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Japanese actress to make film on Bihar's Super 30
By Imran Khan,
Patna, Feb 25 A former Japanese beauty queen and actress
is making a documentary film on a Bihar mathematician and his
innovative and successful experiment of setting up a Super 30
school that sends children from poor families to top engineering
colleges in India.
Norika Fujiwara, 36, the 1992 Miss Japan and a popular model,
was in Bihar last week for a shoot. "Impressed by the rare work
done by Super 30 my teammates and I decided to make a
documentary film and are now shooting for it," Fujiwara told
IANS in an interview.
"I want to show the Japanese people how children from the
poorest of poor families can fulfil their dreams with the help
of an inspiring man and how it can transform their lives," added
The team has completed over 75 percent shooting for the film. "I
have managed to capture the essence after long discussions with
the inspiring man, Anand Kumar, his few successful students and
their poor parents," she said.
The film has been sponsored by the Tokyo Broadcasting System and
will be shown on television.
Norika is a popular figure not only in Japan but also in Hong
Kong and China. She recently married an Osaka-based comedian
This is not the first time a film is being made on Super 30.
Last year another Japanese television channel had made a film on
The Super 30 school takes a group of 30 students mainly from
poor and rural backgrounds. The students are given free
coaching, food, accommodation and other facilities to help them
crack the highly competitive Indian Institute of
Technology-Joint Entrance Examination (IIT-JEE). It is supported
with the income generated from the Ramanujan School of
Mathematics run by Anand Kumar. The Ramanujan institute has
students from affluent families who can afford to pay to fulfil
Anand Kumar is actively helped by Bihar's Additional
Director-General of Police Abhyanand, who teaches physics
despite his busy schedule of monitoring crime in the state known
for its high rate of lawlessness.
Super 30 took shape five years ago and its success can serve as
a model for other such institutes across India.
Last year, 28 of its 30 students, nearly half of them from the
Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and three from the Scheduled
Castes category, made it to the IIT- JEE. The number has been
steadily growing over the years. Eighteen students cracked the
IIT-JEE in 2003 the year Super 30 was set up. The number rose to
22 in 2004 and 26 in 2005.
John willingly surrendered to 'Water': Deepa Mehta
By Subhash K. Jha,
Mumbai, Feb 25 Director Deepa Mehta says John Abraham
unhesitatingly surrendered to his character in "Water" while
there was constant friction with her leading man Aamir Khan
during the making of "1947: Earth".
"Aamir felt I wasn't allowing him to interpret the role
properly. Today, after the release of 'Water', there's a huge
revival of interest in 'Earth'. John surrendered to my
interpretation of his character unquestioningly. Aamir wasn't
happy doing the role the way I wanted to. Aamir's performance is
being widely noticed. I think 'Earth' came too soon," Mehta told
The Canada based Indian filmmaker's "Water", which has Lisa Ray,
Seema Biswas and John playing the main leads, is in the running
for the Oscars in the best foreign language film category.
Mehta feels the film, which depicts the tragic existence of
widows in the early 1930s, doesn't need any promotion.
"It's already released commercially in the US. Even the DVD is
out," she said.
One of the first persons to call Mehta after "Water" made it to
the Oscars' shortlist was John, who will walk the red carpet
with her on the big night.
"He was as excited as a school kid. Frankly, I'm also ecstatic."
Mehta is in a state of daze now.
"I can't believe 'Water' has come so far. It's actually made it
to the final five nominations! What really makes me happy is the
competition. This year's other nominations are of an
exceptionally high calibre."
Mehta says she is more than happy to walk the red carpet with
the film and its cast.
"It's a Canadian film. But it's in Hindi and therefore as Indian
as it's Canadian. Will it finally win? I don't know. The fact
that I'll be able to walk the red carpet at the Oscars with
'Water' and its cast is enough for me. I never thought 'Water'
would come so far. This was a film that almost didn't get made."
Mehta doesn't have any regrets that the film couldn't be made in
Varanasi. "Water" ran into trouble when she tried to shoot it in
Varanasi in 1999. Hindu rightwing activists violently opposed
the film by burning the sets. The director was forced to shelve
it and she later shot the movie in Sri Lanka.
"I feel the film would've been different in texture if it was
shot in Varanasi. However, finally I'm glad I made it in Sri
Lanka. My vision was tranquil and comfortable.
"I didn't have to have tea with dozens of politicians just to
ensure my next day's shooting," remarks Mehta, alluding to the
political interference that finally stopped "Water" in Varanasi.
Shilpa to speak on racism in London
By Subhash K. Jha,
Mumbai, Feb 25 After winning British reality TV show
"Celebrity Big Brother", Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty has
really hit the bull's eye. She's now all set to speak on racial
discrimination at the Commonwealth Day in London March 12.
"Yes, I'll speak at the Commonwealth Day. Only four people will
be giving a speech ... And I'm one of them. It's freaking me
out. This year the theme is 'Respecting Differences and
Promoting Understanding'. It is about racism. And it's an issue
that I'm now associated with. I better deliver. I'll be sharing
the platform with world leaders and the Queen," Shilpa told IANS.
She has hired an expert to help her write the speech.
"It has to be five minutes of no beating around the bush. I feel
extremely nervous but also very honoured to be representing my
country at such a prestigious event."
Back home for a fortnight, Shilpa has no time for her family. "I
had a calendar launch. Then I had to attend the Filmfare
Shilpa's wardrobe designers are going ballistic trying to keep
up with their star-client's social schedules.
"Luckily I've two dear designer friends and they keep me well
dressed wherever I go after 'Big Brother'. Neeta Lulla had done
my dress for the event at the House of Commons, and Tarun
Tahiliani designed my clothes for 'Big Brother'!
"Neeta and Tarun are being driven up the wall by my demands. I'm
sure they dread my midnight calls from London, asking for a
dress overnight. They must be fed up of couriering me clothes to
Of course, once in a while Shilpa is persuaded to wear
"For an occasion in London, Vivien Westwood dressed me from head
to toe. Otherwise, it's Neeta and Tarun all the way for me."
Shilpa cracks up. "The funny thing is, I went to London with two
bags and came back with seven in just 50 days."
Thanks to Shilpa, the image of the Bollywood heroine abroad has
"That's true," she conceded. "Earlier they were seen as
voluptuous. Now they look at me and wonder at how thin I am and
how clued in I am to global fashion trends. I can discuss Armani
as well as Tarun and Neeta."
Sammir finds it easier to play a flirt
By Subhash K. Jha,
Mumbai, Feb 25 Sammir Dattani, known as Dhyan in the
Kannada film industry, was very nervous before the release of "Sajni"
in which he plays two starkly different characters.
"I've never been more nervous about any of my films, not even 'Amrithdhare',
which required me to act far more mature than I really am,"
Sammir told IANS.
In "Sajni" he needed to sport two different looks.
"In the first-half I'm a carefree, flirty campus dude. This was
easy to do since I'm a big flirt in real life. No harm meant.
But I like to make my girlfriends feel special. Hence flirting
with my 'Sajni' co-star Sharmila for the camera was easy.
"It was the second-half that posed a problem. I had to sport a
totally opposite executive look... suits, ties, briefcases.
Here's where my corporate background helped me. I fell back on
my role in Madhur Bhandarkar's 'Corporate'."
Sammir also said that his family background helped him etch out
the role of a businessman convincingly.
"Again, I belong to a business family so it wasn't so hard to
look business-like. From the age of four I imitated my dad, got
myself a small desk and a big briefcase and pretended to attend
The film was shot almost entirely in Britain.
"Sharmila and I had loads of fun shooting in Kent and London.
This is her first film. So I felt like quite a veteran,"
"It's good to be back in Kannada cinema. I feel I'm home again."
The film hit the marquee Friday and has got encouraging reviews.
'Chanda re' replaces 'Barso re' on top slot
New Delhi, Feb 25 Several new songs have made it to the list of
top ten this week too and Shantanu Moitra's "Chanda re" from "Eklavya"
has occupied the number one position in its maiden appearance.
The top 10 Hindi songs for the week are:
1. "Chanda re" - Film: "Eklavya"; Music: Shantanu Moitra;
Singer: Hamsika Iyer. The song has a slow pace, is romantically
poetic and Hamsika's melodic voice makes it worth listening.
2. "Rozana" - Film: "Nishabd"; Music Director: Vishal Bharadwaj;
Singer: Amitabh Bachchan. "Rozana" can be termed an awesomely
romantic and sensuous number.
3. "Maula mere" - Film: "Anwar"; Music Director: Mithoon;
Singer: Roop Kumar Rathod. The Sufi number laced with romance is
doing well. Due to its popularity it has moved seven notches up
from number 10, landing at third position.
4. "Barso re" - Film: "Guru"; Music Director: A.R. Rahman;
Singer: Shreya Ghoshal. After staying on the number one position
for weeks, the hugely popular song that welcomes the rains has
slid to fourth position this week.
5. "Chakna" - Film"; "Namaste London"; Music Director: Himesh
Reshammiya; Singer: Himesh Reshammiya. This dance number is
already doing the rounds in discotheques. The song has beats
that make sure listeners enjoy the track even if they are not on
a dance floor.
6. "Aafreen tera chehra" - Film: "Red"; Music Director: Himesh
Reshammiya; Singer: Himesh Reshammiya. A new entrant on the
list, "Aafreen tera chehra" is a panegyric love song about
feminine beauty. Reshammiya does not let you down with his
copyright high-pitched crooning.
7. "Aaj ki raat" - Film: "Don"; Music Director:
Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy; Singers: Alisha Chinoy, Mahalaxmi, Sonu
Nigam. An impressive mix of modern and traditional, the song is
popular for its beats.
8. "Crazy kiya re" - Film: "Dhoom 2"; Music Director: Pritam;
Singer: Sunidhi Chauhan. The fast number sets your foot tapping
and is a visual treat as well.
9. "Come on come on" - Film: "Baabul"; Music Director: Aadesh
Shrivastava; Singers: Amitabh Bachchan, Sonu Nigam, Vishal,
Aadesh Shrivastava, Ranjit Barot. A celebration song, "Come on
come on" is quite popular among the party circuits.
10. "Saaze dil" - Film: "Yaatra": Music Director: Khayyam;
Singer: Talat Aziz. The semi-classical ghazal sung by Talat Aziz
is definitely worth listening.
(Source: The Music Shop, Khan Market, New Delhi)
Hrithik, Kajol bag Filmfare best actor awards
Mumbai, Feb 25 Talented Kajol, who made a comeback with "Fanaa",
won the award for best actress while Hrithik Roshan walked away
with the best actor award for "Dhoom 2" at the 52nd Filmfare
awards function here.
This year Filmfare honoured three renowned film personalities
with the Lifetime Achievement Award - Jaya Bachchan, Yash Chopra
and Javed Akhtar. Jaya received the award from none other than
husband Amitabh Bachchan.
Also, a special memento was presented in the name of late
actress Smita Patil. Her sister Manya and son Prateik received
Rajkumar Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra won the critics' award
for best film for "Lage Raho Munnabhai". Director Rakeysh
Omprakash Mehra won the best director trophy for "Rang De
Basanti", which also bagged the best film of the year award.
Abhishek Bachchan won the best supporting actor award for "Kabhi
Alvida Naa Kehna" and Konkona Sen Sharma the best supporting
actress for "Omkara".
Best comic actor award went to Arshad Warsi for "Lage Raho
Munnabhai". Director Raju Hirani accepted the award on the
actor's behalf because the actor is in London. Saif Ali Khan,
who is recuperating from chest pain, got the best actor in a
negative role award for "Omkara".
Abhijit Joshi and Rajkumar Hirani bagged the best dialogue award
for "Lage Raho Munnabhai". Also, Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Hirani
won the best story award for the same film. Jaideep Sahni bagged
the best screenplay award for "Khosla Ka Ghosla".
A.R. Rahman was given best music director award for "Rang De
The award for best lyrics went to Prasoon Joshi for "Chand
Sifarish" in "Fanaa". Shaan and Kailash Kher got the best singer
male award for the same song and Sunidhi Chauhan bagged the best
female singer award for "Beedi" song in "Omkara". The song also
won the best choreography award for Ganesh Acharya.
Newcomer Kangana Ranaut's was appreciated for her performance in
"Gangster - A Love Story" with the best debut award. "Rang De
Basanti" also won the best cinematography award.
The very first FairOne Filmfare Technical Awards was given to "Krrish"
for best special FX.
Quite a few stars performed at the function, including Rani
Mukerji and A.R. Rahman. But the highlight of the evening was
Sridevi's performance. It was a treat for the audience because
she was seen in action after a long hiatus.
Moviemaking: No more a man's world
By Priyanka Khanna,
New Delhi, Feb 25 It's just a faint glimmer right now, but
promises to grow into an exciting trend. Women directors seem
set to grow into a force to reckon with in the near future.
For many years, male filmmakers have dominated the film
industry. It was one of those vicious circle situations wherein
male filmmakers would make big budget, well-marketed films that
would conquer the box-office and keep them on top, while a
handful of female filmmakers would make small-budget films that
would not have the spark to fire cash registers and thus remain
relegated to the periphery of the film trade.
But now, just as film financing in India has changed
dramatically and audience tastes, so have the fortunes of women
Debutant woman filmmaker Reema Kagti, whose, "Honeymood Travels
Pvt Ltd", released Friday, said: "Before Farah Khan (whose debut
film "Main Hoon Na" was a blockbuster), women directors in this
country were considered jinxed. Farah changed all that."
"Honeymood Travels Pvt Ltd" has garnered reasonably good
reviews. Like Farah, who first made her mark as a choreographer
par excellence in Bollywood, Reema has broken the tradition of
women directors making women-centric films.
"Honeymoon Travels" stars a myriad mix of actors, some very
talented like Shabana Azmi and Bomain Irani, in well-etched
It turns out that no star can guarantee a hit and a good amount
of finance can be garnered for a strong script, resulting in a
slightly more level- playing field for moviemakers of both
sexes. Of course, the international acclaim showered on
filmmaker of Indian origin, Mira Nair, has also helped
And women are lapping up new opportunities. Till some years
back, the number of women filmmakers in India, which churns out
more films than any other country, could be counted on the
fingers of one hand. The numbers are now rising.
"There were a lot of women making a name for themselves in the
world of documentaries, where budgets are bottom-of-the-barrel
low. But where there is big money involved, the doors are
slammed on women. A half-witted male had a better chance of
getting funding than a super-talented female," comments trade
observer Deepa Gahlot.
"Given the lack of funding, women filmmakers would end up making
small films, usually things they feel strongly about - which
means women's problems, women's struggles and women's search for
identity - thus willy-nilly pushing themselves further into the
ghetto," she states.
Commenting upon Reema's film, trade watcher Taran Adarsh says,
"While most biggies find it tough to fetch a decent start at
multiplexes, 'Honeymoon Travels.., a medium-budget film, has
embarked on a favourable start at several stations. Mumbai and
Delhi multiplexes opened to a 50 percent plus start, while
Indore too began on a positive sign."
The reports are positive and the business is likely to get a
boost at the weekend.
The commercial success of "Honeymoon Travels..." would be a
clear indication that women directors are fast scaling the
Given that the box-office verdict on the recent big-ticket
release - "Eklavya" - has not been very encouraging, "Honeymoon
Travels..." has had good reviews.
"Eklavya" benefited from initial craze among audiences for
seeing a mammoth star cast, with a top-notch director at the
helm of affairs and from the extended weekend, but repeat
viewings are not happening.
Welcoming the trend of women directors not sticking to
women-centric films that preach more and entertain less, Gehlot
says that women directors for long believed that that it is
imperative for them to always present the female point of view.
Bollywood today is in crying need for films that are novel. In
an industry that has traditionally functioned almost entirely as
an outlet for the creative visions of male directors, writers
and producers, what the stereotypes have illustrated is the way
men (at least moviemaking men) see women. A female gaze would
straight away offer something new for audiences.
What women filmmakers need to guard against is that they do not
end up playing the set rules like Farah did in "Main Hoon Na".
The present opportunities should be utilised by women directors
to portray their representations of women to the screen, let
alone their idealised, fantasy versions of men.
Young woman director Meghna Gulzar's debut film "Filhaal" was
about female bonding rarely seen on Indian celluloid.
Remembering her ordeal to get finance for the film, Meghna says:
"I had this interesting story in mind that I wanted to make a
film about. But from the day it was launched, my film was
perceived as a feminist project".
Shortage of funds affected even those women filmmakers like Sai
Paranjpaye, Aparna Sen and Kalpana Lajmi - who did dare to call
Meghna's contemporary Tanuja Chandra has faced similar problems.
Hopefully, female directors will not remain a rare commodity in
Hollywood has set-up an organisation - The First Weekenders
Group - that gets the word out about movies made by women in the
hope of boosting crowds in their crucial first weekend, news
Much like the rest of the world, even women directors in
Hollywood face an invisible celluloid ceiling but this
initiative could be a good example for others to follow.
The group aims to help diversify Hollywood's director corps and
goes into overdrive to get people into movie halls during that
crucial first weekend whenever a female filmmaker unveils a
"The fact that such a group needs to exist tells you that it's
harder for women," writer-director Robin Swicord was quoted as
Coming attractions directed by a woman director include "The
Namesake" by Mira Nair, whose films include "Mississippi Masala",
"Monsoon Wedding" and "Vanity Fair". Another is Deepa Mehta's
Oscar nominated "Water" releasing March 9.
It remains to be seen whether directors like her will benefit
from attempts to direct gender buzz.