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Gere, Shilpa face complaints after street protests (LEAD)
New Delhi/Jaipur, April 17 After protests in several
cities over Hollywood star Richard Gere's on-stage kiss and hug
to Bollywood actor Shilpa Shetty, an NGO activist in New Delhi
filed a police complaint while a Jaipur lawyer approached a
court seeking action against the two.
Subodh Jain, head of a small NGO called Citizen Fundamental
filed the complaint in the Man Sarovar police station in
"I have filed a police complaint against Gere for spreading
obscenity at a public place and against Shetty for supporting
him," Jain, a journalist-turned activist, told IANS.
Gere hugged Shetty, bent over her and planted several kisses on
her cheeks during an AIDS awareness event at the Sanjay Gandhi
Transport Nagar in the national capital Sunday evening.
The kissing episode raised the hackles of several conservative
groups, with protestors coming out on the streets and burning
effigies of the actors Monday.
Protests were staged in Kanpur, Varanasi (both in Uttar
Pradesh), Indore (Madhya Pradesh), Jaipur (Rajasthan), Mumbai
Jain said though such scenes are common in Bollywood movies, it
could have been avoided in a public place - that too in front of
thousands of truck drivers. He said police assured him they
would take necessary steps after taking legal advice.
However, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Northeast Delhi) J.
Singh said: "Since kissing is not banned in India, we have filed
a police complaint but no FIR (first information report) has
In Jaipur, a complaint was filed in a court against Shetty and
Gere for indulging in an "obscene act".
In the complainant, Poonal Chandra Bhandari, an advocate,
accused the stars of committing "an obscene act" in public place
- a crime under Section 294 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
After hearing the complaint, the additional chief judicial
magistrate sought by April 25 the video recording of the
Section 294 of the IPC provides for up to three months in jail
and/or suitable fine.
'Kya Love Story Hai' - staple diet for romance fans
New Delhi, April 17 This is Tusshar Kapoor's first
release after his successful film "Golmaal" and he is set to woo
the audience as a carefree, happy-go-lucky young man in this
romantic movie opening Friday.
Shot entirely in South Africa, "Kya Love Story Hai" is Lovely
Singh's directorial debut and is all about love at first sight.
The story is centred on Arjun (Tusshar Kapoor), who inherits a
huge fortune after his parents' death. His inheritance makes him
ambitionless and lazy.
But his life changes when he meets Kaajal (Ayesha Takia), whose
approach to life is completely the opposite of Arjun's. She is
independent, believes in hard work and wants to marry someone
who is self-made.
Arjun falls in love with her the very first time he sees her but
Kaajal sees him just as an acquaintance. After a couple of
meetings, Arjun finds out that Kaajal lost her mother
at a young age and her father was too busy to look after and
Kaajal's approach towards life makes it difficult for Arjun to
convey his love to her. So, he pours out his feelings on a
letter without revealing the name.
A situation arises when Kaajal comes across the paper but she
doesn't know to whom he is referring. Arjun deliberately asks
her how she would reciprocate his love if she were the girl he
was in love with?
Kaajal's reply leaves Arjun self-introspecting, making him
mysteriously disappear from the scene.
In the meantime, a successful and snooty entrepreneur Ranvir (Karan
Hukku) enters Kaajal's life. After a sequence of verbal scuffles
with her, Ranvir realises that she would make an ideal
life-partner because she was a stabilizing influence on him.
When Arjun returns, he finds Kaajal engaged to Ranvir.
Before taking up full-fledged direction, Lovely Singh assisted
Satish Kaushik in films like "Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehte Hain" and
"Shaadi Se Phele". Hope he does a better job than his mentor.
After Shilpa storm, Richard Gere cools off in Kathmandu
By Sudeshna Sarkar,
Kathmandu, April 17 After triggering a storm in
India for kissing actress Shilpa Shetty at a public campaign in
AIDS awareness, Hollywood icon and Tibet activist Richard Gere
arrived here unannounced, probably to cool off.
Even as Nepal's media reported the brouhaha in Mumbai where
Shilpa's fans burned Gere's effigy, demanding an apology, the
58-year-old star traced his way back to Nepal, where he had
first been in the 70s, for a quick visit.
While Nepal's media lay preoccupied with the happenings in its
southern neighbour, Gere, accompanied by his secretary, flew in
almost unnoticed by the local press.
The star of the 1990 blockbuster "Pretty Woman", which also
featured Julia Roberts, Gere, who chairs the International
Campaign for Tibet (ICT), an organisation striving to uphold
Tibetans' rights, will focus fresh attention on Tibetan refugees
with his Kathmandu trip.
He is scheduled to visit the Tibetan Refugee Reception Centre in
Kathmandu, where Tibetans, fleeing from China-controlled Tibet,
stay under the supervision of the UN High Commission for
Refugees till their onward journey to India is arranged.
Gere, one of the most high-profile followers of the Dalai Lama,
the exiled leader of the Tibetans, had drawn fresh attention to
the plight of the fleeing Tibetan refugees recently when he
released a report compiled by ICT, that also described how
Chinese border patrols had fired on unarmed women and children
last year, killing a 17-year-old nun and taking young children
Gere, known for his humanitarian work, is also a founding member
of "Tibet House," a nonprofit organization dedicated to the
preservation of Tibetan culture.
He has also been an active supporter of "Survival
International", a worldwide organization supporting tribal
peoples, donating them his £50,000 appearance fee after
attending a Harrods's opening.
Also involved in AIDS awareness campaigns, Gere was in India
earlier this week to take part in an event to promote safe sex
and raise AIDS awareness among truck drivers, a high-risk group
The campaign turned out to be hugely different from the ordinary
sedate ones when Gere bent back Shilpa Shetty in a bear hug and
kissed her several times on her cheek.
While his delighted audience whistled lustily, Shilpa's fans
however took umbrage and the protests were taken up by the
militant Hindu rightwing Shiv Sena, who demanded Gere apologise
and leave India.
Morning calls at Dwarika's, Nepal's famed heritage hotel where
celebrities prefer to stay, went unanswered with the staff
saying the visitors were still sleeping.
Gere first came to Nepal in 1978 after getting his first break
in Hollywood with "Looking for Mr. Goodbar".
Bachchans push India to a regressive low COMMENTARY)
By Minu Jain
The family that prays together stays together. That seems to be
the mantra of the Bachchans as they hotfoot it from one temple
to another in the run-up to son Abhishek's wedding to Aishwarya
Rai. And a star struck nation, denied of any real news of the
wedding of the year, eagerly laps up the superstitious journeys
of Bollywood's numero uno family.
It's the year when archaic terms like 'manglik' jumped out of
the matrimonial columns of newspapers to page one, when our
screen idols moved out of the silver screen to grace temples
across India as they bowed down to blind belief, and when the
paparazzi failed to get any real news and compensated by
covering every detail of the temple visits.
And filmdom's ultimate screen icon Amitabh Bachchan, wife Jaya,
son Abhishek and to be daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai, a
formidable family unit with millions of rupees riding on them
and millions of fans following every move, are singularly
From November, when Bollywood's hottest couple went public with
their relationship, to now, the Bachchan family have been seen
outside numerous temples genuflecting before the gods that be,
and to every superstition in the book.
In a country where astrologers are consulted before business
planners when starting a new venture, where a much-in-love
couple has to call off their relationship because their
horoscopes don't match, where women are relegated to second
position and where religion and politics have come to make a
combustible mix, the Bachchans aren't exactly the best role
They began their religious quest in November when they visited
the Sankat Mochan temple in Varanasi in the dead of the night
reportedly to get Ash married to a tree because she was a
Manglik, astrologically Mars bearing.
It was the first confirmation that the couple were getting
married. And photographs of the family, with a deglamourised
Aishwarya's forehead smeared with vermilion, with Abhishek and
his parents (and Samajwadi Party's Amar Singh of course) had the
nation giddy with excitement.
From uber success and glamour, Aishwarya was suitably reduced to
'bahu' status, head bowed demurely and the Bachchans took on
patriarchal dominance. Just like it is in much of feudal India.
It was also an opportunity for much of India to brush up on
their terminology. Hey, what exactly is a Manglik? How does one
describe the term? Do you really have to get married to a tree
to ensure your husband doesn't die? Those were the questions
doing the rounds of not only media offices that had to write the
story, but also of many drawing rooms.
In the end, whether Aishwarya really got married to a peepul
tree in Varanasi, a banana tree in a Bangalore temple and a
god's idol in Ayodhya as was widely reported didn't really
The damage had been done. Father-in-law Amitabh - rings of every
stone and hue on his fingers obviously to ward off the evil eye
flashing from every photograph - denied that she had done so.
But who cared. By that time, the message had gone down. The
powerful Bachchans are as susceptible to the worst kind of
superstition as the next person.
To expect them to be different and help stem the regressive
slide of Indian society would obviously be too much.
Since then, the media - and all of us - have faithfully followed
their travels to the Vindhyavasini temple in Mirzapur on Amar
Singh's birthday, their much publicised 15 km trek to the
Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai (the favourite of all the stars)
and some more to help Aishwarya's smooth induction into the
In the latest, Bachchan senior and his confidants, industrialist
Anil Ambani and Amar Singh, have visited the Tirupati temple and
offered Rs.5.1 million each to the temple trust, one of the
richest in the country. Amitabh, who is said to have also
donated 100 kg of gold, placed a card for his son's wedding on
April 20 at the deity's feet.
The motive was honourable no doubt - for poor children and
hospital facilities in Tirupati. But Tirupati presumably doesn't
need the money, other places could do more with it.
One of the few signs of protest came from a Bihar feminist
lawyer, Shruti Singh, who filed a PIL against the Bachchans in
the Patna High Court.
"The rituals performed by Aishwarya, Amitabh and Abhishek would
only promote superstitions and blind faith among common people,"
says a furious Shruti.
It could so easily have been different. It is the same Amitabh
who has been hugely successful in making a dent in the campaign
against polio simply because he has such a huge following and
people believe in him. He tells us what to drink, what suiting
to wear and what battery to use.
He could also use his power over the people to deliver a
progressive, rational message through his personal life.
But that is not to be.
If this can happen to Aishwarya Rai, who symbolises ultimate
power, money and success, think of other women in India. She
should have broken the stereotype instead of becoming one. The
Bachchans have failed India.
Did anyone say religion should be a private matter?
(Minu Jain is a senior editor at IANS. The views expressed are
personal. She can be contacted at
Indian Film Festival a hit in Los Angeles
By Andy Goldberg
Los Angeles, April 17 (DPA) It could be the plot of a
particularly unlikely Bollywood movie. A young Greek girl grows
up on the Mediterranean island of Crete and falls in love with
movies from faraway India.
Every weekend she sits glued to the screen to watch her idols
like Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and others. She later moves to
America, but never forgets her Indian connection.
She decides to start an Indian Film Festival in the world
capital of cinema, Los Angeles. After a few years the festival
becomes a major cultural event and a focus of collaboration
between Hollywood and Bollywood. The End.
That, in a nutshell, is the story of Christina Marouda, who
founded The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) in 2002,
as a non-profit organisation devoted to promoting a greater
appreciation of Indian culture.
The fifth festival opens Tuesday night with the LA premiere of
Jag Mundhra's "Provoked" and closes with Rajnesh Domalpalli's "Vanaja"
Sponsors of the festival reflect the growing attention the event
is gathering. Time Warner, Sony, Wal-Mart Stores, Wells Fargo,
Deluxe Labs, Nickelodeon, The Hollywood Reporter, and Screen
International are all supporting IFFLA.
The widely read LA Weekly is even sponsoring a Bollywood By
Night film series that highlights some of the most popular
Bollywood movies, including the 20-year anniversary screening of
Shekhar Kapur's landmark "Mr India". Another highlight is a
tribute to Bollywood actress Deepti Naval, with three of her
movies chosen for special screenings.
The festival's aim is to highlight films from India as well as
films about India and films by Indian directors. IFFLA also
shows films that reflect diverse perspectives of the Indian
diaspora. The 2007 line up will showcase 36 films (13 features,
8 documentaries and 15 shorts) and will include three world
premieres, 11 US premieres and 16 LA premieres.
The festival is both a product and a cause of the tremendous
growth in interest in Indian filmmaking in the US, said Marouda
"In the last year, there has been a tremendous growth and
awareness of Indian cinema in the US," she said. "It's
tremendously exciting but very busy."
That's not just self-serving hype. The year 2006 was a
record-breaking year for Hindi films at the US box office -
seven of the 14 foreign language films that grossed over $2
million were Hindi movies. Hindi films were even more popular
than Spanish films, which only had two movies gross more than $2
million, despite the huge number of Hispanics in America.
The rise in popularity has coincided with the growth of the
festival. It launched in 2002 just as "Lagaan" and "Monsoon
Wedding" became breakout hits in mainstream US cinema.
But those landmark movies don't fit the Bollywood stereotype,
nor does the rest of the IFFLA line-up. Take the opening movie,
"Provoked", for example. It's no sugary melodrama, but a searing
examination of a case that redefined the seriousness of spousal
battery in British courts, when a Punjabi woman fights for her
freedom after being imprisoned for the murder of her abusive
The documentaries highlight current events with the world
premiere of "Are You Alright Afghanistan?" from Indian filmmaker
Soumitra Ranade, who having grown up in Afghanistan, returns to
this country 26 years later with a camera. "Divided We Fall:
Americans In The Aftermath" sees filmmaker Sharat Raju follow a
Sikh American who drives across America after 9/11.
Other movies include the international epic "Valley Of Flowers",
described as "a great Asian love story" that spans two centuries
of passion death and reincarnation from the Himalayas to
modern-day Tokyo. Movies like "Outsourced" and "Office Tigers"
examine the impact in both US and Indian society of India's
growing importance as a world technology centre.
India is also gaining greater importance as a film production
centre with many Hollywood companies looking to make movies
there. Mira Nair, the "Monsoon Wedding" director, is about to
start filming "Shantaram".
With this increased cooperation, IFFLA serves as a vital
networking event for industry professionals from India and the
US and this year hopes to attract 6,000 participants,
That's not bad a bad achievement for a girl from Greece, who
followed her passion for Indian movies.
"It's a great feeling," Marouda said. "A lot more work and a lot
more stress. And a lot more people to deal with. But it's just
Music baron's wife joins anti-piracy drive
Mumbai, April 17 Divya Khosla, wife of T-series
owner Bhushan Kumar, has produced an ad that hits out at pirated
VCDs and DVDs. The 45-second anti-piracy ad, which is being
aired on television these days, .
The 45-second ad shows TV actress Manini De being subjected to
mockery for possessing pirated CDs.
According to reports, the Indian music industry is losing Rs.7
billion a year due to piracy.
"Our music industry faces huge losses due to piracy, which
overshadows our artistes' talent and the hard work they put in.
Most people don't realise the consequences when they pick up a
pirated VCD or DVD.
"Thousands of people suffer. Some are even rendered homeless. I
felt it was high time we stopped this murky business. And a
commercial is the best way to make the public aware that they
are indulging in a crime," Divya said in a press release.
Divya, who starred in "Ab Tumhare Hawaalen Watan Saathiyon",
gave up acting after she got married. But she has been very
active in her husband's company and takes care of the overall
The lady has also decided to turn into a director.
Richard Gere-Shilpa Shetty show
hits UK headlines
London, April 17 The brouhaha in India over
Hollywood actor Richard Gere's stage embrace with Shilpa Shetty
has hit the headlines in Britain, where she continues to make
news after her victory on the "Celebrity Big Brother" show
earlier this year.
Several newspapers published the picture of Gere embracing
Shetty at an AIDS awareness event in New Delhi, along with a
detailed account of the protests across India and the Bollywood
actress' response to them.
In a headline titled 'Kiss that shocked India', the Guardian
reported: "Many saw the act as an outrage against Shetty's
modesty and Indian culture, though Shetty dismissed the protests
as an 'over-reaction' that made India look silly.
"Groups of men burned and kicked effigies of the actors in
protests across India, including in the northern Indian cities
of New Delhi, Kanpur, Meerut and Varanasi as well as in the
central city of Indore."
Under the headline 'Gere arouses Hindu ire over stage kiss', the
Telegraph reported: "Hindu nationalist groups objected to an
onstage clinch between her and Richard Gere, the actor, during
an AIDS-awareness rally.
"Gere jokingly grabbed her and planted several kisses on her
cheek, to howls of appreciation from an audience of New Delhi
lorry drivers. But members of the Shiv Sena organisation burned
effigies of Gere in the streets of Varanasi, Hinduism's holiest
city, and demanded that he leave the country immediately or
apologise for his 'indecent conduct'."
The Independent reported the event - 'Indians angered by Gere's
passionate embrace with Shilpa' - saying: "The evening was
supposed to focus international attention on the sexual
misadventures of India's famously promiscuous lorry drivers.
"Instead, it plunged Hollywood heartthrob Richard Gere into an
unwelcome spotlight and re-ignited controversy surrounding
Bollywood actress and Celebrity Big Brother winner Shilpa Shetty."
The report said: "Television footage of the star of 'An Officer
And A Gentleman' plastering Shetty in kisses has sparked violent
demonstrations in India over the couple's allegedly loose sexual
"While the multiple embrace went down well with guests at an
open-air AIDS awareness event in Delhi on Sunday night - the
audience and Shetty roared in delight at the star's affectionate
greeting - it has caused deep anxiety among some."
"Militants, fired up by repeated showings on India's many
rolling news channels, burnt and kicked effigies of both actors
in protests, claiming the overt kissing was a full frontal
assault on the country's tradition of modesty and extra-marital
"Shetty defended the actor's behaviour - he swept her backwards
in an embrace and repeatedly kissed her - insisting that Gere
had done nothing 'obscene'. She described the protests as an
'overreaction' that made India appear 'regressive' in the eyes
of the international community," it added.
The Times reported the event - 'How Gere inflamed Indian
passions with a stage kiss' - by saying: "Angry crowds in the
conservative north of India set fire to dolls representing Gere
who, as a practising Buddhist, is a regular visitor to the
subcontinent and prides himself on his adherence to local
Sanjaya gets booed at baseball game
Los Angeles, April 17 "American Idol" contestant
Sanjaya Malakar was booed by crowds at a recent Dodgers-Padres
baseball game in Los Angeles.
"He was just sitting there having a good time with his friends,
just like a regular person. And when the Dodger camera noticed
him, the cameraperson ran over and taped him.
"Sanjaya's face pops up on the big screen right away. At first
he smiled, he seemed to like the attention. But when the entire
crowd at the stadium started to boo and it was loud! His smile
faded a bit and his eyes looked sad," said an eyewitness who was
at the Dodger stadium to watch the game.
"It's like he was trying to keep a fake smile on, but you could
tell he was crestfallen. He just kept waving and smiling for a
few seconds more then his image went off the screen," added the
While so many detractors online and on radio think the
Indian-American Sanjaya should have been booted from "American
Idol" weeks ago, Ricky Minor, the show's music director, thinks
otherwise, reports www.hollywood.tv.
"You know what? I think that he could win the show," Minor said.
"He's gotten this far because he really is what he is - he's got
this huge smile, he's a handsome guy and is really likable.
People are pulling for him - and people really care about him."
Not only has he aliened viewers with his so-called "fauxhawk"
hairstyle, but what also irks them is that he survives week
after week even though he can't carry a tune in a bucket.
"I can tell you he can sing," insisted Minor. "I think there are
people who are naysayers, but I've run into a lot of credible
people who really enjoy his voice. He has a connection to the
lyrics and people are pleasantly surprised.
"This isn't a singing competition alone. It's for a star to
emerge. Sanjaya has a huge likeability factor. I think it's
possible for him to win based on the way he's moving through the
Richard Gere cannot do anything obscene: Shilpa
By Subhash K. Jha,
Mumbai, April 17 Though taken aback by Hollywood
star Richard Gere's public display of affection at an AIDS event
in Delhi, Bollywood's much-in-the-news star Shilpa Shetty has
stoutly defended him saying he is not capable of doing anything
"I wish the electronic media wouldn't play the clip over and
over again. It's annoying and serves no purpose. There're so
many larger issues. In fact, we were there to spread AIDS
awareness among truckers," Shilpa told IANS in an interview.
"Richard has been doing this unconditionally. What does he have
to gain from this? He keeps coming back to our country. He is
such a gentleman. He is incapable of indecent behaviour. I know
indecent behaviour when I see it."
Explaining her much-publicised hug, she said: "Earlier during
the day during lunch we were teasing him about a dance step in
'Shall We Dance?' When he suddenly bent me down on stage he was
doing that whole step from 'Shall We Dance?' I was as taken
aback as the people who saw it. It was nothing but a joke and
not pre-planned at all."
Hindu rightwing Shiv Sena members Monday burnt Gere and Shilpa's
pictures. They even disrupted a press conference addressed by
the actress in Mumbai.
As for the moralists accusing her of unbecoming conduct, Shilpa
said: "It was just a kiss on my cheek! What's the big hue and
There had been a similar uproar when many years ago Padmini
Kolhapure had kissed Prince Charles.
"That was on the lips. This was on the cheek, for crying out
loud! No one can question me about my values. I agree a posture
like that in public is against our culture. But doesn't our
culture say that a guest is like god? Was I supposed to snub
Richard in a public place when what he was doing was just for
fun? No! I think he's here for a great cause.
"I want to know what people who're burning Richard's effigy have
done for our country. These kinds of controversies unnecessarily
take away from the main issue. I can't believe this!"
She also says that by unnecessarily highlighting it people are
putting her off.
"Frankly, I'm fed up of these controversies. Nothing shocks me
any more. Honestly, I didn't know what was happening. What
happened with Richard wasn't my fault. It was just meant to be
fun. I don't think Richard intended to hurt anyone's sentiments.
Richard is a Buddhist. He believes the Dalai Lama. He wears a 'tulsi
mala' (basil beads). Why would he do anything to hurt our
sentiments? Richard's intentions were not dubious.
"People are burning effigies of Richard. Poor guy! For such a
trivial issue! How will it look in the international press? For
nine years he has been toiling for the cause of AIDS. Do we know
how much money he has been raising for the cause? It's sad
people are being instigated against him.
"He belongs to another cultural zone. Richard meant no harm. I'm
no prude. We were in the midst of 3,000 truckers somewhere
outside Delhi, who didn't understand English. Richard was just
trying to entertain an unresponsive audience."
Shilpa says she has formed a bond with him. "He wants me to be a
part of his AIDS foundation."
South African Indian filmmaker to get US honour
By Fakir Hassen,
Johannesburg, April 17 South African Indian
filmmaker Anant Singh will be honoured with the prestigious
Career Achievement Award at the 12th Annual Palm Beach
International Film Festival (PBIFF) on April 23.
The award will bring Singh in the league of such celebrated film
personalities as producers Robert Evans ("Chinatown", "The
Cotton Club", "Urban Cowboy", "The Saint"), Richard Zanuck
("Jaws", "The Sound Of Music", "Planet Of The Apes", "Road To
Perdition") and directors William Friedkan ("The Exorcist",
"Cruising", "Rules Of Engagement") and Robert Wise ("West Side
Story", "The Sound Of Music", "Star Trek").
Announcing the award, the executive director of the festival
Randi Emerman said they would also pay special tribute to South
Africa with the screening of films produced by Singh.
Among the South African films to be screened during the festival
are the Oscar-nominated "Yesterday", dealing with the triumph of
a rural Black woman who fights off the stigma of HIV/AIDS; the
multi award-winning "Red Dust", which is based on reconciliation
after apartheid; the hit comedy "Mr. Bones", which found great
favour in India recently; and the stylish gangster film "Dollars
And White Pipes".
Emerman said these films were chosen because of the cultural
impact they have had on the world.
As he left here Tuesday for the festival, Singh said he was
delighted to be a recipient of the PBIFF's Career Achievement
Award and to be in the company of past recipients whom he
considered to be legends.
"I am also honoured that the festival has acknowledged my work
and that of the many South Africans who have contributed to
these films which have made an impact on audience around the
The Palm Beach International Film Festival runs from Thursday,
April 19 to Thursday, April 26.
'TV should not have shown hug and kiss repeatedly'
Mumbai, April 17 Shilpa Shetty is angry with the
media and has lashed out at TV channels for repeatedly showing
her 'hug and kiss' with Hollywood actor Richard Gere at a show
organised in New Delhi to create AIDS awareness amongst truck
"I wish the electronic media wouldn't play the clip over and
over again. It's annoying and serves no purpose. There're so
many larger issues. In fact, we were there to spread AIDS
awareness among truckers," Shilpa told IANS.
Hindu rightwing Shiv Sena members, who considered Gere's public
display of affection immoral, attacked a press conference Monday
being addressed by Shilpa in Mumbai. They also burnt the
effigies of both actors and demanded that the Hollywood actor
should leave the country immediately.
Apart from Mumbai and New Delhi, sporadic protests were seen in
Kanpur, Jaipur, Varanasi, Meerut and Indore by the so-called
guardians of morality.
Shilpa, who has won sizeable fans in Britain after winning the
reality show "Big Brother", feels this kind of reaction is
sending out wrong signals to the British people.
"I don't understand why are we making idiots of ourselves by
blowing it up. Whatever has happened is wrong."
Two generations later, expatriates question 1947
By Frederick Noronha,
Sydney, April 16 Nearly two generations after people
caught up in the mindless violence of the 1947 partition of
India now living in another continent are struggling to answer
one perplexing question: why did it happen at all?
Anita Barar, broadcaster, writer, film maker and theatre
personality of Indian-origin, has jut put together a documentary
called "Crossing the Line", based on memories of Indian and
Pakistani senior citizens who crossed over the border in the
wake of Pakistan's creation.
The film is in Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi, with Barar as writer,
producer and director.
"These are stories of people who are now all in Sydney. When
they meet one another, they reminiscence about those times. Some
are Indians who came over from, say, Lahore. Others became
Pakistanis and went over probably from Delhi. It's quite an
emotional journey for them to even just discover each other (and
see those days from another perspective)," Barar told IANS in an
Her 73-minute English-subtitled film gets ready for a July 2007
launch. Barar says: "It's amazing to see the community living in
harmony here, just wondering what happened at that time."
She believes her story is one that takes a "positive note" and
focuses on a people who - after such a lot of mindless
bitterness - have "put history behind them". She says: "They
have moved on, and they have crossed the line."
Barar, like her subjects in the film, is herself a migrant to
Australia, where she has been based for nearly two decades. She
earlier lived in Mumbai (then Bombay) and for a while at New
Delhi where she worked with the Punjab National Bank.
Like her subjects too, she herself was affected by the
partition. Her parents came from Dadu "in (western) Punjab or is
it Sind ... I'm not sure", she says, giving a hint of her faint
memories of those earlier times.
Her folks moved over in November 1947. "The only thing I wish
was that they (my parents) were alive and could have seen (this
film)," she says, a bit misty-eyed.
"They left everything there (following the mindless violence of
the partition). They came over to India empty handed. There,
they rediscovered their lives and built up their family. We were
seven children including five brothers. One was lost during the
time of the partition, but I'm not sure in what circumstances,"
So how have the wounds of those times healed?
"There are memories. It (getting involved in this film) was kind
of trip down memory lane, and very nostalgic. Senior citizens
are often the ones who get neglected, they are ones who can't
communicate with the younger generation, since everything is
going so fast (in this part of the world)," she explained.
For her documentary, she interviewed 15 people - six from what
is today Pakistan and nine from India. At the time of partition,
they were aged between 10 and 36 years. The interviews were done
in July 2006.
One lady was as old as 96 "and she has an amazing memory", said
"They today find their circumstances absolutely similar. It was
interesting to discover there was no such hatred now, no such
religious barrier. Being Hindu or Muslims (isn't a divide
anymore). They were all unanimous in believing that (the
partition violence) was a consequence of the British
divide-and-rule policy and that the people got carried away. It
just happened, and they don't know why..."
She also points to stories of how, despite the mindless
religious-based violence, people from both sides helped each
other in times of strife, and even saved lives from the "other"
"You could say the real issue here was one of confused identity,
not just of financial or emotional loss. Until Aug 15, 1947, all
were Indians. There was this lady who migrated from Calcutta to
Dhaka and (after 1971) went to West Pakistan. Her grandparents
came from Kashmir, so it was like a whole u-turn for her," says
Today, with their South Asian roots bringing more commonalities
out in them, the migrants settled Down Under believe their
common culture and linguistic similarities hold them together.
Barar has created five films in the past, including one on
domestic violence ("A New Dawn", 22 minutes), one on an old
person living with her daughter and how messy this could be ("In
God's Hand") and a short situational comedy ("The First of
(Frederick Noronha can be contacted at
Anjori is a surprise, says Sameer Nair
By Subhash K. Jha,
Mumbai, April 16 It was no surprise when NDTV
Imagine's newly appointed chief Sameer Nair showed up at the
premiere of Vikram Bhatt's "Life Mein Kabhi Kabhie". After all,
it is his sister-in-law Anjori Alagh's debut film.
Anjori is the younger sister of his wife Sawari.
"Actually, I was watching the film for the second time. And I
enjoyed it even more. Anjori is a surprise. She's been abroad
all her life. But she fits in so well with the Bollywood
grammar. And I am not saying this because she's my
sister-in-law," Nair told IANS.
Nair also appreciated Sammir Dattani's performance in the film.
"The other performance that took me by surprise was Sammir -
very confident and intense. We had been trying to get him to do
things on STAR for a long time. It's interesting to see talent
like Anjori and Sammir emerge as the future."
And yes, Nair will be using the two for film-based software on
Not only that, Nair wants to direct a film. That's how much he
loves movies. And it is a known fact that the high-profile Nair
has a deep filmy connection.
If we go by the buzz Shah Rukh Khan and Nair bonded so well over
"Kaun Banega Crorepati" at STAR, the enterprising Nair is now
planning something really big at NDTV with the superstar. That
Karan Johar is also part of the channel will certainly help.
Anurag Kashyap upset with Deepa Mehta
By Subhash K. Jha,
Mumbai, April 16 Writer-director Anurag Kashyap has
accused Toronto-based filmmaker Deepa Mehta of stealing his
credit in her Oscar-nominated film "Water".
In an interview to India FM website, Anurag said: "After the
amount of work I had put in the film, I was credited as a
translator of Hindi dialogues because I didn't sign a contract.
'Water' was a terrible experience."
Mehta, who is in Toronto recovering from the death of her
father, is stupefied and saddened.
"Why did Kashyap speak like this? He's such a dear friend with a
great mind. I truly admire him. And yes, his contribution to
'Water' is invaluable," Mehta told IANS from Toronto.
"I wrote the entire screenplay including the dialogues in
English. It was Kashyap who used his skills with the Hindi
language to bring my characters to life. Not once did he tell me
or let me feel that he was having a terrible time. We seemed to
get along so well. I wonder what prompted the outburst."
Mehta is currently busy scripting the proposed "Exclusion" in
which Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan is expected to play a
"In principle Amitabh has said yes. But I need to hand him the
script. With my father gone I'm busy bonding with my mother in
Toronto. I can't afford to think about why anyone from our
wonderful team in 'Water' would feel excluded or cheated."
Yana Gupta writing a book on health and nutrition
By Shweta Thakur,
New Delhi, April 16 Czech model-turned-actress Yana
Gupta, whose sizzling item number "Babu-ji" won her many fans,
admits to being such a fitness freak that she used to carry
self-cooked food to homes where she was invited for dinner.
"I am passionate about fitness and every day I work out
religiously for an hour. I eat properly and take five small
meals in a day. In fact, I make my own stuff. At one point of
time I liked self-prepared food so much that I started carrying
it to my friends' place where I was invited for dinner," Yana
told IANS in an interview.
And while she waits for interesting film offers to come her way,
Yana is writing a book on nutrition and fitness. It is slated to
hit bookstores by the end of the year.
Yana says working out in a gym not only keeps her fit but is
also a spiritual experience.
"Working out in the gym makes you both physically and mentally
fit. It is the only time when you can switch off your mobile,
relax and do self-introspection. In my case, it is a spiritual
experience, which can't be expressed in words," added Yana.
Her item song "Babu-ji" in the movie "Dum" proved a huge hit.
But the actress could not repeat the success story and vanished
from the silver screen.
Explaining, Yana said: "I did not disappear. I do not want to
compromise on quality. If the music is mediocre, I would not
take up the project."
Item numbers are not all she wants. Yana would like to establish
herself as a full-fledged actress.
"Honestly, not many projects were offered to me. And the few
that came my way, were not good enough to be accepted. I am
still waiting for a good project."
With a dearth of good offers, Yana is optimising her other
skills - she is singing, composing and writing.
"I cannot wait for things to happen. I know my potential - that
I can generate projects. The whole of last year I spent in
creating projects. I am writing a book on nutrition and fitness.
"I am also working on my jazz music album for which I have
written, composed and sung songs. The music of the album is
given by Needless To Say. I am planning to release it abroad. I
have also joined hands with a British artist for a hip hop
Hindi-English mix song."
She also complains about lack of good artistes in the Hindi film
"There are very few actors in Bollywood who are true artistes.
Most of the time I have come across actors, who first enquire
about their looks in a film rather than their performance. I
feel it is more about looking good than acting good in
Yana, who featured in Adnan Sami's latest music video album "Kisi
Din", is also set to wow audiences with her item number in "Kaise
Kahe", which according to her "drove her crazy".
Let us not make fools of ourselves, says Shilpa Shetty
Mumbai, April 16 Bollywood's much-in-the-news
actress Shilpa Shetty is outraged by the Hindu rightwing Shiv
Shena's violent reaction to her striking a "dancing pose" with
Hollywood superstar Richard Gere and says they were overreacting
to an absolutely trivial issue.
"I was completely taken aback. My work was disrupted. The set
was damaged. I am not allowed to I know it is blown out of
proportion. If protecting Indian culture and tradition means
burning our effigies, please go ahead and do it. But our culture
also teaches us "atithi devo bhava" (Guest is God). I feel
people are overreacting. Don't misuse the freedom of expression
in a democracy," Shilpa told mediapersons.
Shiv Sena members attacked a press conference Monday being
addressed by Shilpa in Mumbai in the wake of Gere giving her a
surprise hug and peck on her cheeks at a show organised to
create AIDS awareness amongst truck drivers. They also burnt the
effigies of both the actors and demanded that the Hollywood
actor should leave the country immediately.
Defending Gere, she said: "He was just trying to strike a
dancing pose. In India entertainment means song and dance, so he
was trying to do something entertaining. That's it. He didn't
try to kiss me on my lips. He was just giving me a peck on my
"I know it is a trivial issue. Somebody is trying to do
something for your country and you are treating him so badly."
Apart from Mumbai, sporadic protests were seen in Varanasi,
Meerut and Indore by so-called guardians of morality.
After winning the British reality show "Big Brother", the
actress has become quite popular in Britain and feels this kind
of irresponsible behaviour will leave a bad impression on the
"I don't understand why are we making an idiot of ourselves by
blowing it up. We will look like an idiot on British media.
Whatever has happened is wrong."
Larry King wants to meet the Ambanis
Los Angeles, April 16 While CNN is getting ready to
celebrate television legend Larry King's 50 years in
broadcasting this week, the talk show host is more thrilled
about the idea of meeting Indian business tycoons Mukesh and
Given that the talk show host had founded the Larry King Cardiac
Foundation in 1988, he was asked if he had given any thought to
teaming up with the Ambani hospital in Mumbai, which shares his
vision of care for cardiac patients.
"I've never been to India and I would love to go," King said. I
look forward to going to India and meeting the Ambanis," King
The Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital will have 600 beds with
over 115 intensive care units (ICUs) including paediatric and
If King visits India, he could bring worldwide awareness to the
healthcare industry of the country, the same way Oprah Winfrey
brought attention to education in South Africa.