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Priyadarshan upset with journos
Priyadarshan is upset with journos as even after issuing
repeated media statements about the title of his forthcoming
film "Bhool Bhulaiyaa", some still refer to it as "Chandramukhi".
"It's a comic thriller called 'Bhool Bhulaiyaa', not 'Chandramukhi'.
And it's a re-make of the hit Malayalam film 'Manichithrathazhu'.
Moreover, it is not produced by me, but by Bhushan Kumar under
their banner T-Series. I hope now things clear up," said
An exciting thriller-comedy, the film revolves around
conservative and superstitious people living in a small town.
The film promises to reveal many dimensions of human psychology.
Akshay Kumar, Vidya Balan, Shiney Ahuja, Amisha Patel, Paresh
Rawal and Rajpal Yadav form the cast of the film, and Neeraj
Vora has penned the screenplay and dialogues.
Ajay Devgan's secretary preparing
to launch daughter
Mumbai, March 21 If Ajay Devgan's
secretary-cum-producer Kumar Mangat is splurging money on his
daughter Amita's launch vehicle "Haaley Dil", the Devgan family
is leaving no stone unturned to make it a perfect debut for her.
Mangat, who produced last year's critically acclaimed "Omkara",
is spending Rs.100 million on "Haaley Dil". Ajay is keenly
scanning the list of possible actors as he has taken the
responsibility of finalising the male lead.
"Since her father is his manager as well as mentor, Ajay is like
a big brother to Amita," said a source.
Ajay's brother Anil is to direct the love story.
The film is expected to go on floors by the end of this month.
Abhishek's compliment made Karan's day
While shooting at Kamalistan recently for "Betiyaan Apni Ya
Paraya Dhan", TV actor Karan Mehra was more than glad to bang
into Abhishek Bachchan, who was also shooting at the same place
for his Motorola ad.
When the duo met, the first thing Abhishek had to say was how
much he liked Karan's new Mountain Dew ad. Karan was of course
happy to hear that, especially coming from such a great star.
But Karan also conveyed his own share of congrats. When Abhishek
inquired for what, Karan commented that the last time they had
met he was single, now he was hitched!
"That was really sweet of him. We had great fun during the
little while we had been shooting together," said Karan.
Karan will be soon seen in a cameo role in Abhishek starrer "Drona",
which is set to release soon.
Doctor's film on AIDS shoots down myths
By Frederick Noronha,
Mumbai, March 21 Doctor-filmmaker Jorge Guillermo
Caravotta, whose AIDS documentary "Second Life" was released
recently, says people are dying more from the stigma attached to
the disease than the disease itself.
India has 5.1 million HIV positive people, second only to South
Africa. However, the stigma and discrimination associated with
this disease are the real enemies, said Mumbai-based Caravotta,
an Italian doctor of Argentine origin.
"My source of inspiration was Kamal, the first PLHA (person
living with HIV/AIDS) to be my colleague," he said.
Kamal discovered her HIV/AIDS status six months into marriage.
After her husband's death and daughter's birth, she completed
her medical studies to "live for positive people like her", says
"I never thought of making a documentary film about HIV/AIDS
before. But after listening to her during a trip to Delhi, I
found in her story a lot of courage to empower PLHAs," Caravotta
"India acted as an alarm clock for my film-making creativity,
boosting my potential," he added. "I would like the message of
the documentary film spread all over this country with the same
velocity as the virus."
The National Family Health Survey, the most extensive study on
health and nutrition in India, reported that 57 percent of women
are unaware of HIV/AIDS. Health officials and doctors still
reject patients suffering from this fatal illness, the doctor
Big companies are unclear about the disease, said Caravotta.
Families eject children from their homes if they contract
HIV/AIDS. Some institutions refuse to take care of HIV positive
children, he added.
"Can we stop this epidemic with condoms? Can we stop it with
antiretrovirals? Can we stop this epidemic with pamphlets only?"
"My main objective in 2004 was not to make a documentary, but to
record some incidents about PLHAs. Then, in 2006, I was touched
by the transformation of the people and this was the beginning
of my film," he added.
The Humanity Films Year produced the Hindi-Marathi "Second Life"
with English subtitles. The documentary was first shown in
Shabana-Javed's sellout shows in US
By Subhash K. Jha,
Mumbai, March 21 Actress Shabana Azmi and her
husband Javed Akhtar had a string of crazy experiences in the US
when they went there to stage their play "Kaifi Aur Main".
The couple, which conducted 14 shows in different cities last
month, first got delayed at the St. Louis airport due to an ice
storm and when they reached Washington, they were asked to
condense the play that is based on Shabana's parents' lives.
Recalls Shabana: "Javed and I had taken on a lot of teaching
engagements along with our play 'Kaifi Aur Main' where we enact
scenes from my parents' life. After our speech in St. Louis, we
were to leave for Washington DC. But we were stranded in St.
Louis because of an ice storm.
"Finally, we reached Washington at 12.30 a.m. for the 8 p.m.
show. And the audience was still waiting. Can you imagine? Our
singer Jasvinder Singh continued singing until we reached."
What followed was even crazier.
"We had the theatre for only an hour. We had to compress and
edit a two-hour play to one hour. Javed was editing on stage and
I was picking up the cues. Our director Ramesh Talwar was going
crazy behind the stage wondering how Javed did it. I must say
Javed is a master. He could edit the play on the spot because
he's a writer. At the end of it...standing ovation! Very
gratifying," Shabana told IANS.
All the 14 shows of their play were sold out in the US. "We got
a standing ovation everywhere. I must say Javed has acted better
than any professional actor. There's a lot of poetry in the
play. Javed is able to recite those lines with a conviction that
no one else can.
"Audiences were very surprised by his voice projection and his
sense of humour. Not too many people know my father was a very
humorous man. Javed could get into the skin of my father's
"I'm blessed to have a husband who has written a play on my
parents' life. The play has got the best of abba's lyrics,
poetry, politics and romance with my mother."
Shabana feels "Kaifi Aur Main" will go as far as her earlier
play "Tumhari Amrita".
"It's a very personal play for me. There're bits that churn my
guts. But it's also about remembering my father with a lot of
affection. Hence healing and cathartic. I must say the poem 'Bahut
ajeeb aadmi tha' that Javed wrote on my father was very healing
for our entire family.
"My brother Baba said we must remember our father with joy. At
the time when it happened, it was naturally very traumatic for
me. But today I know what my brother means. We remember him with
joy. The play celebrates him. It's wonderful that my mother's
book 'Yaad Ki Rehguzar', on which this play is based, is being
picked up by nine universities in the US."
Aishwarya, Rohan team up for Lux ad
By Subhash K. Jha,
Mumbai, March 21 After "Kuch Naa Kaho", Aishwarya
Rai teams up once again with Rohan Sippy, this time for a
sizzling Lux commercial.
"That's right," said media recluse Aishwarya. "Rohan and I have
been friends for ages. When his name cropped up for the new Lux
commercial, I immediately grabbed it. We shot the ad in Dubai
and it's turned out really hot," the actress told IANS.
Talk veers to rumours that Aishwarya has not been giving ample
time to the promotion of her films.
"Not true at all! I've been virtually living out of suitcases,
running from location to location all over the world, trying to
get my four new films ready. Even then I've always made myself
available for the promotion of all my films."
She admits being hard pressed for time during the release of
"Mistress Of Spices", and therefore being unable to participate
in the promos.
"I nevertheless agreed to a number of one-on-ones on the film.
What could I do if the press persons were looking for more spice
than I could give them about the film?" she laughed, dodging all
questions on her personal life.
Right now, she's all set to promote Jag Mundhra's "Provoked" in
a big way.
"Provoked" is the harrowing tale of Kiranjit Ahluwalia, a
battered Punjabi housewife and mother of two who is beaten and
raped by her alcoholic husband.
"It's a film and theme I completely believe in. I suggested we
get the real Kiranjit Ahluwalia, whom I play, into the
promotional loop for 'Provoked'.
"As for me not dubbing my lines in the Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu
and Hindi versions, I speak Punjabi in the original English
version of the film. So, the Punjabi version needs no dubbing
from me. For the Tamil and Telugu versions I've asked them to
get professional dubbing artistes who speak in these languages.
How would I sound speaking in Tamil and Telugu? I don't think
Hrithik (Roshan) dubbed for the South Indian versions of 'Krrish'."
Her last word on the bikini controversy in "Dhoom 2" -- "Thank
god people have stopped talking about it. It was never me."
Rani - from poor cousin to Bollywood's biggest star
New Delhi, March 21 From bit roles in C grade movies
to the polished performance in "Black", birthday girl Rani
Mukerji, who turns 29 Wednesday, can look back at the last 10
years with deep satisfaction.
When she joined the film force in 1996 with the box office dud
"Raja Ki Aayegi Baraat", she was literally written off by
critics. Rani was plump, short, her voice was rough and nobody
was willing to work with her.
Then cousin Kajol, a big star then, put in a word for her and
Karan Johar hesitatingly cast her in his directorial debut "Kuch
Kuch Hota Hai". There was no looking back after that. The poor
cousin metamorphosed into a rising star, considered one of the
most powerful women in Bollywood today.
"When Karan wanted my voice to be dubbed for 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai',
I really thought that it was bad and very husky and rough, but
slowly I worked to improve my diction, and am now quite
comfortable with it," Rani was quoted as saying.
Karan didn't regret his decision. The film was a blockbuster and
Rani got rave reviews. Not only was she honoured with the
Filmfare award, offers started pouring in as well.
Since then, Rani has played a successful innings and has given
hits like "Black" (2005) "Bunty Aur Babli" (2005), "Paheli"
(2005) "Veer-Zaara" (2004), "Hum Tum" (2004) "Yuva" (2004) "Chalte
Chalte" (2003) "Saathiya" (2002) "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham"
(2001) and "Ghulam" (1998).
She was also seen in an unconventional role in Kamal Hassan's
"Hey Ram", which made headlines because of her kissing scene.
But she rebuffed all the controversies saying that the kiss with
Kamal was mechanical. "He was constantly checking the right
angle. Where was the passion?"
She claims that Kamal re-invented the actress in her after the
'Hey Ram' experience.
Last year, Rani had two releases -- "Kabhi Alvida Naa Khena" (KANK)
and "Baabul" - both damp squibs. However, that didn't really
make a difference because her performance was appreciated and
With six Filmfare awards in her kitty, the actress has today
surpassed her rivals and is touted as one of the most versatile
and talented actress.
As she climbed up the success ladder, controversies followed her
to the top. In November last year, she was shooting a film in
Varanasi when fans crowded the set and security guards beat them
up with sticks. There was a storm in the media and reports that
said she should have stopped the security guards. Rani even
apologised for her behaviour at the conference but it didn't
"I was asked to say sorry for my behaviour at the press
conference, which I did," she said.
Another controversy was her tiff with KANK co-star Preity Zinta.
Talk of their tiff travelled all the way to India from New York
but Rani put a stop to it by making an appearance with Preity on
the Holi special episode of STAR Plus' quiz show "Kaun Bangea
Crorepati", hosted by friend and colleague Shah Rukh Khan.
Rani is currently busy with Bhansali's "Saawariya" and Siddharth
Anand's "Ta Ra Rum Pum", which is releasing on April 27. The
story revolves around a racing driver and Rani is paired with
Saif Ali Khan in the film.
She will also feature in Pradeep Sarkar's "Laaga Chunari Mein
Daag", hitting the marquee on Oct 12.
As far as her love life goes, she has been linked with her
co-stars like Govinda, Abhishek Bachchan and right now the buzz
is that she is dating the elusive Aditya Chopra.
Big B allows Preity to occupy prized hotel suite
By Subhash K. Jha,
Mumbai, March 20 Strange stories about Amitabh
Bachchan throwing a tantrum over not being put up in a
presidential suite at a luxury hotel in Kolkata are doing the
According to a report, Amitabh made huge demands on the
producers of Rituparno Ghosh's English-language film "The Last
Lear" and even "threatened" not to shoot for the film until he
was given the presidential suite at a particular luxury hotel in
But an associate of the superstar told IANS: "Of course, Amitabh
was to be put up in the suite. He doesn't need to throw a
tantrum for that. It is his by right. However, when he reached
Kolkata for the shoot, the presidential suite was occupied by
"Without the least fuss he quietly took an ordinary suite with
an interconnecting room for his valet Pravin, who needs to be
with him to give his food, medicines and so on, on time. And his
makeup man is not staying at the same hotel. He's been put up in
a much less expensive hotel."
The presidential suite was subsequently allotted to Preity.
"She arrived in Kolkata for her second schedule. By then the
presidential suite was vacant, and we asked Amitabh if he'd like
to move into it. He said he was comfortable where he was, so
Preity was given the presidential suite."
Ghosh, neck-deep in work, is horrified at the story about
Amitabh's alleged demands.
"Far from making demands Amit-da is the epitome of cooperation.
I've never seen such fierce dedication and passion in anyone. I
wish every actor in this country would learn the meaning of
commitment and dedication from him. After 'The Last Lear', I
want to make at least a dozen films with him," said Ghosh.
Priyanka's special gift for her brother
By Subhash K. Jha,
Mumbai, March 20 Priyanka Chopra's younger brother
Siddharth is probably the happiest kid in Mumbai now. His
indulgent star-sister has got him the most precious gift of his
life - a T-shirt signed by the entire Indian cricket team.
Recalling the episode Priyanka told IANS: "I was on my way to
London on a British Airways flight. My brother Siddharth was
with me - he comes to see me off every time I leave Mumbai. At
the airport he nearly swooned when he spotted the entire Indian
cricket team. He went ballistic. 'Didi, get them to sign my
T-shirt and I'll be your slave for life.'
"I was embarrassed and horrified. How could I just go ahead and
ask them to sign my brother's T-shirt? But Siddharth insisted.
Then I wondered which T-shirt he wanted the team to sign since
he obviously hadn't brought an extra T-shirt to the airport. To
my horror, Siddharth took off the one he was wearing and gave it
On flight, Priyanka hesitantly sent over a message to the team
with her 17-year-old brother's request.
"I'd have loved to meet them personally and make the request on
my brother's behalf. But it was a night flight and I was in the
executive class while they were in business. So I just sent over
the request. They happily and graciously agreed. I came out of
the flight with every member of the team's signature on my
Priyanka's demeanour lights up. "Now my brother guards the
T-shirt as though his life depends on it. Of course he didn't
remember his promise to be my slave for a year. The little
The year ahead is looking swell for Priyanka.
"I'll have quite a few releases this year. 'Love Story 2050' and
'Drona' will probably come one after the other at the year-end.
Then I've the comedy 'God Tussi Great Ho' with Salman Khan and
Hindi films boom in US, 7 break $2 mn barrier
By Arun Kumar,
Washington, March 20 A record number of Indian films
reached blockbuster status in the United States in 2006 with
half of the 14 foreign language films that grossed over $2
million being in Hindi. No other language came close to
contributing so many box office hits to the list.
Spanish, despite being spoken by millions of more Americans,
trailed far behind as the next most popular foreign language at
the US box office with only two films above the $2 million
benchmark last year.
More Hindi films surpassed this box office level in 2006 than in
all previous years combined, showing immense growth for
Bollywood films in America, according to boxofficeguru.com.
Hollywood also seems to be now ready for Bollywood. Superstars
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie recently produced their new feature
film "A Mighty Heart" in India and both George Clooney and Will
Smith have expressed interest in collaborating with the
Bollywood film industry on future projects.
Wes Anderson is shooting his next film "The Darjeeling Limited"
in India. And Mira Nair brings the best of Hollywood and
Bollywood together in "Shantaram" that stars Johnny Depp and
Until now, Bollywood films have mostly been available in Indian
theatres and small video shops far outside of Los Angeles. Time
Warner Cable of Los Angeles is changing that with the launch of
its International Movies on Demand service allowing fans to
watch them at their convenience. For this the cable company has
teamed up with BODVOD, a company that holds exclusive rights to
popular Indian movies from top Bollywood studios such as UTV and
Many new Bollywood films have now made their on-demand premieres
including one of the highest-grossing films in India last year,
the Adlabs sci-fi action thriller "Krrish". Shot in Singapore,
the groundbreaking special effects in the Hrithik Roshan smash
have made it Bollywood's first super hero blockbuster.
The hits keep coming later this season with the much-anticipated
premieres of Shah Rukh Khan's action blockbuster "Don", the New
York-set comedy "Jaan-E-Mann", and the epic Moghul-era romance "Umrao
Jaan" starring the newly-engaged Bollywood power couple
Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan.
Time Warner Cable of Los Angeles is also showing its support for
Bollywood and South Asian cinema by sponsoring the Indian Film
Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA), which is now in its fifth year
of bringing the best of new Indian cinema to movie fans in
Southern California. It runs April 17-22 at ArcLight Hollywood.
"Time Warner Cable is excited to sponsor the Indian Film
Festival of Los Angeles this year and proud to give our 1.9
million customers in southern California access to more
Bollywood and South Asian movies," said Roger Keating, executive
vice president, Time Warner Cable.
"By creating a separate international category to showcase films
from around the world, Time Warner Cable connects people to the
many diverse cultures represented in the southland on the most
convenient, easy-to-use platform cable has to offer," he said.
"We are truly delighted to be working with Time Warner Cable of
Los Angeles this year," stated Festival Director Christina
Marouda. "The availability of international films On Demand is
an important step towards highlighting Indian cinema. IFFLA's
commitment to present quality Indian cinema creates an ideal
With this new partnership with IFFLA and BODVOD, Time Warner
Cable digital customers can view a movie of their choice for
just $3.95 with unlimited access within 24 hours. Film genres in
the International category include Bollywood, Chinese, French,
Italian, Japanese and Spanish.
"This is a perfect strategic fit between Time Warner Cable and
IFFLA and we are happy to bring them together," said Anjali
Jindal, head of programming for BODVOD Networks, the provider of
Time Warner's and other cable operators ' Bollywood on-demand
"In addition to content, we focus on developing innovative,
mutually beneficial partnerships in the community to create
awareness for both on-demand services and support reputable
ICICI, King Khan team up to lure NRIs
London, March 20 Leading Indian bank ICICI has
launched an advertising campaign featuring Bollywood superstar
Shah Rukh Khan to lure the 1.3 million people of Indian origin
living here to open an account.
ICICI Bank teamed up with Khan, who has a big fan following in
Britain, to launch its HiSave account that pays 5.65 percent
interest on deposits of 1 pound or more.
"He is our brand ambassador and his name is so easily
recognisable to anyone of South Asian origin. He is very
popular," said Sonjoy Chatterjee, managing director of the bank
ICICI currently has six branches in Britain, employing around
200 people who look after a balance sheet of over 2.5 billion
pounds of assets.
The bank's branches are mostly located in areas heavily
populated by the Indian community like Wembley, Leicester,
Southall, Manchester and Birmingham, The Sun newspaper reported.
Designer Manav Gangwani launches his music album
Mumbai, March 20 Delhi-based designer Manav Gangwani
has released his first music album "Passion", a unique
extravaganza that celebrates the fusion of fashion and music.
"'Passion' is the first-of-its-kind thematic album that merges
the musical sojourn with fashion to create the perfect visual,"
Director Karan Johar and Gangwani's favourite, actor Raveena
Tandon Thadani, launched it Monday at Taj Lands End, Mumbai,
amid a galaxy of celebrities.
Gangwani began his career in 1999 and has swiftly penetrated the
high-end luxury market. His exclusive clientele includes
high-profile socialites and Bollywood celebrities.
The designer says he has always been passionate about music from
a very young age. Having realised that style has always been
loosely associated with music, he conceptualised "Passion" with
the Bangash brothers - Amaan Ali and Ayaan Ali Khan.
The experimental fashion music album, launched by Music Today,
includes chants and percussion to the accompaniment of sarod and
other Indian instruments. This is set to be the trendsetter in
the fashion industry.