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Assamese singer Zubeen captivates with 'Ya Ali'
New Delhi, March 19 Top Assamese singer Zubeen Garg,
better known for his hit Bollywood number "Ya Ali" from the
Hindi film "Gangster", enthralled northeast students with
popular Assamese and Hindi film songs here.
The 30-plus singer-composer had the audience of more than 1,000
swaying, clapping and whistling Sunday evening as he sang Hindi
numbers including "Subah Subah" ("I See You"), "Jane Kya Jane
Man" ("Pyar Ke Side Effects") as well as "Ya Ali", plus some
Assamese hits from his albums "Maya", "Anamika" and "Pakhi".
Zubeen, a household name in Assam, also sang some Bihu numbers
and had the youngsters dancing to its beats. The event, held at
the Polo Grounds here, was organised by Shrishti, a group of
Assamese youth in New Delhi.
"Zubeen's popularity in the mainstream music scene has proved
that there are potential singers in the northeast who can make
it big in Bollywood," Ratul Sarmah, an Assamese journalist, told
Himanshu Sharma, a member of Shrishti, said: "In a bid to feel
at home, away from home, some northeast students like I got
together and formed Shristi. We organise cultural programmes as
well as talks and seminars so as to give the youth from the
region a platform to voice their thoughts."
With Bihu just over two weeks away, Zubeen's cultural show
couldn't have been timed better.
"I really miss being at home on Bihu. But hearing the familiar
tunes, watching the colourful Bihu dance and having a rollicking
time with so many Assamese here has made me feel at home," said
a first year graduation student Rashmi Sharma.
The "Ya Ali" number was one of the instant hits of Bollywood and
earned Zubeen the best playback singer (male) award at the
Global Indian Film Awards (GIFA) last year and the new Max
Stardust Musical Sensation (Male) Award (2007).
Zubeen has so far sung for Hindi films like "Fizaa", "Strings",
"Bas Ek Pal", "Zindagi Rocks", "I See You" and "Life Me Kabhie
Kabhie". He gave the music for Sanjay Jha's "Strings".
He has sung more than 7,000 songs including in other regional
languages like Tamil, Telugu, Punjabi, Oriya, Marathi and
He is also adept at playing the mandolin, keyboard and various
percussion instruments like the dhol.
I want to make a movie, says
Samir Nair (INTERVIEW)
By Subhash K. Jha,
Mumbai, March 19 Samir Nair, the former CEO of STAR
Entertainment India who took the channel to new heights in a
decade and is joining NDTV's soon-to-be-launched entertainment
wing, wants to direct films.
"I came to STAR when I was 29 years old. I'm 42 now. So it's
been more than a decade. It's time to carry my vision forward.
It's time for an unfettered creative expression with a sense of
ownership and purpose," Nair told IANS in an interview.
"I want to do other things in life... I want to make a movie. In
fact, that's been a dream since 1999. I used to make ad films.
But my experience at STAR has been great fun. It has taught me
everything I know. And I'd think I've given a lot back to the
channel. Yup, I've had a good time," he added.
Of the many things that Nair did at STAR, the quiz show "Kaun
Banega Crorepati" (KBC) was one of his best ventures.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: Why the change of heart?
A: I had been thinking about it for a long time. Finally, I
decided I needed to do something new, and in an independent
manner. I was getting restless. I need to have a sense of equity
in the company that I proceed to next.
Q: Both you and Peter Mukherjee seem to be moving out
A: No, his departure was on the anvil for quite a while, though
obviously I didn't ask him the details. As for me, I came to
STAR when I was 29 years old. Now I'm 42. I feel it's time to
carry my vision forward. It's time for an unfettered creative
expression with a sense of ownership and purpose.
Q: Would you say you've peaked at STAR?
A: No, I wouldn't say that.
Q: I believe there's a lot of bad blood against you at STAR?
A: (Evasively) My father always taught me one thing: "Turn the
page. Never dwell in the past." Yes, there were differences
about the management style until it came to a point where I
said, "Just forget it." In life you can't choose parents and
I want to do other things in life... I want to make a movie. In
fact, that's been a dream since 1999. I used to make ad films.
But my experience at STAR has been great fun. It has taught me
everything I know. And I'd think I've given a lot back to the
channel. Yup, I've had a good time.
Q: If you had a choice to do things your way would you stay on
A: Let's not ponder on the imponderable.
Q: The buzz is that a lot of STAR's staff is leaving with you?
A: I've had a meeting with them and told them that the channel
needs them, work needs to be done and serials need to be made.
I'm sure we'll work together again. This isn't a ride off into
the sunset for me. But I need to start afresh. I needed this
change. I don't feel rudderless. I've met the heads of all the
departments at STAR and advised them to let the show go on.
Q: Your highlights at STAR?
A: Well, in 1994 one of the first interviews I did for STAR
Movies was with Naseeruddin Shah. I asked him what he thought of
Shah Rukh. Naseer said Shah Rukh reminded him of the early
Rajesh Khanna. The next big thing for me was when I got to
handle Amitabh's comeback movie "Mrityudaata". That was a big
event for me because I was such a big Amitabh fan.
Then came the great movie acquisition when I managed to change
the five-year embargo on new films shown on TV. I reduced the
time between theatres to satellite to five months. Then I became
programming head and along came KBC with Amitabh Bachchan and
all the Balaji soaps. It was followed by the launch of channels
like STAR One.
In 2006 I got promoted and I got married and I got Shah Rukh on
KBC. Now in 2007 I've quit my job at STAR. Now it's the future -
here I come.
Q: Balaji might decide to leave STAR with you.
A: I hope to work with everyone I've worked with.
'I'm pleased with Hirani's Gandhigiri,' says Gandhi's great
By Subhash K. Jha,
Mumbai, March 19 If Gandhigiri in Rajkumar Hirani's
"Lage Raho Munna Bhai" was profusely applauded by both audiences
and critics, Mahatma Gandhi's great grandson Tushar Gandhi is
equally proud of the film, which he says has introduced the new
generation to Bapu and his ideology.
"For today's generation Bapu would've been a forgotten factor if
he didn't have his photographs on currency notes. More than Bapu,
this film shows the power of satyagraha. Many people thought it
was possible only during British rule," Tushar told IANS in an
This Gandhi scion also feels that Ashutosh Gowariker's "Swades"
epitomizes Gandhi's values. "Unfortunately, it didn't get the
box office success it deserved. It should've been less
sermonising and more humorous. I told Gowariker that "Swades"
should be shown in every educational institution."
Commenting upon Anil Kapoor's "Mahatma Versus Gandhi", about the
tensed relationship between Bapu and his son Harilal, Tushar
said: "It's a very tragic episode in the life of Bapu and the
family. But nevertheless authentic. Such humanisation is
Q: What do you feel about the revival of Gandhism through a film
like "Lage Raho Munna Bhai"?
A: These are very timely and appropriate works. I'd also like to
include Ashutosh Gowariker's "Swades". The film epitomises
Gandhi's values. Unfortunately, it was like a documentary. It
didn't get the box office success it deserved. It should've been
less sermonising, more humorous. I told Gowariker that "Swades"
should be shown in every educational institution.
Q: What did you think of the way Mahatma Gandhi has been
portrayed in "Lage Raho Munna Bhai"?
A: It's almost as if a new generation has discovered Bapu. For
today's generation Bapu would've been a forgotten factor if he
didn't have his photographs on currency notes. More than Bapu,
this film shows the power of satyagraha. Many people thought it
was possible only during British rule.
Q: Do you think turning the other cheek is a good option in
A: Not when you're dealing with global terrorism. But in normal
day-to-day living I think satyagraha still works. See how much
violence has grown in our lives. For society dealing internally
with strife, non-violence is a viable option. Let me point out
here that even Bapu knew the limits of satyagraha.
When aggression happened in Kashmir Bapu didn't go on his
fast-unto-death. Instead, he endorsed the military attack as the
dharma of army. Satyagraha wasn't a dogma for him. Otherwise
Bapu wouldn't have condoned socialist violence during the Quit
India movement. He agreed violence and counter-violence were
But does violence today yield any positive results? Finally
United States President George W. Bush's war on terrorism is
getting us nowhere. Even the annihilation of Lebanon hasn't made
Israel any safer.
Q: What do you think of Raj Kumar Hirani's "Gandhigiri"?
A: It's a welcome coinage. People today can identify with it
more than other terms like Gandhism and Gandhi-vaad. These were
too elitist and only the senior generation could relate to them.
Gandhigiri is identifiable by the common man. And that's the
language Bapu always spoke. I think Bapu would've spoken the
language of Gandhigiri if he were alive today. I really feel
this film says something that needs to be told.
Anything that promotes Bapu is very dear to me. My entire
existence is dependent on Bapu's ideas. In a very selfish way
I'm very pleased with Raju Hirani's Gandhigiri. And I was zapped
by Sanjay Dutt's performance. What a long way he has come as an
Q: Are you a movie buff?
A: I love movies but not the elitist kind. I love films like
"The Terminator" (laughs). I like films showing Rajnikanth
beating up a dozen goons. I keep telling my wife that all my
pent-up violence is vented while watching action movies. Once in
a while I like movies that make me think.
I was laughing throughout "Lage Raho Munna Bhai". But because of
the theme, I was continuously scanning the audience for their
reaction. I think Sanjay and Arshad Warsi were even better in
this than in "Munnabhai M.B.B.S.".
Q: What do you think of the next Gandhi film "Mahatma Versus
Gandhi" (produced by Anil Kapoor) which will go into the
troubled relationship between Gandhiji and his son?
A: Yes, Bapu and Harilal Kaka. It's a very tragic episode in the
life of Bapu and the family. But nevertheless authentic. Such
humanisation is important. Bapu's personality is like an onion.
You go into layers and layers and you discover more about him.
I, for one, am not comfortable with the deification of Bapu. I
want him to be more human, so he can be more inspirational. Let
people see him in all his facets, as a man who overcame all his
In 'Lage Raho...' there's a poignant dialogue where Bapu wants
people to enshrine him in their hearts. In the past 60 years
Bapu has been reduced to a subject for an elitist club. It's a
crime to imprison Bapu as being elitist. Don't abuse him, but
please criticise Bapu constructively.
Q: What did you think of Richard Attenborough's "Gandhi"?
A: It did justice to the personality. Raju Hirani has done
justice to his philosophy. Attenborough's film proved
inspirational all over the world. This 7/11 there will be many
screenings of Attenborough's film in American universities. Ben
Kingsley did a good job of playing Bapu. However, I thought Bapu
had been portrayed as fickle in Raj Kumar Santoshi's "The Legend
Of Bhagat Singh". But my favourite Gandhi was Atul Kulkarni in
the stage play "Gandhi Virudh Gandhi". He caught on to the
essence of Bapu.
Q: What did you think of "Rang De Basanti"?
A: Though I liked the film the conclusion was inapplicable and
problematic. It just offered an emotional eruption. The
parallels between the freedom fighters and today's youth were
interesting but inaccurate. I appreciated the parallels between
history and contemporary times. I thought it was a technically
Q: So, are you saying it trivialised history?
A: I'd say so.
Randeep Hooda 'disgusted' by publicity over kiss
By Subhash K. Jha,
Mumbai, March 19 The publicity pictures of him
kissing Sushmita Sen in the film "Karma, Confessions And Holi"
smack of the producer's desperation, says upcoming actor Randeep
"I'm disgusted by the producers. Surely they've got more to
attract the public to the theatres than a kiss between two
actors? By flashing one scene, they're just being cheap and
undignified in their promotion. May be they need a less cheesy
publicity machinery," Randeep told IANS.
The last time a smooch scene featuring Sushmita was splashed
about, she had blown her top. "And she should protest against
this tacky publicity again. It's not right," said her ex-beau.
Randeep isn't aware of the film's release plans. "No one has
informed me. The kissing scenes are part of the film. And I'm
not in the least embarrassed about kissing such a gorgeous woman
But considering the past relationship between the two was there
any awkwardness about doing such scenes?
"We're both professionals. And we were just doing our job. I'm
looking forward to the film and to seeing how we look together
on screen. It was a great experience working with her because of
our association off-screen. It was very funny maintaining a
balance between the rapport on and off screen."
However, Randeep said real-life rapport made no difference to
what happened on screen.
"Once the camera rolls, the relationship in the script takes
over. Of course, there are bits of the actor floating on screen.
But I go by the guidelines provided by the script and director."
The actor recalled the weeks spent shooting the film in New York
with great affection.
"It was a great experience. I had never been to America before
and I was really looking forward to it. I wanted to see the
American style of working first-hand. I've always been very
inspired by American cinema. The experience boosted my
"I definitely felt that the way we work here in India is just
fine. I've had congratulatory calls from Americans who have seen
the film. They liked my performance."
Randeep said boundaries in cinema have disappeared. "But let me
point out, 'Karma, Confessions And Holi' isn't a Hollywood film.
It's an independent film made by Rapture Films. According to me,
Hollywood films are those made by the studios in Los Angeles.
"This independent film gave me a chance to feel very
independent. It took very little time to be shot. Having a slice
of the Big Apple was a great experience. In essence, Mumbai and
New York are very similar. I hired a limousine and travelled all
over. I visited every possible watering hole. I loved the
freedom and passion in New York."
Randeep's sister was also in New York at the time. "She's a
doctor, like my father, and she's got her residency in New York.
My sister is my inspiration for becoming an actor."
The actor continues to be extra picky about his roles.
"My first film 'Monsoon Wedding' came out in 2000. Now I'm doing
my fifth film 'Risk'. I couldn't bear myself on screen in
'Monsoon Wedding'. So I took a long sabbatical to improve myself
as an actor. I got involved with theatre.
"I got a strange compliment about my performance that at the
time I thought to be an insult. A distributor in Venice told me,
'In the entire film, you were the only one who didn't seem to be
acting.' I took it as criticism and decided to improve myself,
though in hindsight it seems a compliment."
Is Randeep a sucker for worldly perks? "I go through these
phases where I think all success is so transitory. But the next
day I'm fighting for material things. I need money to encourage
and empower those around me. It's not about owning two cars. I
can only sit in one, but I do drive around in many cars these
days. It's very therapeutic."
The young actor is on the verge of signing a bunch of new films.
"I just want to make sure which one to go by. Signing is easy.
But would I be able to live with it until its completion? I
don't take up a challenge until I'm up to it. Am I a good
decision-maker? Sometimes it's better to let the decisions be
made for you.
"I guess I'm childlike and I want the child within me to remain
alive. I'm awed by life. I'm excited and challenged by life.
I've got a certain innocence that I value. I watch my
two-year-old nephew and learn how to live," he said.
"When I was helping Naseeruddin Shah with the staging of Kahlil
Gibran's 'The Prophet', I read a line that stayed with me. 'If
you're looking for god, look at the children playing around
you.' I love children and they love me too," added Randeep.
'The Namesake' makes US top 20 with $1.1 mn
By Arun Kumar,
Washington, March 19 With gross earnings of $1.1
million at the box office, Indian American director Mira Nair's
latest venture "The Namesake" has made it to the North American
Top 20 in only its second weekend of limited release.
The film about an Indian immigrant family torn between tradition
and modernity also broke the 10-year opening week box office
record at the Paris Theatre in New York City with a sensational
$101,929 in its first seven days.
"Monsoon Wedding" did not reach the Top 20 until its fourth
weekend in 98 theatres and "Bend It Like Beckham" reached the
Top 20 in its third weekend in 46 theatres, boxofficeguru.com
Expanding from six to 41 theatres, "The Namesake" debuted March
16 in Boston, Chicago, Washington DC, Denver, Philadelphia, San
Jose, Seattle and Vancouver and added more theatres in the
existing markets of New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and
The film will now open in an additional 69 theatres March 23 in
Dallas, Detroit, Hartford, Houston, Miami, Minneapolis,
Montreal, New Jersey, Oakland, Phoenix, San Diego and St. Louis.
Earlier earning over a quarter million at the box office in its
opening weekend, "The Namesake" returned a record per-theatre
average of $41,794 from six theatres in comparison with other
Indian-themed films that debuted in limited release.
"Monsoon Wedding" made $68,546 from two theatres in New York for
a $34,273 average, "Bend it Like Beckham" made $161,528 from six
theatres for a $26,921 average and "Water" made $56,280 from
five theatres for a $11,256 average.
Entertainment convention to focus on piracy, law, tax
New Delhi, March 19 The 2007 edition of FICCI-FRAMES,
a global convention on the entertainment industry to be held in
Mumbai this month, will focus on legal status of the business
and ways to deal with the menace of piracy.
The three-day meet beginning March 26 will see the release of
FICCI-Amarchand Mangaldas Entertainment Law Book, proposing a
legal framework for the industry. A draft framework of Optical
Disk Law, essentially to counter piracy, will also be released.
"We are focusing completely and thoroughly on piracy. We have
found that there are specific companies that specialise in
piracy. We have identified 15 such companies," Federation of
Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) secretary
general Amit Mitra told a press conference here Monday.
"We have a brand protection committee of FICCI, which does
raids. In one particular raid we found a Chinese machine, which
reproduces holograms of every kind, and that machine was worth a
crore-and-a-half (Rs.15 million). So, it is not the industry,
which is involved in piracy but there is piracy industry," he
"We are presenting Optical Disk Law at the FRAMES event which is
an indication of the anti-piracy movement. There is a separate
session in FRAMES called 'Defending Your Intellectual
The need for uniformity of entertainment tax will also come up
for discussion at the meet.
"We will talk about rationalisation of entertainment tax. In
some states the entertainment tax is zero which puts pressure on
other states. We are putting pressures on all the states through
our own networks to rationalise entertainment tax," said Mitra.
Italy is the partner country for FICCI-FRAMES 2007 and Paolo
Gentiloni Silveri, minister of communications, Italy, will
attend it along with an 80-member delegation. Italian actors
Giancarlo Giannini and Anna Galiena will also grace the event.
A special feature of the convention this year is the X Media
Lab, which will bring leading digital media practitioners and
innovators from around the world in a unique creative
environment that mentors companies to improve their own creative
digital media ideas, get their products to market and achieve
Also, Kamal Hassan and Rekha will be honoured with FICCI's
Living Legend in Entertainment Awards for excellence in cinema.
Sony Entertainment Television will be the convention partner,
while other sponsors of the event include IBM, STAR, ZEE,
Moserbaer, Yahoo, Adlabs, INOX and Radio Mirchi.
Abhishek-Aishwarya to wed in April?
Mumbai, March 19 Will they or won't they marry next
month? Rumours are rife that Bollywood's hottest couple Abhishek
Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai will tie the knot on April 19 at the
Bachchan residence Prateeksha here.
However, a source close to the family denied an imminent
wedding. "It is just a rumour, nothing else. People are saying
that the cards are ready and that the date and venue are already
decided, but there is no truth in these claims," he said.
Since the two stars got engaged in January, wedding-date rumours
have persistently dogged the pair. The Bollywood grapevine had
it that they are tying the knot on Feb 19 and when it didn't
happen on that day, they put forth March 19.
Abhishek's superstar dad Amitabh Bachchan has said the family is
as impatient as others, but haven't been able to finalise a day
due to paucity of time.
"We still haven't got a date. The two of them are so busy, we
haven't been able to sit down and work it out," Amitabh had
said, while denying reports that the wedding was supposed to
take place on Feb 19 or March 19.
Abhishek and Aishwarya are busy shooting for "Drona" and "Jodha
Shweta's intelligence comes through on her show: Amitabh
Subhash K. Jha,
Mumbai, March 18 Bollywood superstar Amitabh
Bachchan is proud of the way his soft-spoken daughter Shweta
Nanda conducts her new talk show "Next Gen" on NDTV Profit and
says that "her intelligence comes through on her show".
Says Amitabh: "I think she's finally found her vocation. She is
presenting herself well on the show."
He also reveals that whenever a family discussion reaches a dead
end, they all turn to Shweta for her viewpoint.
"We call up Shweta and put her on the conference line. We always
keep going back to her for her wise opinion," Amitabh told IANS
in an interview.
The actor adds that Shweta had always been shy of films and
wasn't even interested in accompanying him to movie shoots and
Excerpts of an interview:
Q. Shweta's foray into television is so unexpected.
A. Well, you know NDTV Profit called her and offered her the
chance to host this show. So it wasn't something she planned or
even initiated. Now that she's taken it on we gave her all our
blessings and little suggestions. We even did a dummy show in my
office. I watched her first episode and she was very good.
Q. I think Shweta is the most photogenic Bachchan.
A. You're right. And she's also the most intelligent and
balanced Bachchan. She's very objective in assessment of
situations. Whenever we reach a dead end during a family
discussion, we call up Shweta and put her on the conference
line. We always keep going back to her for her wise opinion.
Her intelligence comes through on her show. Shweta is a
All that she speaks on the show has been written by her.
Q. Why did Shweta never come into movies?
A. The choice was entirely hers. In fact she was never
interested in even accompanying me to shootings and film events.
On the other hand, Abhishek would always accompany me wherever I
went. I think Shweta was a little shy and scared of events. Some
of that shyness comes through on her show. But she's also very
I loved the way she questioned Aman and Ayaan (Ali) Khan in the
first episode. I think she's finally found her vocation. She is
presenting herself well on the show. She's able to speak her
mind brilliantly. And that too on a show which isn't frivolous
Q. I am amazed that she writes the script herself for the show.
A. Well, she does. Anchoring is generally divided into mind and
face. Someone writes and another person comes on camera. It's
rare to have someone bring both the qualities in her
Q. Did you have a script when you did Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC)?
A. Yes. But a lot of improvisation came into the interactions
with the participants and in the construction of several
portions of the game show that wasn't there in the original. KBC
was a game show and one had to follow the format. However all
the interjections and homilies were mine.
Sammir Dattani risks life for a role
By Subhash K. Jha,
Mumbai, March 18 Actor Sammir Dattani, who plays a
government agent in his upcoming film "Mukhbiir", says he almost
risked his life while shooting at a religious congregation for
The actor underwent rigorous physical and diction training for
the role as well.
"A mullah was called for me to pronounce the religious terms in
an alien language perfectly ... Not an easy task for someone who
thinks in English. But I was determined to get it right."
Sammir not only learnt the language properly, he also got the
culture, clothing and body language of a Hyderabadi youth so
right that by the time the unit was ready to shoot in a volatile
crowded religious congregation, he looked an absolute natural.
Recalls Sammir: "It was the ultimate test. If I got it wrong my
life would have been in danger. They don't allow people from
outside to enter their festivities. If you're caught your life
is in danger because they have knives, swords, even guns, which
they don't hesitate to use. I was left alone in a crowd of
thousands while my director Mani Shankar shot with a secret
camera from far away."
The entire unit was so distant there was nothing they could do
if anything went wrong. "I had never been more scared in my
life," Sammir exclaims.
His worst fears came true when a section of the congregation
couldn't recognise him as one of their own. "They asked me my
name. I told them my name in the film. They asked me to show
them my ID card. Obviously I didn't have it. I fumbled in my
pocket pretending to look for it. And then...I just ran for my
life without looking back!"
Shilpa and sis Shamita to grace 'Koffee with Karan'
By Subhash K. Jha, `
Mumbai, March 18 Filmmaker Karan Johar's talk show "Koffee
with Karan" is becoming more intriguing. Each episode and guest
list gets hotter by the week. He has now roped in Shilpa Shetty
and her sister Shamita to appear on the show.
"How can I refuse Karan? No one says no to him. I'll be coming
back from London in April to record my 'Koffee' with Karan.
Shamita will be on the show with me," Shilpa told IANS.
Karan also wanted her mother Sunanda to join them on the show.
"But you know how my mom is? She has declined."
Shilpa will be discussing her entire "Celebrity" Big Brother"
experience for the first time on Indian television, and also the
impact the British reality TV show and the racism row it
triggered off had on her family.
Definitely a coup for Karan! But hold on! He plans to bring on
an even bigger blend of celebrities in a future episode.
Karan actually intends to bring together Amitabh and Abhishek
Bachchan with to-be daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai, plus maybe
"Well the guest list has to get bigger and more ambitious, don't
you think? Otherwise, what's the point of having the show,"
Pawan Shankar is Ekta Kapoor's new favourite
By Subhash K. Jha, ervice
Mumbai, March 18 Pawan Shankar, who wowed with his
performance in Smriti Irani's serial "Thodisi Zameen Thodasa
Zameen", is Ekta Kapoor's new blue-eyed boy.
Pawan came in just six episodes of the STAR Plus serial, but his
portrayal of rebellious, angry young man Sanjay Apte made a
Though his character has now been bumped off as per the plot,
the shy Pawan has caught Ekta's attention. She has cast him as
the new man in Bani's life in Zee's "Kkasam Se".
"I play this suave US returned NRI called Tarun Sablok in 'Kkasam
Se'. Ekta's brief about the character was that he's someone who
makes all his moves after giving it a proper thought. She says
my character is akin to Mr. Bajaj in 'Kasauti Zindagi Kay'.
"Ekta has been constantly offering me roles in her serials. She
also offered me Sujal, the role that made Rajiv Khandelwal an
overnight star. Unfortunately, at that time I was busy with my
serial 'Siddhanth' on STAR One and I didn't want to divide my
attention by doing another show," Pawan told IANS.
"Siddhanth", in which Pawan played a conscience-stricken lawyer,
immediately brought Pawan into prime-time focus.
"'Siddhanth' is the only Indian TV show to be nominated for the
prestigious Emmy awards. Though it didn't do well, I'm very
proud of it," said the actor who hails from Allahabad.
His small role of an angry young Sanjay in "Thodisi Zameen..."
has got Pawan optimum notice.
"I'm amazed by the impact the role has made. I can't pretend I
wasn't aware of the character's importance to the plot. I was
fully aware that I'd be there only for six episodes. But my role
will resonate for a long time."
Sadly, some of Pawan's best lines were edited out of his
"It was the director, who suggested I add those lines. So I've
no idea why they were edited out. But, I've no complaints. I'm
in search of roles on both the small and big screens, which
would challenge the actor within me. I had a small but
satisfying role in 'Thodisi Zameen...' I knew the character had
depth and that's what I was looking for after 'Siddhanth'."
Up next: Shades of diaspora on Indian marquees
By Priyanka Khanna,
New Delhi, March 18 Even as films based on trials
and tribulations of the Indian immigrant have morphed into an
entire genre better known as "desi" flicks, the depiction of the
diaspora has remained largely stereotypical in the Hindi
The difference seems blaring with "The Namesake", an American
immigrant saga by Indian-born director Mira Nair, going on the
marquees in India at the same time as Bollywood production "Namastey
While Mira Nair's cinematic adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri's
much-praised 2003 bestseller is a thoughtfully enacted tale of
culture clash that asks questions about assimilation, identity,
and what we choose to call ourselves without much melodrama, the
Vipul Shah film reportedly pitches western and Indian cultures
against each other yet again.
"The Namesake" is among the many better "desi" flicks and unlike
the dozen others it has charmed critics in the US. Indian
American Kal Penn has put in a commendable performance as Gogol
alias Nikhil, the protagonist.
Kal has effectively essayed the transition from uneasiness of
not belonging to the comfort in just being as his character
grows into "The Overcoat". Irfan Khan and Tabu essay the role of
first generation immigrants to perfection. Tabu excels as Ashima,
who is transported into a different world immediately after
marriage, goes through the identity arc and tries to fit in with
Mira is superlative after she had a botched attempt at adapting
literature. The expatriate filmmaker had burnt her fingers with
William Makepeace Thackeray's 'Vanity Fair'. She has made a
handsome comeback and fruits of her labour will be there for all
to savour as the film releases in India Friday.
"Namastey London" is also slated for release Friday. The preview
of the film starring Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif says the film
will determine whether love is more about giving or taking?
Whether Indian values must surrender to Western culture?
Katrina plays the role of confused London-born Jazz who loves
everything Western. Her father forces her to marry Akshay. The
rest of the story is dedicated in getting Jazz to see the bright
side of Indian culture. If you already know the answer, then
watch the film for its good-old song and dance routines.
The bourgeoning Indian diaspora around the world rarely gets a
glowing representation in a Hindi film.
Starting from "Pardes" to "Mujhse Dosti Karoge", to "Ramji
Londonwaley" and even so-called art house films, dream merchants
of Mumbai studios have depicted most NRIs as not so good
compared to Indians. Invariably, they are shown as people who
get cleansed when they return to their roots and once in India
they never leave.
Additionally, more often than not, it takes a hardcore character
from India to teach 'these Americans' what the true values of
life are and how only Indians understand them. In "Pardes", the
goody two-shoes character of Arjun, played by Shah Rukh Khan, is
characterised as the 'pure desi' at heart who is so moral he
does not smoke or drink like the other, immoral Indian-Americans
In "Kal Ho Naa Ho", we witness Aman Mathur (Shah Rukh again)
coming from India and teaching Naina Kapur how to 'have fun' in
her life, which consists of drinking shot after shot of hard
liquor, stripping her clothes off and dancing provocatively with
several men at once. When Karan Johar made "Kabhhi Alvida Naa
Kehna, his first film on adultery, he had to set it in New York.
"Namastey London" comes close on the heels of a series of movies
dealing with life after marriage. Even this week's releases -
"Just Married" and "Hattrick" - start off where most Hindi films
end. Earlier release, "Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd", was on the
same lines. Hopefully, the similarities will end there.
Shilpa ecstatic about her
Commonwealth Day speech
By Subhash K. Jha,
Mumbai, March 17 The common cold that Bollywood
actress Shilpa Shetty is suffering from in London doesn't jell
well with her uncommon performance on Commonwealth Day. Shilpa,
who delivered a speech on racism and AIDS March 12, is ecstatic
"Only four other participants were given a chance to give
individual speeches. There was a woman Anne from Ireland whose
brother and sister had been shot... people whose trauma made a
difference to global politics.
"Since I am associated with the Commonwealth, issues that
concern me - AIDS and racism - got a platform on Commonwealth
Day. These are issues that I've become synonymous with," Shilpa
The actress, who recently won Britain's reality TV show
"Celebrity Big Brother", says delivering the speech was a tough
"I come from a place where AIDS and discrimination often go hand
in hand. So I was able to couple the two topics in two
paragraphs. It was tough. But what was tougher was to give that
speech in front of the Queen. I had to give the speech exactly
the way it was written. But I added a line. And it was well
accepted. So, I am pretty proud of myself."
Shilpa confesses she's basically shy.
"I completely clam up in front of outsiders. But, now I can't
afford the luxury of introversion. To stand on a global platform
like the Commonwealth is not an easy task. There we were,
dealing with serious issues like peace, democracy and equality.
And I've to conduct myself in a very responsible manner. But to
see the pride on faces of the Indian community, took the
nervousness out of me."
Indian post-production, visual effects major expands in
By Prasun Sonwalkar,
London, March 17 After steel and IT, Indian
companies are also emerging as major players in the field of
post-production and visual effects in Britain, catering to
Indian filmmakers shooting in Britain and to Western movie
Britain's engagement with the Indian film industry is on several
fronts: regional authorities offering tax incentives and local
facilities, sylvan locations for shooting, and providing a
developed pool of local manpower.
Indian films too have woven diaspora themes in storylines, which
enhance their marketability among the large Indian population
outside the country.
Keen to leverage the India-Britain engagement in films,
television, broadcasting and advertisements, major Indian
companies are catering to Western clients in London and
exploiting the cost advantages of having large facilities and
operations in India.
One such Indian post-production and visual effects major is
Prime Focus, an award winning company that has enhanced the
viewing experience of blockbusters such as 'Dhoom' and 'Guru'.
It acquired controlling stakes in two British post-production
companies, VTR and Clear Productions, in 2006.
Amit Gupta, director (Corporate Development) of Prime Focus,
told IANS: "Technology in India is far better than in most
countries. We are already working with several Indian filmmakers
such as Yash Raj Films and Mukta Arts and are now better placed
to cater to their needs in Britain."
After acquiring VTR and Clear Productions, Gupta said Prime
Focus had emerged as a major player in the 500 million pound
post-production and visual effects market in Britain. The
company was handling the requirements of two major Western films
scheduled for release shortly.
After acquiring the two companies, Gupta said their managements
were merged and key positions were held mainly by Indian
professionals. The companies are on course to return profits due
to a leaner management structure and exploiting the benefits of
transferring clients' work to facilities in India.
The company employs over 500 'techno-creative artistes' in
Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad and 230 more in London. Its
clients include major television broadcasters in Britain as well
as major advertising companies and filmmakers, including British
Asian professionals such as Gurinder Chaddha, Gupta said.
With state-of-the-art equipment and expertise, Gupta added,
Prime Focus offered a comprehensive spectrum of services ranging
from visual effects, digital film lab (digital intermediate,
high-resolution film scanning and film recording), telecine,
editing, motion control and high definition production.
Its full service capabilities empower filmmakers, ad filmmakers
and television producers with the latest tools and techniques to
refine their work in the post-production and production
Twinkling 'lil' stars corner the limelight
New Delhi, March 17 "Twinkle twinkle little star..."
the popular children's ditty aptly describes the new child
actors who are shining on filmdom's firmament. The recent one to
join the list is Sri Lankan actor Sarala.
In Deepa Mehta's Oscar-nominated "Water" she is simply
sensational. As eight-year-old child widow Chuhiya, Sarala
outshines all the other actors by infusing her role with a
gritty reality. It's almost impossible to think of "Water"
"She's an amazingly natural talent and has truly become the
heroine of 'Water'," Mehta was quoted as saying about Sarala who
is pitted against veterans like Manorama, Seema Biswas and
In the film about the plight of widows in pre-independent India,
Chuhiya's husband dies when she is just a child. According to
tradition-bound Hindu social norms, she has to spend the rest of
her life in a widow's ashram to atone for the sins that caused
her husband's untimely death. When she is dumped to cope up with
the dark and depressing surroundings of the ashram, your heart
goes out to the little girl.
For a nine-year-old with no acting experience, it certainly
seems a mammoth task to do the complex role. But for this little
prima donna from Sri Lanka, it was a cakewalk.
According to Mehta, the girl had never acted before and doesn't
understand Hindi or English. But in the film not even once does
she give the impression that she is talking in an alien language
- she gives the right expressions and emotions while mouthing
all her dialogues.
The amazing part is that Sarala learnt each line of her dialogue
in a word-by-word phonetic process and communicated with Mehta
through hand gestures with the help of an interpreter.
Mehta had auditioned more than 50 girls for the role, but when
she met the young Sri Lankan she said, "Sarala seemed to have
exactly the right combination of youthful innocence and
Sarala has left the same kind of lasting impact on audiences as
Ayesha Kapur did in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's critically acclaimed
"Black", released in 2005.
Once again it is difficult to imagine a 10-year-old having to
portray the anger, frustration and helplessness of a deaf, mute
and blind girl on screen.
But Ayesha, who was pitted against the legendary Amitabh
Bachchan and talented Rani Mukerji in the film, carried the role
so effortlessly that many felt she was better than Rani. She
overshadowed her co-stars with her natural performances.
Commenting upon this little bundle of talent, Bhansali had said:
"She is a star, she is a monster, she is a genius, she is a
chatterbox, she is spontaneous, she is effortless, she's got the
aura of a rock star... she even bullied Amitabh Bachchan."
Bollywood acknowledged this young genius by giving her the
Filmfare and STAR Screen awards for her performance in the film.
Then there is Visahl Bhardwaj's protégé Shweta Prasad, who wowed
the audiences in the fantasy drama "Makadee" (2002).
Shweta shared screen space with stalwarts like Shabana Azmi and
Makarand Deshpande. In spite of such seasoned performers, Shweta
carved a niche for herself and sparkled in the double role.
For her outstanding performance in "Makadee" she too was
honoured with the STAR Screen Award.
And she continued her good work in Nagesh Kukunoor's 2005
release "Iqbal", a simple tale about the triumph of the human
In the role of a deaf-and-mute protagonist's younger sister,
Shweta turned out to be a scene-stealer. Her best scenes are
where she interacts with seasoned actor Naseeruddin Shah.
Apart from the talented trio, Ali Haji, as Aamir Khan's and
Kajol's son in last year's hit film "Fanaa", really stole the
heart of audiences. Then again, in Karan Johar's family drama "Kabhi
Khushi Kabhie Gham", Jibraan Khan, who played Kajol's and Shah
Rukh Khan's son, managed to impress audiences.
Now all eyes are set on Bhardwaj's "Blue Umbrella" where he
introduces another child artiste named Shreya who will be acting
with veteran actor Pankaj Kapoor.
With big production houses like UTV and Adlabs venturing into
children's films, these kids will get more and more
opportunities to showcase their talents.
South Africa's 'Mr Bones' heads for Bollywood
By Fakir Hassen,
Johannesburg, March 17 Ace South African comedian
Leon Schuster is heading to Bollywood country for the sequel to
his hit film "Mr Bones".
Film producer Anant Singh said here that the sequel to "Mr
Bones" would be partly shot on location in the Indian
subcontinent as a co-production with an Indian production
The announcement followed a 10-day location scouting exercise in
India by Schuster and director Gray Hofmeyr. And sure enough,
Schuster is heading for Mumbai.
"'Mr Bones' was very popular with Indian audiences, both in
theatres and on TV, and it was dubbed into Hindi and other local
languages," Singh said.
"We are thrilled to be doing a film in India which has the
largest film industry in the world, making more movies than
Hollywood, and which is supported by a vast audience from a
population of more than a billion people."
"Mr Bones" became an international hit after Schuster played a
white African sangoma (traditional healer) who gets involved in
a range of comic capers combining slapstick and cross-cultural
idiosyncrasies. Schuster has had numerous hits in the past
decade using this unique brand of comedy.
Singh said the Bones character was thus ideally set to end up in
India to continue his journey in an exotic location and to
continue creating his brand of chaos.
Singh said his company VideoVision has been in discussion with
leading Indian filmmakers Mohan Shetty of AdLabs, Bobby Bedi of
Kaleidoskope Entertainment and Ronnie Screwvala of UTV.
Schuster, who was present during the announcement, said: "The
Indian audiences enjoy visual humour and I am thrilled that they
embraced 'Mr Bones.'
"Just looking around the country, the people and all the
goings-on, Gray and I already have some really great ideas for a
really hilarious and amusing script. I am truly looking forward
to my Indian adventure."
The sequel to "Mr Bones" is to be shot in India later this year
and marks the first time that a South Africa-India co-production
would be shot in both the countries.