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Shilpa gets Rs.30 mn to
join 'Big Brother'
By Subhash K Jha,
Mumbai, Dec 27 After scorching the Indian screen,
Shilpa Shetty is set to sizzle on Britain's reality show "Big
Brother". She has reportedly been offered Rs.30 million for her
The Indian version of "Big Brother" is currently running on Sony
TV as "Bigg Boss" which is produced by Endemol, the company that
produces "Big Brother" internationally.
Shilpa joins "Big Brother" from Jan 1 and spends the next 25
days on the show. The actress has been forbidden from talking
about it, but a reliable source said that she has been paid the
equivalent of a whopping Rs.30 million to be the only Bollywood
participant on the show.
The source told IANS: "When Shilpa was approached she was
completely taken by surprise. She had made no overtures to
Endemol to let them know she was interested in their show at
all. But 'Big Brother' made inquiries.
"They wanted their first Bollywood entry into the show and they
needed someone with a smart, sexy look and attitude, someone who
could converse fluently in English. Asians make up about 80
percent of viewers of the show."
Shilpa, who had other plans for Christmas and New Year, has
quickly cancelled them to accommodate the month-long stint away
Says a close friend of the actress: "Shilpa is basically a home
bird and she's dreading this long stay with strangers. But she's
also excited because it's an honour to be on 'Big Brother'. Not
like its Indian counterpart 'Bigg Boss' where any and every
wannabe was a contestant. 'Big Brother' has the biggest
celebrities in the world."
Before signing the contract Shilpa found out how voyeuristic the
show is expected to be. She need not worry: there will be no
cameras in the bathroom and the celebrities on the show won't be
required to act sleazy at all.
'Anwar' is about love and communal unrest
New Delhi, Dec 27 After his box office dud "Fun -
Can be Dangerous Sometimes", Siddharth Koirala, actress Manisha
Koirala's brother, is trying to find a foothold in Bollywood
with "Anwar", a Hindi film about the plight of Muslims.
Directed by Manish Jha, the film that releases Friday is a love
story against the backdrop of communal unrest and violence.
Siddharth plays the title role.
The film's focal point is Anwar, a young sensitive Muslim boy
who is an artist by profession and sees the world in a romantic
Anwar's life revolves around his girlfriend Mehru (Nauheed
Cyrusi), his mentor Master Pasha (Vijay Raaz) and friend Udit (Hiten
The happy Anwar gets a rude shock when his mentor, girlfriend
and best buddy abandon him. He is shattered and his faith in
humanity is shaken.
Unable to face the reality, Anwar runs away from his home and
takes shelter in a dilapidated building, only to wake up the
next morning to find his world turned upside down.
He is mistaken for a terrorist and taken into custody. Anwar
finds himself in a set of circumstances that shows the true face
of modern India.
Manisha stars as a tough journalist.
Films based on communal problems are not very popular in India.
Therefore its chances of making it big at the box office are
Ayushka Singh crowned Miss India USA 2006
New York, Dec 27 Ayushka Singh, a student from Las
Vegas, has been crowned Miss India USA 2006, the longest running
Indian pageant outside the country that celebrated its silver
anniversary this year.
Singh, 19, a second year student representing Nevada state, will
represent USA in the 16th Annual Miss India Worldwide Pageant to
be held in March 2007.
She was crowned by outgoing Miss India USA 2005 and current Miss
India Worldwide, Trina Chakravarty at a glittering function
organised Dec 24 by the New York-based India Festival Committee
(IFC)at the Royal Albert's Palace, Fords, New Jersey.
Singh, who enjoys reading adventurous novels and dancing to
ethnic tunes,also won the title of Miss Beautiful Smile as well
as Best Talent playing the dhol and dancing to the music of
"Bombay Dreams". On graduation, Singh plans to pursue a career
Nisha Mirchandani, 25 of New York and Ankita Baxi of Illinois
were declared first and second runner up among 26 contestants in
the gala event attended by over 600 people. Shilpa Mamidi of
California and Richa Gangopadhyay of Michigan were the other two
of the five finalists.
Winners of the various sub-contests were Hardeep Chahil of
Michigan - Miss Photogenic, Soni Kumar of Missouri - Miss
Beautiful Eyes, Richa Gangopadhyay of Michigan - Miss
Congeniality and Farah Majid of Florida - Miss Popularity.
IFC founder Dharmatma Saran presented appreciation plaque to
Albert Jasani of Royal Albert's Palace, Sudhir Vaishnav of
Sahara One and Jayesh Metha of Aum Events for their support in
organising the event. The other major sponsors of the event were
Air India, Maaza Beverages and American Airlines.
The panel of judges included Dr. Neena Malhotra, cultural
counsellor from the Indian consulate, Dr. Shashi
Agarwal,cardiologist, Toral Mehta from the hit show Apprentice,
Farook Khan,national director Miss India South Africa and Hordy
Amrita-Kareena friends forever
By Swati R. Chaudhary,
Mumbai, Dec 27 Amrita Arora's budding camaraderie
with Kareena Kapoor comes as a surprise amid the alleged
catfights and bickering in Bollywood.
And Amrita says that their friendship defies the notion that two
actresses can never be friends, reports Bollywood Trade.
"I adore Kareena. We are very close and I hope to maintain my
friendship with her," said Amrita effusively, adding: "Bebo and
I are an example of the fact that two actresses can be friends."
Kareena too is all praise for Amrita.
"I really like that girl. She's fun, easy-going, hassle-free and
honest - just like me. I make friends for life. For example, my
best friend has been with me from school. Amrita too will remain
with me," Kareena is quoted as saying in an interview.
Amrita is upfront about all her relationships and her equation
with cricketer Usman Afzal is no different.
Unlike other actors, she neither denies being in a relationship
nor dismisses it as the customary "we are just friends"
"Firstly, you wouldn't be in a relationship if you're ashamed of
it. Usman is a great guy. He has been very supportive and pushes
me to do better. Usman and I compliment each other," said
Playing a Taliban was challenging: Pakistan's Salman
New Delhi, Dec 27 Pakistani actor Salman Shahid's
performance as a Taliban guerrilla running for his life in
"Kabul Express" was as moving as the heart wrenching portrayal
in the film of the Afghanistan situation.
"It was challenging to play a Taliban, that's what made it fun.
Challenging for me politically because it needed a delicate
balance, as a character as well as in terms of the point of view
vis-à-vis of who started the Taliban - Pakistan or Afghanistan,"
Salman told IANS in an interview.
Salman, who deftly portrayed the dilemma of a Pakistani soldier
Imraan who is forced to join the Taliban, partly agrees with the
notion that Pakistan is responsible for the Taliban movement.
"It is true that Pakistan supported Taliban at the behest of the
US. Pakistanis gave them a script and used them. But the fact of
the matter is that Taliban grew out of Afghanistan. What the
film doesn't show is why the Taliban is still so popular. They
still have a following in Afghanistan and this aspect is
overlooked in the film," said Salman.
"The war has not finished yet as resurgence from the south
border has started again," he added.
Commenting upon the culture and status of women in war-torn
Afghanistan, Salman said: "It is a segregated world and the
cultural difference was partially explained in the film. It is a
totally male chauvinistic society. You don't see a single girl
in the interiors (of the country).
"When my character Imraan goes to meet his daughter in the
movie, it shows just boys playing outside. The reality is almost
the same. Even small girls, who are four-five years old, are not
allowed to step outside."
But Salman says the situation is a little better in the capital.
"In Kabul you will find young girls moving around, wearing the
latest fashion. While at the press conference of 'Kabul Express'
I saw a couple of girls holding cameras, but not so in the
On relations between India and Pakistan, Salman feels that it is
not possible for moviemakers to lift the political barrier
between the two neighbours though in the past few years some
Indian filmmakers have tried to bring cultural unity by
transcending the borders.
"The Indian actors and directors collaborate with Pakistani film
stars and start goodwill campaigns and open a channel, but you
can't expect Bollywood to make political moves.
"This kind of cultural and intellectual exchange has been
existing since independence among scholars and writers of both
countries. Even after partition there was a level of
understanding among the artistes and intellectuals who found
like-minded people across the border. Even today they read about
each other, appreciate each other's works. But nobody gets to
know about it because it is not a popular culture, like cinema."
Describing "popular culture", Salman says: "It depends on
cultural values and the level of education of masses. Cinema is
a popular culture and whatever films people do, it gets noticed
- whether Meera comes here or me, it makes news."
Salamn, a regular visitor to India, says he has met veteran
filmmakers like Gulzar and Mrinal Sen at international film
"This is not my first visit to India. I have friends and I have
been coming to India off and on but not as frequently as for
Salman bagged his role in "Kaabul Express" through a friend in
"I have a friend in Mumbai, Saniya. She knows me and has worked
with me in a serial. The director Kabir Khan was looking for
someone for the role and Saniya told him about me. I came over,
and we met. They already had some idea about my work and then it
Salman is very keen to work in more Indian films.
"I would love to work with Shyam Benegal. I would also like to
work with Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah but probably in more
sensible films like 'Kabul Express', which is different from the
other commercial films."
Salman said he would also love to make a film on Afghanistan.
The actor was earlier seen with Kirron Kher in Pakistani
director Sabiha Sumar's "Khamosh Paani".
German actress signed on for 'Drona'
Mumbai, Dec 27 Filmmaker Goldie Behl has signed on
German actress Suzanne Bernert for his next production "Drona".
Suzanne, of "Kasauti Zindagi Kay" fame, is shooting for the film
in Prague, after which she will proceed to Rajasthan for five
"Drona" also stars Abhishek Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra, Jaya
Bachchan and Kay Kay Menon.
Anjana ready to scorch big screen
After doing over 40 commercials, model Anjana Sukhani is making
her big screen debut with Nikhil Advani's second film "Salaam-E-Ishq".
"The 'Salaam-E-Ishq' experience has been a beautiful one and I
was treated like a princess on the sets. I think I am blessed
because I come from a non-filmy family and still
got such a big break so soon," said Anjana, who has featured in
advertisements for Coca-Cola, Sunsilk and Onida.
She is being paired with Bollywood's seasoned actor Anil Kapoor.
"Anjana is ready to set screens on fire with her sensual and
seductive dance on the remixed version of yesteryear's hit 'Babuji
dheere chalna'," said an informed source.
Two more awards for 'Dombivali Fast'
Marathi director Nishikant Kamat's psycho-thriller "Dombivali
Fast" has bagged two more awards at the Asian Festival of First
Films in Singapore.
The film, which has already won 36 awards at international and
national festivals, walked away with the best producer award for
Sameer and Ramakant Gaikwad, while
Kamat was named best director.
The film stars Sandeep Kulkarni and Shilpa Tulaskar in pivotal
After hitting the bull's eye with "Dombivali Fast", Gaikwad's
production house Swadeshi Entertainment is now training their
camera on Bollywood. They are currently
producing a Hindi film starring Jimmy Shergill and Kim Sharma
called "Chhodon Naa Yaar".
Deepak plans a film on 'Bigg
By Subhash K. Jha,
Mumbai, Dec 26 The unreal experience as a contestant
on Sony TV's "Bigg Boss" game show has given "Oops!" director
Deepak Tijori a new creative impetus.
"Being a filmmaker I was totally intrigued by the mind games
being played in that house. I went there as a filmmaker and,
yes, I want to make a film based on my experiences," Tijori told
"The experience plays on your mind. It's something I recommend
to everyone. What viewers saw were the images created for the
outside. What we go through in that house is quite another
experience," revealed Tijori.
Tijori is the only contestant on "Bigg Boss" who has been
evicted without any bitterness in his attitude.
"There were some lovely people in there," said Tijori who was
called in after Salil Ankola was suddenly evicted.
"I was supposed to start a film with Dino Morea and Jimmy
Shergill. It came as a sudden offer. I didn't know what to do.
But two things convinced me. One was my curiosity as a
filmmaker. The more important reason for my being there was my
daughter. After she saw me in 'Ghulam' and 'Khiladi', my
daughter couldn't bear to see me bloody. She never watched any
of my movies. Not even 'Kabhi Haan Kabhi Na', although she's a
diehard Shah Rukh Khan fan.
"When this offer came to me, my daughter wanted me to go on 'Bigg
Boss'. She likes the show. She has been watching me and she's
seen me doing things I've never done before - like jump in the
swimming pool. The boys got me into exercising. My New Year
resolution is to lose several kilograms, so I can get back to
But Tijori was keen to be out of "Bigg Boss".
"I knew most of them at 'Bigg Boss'. I did know Rahul Roy,
Kashmira Shah, Rakhi Sawant (Rakhi worked with me in 'Khamosh'),
Ravi Kishan and Rupali Ganguly from before. But I saw them in
completely new avatars. It was quite a shocker for me. For the
last two weeks I was desperate to come out. I wish I could have
come out Thursday. It was my wife's birthday."
No one has a bad word to say about Tijori.
"At first Aryan Vaid was upset with me. But as a filmmaker I
taught all of them about camera placement and how to avoid being
stared at by the camera lenses.
"As a director I'm enriched by the experience on 'Bigg Boss'.
I'm totally equipped to make a 'Bigg Boss' film. I've already
discussed it with the boys inside. I salute the guys who've
brought 'Bigg Boss' to this country."
The reality show has everything to keep the audience hooked -
suspense, drama and catty comments. Thirteen people from
different walks of life are put together into a house erected in
Kazarat Studio, about 300 km away from Mumbai.
Hidden cameras capture the conflicts and ego clashes of the
participants. Every week, one person who is unable to cope with
the situation will be eliminated. The lone survivor at the end
of three months will go on to win the Rs.5 million prize money.
Hope people will like me in my comeback film: Madhuri
By Subhash K. Jha,
Mumbai, Dec 26 A mother of two now, Madhuri Dixt is
excited at the prospect of returning to the silver screen after
five years and says she chose Yash Chopra's banner for the
occasion because she is comfortable with them.
"Yash-ji has worked wonderfully well with married actresses
before. Whether it's Raakhee-ji-Waheeda-ji in 'Kabhi Kabhie' or
Kajol in 'Fanaa', he's aware and sensitive to the schedules and
needs of an actress who is a wife and a mother," Madhuri told
IANS in an interview.
Cinematographer Anil Mehta will direct Madhuri's comeback
"My comeback film has a bit of everything in it. Hopefully, it
will be something that people will like to see me back in."
Madhuri, who has decided not to do more than two films a year,
is not apprehensive about changes in the industry.
"I've heard the change is for the better. Everyone's more
disciplined. That makes things easier for me. I'd be able to
work better. To be a part of this phase, when so much is
happening, is a challenging thought."
The film is expected to go on the floors in January.
Q: Everyone is truly excited about your return in a Yash Raj
A: Yes, my comeback film has a bit of everything in it.
Hopefully, it will be something that people will like to see me
Q: Why is cinematographer Anil Mehta directing it?
A: Firstly, when they narrated the script to me I was deeply
excited. I felt this would be the right film to do after a long
break. The way the story is written is quite interesting.
I've worked with Yash Raj Films before and they know me so well.
They know I'd never cause unnecessary delays. More importantly,
Yash-ji has worked wonderfully well with married actresses
before. Whether it's Raakhee-ji-Waheeda-ji in "Kabhi Kabhie" or
Kajol in "Fanaa", he's aware and sensitive to the schedules and
needs of an actress who's a wife and a mother. Things may be a
little out of the timetable once in a while. And I feel
comfortable with them.
Q: What was your husband's reaction to your decision to return
A: He's fully supportive of whatever I do. He feels I should
have no regrets in life. He feels one's talent shouldn't be
Q: Any nervousness about taking away from your kids' time?
A: I'm extremely nervous. But there comes a time in a woman's
life when she needs to think of a world outside her home.
There're so many women all over the world who work and manage a
career. My children are the most important part of my life. But
they are growing and need to be a little independent.
Also, my shooting in India will give the kids a chance to get in
touch with their roots, to be in the country of their origins.
They'll be with my family and they'll meet with their cousins. I
think they'll have fun.
Q: How much time can you give to acting?
A: Well, once my two kids start going to school they won't be
able to travel with me to India. Therefore, I thought this would
be a good opportunity. I wasn't desperate to get back to work.
But I've worked for so many years that it's become inbred in me.
So, the thought of returning does excite me.
Q: Everyone missed you after your last film "Devdas". Did you
A: I don't miss the adulation or the glamour, though it's great
to know people still miss me. What I missed was being in front
of a camera and assuming various characters. Yeah, I missed
that. I'm glad to have that back.
Of course, those five years away from the camera have been very,
very rewarding. I always wanted children and a family. It was a
big part of my dream. I thoroughly enjoyed that whole phase.
Now, that the kids are growing up, I can take a little time off
Q: How old are the kids?
A: The older one is four-and-a-half-years-old and the younger is
one-and-a-half-years-old. And there's no question of leaving
them behind in the US. I can't imagine my life without them.
They'll come with me to Mumbai.
Q: Looking back at your truckload of blockbusters, are you
A: Ask any actor, they'll tell you they've a long way to go. To
be satisfied with what you've done isn't the way to move ahead.
There's always something better around the corner.
Q: When do you start shooting?
A: Sometime in January 2007. And we'll be done in three-four
Q: Then it's the return of Madhuri Dixit?
A: I'm doing this without any thought for the repercussions. I
just want to enjoy the feeling of facing the camera.
Q: Any apprehensions about how much cinema has changed since you
last showed up?
A: I've heard the change is for the better. Everyone's more
disciplined. That makes things easier for me. I'd be able to
work better. To be a part of this phase, when so much is
happening, is a challenging thought.
Q: Any more projects?
A: Right now I'll just focus on this project, test the waters
and see how the audience and I react. This film will give me the
confidence to make further career decisions.
Q: Have you met up with your director Anil Mehta as yet?
A: No I haven't. But I'm very familiar with his work as a
cinematographer. In fact, when I had to do my ad films for
Himami, I had asked for him. But he was very busy. We just have
to see what happens.
Kangana's sartorial blues
Mumbai, Dec 26 Bollywood's emerging talent Kangana
Ranaut has made a premature New Year resolution that she will
never wear a sari.
"I wore the apparel for the first time in my life for Emraan
Hashmi's wedding reception. And I could've died of suffocation!
I couldn't move. I was repeatedly tripping over my face, trying
to balance on my feet and taking mincing steps. Never again!
Even if it means being unpatriotic, I won't even wear a sari for
any of my films," Kangana told IANS.
The sari was a last minute brain wave.
"My designer has been extra-busy these days, what with all the
awards functions for which exclusive designs have to be created.
When I decided to go for Emraan's reception, at the last minute
my designer decided to deck me up in a sari. It was the biggest
mistake of my life."
The Emraan do was restricted mainly to the family, which
included Mahesh Bhatt and his entire clan. Special invitees
included Pakistani actress Meera, who showed keen interest in
Kangana and her career.
'I See You' a Casanova's love story
New Delhi, Dec 26 After Shah Rukh Khan and Suniel
Shetty, it is model-turned-actor Arjun Rampal's turn to become
producer with "I See You", an unusual love story releasing
The film is also Vivek Aggarwal's first outing as director. Shot
entirely in London, "I See You" also introduces Vipasha Aggarwal
The film revolves around Raj Jaiswal (Arjun), a star attraction
on a TV show, "British Raj", who exploits his popularity to the
Flirting with girls is his favourite time-pass and he spares no
one, not even a new recruit on the show.
All that changes an evening when he meets Shivani (Vipasha), who
materialises in his bedroom from nowhere. Raj is intrigued by
her presence but doesn't dig into the matter, completely
mesmerised as he is by Shivani.
She keeps moving in and out of his home and office.
Unfortunately, nobody except Raj seems to see her. And his
friend Akshay's (Chunky Pandey) quizzical expressions confirm
Raj enjoys Shivani's closeness because she is someone who is
simply "for his eyes only", but he doesn't want to fall in love
with her either.
Aggarwal earlier assisted cinematographer-turned-director Ashok
Mehta in "Moksh" and later worked as associate director to
Subhash Ghai during the making of "Kisna".
While both films were dam squibs, it remains to be seen if
Aggarwal has learnt from the mistakes made by his mentors.
Arjun, who hasn't made any headway in filmdom despite good
looks, pins all his hopes on this film.
Manoj Bajpai works to develop his native village
Patna, Dec 26 Actor Manoj Bajpai has been silently
working out ways to develop his native village in Bihar while he
spends time there away from the glamour of Bollywood.
Bajpai, of "Satya" fame, arrived in West Chaparan district's
Belwa village, 300 km from here, a few days ago to spend time
with his family and friends but has been busy chalking out a
development strategy for the backward area.
The actor has joined hands with his friend Gayandeo Mani
Tripathi, who plans to set up an organisation for rural
"I decided to work with my friend Tripathi as he is setting up
an organisation for development in rural areas, so I suggested
that he open it in my village," said Bajpai.
He, however, refused to disclose the details of his project and
said he would come up with something concrete soon.
Bajpai, known for the portrayal of intense roles, said material
gains are not everything in life, as they don't satisfy the
"I am in my village to satisfy my inner soul by contributing
something to the development of my village," he remarked.
The actor said he had given 13 years to Bollywood and 11 years
to theatre, "But I now decided to give some time for
He his hectic schedule in Mumbai had made it difficult for him
to visit Belwa more often. "After living in Mumbai, I had become
distanced from my village and now I would like to fill that
Bajpai was reportedly enjoying the greenery of Belwa and loved
talking to villagers in chaste Bhojpuri.
On the acting front, Bajpai is now looking forward to the
release of his next film "1971" and hopes audiences will
For Bollywood, it was the year of RDB, Kangana (CINEMA YEARENDER)
By Subhash K. Jha,
Mumbai, Dec 25 If I've to look back at 2006, I'd
remember it as the year of "Rang De Basanti" (RDB) and Kangana
Ranaut. Both startled the hell out of me.
When I saw Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's RDB, I couldn't move. I had
to force my hand to punch his numbers, and then I blabbered like
a schoolboy. Mehra was no stranger to me.
Kangana was. I had never heard of her, didn't know what she
looked like. I went to see "Gangster - A Love Story" with zero
expectations. The girl stunned me senseless. Lucky are those who
sat on that decisive Friday watching this natural-born actress
dip all her senses into every crevice of the human heart.
Like Shabana Azmi, I wanted to ask Kangana: "Where have you come
Amrita Rao in "Vivah" and Ayesha Takia in "Dor" also took me by
Whereas Shahid Kapur had prepared me for his performance in "Vivah"
as he was extremely accomplished in all his releases so far
except "Deewane Huye Paagal", where no one was allowed to be
accomplished. But it was Amrita's fragile elegance that stunned
Silly girl, she turned down a plum and powerful role in Govind
Nihalani's film that he offered her after "Vivah". I just hope
she goes into 2007 with hope on her plate.
Three new directors also stumped me this year. Dibakar Banerjee,
Saket Chowdhary and, most of all, Nishikant Kamat blew my brains
with their first films.
Banerjee, I'm told, is very lazy. He took years to complete "Khosla
Ka Ghosla". But it doesn't show.
Chowdhary is spunky. He had the guts to not use Mallika
Sherawat's sex appeal as a pivotal character in "Pyaar Ke Side
Effects". Weeks before the release of this romantic comedy,
distributors were in two minds - Mallika in clothes? Will not
Both 'lazy' Banejree and 'spunky' Chowdhary are now planning
sequels to their surprise hits.
I wish there would be a sequel to Marathi director Kamat's "Dombivli
Fast". I want to know what happens to the wife and children of a
working class man who gets shot after creating a moral havoc on
the streets of Mumbai.
In his small, Rs.20 million Marathi film, the humble Kamat threw
forward several statements. You don't need a fortune to create a
phenomenal film. Shooting on authentic locations with authentic
actors does the act.
Hats off to actor Sandeep Kulkarni who simply merged into the
role of the man who goes berserk after suffering the hefty wages
of the humdrum life for years.
Regional cinema remains so neglected that you wonder what
would've happened to biggies like "Don" and "Baabul" if they had
been made in Telugu or Marathi.
The return of Sooraj Barjatya in "Vivah" and Mallika in "Pyaar
Ke Side Effects", and the advent of a phenomenal new talent
called Kangana made my heart crave for more surprises in 2006.
That delight of falling off my seat came to me when I saw little
boy Ali Haji, who played Aamir Khan and Kajol's son in "Fanaa";
when I saw Hrithik Roshan glide across the dance floor as though
it was the ocean in "Dhoom 2"; When I heard Konkona Sen Sharma's
conversational voice as she grappled with the garbled grammar of
a schizophrenic mind in "15 Park Avenue"; when I saw Lisa Ray's
limpid eyes stare in the placid water in Deepa Mehta's "Water";
when I saw Sushmita Sen rip the screen apart with her monstrous
monologues in "Chingaari"; when I heard Kavita Seth sing "Mujhe
mat roko mujhe yaar ke ghar jaane do" for Kangana as she
plummeted to a welcome death in "Gangster"; when I heard Richa
Sharma tear the soundtrack into sublime smithereens with "Baabul
mora" in the disappointing film of that name.
When Aamir broke down in Alice Patten's kitchen in "Rang De
Basanti", I cried too. I knew this guy once. Now he's a
Everything changes. The world around us is a cauldron of
simmering discontent. The movies and performances we enjoyed
last year were very different from the films this year. And 2007
will be even more different.
And if there's a contradiction to Sanjay Dutt playing Munnabhai
and standing in a courtroom facing serious charges, then I guess
we need to realise characters outlive the actors who play them.
Crooners from across the border rock college fests
By Azera Rahman,
New Delhi, Dec 25 Its passé to invite a local rock
band to perform in the college festivals of Indian universities
these days. If you want the fest to rock, invite one of the
Music, as they say, transcends barriers. Probably this is why,
despite all the political war of words and the booing on the
cricket field, there's no stopping a young Indian fan from
head-banging to a Pakistani musician's tunes on the stage.
When Goher Mumtaz of the rock band Jal, sings "Ab to aadat si ho
gayi hai" in one of Delhi University's college fests, the entire
campus croons along. Whether it's the simplicity of the lyrics
or the youthfulness of the sound, their music appeals to the
Indian ear immensely.
Most of these bands, be it Jal, Junoon or Strings, play soft
rock with a hint of Sufi, a genre of music fast becoming a craze
"You fall in love with the lyrics of their songs which are so
meaningful, unlike most of the Bollywood numbers these days.
And, the music is a mix of Sufi and rock. What else could you
ask for?" remarks Rima, a die-hard fan of Jal.
Cashing in on this trend, Bollywood director Mahesh Bhatt
readily bought one of Jal's compositions, "Woh Lamhey", and used
it in his movie "Zeher". The song became a top chartbuster in no
The fact that Jal was booked for live concerts for two whole
months, covering 11 cities and 21 shows, testifies their immense
popularity among the country's youth.
When the band came to Delhi University to perform at Hindu
College's fest Mecca and Gargi College's Reverie, they invited
jam-packed auditoriums and a roaring crowd. Jal and Strings got
an amazing response when they went down south to perform at
Unmad, the fest of Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore (IIM-B).
They also went to Hyderabad in September to sing at the
Chaithanya Bharahi Institute of Technology's (CBIT) biennial
fest, Carpe Diem. "They were the highlight of the fest this year
and very rightfully so. Their music is awesome!" Shuaib, a
second year student of CBIT, told IANS.
Awaiting them this year are the girls of Janki Devi Memorial
College in Delhi who simply can't have enough of their music.
Says Mukuta Sharma, a student: "Their songs are simply the best.
Although I have downloaded all their numbers on my PC, I can't
wait to hear them live!"
Says Farhan, the lead vocalist of Jal: "Being a Pakistani band,
coming to India and not just performing but also being popular
and sought after is a dream come true."
It's never easy rooting for Pakistan anywhere in India. But when
Faizal, the lead vocalist of Strings, sings "Main teri tu mera
jaane saara Hindustan", the already charmed audience screams
back the same with "Pakistan" at the end!
So is love for their music the only factor for this new culture
of inviting them to all the college fests?
"No. Another important factor is the college budget which is
becoming fatter every year," says Smita Mitra, media coordinator
of Janki Devi Memorial College.
For a well-organised college fest, the budget could be anything
between Rs.300,00 to Rs.1.2 million.
So while innumerable rounds of peace talks continue to be held
between the two countries, these young musical ambassadors from
across the border have long come and bridged the gap with their
Koena on cloud nine about sharing stage with Furtado
By Swati R. Chaudhary,
Mumbai, Dec 25 Item girl Koena Mitra is thrilled at
the prospect of performing along with international pop diva
Nelly Furtado on the New Year eve.
She along with Priyanka Chopra and Shahid Kapur is gearing up to
sizzle the stage with the international singer Dec 31, reports
"I'll be grooving to all my songs including my latest tracks
from 'Apna Sapna Money Money'. Varied artists like Nelly,
Canada-based Punjabi band JOSH, A.R. Rahman, Shahid and Priyanka
are performing so, it'll be a great fun. With a combination of
such diverse artists, the show is bound to be a lot spicier,"
So, is she not anxious about sharing stage with Grammy winner
"I'm pretty used to shows, especially solo shows, so I'm not
nervous. In fact, I am excited and looking forward to Dec 31.
The grand finale will be a medley of songs. It's a live show and
an opportunity to reach out to an international audience," she
Furtado's debut album "Whoa Nelly" was released in 2000 and
spawned the hit single "I'm like a bird". Her songs
"Promiscuous" and "Maneater" from her new album "Loose" are
topping the charts.
On the work front, Koena has two films with Sanjay Gupta and
Subhash Ghai in her kitty. But the actress is currently kicked
about her role in Ananth Mahadevan's "Anamika - The Untold
"It's a romantic thriller loaded with suspense. It's based on
three characters - Dino Morea, Minissha Lamba and me. Ananth has
worked really hard in shaping our respective characters. It's a
serious role minus singing and dancing. The look of the film is
spectacular since we've shot in Bikaner and Gajner," said Koena
who plays Dino's childhood sweetheart in it.
I'll leave you wanting for more: Neha Dhupia
By Swati R. Chaudhary,
Mumbai, Dec 25 Actress Neha Dhupia promises to leave
the audience "wanting for more" when she performs at a New Year
Neha recently inaugurated Country Condos, service apartments of
Country Club India Ltd (CCIL) in Mumbai, and will be performing
at a New Year party organised by the firm. This is the first
time Neha is performing for CCIL and she will groove to a medley
of foot tapping songs, reports Bollywood Trade.
"I'll dance on a few songs from 'Garam Masala' and 'Chup Chup Ke'.
I'll also be dancing on other hit tracks that have done well in
the last few months like 'Crazy kiya re' ('Dhoom 2'), etc. I am
looking forward to it and I'm going to leave you guys wanting
for more," said Neha who is thankful to her choreographers Pappu
and Maalu for training her.
Talking about her association with the club, Neha said: "CCIL is
one of the biggest family entertainment club chains of India and
I am proud to be a part of it. They are a great set of people
and were very humble in their approach. I felt I could make a
difference and here I am."
Neha has an interesting line-up of films in 2007 including "Ek
Chaalis Ki Last Local", "Delhi Heights", "Mithiya", "Shootout At
Lokhandwala" and "Dus Kahaniya".
Demolition threat to Bollywood epicentre in New Jersey
New Jersey, Dec 25 Bad
news for Bollywood fans residing in New Jersey and New York as
seven-screen movie house CinePlaza is on the verge of closing
"This theatre is like the lifeblood of Indian entertainment; it
is a home to us," said Vijay Shah, the owner of CinePlaza. Shah
saved the theatre once but this time chances are dim.
Shah's multiplex, located in an underground parking garage has
been cast in doubt after the building's owner got approvals to
demolish the theatre and replace it with a 29-storey residential
and commercial tower, reported northjersey.com.
Shah, who has already been through a relocation mess, when the
theatre's old home was shut down in January this year, is in a
dilemma. He said he thought the property's financial troubles
The theatre represents a unique cultural niche where Shah
screens about 60 Indian films a year, including eight or 10
blockbusters that sell as many as 15,000 tickets per show.
CinePlaza is the largest Indian theatre on the East coast, with
a capacity of about 1,300 seats. The closing of the theatre will
hugely disappoint the locals.
The owners of the property, Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner
Companies, planned its redevelopment Wednesday when the North
Bergen council approved rezoning the property.
The new zoning would permit a 25-storey residential tower with
up to 350 units, and a four-storey commercial and retail base.
However, the other tenants in the shopping centre, including a
ShopRite and Bally's gym, will be not be affected by the
The centre was built seven years ago. Township officials said
the developers have not given any timeline for when a formal
application may be filed.
Forest City representatives were not available for comments, but
township officials said the developers stated the theatre was
the only part of the shopping centre that was unprofitable.
Shah said Starplex officials told him the theatre has been in
the black since Oct, largely because audiences brought in by the
Indian theatre have fattened concession sales and cut down on
nuisance crimes that used to plague the building.
Still, Shah says he has always known that his lease is subject
to only a 30-day termination clause, and he says he has begun a
half-hearted search for a new home.
But he said theatres are hard to come by and larger chains will
sometimes rent out individual screens in profit-sharing
agreements, but there's nothing like having a theatre of his
"It's a very risky proposition. That's why you don't see so many
of these," said Shah.
Government realises the Indian celluloid industry potential
New Delhi, Dec 25 After treating the entertainment
industry like a stepchild for decades, the Indian government has
realised its potential and is leaving no stone unturned to boost
Before 2001, finance was a huge problem for filmmakers and the
lack of funding took its toll on creativity and variety. The
traditional financers were not keen to take risks and churned
out formula films suitable for big stars only. This restriction
barred the entry of fresh minds and untried faces in filmdom.
But from 2001 onwards several steps were taken by the government
to boost the business and the first move in this direction was
taken when Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) allowed bank finances
After suffering for decades in the hands of traditional
financers, Indian film industry, especially Bollywood, witnessed
a phenomenal change after the entry of banks.
"Through our vigorous efforts, we have been able to reduce the
level of entertainment tax. We have simplified procedures and
reduced the time required for granting permission to shoot
foreign feature films in India," Information and Broadcasting
Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi said in the Lok Sabha recently.
Entry of banks into film business lured corporate players like
UTV, Percept Picture Company. Their entry ensured the quality of
films, ample opportunities for wannabes and variety. For
independent filmmakers, it turned out to be a blessing in
disguise, because they could speak their mind through their
Apart from that, entry of Non Traditional Financing Sources (NTFS)
has boosted the business and profits started moving toward
According to Yes Bank Survey reports conducted till 2004, the
number of films partially or fully financed from one or more
NTFS has increased from six in 2001 to 46 in 2004.
Cumulatively, NTFS contribute Rs.2.56 billion in 2004 as
compared to Rs.485 million in 2001. This constitutes more than
50 percent of total project outlay of top 50 Hindi films
produced and released in 2004 and underlines the rapidly
transforming funding sources for Hindi films.
Not only that, 20 out of 46 films financed from NTFS in 2004
were associated with the new directors which points towards the
role being played by NTFS in nurturing and developing new talent
And 61 percent of films financed from NTFS were funded by
private equity from individuals and corporate houses. Apart from
that, 93 percent films funded from one or more NTFS in 2004
involved equity financing.
The trend continued this year with UTV producing big hits like
films "Rang De Basanti", "Krrish", "Khosla Ka Ghosla" and
Percept Picture Company churning out "Dor", "Corporate" and "Malaamal
These films created history at the box office - both in money
Not only that, since 2001 NTFS have increased their presence at
the expense of one or more of producers' contribution,
distribution and private financiers.
Apart from finances, government is also focusing on popularising
films in the overseas market.
The government is encouraging participation in global events
like the Cannes Film Market, the American Film Market, and the
Berlin Film Market among others to enhance Bollywood's
visibility, said Dasmunsi in a written statement.
Film weeks and festivals are being conducted in various
countries while the government had also signed an audio-visual
co-production agreement with Britain and Italy.
Similar proposals from other countries were being explored to
expand avenues of finance and markets for the Indian film
To ensure the smooth functioning of the entertainment industry,
a committee for development of entertainment sector was set up
to suggest a policy framework for the film industry, suggest
steps to counter piracy and to facilitate shooting of foreign
films, Dasmunsi added.
Apart from this, the state-owned National Film Development
Corporation had been providing limited funding for films.
"I personally think that just like financial markets in the
1980s, telecom in the 1990s and early 2000 and transport as it
has happened today, entertainment will be big. As it will become
large and the requirement for the content becomes critical,
there will be corporatisation," Subroto Chattopadhyay, managing
director, Saregama, told IANS.
"You need to have ability to produce high quality content in
very large volume and it cannot be done by an individual. So
there will be corporatisation. It will change the way content is
created and I think next three to four years will see huge
change. Independent filmmakers will get involved because it is
an art form and of course, government will enable us," added
After ruling the music industry for decades, Saregama is also
spreading its wings and set to foray into film producing
If 2006 saw big hits and big bucks, the entertainment industry
is going to reap phenomenal success in 2007 as well. Also, more
and more players will enter the sector.
Sam Pitroda, Shekhar Kapur announce movie script contest for
Chicago, Dec 25 Technology guru Sam Pitroda and
filmmaker Shekhar Kapur have announced a movie script writing
contest for the students of the Indian Institutes of Technology
Pitroda told a conference hosted by the IIT, Mumbai, that
considering the multifaceted talent of IIT alumni both Kapur and
he believe this would be an exciting contest.
Pitroda, who is also chairman of India's National Knowledge
Commission, said the IIT, Mumbai should introduce a Master's in
film technology because the growing convergence of various
"The IITs need to think outside the box and the time is
absolutely right for them introduce such a course that takes in
its sweep film technology, animation, film engineering and so
on," Pitroda told IANS.
The Pitroda-Kapur announcement for a script writing contest will
be an annual feature starting sometime in 2007. Details such as
the deadline for script submission, format, selection criteria,
jury and the date for final selection will be announced on an
Asked why restrict the contest just to the IIT students, Pitroda
said, "We could have kept it open to students generally but
logistics would have been tough to manage. Besides, IIT students
have established a name for themselves when it comes to
multitasking," he said.
A winner and runner-up will be chosen by a jury consisting of
well-known names from the world of cinema as well as other
professions. There are possibilities that the winning scripts
would eventually be made into movies.
Pitroda said he had been toying with the contest for quite
sometime and the time was opportune. Asked the quantum of the
prizes, he said although it would be "decent amounts for the
winners", money was not the motivating force but "a desire to do
something exciting and tap into a large talent pool."
IIT alumni have been known to break the mould and frequently
explore professions which their engineering background may not
foreshadow. They have been involved in running airlines, making
movies, operating non-profit organizations and writing fiction.
Pitroda said being based in the same city as the Hindi cinema
industry, the IIT, Mumbai will be able to leverage its resources
well if it introduced a Master's in film technology.