremony looked so beautiful and mind-blowing. I can imagine how it must be in reality. I hope some day I get a chance to attend the event too.”
Quiz her on why she didn’t accompany John, she says, “People don’t seem to realise that my life is not entirely John-centric. We are two individuals with work commitments. Besides, it’s his time, his due and I wanted him to enjoy it on his own. It’s not my film, so why should I be there?”
She’s also peeved by the constant discussions about Indian films not being ready for Oscars. “When five films are chosen amongst the world’s best, just making it to the nominations is a big deal. These makers are trying their best. I think there is too much discussion on what is going wrong with Indian films,” she ends.



Sunday, February 25, 2007

Review: Honeymoon Travels

Honeymoon Travels (drama)
Cast : Abhay Deol, Minissha Lamba, Kay Kay Menon, Raima Sen, Shabana Azmi, Boman Irani Direction : Reema Kagti

The idea is smart. The implementation lack lustre. And herein lies the tragedy of Honeymoon Travels , a film which would have worked so well if the director had chosen to infuse a bit of comedy in her ensemble act.

Of course, she does begin on the right track, bringing in the laughs initially with Ranveer Shorey displaying his characteristic forte with humour as the Gujju newly-wed who must contend with a wife who elopes with her erstwhile lover on their honeymoon. Or, in her delightful introduction of the Parsi boy-meets-girl-in-childhood track, with those special effects that promise some fun later on.

But alas! the fun turns out to be ekdum thanda and the couple (Abhay Deol and Minissha Lamba) are actually cuter minus their super powers; their doggy-kitty act in the bedroom is more endearing. As for Ranvir Shorey? Oops, why would a director chose to dispense with the ace up her sleeve in the first few reels?

A totally unforgivable faux pas, since Shorey is fast turning out to be TV’s best export to Bollywood. The story is simple, uncluttered. Six couples go on a honeymoon trip together in a bus that takes them to Goa. It’s one of those typical group touristy stuff where oddly assorted people are bundled together on day-long cruises and sight-seeing trips.

The drama should ostensibly spring from the oddballs’ interactions. But after the introductions, and a few predictable twists in the middle, the story just does not move forward. This despite the fact that most of the characters pitch in fine performances, even though they have little to do.

The finest act comes from Raima Sen and Kay Kay, the bourgeois Bengali couple, who suddenly discover they are actually hippies beneath their middle class, conventional upbringing. Of course, Boman and Shabana are veterans by now, but one would have expected a more fleshed out role for them than playing with the word ‘Ghalib.’ For a debut act, let’s just say the director shows promise but needs polish in the art of storytelling



Ritu drapes Deepa Mehta in Benarasi for Oscars

The Oscar style alert is out. Fashion pundits are betting on which star will wear which designer’s outfit. World-famous designers are more concerned about who wins the fashion Oscars rather than who will carry away the coveted statuette. Recently, Donatella Versace said, "The red carpet is a runway." This year, news is out that Indian style will be showcased by Deepa Mehta, who'll wear a Benarasi saree styled by Ritu Kumar.
The Oscars are the pinnacle of fashion and glamour. And amidst the eye-catching gowns, the sarees worn by Deepa, her daughter Devyani and actor Lisa Ray, will be one-of-a-kind stunners pairing elegance and individuality.
The priceless Benarasi saree is a legend in itself, and has a historic relevance to Benaras, the city where Deepa’s film Water is based. Says Ritu, "The connection to Benaras is sensitive.
Deepa wanted to showcase a craft that was being lost in Benaras. She wanted the world to admire the forgotten art of the naksha loom. Deepa will be wearing her mother's 70-year-old gold and silver tissue saree, with a pink patterned Benaras woven silk blouse styled by me.
For the post awards Vanity Fair party, she's wearing a black saree which I've especially designed for her!" That's not all, walking the red carpet will be Devyani Saltzman, Deepa’s daughter and the author of the book Making of Water , who also has done the sensitive stills for the movie.
"Devyani will wear a white crepe saree with tiny zardozi embroidered motifs. And for the Vanity Fair party, she'll wear a drop dead glamorous black and khakhi saree," adds Ritu.
The makeover and revival of the Benarasi saree by Ritu has been her special project. "When I was writing my book, Costumes and Textiles of India , I discovered the Benarasi brocade.
For Deepa, I've given it modern, crepe pleats. The Benarasi brocade is part of our rich heritage. Now, both Deepa and I want to revive and showcase the Benarasi saree as a historic fashion garment." Global designers will be watching the stars closely.
The idea is to stand out. Wearing something unexpected can make the press go crazy. Every gown for the Oscars takes weeks to make. The designers try to give their stars the dress of their dreams.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Chhote Nawab is out of danger

Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan, who was rushed to a city hospital here on Sunday evening after complaining of chest pain, is better and recovering from severe exertion. “Saif Ali is out of danger, but will be kept under observation for the next two days,” said Lilavati Hospital dean N Trivedi. The 36-year-old actor was rushed to Lilavati Hospital on Sunday evening after suffering a “suspected” mild heart attack. He was admitted to the intensive care unit and underwent an ECG, which had shown that he had irregular heartbeat. “A team led by cardiologist Vivek Mehan immediately performed an angiography but found him to be stable,” Trivedi said. On Sunday morning, Saif had returned from a tour of South Africa and had rehearsed for a performance at a function earlier in the day. He complained of chest pain at about 5 pm when he was heading for a private awards ceremony at the Bandra-Kurla Complex. Saif was supposed to have received the award for the best actor in a negative role for Omkara , which brought him much critical acclaim when it was released last year. Saif's sister actor Soha said: “Saif had been working day and night and was over-exerted.” “He returned from South Africa at 1:30 am on Sunday and rushed to the MMRDA grounds at the Bandra-Kurla Complex to practice for Sunday night's event,” Soha said on Monday. As news of Saif's condition spread, several Bollywood biggies including Amitabh Bachchan and Sanjay Dutt who were present at the awards function, rushed to the hospital to see him. Others like Fardeen Khan, Preity Zinta, Kunal Kohli and Jackie Shroff followed.


Sunday, February 18, 2007

Bachchan for President?

Fancy seeing Big B in Rashtrapati Bhavan? When 64-year-old Amitabh Bachchan’s name was first flaunted by a section of media as the next President of India, many dismissed it as the work of an idle mind.
But with Bachchan’s “brother” and Samajwadi Party general secretary, Amar Singh, floating his name and Telugu Desam Party chief Chandrababu Naidu finding nothing wrong with the suggestion, media and political circles are abuzz. According to Singh, “Bachchan is a superhero and has a global image.”
Many dismiss the proposal as “laughable” and a non-serious move on the part of the SP. One or two parties cannot influence the outcome of the presidential election as in the fractured polity nobody has majority in the electoral college. Mainstream parties like the Congress or the BJP need the support of many other parties to see their candidate through, not to talk of the so-called Third Front which has been in disarray.
Sources close to Naidu, however, said the TDP chief is not serious when he offered to back Big B. Naidu had “political” talks with Singh a few days ago in Delhi. However, sources close to the TDP chief said he would not endorse Bachchan without consulting CPI (M), which already has a “strong” candidate in Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee. When asked for his comments CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury initially had a hearty laugh and then he said, “We have not applied our mind. When time comes we will decide.”
SP leader Shahid Siddiqui denied any move to foist Bachchan. “Our first priority is to win the elections. We have not decided. Bachchan is respected all over the world. That does not mean he is the Presidential candidate.”
However, Singh told a TV channel that Bachchan’s candidature may be firmed up after the UP polls. So why is Singh floating his pal’s name? Political circles are offering two reasons: After a series of political and constitutional set backs Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh are desperate to win the upcoming assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh and offering to make him the President may go down well with a section of people in the state and SP may wish to translate that into votes.
Another version is that Amar Singh is helping out “brother” Bachchan keep his brand intact by floating his name for the highest constitutional office. His rival and BSP spokesperson Sudhir Goyal was most uncharitable. “A laughable move. What does he (Bachchan) know about the Constitution. He does not even know the how the BMC works. Amar Singh does not decide who will head the nation.” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said “fortunately for the country the likes of Amar Singh and Chandrababu do not decide Presidency of India.”



Saturday, February 17, 2007

Review: Eklavya

Eklavya: (drama)
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan, Vidya Balan
Direction: Vidhu Vinod Chopra

We'd rather describe Vidhu Vinod Chopra as a poet on celluloid. Ever since Parinda , he has used the silver screen to etch some indelible sequences which could aptly be described as poetry in motion.

In fact, the filmmaker chooses to pay himself a tribute in Eklavya by replaying the classic shootout sequence at Shivaji Park in Parinda , his masterstroke in movielore.

He repeated the brush strokes in 1942 A Love Story and created some stunning montages even in Kareeb , a film which failed to ignite the box office.

Eklavya too is a throwback on renaissance art in terms of its canvas which has been carefully filled in with the dark colours of a dark world that lies hidden in a time warp.

The lost world of the dethroned Rajasthani royalty, complete with the candle-lit palace interiors and the history-sheeted nooks and corners stands out like an oddity in a world that's skidded into a different era.

And as you enter the intimidating ramparts, you know it's going to be a tryst with human tragedy, wrapped up in the silken folds of mothballed parampara and outdated dharma. But form alone can't carry a film through. In the end, it's the overriding bleakness of the tenor that works against the film.

So that, once the superb action sequences — camels, trains, bullets, shootouts, sand, pigeons, anklets, death — are over and Boman Irani's tragic Shakepearean act is curtained, the film ends up as mostly filigree.

Of course, Amitabh Bachchan pitches in a towerhouse performance as the royal guard, who's losing his eyesight but not his loyalty to the erstwhile royalty, but we've seen him deliver better — and more Rolls Royce-worthy — histrionics.

Call it a case of claustrophobia, but all that heavy headgear seems to have bogged him down with its sheer baggage of servility. Also, the incessant whispering between Vidya Balan and Saif Ali Khan almost incoherent and bordering on the lifeless makes you wonder if our fiery Parineeta is fast losing her fire.

Remember Salaam-e-Ishq? And Sharmila? Oh please, what a terrible waste of talent! Imagine what a single flashback might have done? It would have given the film the emotional core which a mere silken scarf failed to give.

In the end, Eklavya is definitely worth a dekko , specially since it brings the flavour of a Shakespearean tragedy to the Indian screen, without actually reworking a Shakespeare play.

Saif's restraint, Boman's pain, Bachchan's brimstone and Chopra's camaraderie with colour and form are what you carry out with you when the lights turn on.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Top Bollywood banners foray into animation industry

With tremendous growth predicted for the animation industry, it’s no surprise when Bollywood biggies decide to cash in too.Karan Johar is apparently considering making an animated version of ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ with the original stars of the film Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol and Rani Mukherji lending their voices. Yash Raj Films’ is also expected to make an animated film with voice-overs by Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor. According to sources, actor Jugal Hansraj will be directing the film. Ram Mohan, considered the father of animation, says big banners entering this industry will not only create more job opportunities but also open up the market further. He says, “When companies like Yash Raj and UTV plan to get into this industry, they will obviously be better funded which will lead to more confidence amongst the distributors.” However, Ram Mohan hopes that the big banners come up with good scripts. “After the success of ‘Hanuman’, we’ve had a deluge of Krishnas, some of which have flopped. We need contemporary stories like the ones that are done in Hollywood. I think ‘Munnabhai’ can be excellent as an animation film.” However, Ram Mohan thinks star voices won’t really make a difference unless the subject is rocking. He says, “Those voices might be a pull for few people, but on the whole, it’s the script that will matter.”It may be recalled that SRK and Amitabh Bachchan have dubbed for Hollywood films too. While SRK did it for ‘The Incredibles’, Bachchan’s voice was used for ‘The March of Penguins’.


My marriage in god's hands: Salman

Bollywood actor Salman Khan, who has been romantically linked to several stars during his two-decade career, says he has left his plans of getting married in god's hands. Asked about his marriage plans, Salman, who was here for a promotional event said, "Whenever He (god) will give consent, I'll get married. Things are not in my hand. Without His will, nothing happens." Questioned whether he was veiling some sadness by answering in such a philosophical fashion, the controversial star said, "There is nothing like that. I believe that He (god) controls all of man's decisions. I'm also waiting for his signal." Rumour mills were recently abuzz with the prospect of Salman finally tying the nuptial knot as Aishwarya Rai, to whom he was romantically linked at one time, has been engaged to Abhishek Bachchan. Having spent 20 years in Bollywood in a career spanning from "Biwi Ho To Aisi" to "Salaam-e-Ishq", Salman said he was looking forward to some of his upcoming films. "I'll soon be doing an action film which will be a complete departure from my romantic image," he said, adding he was considering five to six scripts and would decide on them soon. The star who was once rated among the most attractive actors in the world by Time magazine is satisfied with his career despite not being in the race for the number one slot. He said, "I will continue to act as long as my fans want me to. Their happiness is everything for me."


Monday, February 12, 2007

Review: Black Friday

Black Friday (thriller)
Cast : Kay Kay Menon, Pavan Malhotra, Aditya Srivastava
Direction : Anurag Kashyap

Fourteen years later, India — and the world — can still feel the reverberations of the blasts that ripped apart the fabric of our ostensibly secular, seemingly tolerant, somewhat cosmopolitan society. The hammering of the pickforks atop the moss-laden dome of the Babri Masjid followed by the boom of kala sabun (black soap, the underworld code for RDX) in the overcrowded streets of Mumbai made sure that the scars of Indian misgovernance would never be forgotten. May be that is why Anurag Kashyap’s films don’t seem dated... despite taking up an incident that happened so long ago; despite remaining in the cans for almost two years since its completion. On the contrary, the menace still seems so real and so very frightening, almost like one more bomb waiting to explode in the face of our complacency. The penultimate shot of Tiger Memon (Pavan Malhotra) scowling down the Mumbai horizon as he flings his unstubbed cigarette over the city-line declaring: akkha Mumbai ko jala dalega , the vacant stares of the foot soldiers of politico-religious wars and the counter-terror tactics of the state (read police) that arbitrarily picks up suspects and tortures them through the cold red night light, rubbishing all claims to human rights violations, fills you with a chill. Who says the lessons of history have been learnt? The terror is still palpable. The peddlers of the politics of hate are still active. And the Indian state is still clueless as Black Fridays, Thursdays and Saturdays increasingly become a part of world and national politics. It was indeed a difficult film to make, yet the director has managed to grapple with all the loose threads and put them together in a composite whole. So much so, the film moves like a taut thriller, without ideology colouring the sepia frames. The camera penetrates through the dark and grimy interiors of a city which is quite literally a tinderbox, waiting to implode anytime. The plot of the 1993 bomb blasts is painstakingly recreated and the long list of characters in the transnational drama are given body and form. The ones that remain as key players are the investigating cop (Kay Kay Menon), Tiger Memon (Pavan Malhotra), the kingpin and Badshah Khan (Aditya Srivastava), his lieutenant who becomes an archetype for the misled, unemployed Muslim youth that is currently mushrooming in mofussil India. And yes, looming in the shadows, you can also ferret out the sepulchral silhouette of Dawood Bhai as he towers over his native city from distant Dubai. It's powerful, pointed and hard-hitting cinema that needs to be seen. Not for entertainment, but for soch-vichar. And no, let’s have no state, city, town, village, panchayat, self-appointed moral-political custodian acting as a super censor, this time please.





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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Shilpa Shetty gets work permit in UK

Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty has been granted a work permit by the British government that will enable her to make money from lucrative personal appearances and media interviews in the country.

A covering letter for the permit application was written by non-resident Indian leader and former minister for foreign and Commonwealth Keith Vaz who raised the issue of alleged racist bullying endured by the actress on British reality show Celebrity Big Brother in the House of Commons.

"Having originally raised the racism issue in Parliament and having met her, I was delighted to support her application to stay longer in the UK," Vaz said on Sunday.

"Her fans in the UK, particularly in Leicester, wanted her to stay longer in the UK. I am disappointed she has gone back to Mumbai as she was keen to be with her family. I hope she comes back soon."

Vaz said he wanted Shilpa Shetty, who also won the TV reality show, to stay on in the UK to see the result of the investigation by watchdog Ofcom into the racism row.

"There were 40,000 complaints against the racist bullying she faced and the investigation is still on."

Vaz said "I write hundreds of letters to help people, particularly from India and Asia. I have also taken up the case of highly skilled migrants from India who are forced to go back because of changes effected in the immigration law."

Farhath Hussain, Shilpa Shetty's agent said the work permit was done in the normal course. "A work permit normally takes two days. This one took two days," he said.



'We’ve promised each other never to fight over religion'

On their 25th wedding anniversary on Sunday, ghazal maestro Pankaj Udhas talks of about Farida - his wife, his critic and his lucky mascot.
Tryst with Farida
I met Farida in 1979. Those were days of struggle. We had a three-year courtship. She was and is my silver lining in the dark clouds. Her presence brings me luck.
First encounter
“I met her at my neighbour’s house at Warden Road. I was struck by her honest laughter and straightforwardness. Our relationship progressed gradually. Those days she was flying for Air India.”
‘Knot’ty question
I come from a family of landlords in Gujarat. Farida comes from a traditional Parsi family. So there was resistance from both the sides. But I wanted to marry only with our parents’ blessings. I decided to meet her father — a retired police officer possessing a licensed gun! He reluctantly agreed saying, ‘If you think you can be happy then go ahead!’ We got married on February 11, 1982.
Wonder woman
Farida’s an independent thinker and a good administrator. She’s involved with selecting my verses and guiding me during the launch of my albums. She’s my critic too!
Marriage mantra
She was once asked, ‘Don’t you feel insecure about your husband?’ Farida replied, ‘I always knew he’d be famous. I have faith in him’. We’ve promised each other that no matter how much we argue, we’ll never fight over religion. I travel a lot due to my concerts; the distance brings us closer. Chatting on a quiet beach is my idea of romance.
Priceless love
While I was launching my first album, I ran short of a few thousand rupees. Farida didn’t have money either (we weren’t married then). But the next day she handed over the sum to me. She had borrowed it. Nothing can match this ever!
Farida’s feelings
“I want Pankaj to be my husband for seven janams. Very few men appreciate the contribution of a woman in their lives. He is one of them. That has seen us through.”
My tribute
In 1984, I performed at The Royal Albert Hall, London. I sang, ‘Chandi jaisa ang hai tera’. I dedicate it to Farida.
Our girls
“Nayab (21) is my older daughter. One of my albums (1985) was named after her. She’s a media student. Reva (12) is in school. The anniversary party has been organised by Nayab.”



Saturday, February 10, 2007



Friday, February 9, 2007

Abhishek-starrer 'Drona' in trouble over use of horses

Abhishek Bachchan starrer "Drona" has run into trouble over the use of horses in the film.
The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has raised objections to the use of horses in the film, being shot in Bikaner, Rajasthan, without its prior permission.
The illegal use of animals came to light following the death of a horse a few days ago. The board has taken the post-mortem report of the dead animal in its custody.
Gulzari Lal Soni, an executive member of AWBI, a unit of the union environment and forests ministry, reached the shooting venue on Thursday and objected to horses being used without permission.
"The unit has been using over 55 horses for the shooting but they haven't taken permission from AWBI," Soni said.
He said that at the time of the shooting of "Akbar-Jodha", director Ashutosh Gowarikar had approached the board and taken permission to use horses in his historical drama.
If "Drona" director Goldie Behl is found guilty, action could be taken against him under the Prevention of Cruelty Against Animals Act, Soni said.
The total cost of the film is estimated to be around Rs.650 million.

source : DNA



Traffic Signal (drama)
Cast: Kunal Khemu, Neetu Chandra, Sudhir Mishra
Direction: Madhur Bhandarkar

Chotu sells paper flags at your raaste ka redlight. Chutki sells mogra gajras. Chatpati sells her gaudy assets. Chatpata declares the market's experimenting.

And Chalta Purza is simply begging...It's a familiar terrain that greets you in what is being heralded as the third film in Madhur Bhandarkar's trilogy of cinema verite.

If Page 3 flipped the covers off the glitterati and Corporate sneaked into boardroom slugfests, then Traffic Signal supposedly turns the lights on gutter-street survival, an intrinsic part of maximum city melodrama.

The fact that there's an entire bustee sprawling around a busy lal batti is visible in any overcrowded metropolis, be it Mumbai, Dilli, Chennai, Kolkata and now Bengaluru and Hyderabad too.

But the question is whether you, in your stretch limo, would actually want to know what lies behind the crazy beggar's lament, the smack addicts passion or the runaway kids ram kahani (life story). And if you really want to know, then maybe Salaam Bombay would be the perfect running-nose roadside drama to give you a heart-rending dekko on the grime that lies behind the glitzy Mumbai streets. Traffic Signal?

It trips before you can actually connect with the muggy faces that fly past your tinted windows. The problem with Traffic Signal lies in its overriding disconnect with viewer sentiment. The first half of the film simply flashes through with no story at all. It is a relentless introduction of stock characters who seem to have no flesh and form.

All that the filmmaker manages to establish is the fact that there is an underworld that operates at the traffic signals too and unleashes its stranglehold on all the oddballs who run regular dhandas here.

And like all subterranean enterprises, this industry too runs on clout, petty crime and the perpetual threat of annihilation by the powerful police, politician, bhai nexus.

So you have a roll call of the different players in the red light hierarchy which extends through the entire first half of the film: the bhai (Sudhir Mishra), the neta, the bhai's henchmen, the local goonda (Kunal Khemu), his ragtag army, his eye candy (Neetu Chandra), the hooker (Konkona Sen Sharma), her hooked-on (Ranvir Shorey) and a load of other altu-faltu types. Like, the carwallah who can't satisfy his young wife, the middle-aged pervert who feels-up the chokris, each time his car stops at the red light, the baldy who insists on bribing the gods by shelling out his dope to a single beggar...

in short, the rich and rubbishy types. Neither is the pain of the pathwallahs established nor is their passion allowed to lend drama. Even the Kunal-Neetu romance is patchy and poker-faced. As are Konkona's nakhras with drifter Ranvir.

The second half sees a semblance of a conflict when the signal city is threatened with eviction due to a city-builder's greed. Time for the street army to rise in rebellion, led by the long-haired Silsila (Kunal). But by then, you already know he's got a raw deal. Our Kalyug hunk has little to do and the docu-feature format of the film robs it of the requisite drama. The director simply scores in creating stirring vignettes of Mumbai's street life. But these aren't enough to hold the film together.


Thursday, February 8, 2007

Powder failure

Airport officials mistake Yana Gupta's protein powders as drugs

Model Yana Gupta invariably faces a unique problem while travelling by air. Recently she faced it again when she was stopped by officials at the Dhaka Zia International airport, Bangladesh. In a country which swears by its samosas and vada pavs Yana Gupta is a health freak who swears by soya protein mix instead. Besides that, the actress is also an acupuncture expert who carries her acupuncture needles with her when she travels. The result is predictable - she has often been questioned for possession of suspicious objects while travelling.Says Yana, "I'm very health conscious and carry small dabbas of stuff like my soya protein and calcium powder which I mix. They look kind of weird and I'm always questioned for it. I also have small acupuncture needles which I bought from China, which look like tiny sharp objects in the X-ray machine.""It's quite funny actually," says Yana. "Every time I pack my bag I pray that I won't be stopped. But very often I'm stopped. At the Dhaka Zia International airport, Bangladesh, last week, they opened my dabbas and asked me what they contained. They thought it was drugs. But I asked the man to taste it and only then did he believe me and let me go. The same thing also happened to me in Dubai, where I was lucky to be let off easily as the rules pertaining to drugs are very strict there."As for the needles, Yana says they need a lot more convincing than the protein powders. In fact, she even had to do acupuncture on an airport official once to prove herself. "I was coming back from Kolkata, when a security man stopped me. I told him I was a doctor who uses them to treat patients. He scoffed at me saying they didn't look like medicines. So I just stuck a needle into him and showed him. Thankfully I got back my needles as they are specially bought from China!" says Yana.Yana firmly believes in virtue of acupuncture. "Acupuncture helps in the flow of energy channels called meridians in our body. I do it all the time and I never fall sick any more. I do it after a work out or when I'm feeling tired. I do it for friends too, who suffer from backaches or asthma. And yes, I do it during flights, when I feel airsick," says Yana.


Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Sushmita set to produce dream project 'Jhansi Ki Rani'

Bollywood actor Sushmita Sen has decided to produce Jhansi Ki Rani, in which she plays the role of the warrior queen, because she feels others cannot translate her vision satisfactorily on screen.
"This is the kind of year that I look forward to," said Sushmita about her big plans for 2007.
"And I don't see my vision being translated to screen by any other producer. For my interpretation of the ultimate warrior queen I need to create a situation conducive to a free-flowing creativity," Sushmita said.
She says it isn't a random decision.
"Nor have I come to this decision only to accommodate myself as an actor. But yes, there's a definite economic and creative method to my plans to go into film production."
At the moment Sushmita is in serious closed-door discussions with her scriptwriters. She hopes to zero in on a director in the next couple of months.
"Every actor has a dream role. Mine is Jhansi Ki Rani. I've always created a situation where I can make my dreams come true. This is my chance to play the one historical character that I most closely empathise with."



'Please, Shabana taqleef hoti hai,' says Shaukat Azmi

Shabana was pulled up by mother Shaukat Azmi for her dowdy dressing in ‘Honey Moon Travels Pvt Ltd’
By her own admission Shabana Azmi has never been more frumpily dressed than in Reema Kagti’s ‘Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd’. And the first to notice the drastic wardrobe was Shabana’s mother and actor Shaukat Azmi. Honeymoon joys
Shabana relates, “When my mother saw the clothes she freaked out. ‘Please, Shabana taqleef hoti hai!’ she said. "Arrey! She can dress in any manner for a role, so why not me?”She adds, “The film was a lot of fun. Doing an ensemble film was a total pleasure. And I’ve done two such films back to back. The first one was ‘The Lions of Punjab’ (earlier titled ‘The Contest’) directed by Manish Acharya. An ensemble film teaches you endless patience. You are an extra in every scene. If you get bored of being an extra you harm the film.” She continues, “Fortunately, Goa, where we shot the film, didn’t give us any chance to get bored. We all had a blast, playing antakshari and dumb charades.”Cast camaraderie
Shabana got along with the entire cast and, in particular, Sandhya Mridul. “She has the most delicious sense of humour. I enjoyed being with her. And Raima Sen — woh apne type ki cheez hai,” she reveals.“I’m also so proud of my child Zoya Akhtar (daughter of Javed Akhtar). I always wondered how she’d be as a filmmaker. Watching her handle the unit as a producer I could see her capabilities. To see the correct values in your child is a rewarding experience,” says proud mother Shabana.Supporting the small
Coming back to ‘The Lions of Punjab’, she’s all praise for Manish. “He’s an encyclopaedia on Hindi cinema. I rate him as high as Farhan Akhtar. It’s very important for independent filmmakers like Reema and Manish to find the right resources,” she says. Shabana asserts, “I’ve been screaming myself hoarse that big film companies should support small endeavours. That’s why I admire Subhash Ghai. He has funded projects like ‘Joggers Park’ and ‘Iqbal’. He still has the sensibilities of the FTII in him.” Water water!
Shabana whoops with joy at Deepa Mehta’s film ‘Water’ making it to the Oscars. “I missed out on ‘Water’. But I’m glad that Deepa finally made the film. I believe Seema Biswas is wonderful in the role that I was supposed to do,” she says.“I remember when Deepa wrote to tell me I couldn’t be in it, I was disappointed. But I pretended to be nonchalant. I met Nandita Das recently (she was also the original choice in ‘Water’). Both of us are glad that the film has been finally made.



Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Shilpa sends legal notices to Jazz and Bobby Khan

Bollywood actress Shipa Shetty sent legal notice to Jasveer 'Jazz' Barton and Bobby Khan who "posed" as her Agent and Manager.
Shilpa's Spokesperson Dale Bhagwagar said in a statement that Jazz, though was instrumental in Shilpa's tie-up with Endemol, "She (Jazz) never had any contract or agreement signed up with Shilpa. She was not even a friend, just an acquaintance."
The Shetty family also plans to sue Jazz and Bobby Kant on the charge of defamation and for allegedly misguiding the industry and public regarding Shilpa Shetty, Bhagwagar said.
The spokesperson said Shilpa's lawyer Rohini Vakil has sent a legal notice to Jazz Barton and Bobby Kant as "we sensed Jazz was up to mischief when the entire UK media started addressing her as Shilpa's 'agent' and Bobby Kant as `manager'."
Shilpa was forced to take legal action as Jazz and Bobby Kant who came to Mumbai and gave statements to Indian channels and newspapers against Shetty's.
Queries were also "misdirected" to Bobby and Jazz, Bhagwagar said adding "when we learnt that Jazz was brokering deals signing financial agreements and making commitments on Shilpa's behalf, it had to be announced and clarified that she (Jazz) was not the "agent".
When Shilpa's mother Sunanda Shetty went to London and gave out the facts about Jazz to the UK media, she took offence and began using derogatory language for Sunanda in the UK media, Bhagwagar alleged.
Bhagwagar charged that "Jazz even tried insinuate a racism angle saying she would be "deeply unhappy if Sunanda appointed a white Briton to represent Shilpa in the UK and worldwide".
"It is evident, Jazz was trying to create another racist divide, behaving like a 'Jade Part 2'," Bhagwagar alleged.
"Jazz has received the legal notice herself at Bobby Khan's residence," Rohini Vakil said.



'Guru' granted tax exemption in UP

Bollywood film 'Guru' starring Abhishek Bachchan and his fiancee Aishwarya Rai was on Tuesday exempted from entertainment tax by the Uttar Pradesh Government.
The decision to grant tax exemption to the Mani Ratnam film for a period of three months was taken at a meeting of the State Cabinet here, official sources said.
The State Government has in the past granted tax exemption to several Amitabh and Abhishek Bachchan movies.
In another decision, the Government increased the retirement age of the employees of Lucknow and Gorakhpur sports hostels from 58 to 60 years, the sources said.


Monday, February 5, 2007

See what happens to Shah Rukh after 35 yrs: Big B

Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan and younger rival Shah Rukh Khan appear to be bickering over who's the bigger star, media reports said on Sunday. "Let's see what happens to him after 35 years," Bachchan was quoted as saying to a news agency, referring to Khan. Bachchan's remarks were provoked by Khan's recent comments to the media that Bachchan's time was up. "I am sexy, smart and young. That was his century; this is mine," the agency was quoted Khan as saying. The war of words, which began innocuously over a perceived rivalry between the two about who was the reigning superstar of Bollywood, has been fanned by the media. Bachchan has dismissed talk of any rivalry. "Whatever he says is correct. I am old and he is young, and I agree he is smart and sexy," Bachchan said, before going on to make the remark about Khan's future. Affectionately called the "Big B," Bachchan, 63, has a massive fan following among South Asians and has acted in more than 150 movies in a career spanning more than three decades. Khan, 41, is one of the Bollywood's biggest heartthrobs of the past decade and one of the highest paid actors in the Indian movie industry. He has acted in nearly 60 movies, including the hits Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham , Kabhi Haan, Kabhi Na ', and Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna . Khan recently replaced Bachchan as host of India's most popular TV programme Kaun Banega Crorepati -- a gameshow based on Who Wants to be a Millionaire .' Early figures by the country's Television Audience Management appear to indicate the elder superstar had a bigger following.


Sunday, February 4, 2007

'Kisses in Red were passionate and intense,' Celina

rapid fire...

We’ve heard that you shot for five songs in a week recently?

Yes I did. I have been shooting for songs of the films ‘Red’ and ‘Boom Shaka Laka Boom Boom’ in a period of 10 days.

It must have been pretty tiring?

No, I quite enjoy dancing. For those 10 days, that was my only workout regime.

So now you must have become quite a dancing diva?

Yeah, I am ready for the hip-hop world championship.

From where did you get the energy for it all?

If you love something, you do it anyway. I increased my glucose intake. Even when I was younger, going for my kathak classes used to give me a great high.

Also, aren’t you playing a sexy widow in ‘Red’?

It’s a very simple character and the sexuality just happens to be part of it. Just because you are a widow, it’s not like that there will be no sexual aspect to your life because most women at some point develop a conjugal bond with someone.

There is also lot of talk about your kissing scenes with Aftab Shivdasani in the film?

You could say that the kisses in ‘Janasheen’ were hot and sexy but the ones in ‘Red’ are passionate and intense.


Friday, February 2, 2007

Monk's life: There was no sex in the ‘Bigg Boss’ house’

Participant Ravi Kishen on his love for his wife, his monk-like existence in the show and Carol Gracis
“I’m suffering from a three-month jetlag,” says ‘Bigg Boss’ participant Ravi Kishen from Mahableshwar where he says he has eyes only for his wife.
Luxurious prison
“I don’t want to lose sight of her for even a second. Inside the ‘Bigg Boss’ house it was like being in a 5 star prison. You couldn’t escape. If you did you would have to pay a huge penalty. We had signed a 12 page contract,” Ravi says.
Bigg fame
Ravi reveals that after ‘Bigg Boss’ he’s being mobbed at malls. “God has made me a role model. My wife has also become a star. She can’t strike a good deal in the shops. They think she can afford to pay any price,” he adds.
Wifey dearest
Ravi feels that he has changed completely after the show. “I may have come across as aggressive. But I was just being true to myself. Today I’m a changed man. I’m great at domestic chores—washing utensils and clothes. I’m dying to make pav bhaji and gajar ka halwa for my wife,” he assures.
Ravi continues, “But she isn’t allowing me to do anything except give her a foot massage. When she saw me cry on TV, she fainted. Now we’re unable to leave each other for even a second. I worship her, and she worships me too.”
Shaolin temple
Ravi says his life in the house had no sex. “We all lived like monks. We came out better persons. It was like being put in a Shaolin temple with 13 different people. I fought against dirty thoughts.
There was no time to be alone except in one corner where I sat smoking and talking to the sky. We were not under watch there,” he reveals.
Carol and me
He describes his relationship with inmate Carol Gracias as a ‘pavitra dosti.’ “I taught her how to speak Hindi. I used the platform to propagate Bhojpuri. I was the only known name there.
I lost because people in Bihar voted me out , thinking that they were voting for me to stay,” he reasons.
Lessons learnt
“I’ve gained a lot from ‘Bigg Boss’—gyan pyar, patni, parivar, dosti, asli chehre, nakli chehre, I won’t forget these experiences till the day I die,” says the actor.
Ravi plans to invite all the inmates of ‘Bigg Boss’ for dinner and says, “I want some of them to be my friends for the rest of my life.”
Nagma natter
Ravi Kishen hasn’t connected with favourite co-star and friend Nagma after coming out. “But I hear she had things to say while I was away. For her information it wasn’t me. It was Aryan Vaid who was bitching about her. But I wish her all the best,” he ends.



Water nominated for Oscar honours

Deepa Mehta's film Water, a tale about the plight of Hindu widows in the 1930s, was on Tuesday nominated along with four other films in the Best Foreign Language Film category for the Oscars this year. The nominations to the 79th Annual Academy Awards were announced at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in Beverly Hills. The other four films which won nominations are: After The Wedding (Denmark), Days of Glory (Algeria), The Lives of Others (Germany) and Pan’s Labyrinth (Mexico). Water, the final part of Mehta's trilogy which includes Earth and Fire, has been nominated as Canada's official entry for the awards. The film is set in the 1930s and focuses on the difficult times faced by widows abandoned by their families and living on the banks of the Ganga. "I am so thrilled with this news. This film has meant so much to me, we have seen so much, that to have it all end in such a way is best thing I could have asked for," Mehta said over phone from her residence in Canada. Deepa Mehta had intended to make the film in 2000 and wanted to shoot it in Varanasi, but was forced to call of the shooting after Sangh Parivar outfitsobjected to the subject of the film. The film originally starred Akshay Kumar, Nandita Das and Shabana Azmi but Mehta decided to re-shoot it with a different cast in 2005 in Sri Lanka with John Abraham, Lisa Ray and Seema Biswas in the lead roles. Speaking to TOI, John Abraham said,"The credit for this nomination goes to Deepa Mehta and the entire team of Water." John plans to go for the promotion of the film to America. When asked about the criticism he received for his performance in the film, he said,"I have got nothing to say to that, but I know my audience is with me." India had sent Rakyesh Mehra's film Rang De Basanti as its entry, but it failed to make it to the top 10 in the foreign film category.


Thursday, February 1, 2007

Vidya denies rift with Aishwarya

Actor Vidya Balan has completely dismissed rumours of a rift with Aishwarya Rai during the making of Mani Ratnam's 'Guru'.
"By now I'm used to all kinds of rumours. But this one truly takes the cake. I can't say we got along like a house on fire simply because we didn't have that many scenes together. But whenever we worked together, Aishwarya was a dream co-star ... an absolute delight and someone I look up to."
She is quick to laugh off reports that Aishwarya was responsible for her rather short role in the film.
"To even suggest that she had my role cut is so ridiculous. I was aware of the extent of my role from the start. I did 'Guru' for the pleasure of working with Mani. There're moments in the film where Aishwarya needed to reach out to me emotionally. She did it so naturally and spontaneously that she won me over."
What about stories that Vidya didn't attend the premiere of 'Guru' in Canada because of Aishwarya?
"This is too much," giggles Vidya. "I wonder who's spreading such nonsense and for what purpose! I was in Australia shooting for Sajid Khan's 'Hey Baby' on January 10. The premiere of 'Guru' in Canada was on 12th. There was no way I could reach there and get back to my shooting without disrupting Sajid's schedule. I wouldn't do this to anyone, least of all Sajid Khan who's a first-time director and a dear friend."
She takes a deep breath and adds: "I hope this puts to rest all these silly speculations about Aishwarya's role in my life. She's way above all this petty politics. Her dignity in the face of adversity is exemplary. If I can possess even a fraction of her poise I'd consider myself lucky."
Vidya, who turned a year older January 1, says she is quite happy with the year gone by.
"After 'Parineeta' I needed to consolidate my position. 'Lage Raho Munnabhai' did that for me. 2007 will also hopefully start on an auspicious note with 'Salaam-e-Ishq' and Eklavya."



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