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I don't think I was spoilt: Zayed Khan (INTERVIEW)
By Subhash K. Jha,
Mumbai, April 8 He's always been the baby of the
film industry and his family. But now Zayed Khan promises a new,
power-packed version of himself - at least on screen.
"I don't think I was spoilt. I was sent to boarding school when
I was 11. That changed my whole perspective to life," Zayed, who
is the son of Sanjay Khan and nephew of
Feroze Khan, told IANS in an interview.
"I've always been confident about myself. My goals are very
focused and real. I've really avoided all negativity. I just
wanted to be one of the best, and that's what I'm working
He also spoke about his marriage, his upcoming films "Cash" and
"Speed" as well as his three-month long illness.
"Marriage gets you more focused in life. All of the riff-raff
are out of your life...It's like my life isn't my own. Marriage
has become the centre of my moral universe," he said
about wife Malaika.
Q: What brings on this new power-packed Zayed Khan?
A: You know, whenever people have told me I can't do it I've
been even more determined to do it. As a child if my parents
said don't go out, I did. Even at school, winning in
sports wasn't a possibility. It was the only thing to do. My
family has a lot to do with my growth as a professional. They've
provided me with unconditional moral and
emotional support. I exist in a never-say-die surrounding. My
mom always says one has to keep creating opportunities
regardless of what people say. I ignored cynics and
just kept working. I feel I've come a full circle since my debut
in 'Chura Liya Hai Tumne'.
Q: How did you overlook the cynicism about your prospects?
A: I've always been confident about myself. My goals are very
focused and real. I've really avoided all negativity. I just
wanted to be one of the best, and that's what I'm
working towards. No one comes to the industry to be the
second-best. Not that there's any pressure to excel from my
family. But I've been working with the best talents in
the business like Shah Rukh Khan, Farah Khan, Anubhav Sinha,
Sanjay Dutt...I don't know whether I deserve their support. But
I was a very obedient person. And I followed
the whole senior-junior thing, which is very important in the
industry. I'm still defiant. But not so aggressively as in the
Q: You must have been the spoilt son in a family filled with
A: I don't think I was spoilt. I was sent to boarding school
when I was 11. That changed my whole perspective to life.
Q: Last year you undertook your first world tour.
A: Yes, my Rock Stars concerts. The most important thing about
the stage is it gives you a chance to interact with your fans. I
understand I've a great international market.
I'm told I've considerable crossover appeal. I wanted to go and
see what it was all about - who are these people who are
watching my films? Are they Americans or Indians?
The world tour opened up a whole new vista for me. We covered
three continents. It was nothing like dancing at an awards
function. These international audiences are true
fans. It's not just about live interaction. It's also very
lucrative. If you get into the shows business you can monitor
and check the quantity and quality of your films.
Q: You were one of the junior-most members of the Rock Stars
A: You get to know your colleagues best when you travel and bond
with them. For John Abraham, Shahid Kapoor, Esha Deol and
Mallika Sherawat this was the first
concert. I got along well with Salman (Khan) and Esha (who's an
old friend). The rest were all trying to find their own
bearings. But we'd bond nonetheless. No matter what
they wrote about our rivalry all of us were extremely supportive
of one another. Backstage if someone didn't have a shirt, one of
us would throw it at him. It was a huge
learning experience. The world tour tag strengthened my whole
Q: How has your marriage changed you?
A: I got married in November 2005. Marriage gets you more
focused in life. All the riff-raff are out of your life. It's
like when my friends tell me about their first child. That's how
I feel about marriage. It's like my life isn't my own. Marriage
has become the centre of my moral universe. It has begun to
affect my whole existence....Malaika and I were
going around for 10 years. Very honestly marriage was a social
Q: Do you take her advice?
A: I do take her advice. My wife is a hardcore filmy. She
watches every film. She keeps telling me whom to work with. A
woman's opinion has to be taken seriously.
Q: You still live with your family?
A: We're very closely-knit. We're like those loud Italian
families, eating, talking loudly, interrupting one
another...We're very involved in one another's life. And I don't
any other way.
Q: So when do you stop being the baby of your family?
A: Never, I hope.
Q: You know what I mean?
A: You mean when would a bigger baby than me come? Ha! Okay.
Soon I hope. I'm very fond of children. I've six nephews and
nieces who come home every day. They're
like my own kids. We all live within a two-minute radius.
Q: Hrithik calls your sister Farah Mother Teresa.
A: That she is. Besides other things she's fantastic with her
work. Her jewellery can be compared with any international
label. And she has great business acumen. She's
eight years my senior. She just ordered me to come and I had no
Q: Does Farah bully you?
A: You want to know the truth? All my sisters bully me. I had
shooting on Raksha Bandhan last year. All my sisters agreed to
tie me their rakhi in the night. Susanne
wondered if I could come before shooting. Then I looked at my
other sisters Farah and Simone. And they expected the same. So I
had to get up very early and get the rakhi
tied by all my sisters.
Q: What new films?
A: I've finished Anubhav Sinha's "Cash" where the opening scene
has me surfing bare-chested. I'm toning up my body right now. I
had to stop doing exercises because of
my slipped disc. My right arm grew so weak I couldn't even lift
a glass. That was unnerving because I'm a very physical actor.
But god's great. I've recovered.
Q: You've just revived a project called "Speed".
A: Yeah, it got stalled because during an action sequence I
injured my back. I had a slipped disc and I was out of
circulation for three months, bedridden for 40 days.
Q: What did you do during that time?
A: I started writing. "Rocky" was one of the films where I've
contributed immensely to the screenplay. Shyam Bajaj had the
guts to sign me for a solo-hero film after "Chura
Liya Hai Tumne". I think it is my first baby step into more
screen writing. But no I won't take credit for it. It can't be
all Zayed Zayed Zayed. I want the team to get their
Q: Would you like to direct a film?
A: I wouldn't say no. When I was in the London film school, I
used to edit my friends' scripts and charge them three to four
pounds. That was fun. While seeing other
people's works I also got to hone my skills in creating a graph
and rounding off a screenplay.
Q: You talk like you are 60.
A: Lots of people tell me I'm an old soul. This could be my
seventh life, who knows.
Q: What's the next thing you're looking forward to?
A: A great career, then fatherhood. My baby steps so far have
been satisfactory. I'm very happy with my life, touchwood.
Mundhra plans film on British Muslim cop
By Subhash K. Jha,
Mumbai, April 8 Filmmaker Jagmohan Mundhra is
planning to move quickly into yet another autobiographical film
after "Provoked" and wants to cast Amitabh
Bachchan in the lead role of a British Muslim policeman.
"'Shoot On Sight' is the story of a 55-year-old Muslim cop in
Britain. After 30 years in England, the July 7 terrorist
bombings happen, and the cop's loyalties, priorities and
commitment to the law enforcement agencies in Britain are
questioned," Mundhra told IANS.
"It's a role that takes on both personal and political colours.
The character is modelled on a real-life cop Tariq Gaffoor. And
since it requires someone with a strong, assertive
but sensitive personality, who better equipped to play it than
Bachchan? I'll meet him very shortly."
The film will again take the director into the realm of reality,
like "Kamla", "Bawandar" and "Provoked".
"I love going into lives that have struggled. Sometimes the
struggle is not so successful. This was the case with the
character that Nandita Das played in 'Bawandar'. Her
struggle against oppression failed but it's no less remarkable
than Aishwarya Rai's struggle in 'Provoked'.
"But I guess Ash's character triumphs at the end, hence the
exhilarating impact at Cannes. We went into the real-life
character Kiranjit Ahluwalia's life through the book she
co-wrote with Rahila Gupta. But I found the book wasn't giving
my film the right perspective. So we got Carl Austen in. He got
together with Rahila to re-work the book. We
picked out episodes and lines from the book that were really
Jagmohan is all praise for his leading lady. "Ash is undoubtedly
very beautiful. Beautiful women are more prone to be abused by
men. Ash really worked on her character.
Never flinched from doing the brutal scenes. In fact Ash's agent
from the US, Simone, felt we weren't going far enough with the
brutality. She didn't want the audiences to feel
Ash's beauty was coming in the way of her portrayal of the
trauma...As for Nandita, she's a dear friend and I had promised
her I'd not cast her as a victim this time again
after 'Bawandar'. And I kept my word."
"Provoked" is being praised for its hard-hitting theme.
"One of my predominant concerns was the 'David Versus Goliath'
theme, how this frail village woman from Punjab took on the
British system. I was also interested in the
whole sub-plot about the Southhall sisters (Nandita and company)
getting together to help Kiranjit in her crisis."
The director never felt better. "We worked so hard on 'Provoked'
that I fell ill in the middle of the schedule. But I've started
looking after myself now. I've lost a lot of weight,
want to lose more. I've finally discovered my metier as a
moviemaker. I feel I'm just starting out."
A bumper crop for Bobby Deol
By Subhash K. Jha,
Mumbai, April 8 Get ready for a big dose of Bobby
Deol. He's got six releases lined up for 2007. "That's at least
three more than I generally have in a year," says the
usually laidback actor.
"Am I tired? No, just apprehensive about how people will react
to so many of my films tumbling out all at once. There's a whole
lot coming up for me. I guess I've reason to
be jittery," said Bobby.
"Last year I had virtually no release. Now, I've projects like 'Shaka
Laka Boom Boom', 'Nanhe Jaisalmer', 'Jhoom Baraabar Jhoom',
Abbas-Mustan's and Sivan's films and of
course our family project 'Apne' directed by Anil Sharma. I hope
they're spaced out. But it's not in my hands."
The younger Deol has just returned from shooting in Chandigarh
with Sangeeth Sivan, the director who did the comedy "Kya Kool
Hain Hum". It's an action flick.
"So what's the big deal. Before 'Kya Kool... Sivan did 'Zor'
with my brother Sunny, which was also an action movie," says
Bobby. "We've known each other for a long time.
Like me, he's a softie at heart. But he's good at making action
films too. And I'm doing one after a long time, so it's fun."
Nana Patekar co-stars with Bobby in Sivan's film. "I'd heard so
many stories about him. But he's very easy to work with. And
he's a unique actor. I also worked with Zarina
Wahabji for the first time. She's such a warm person. We had a
Right now, Bobby is anxious about the dark character he's
playing in "Shaka Laka..." which is expected to release first.
"Though I've played the role of a ruthless killer in 'Bicchoo',
'Badal' and 'Soldier' my character in 'Shaka Laka...' is
different. I'm playing a musician who's so much in love with
his music that he's willing to go to any lengths for his
passion. Only at the end of the journey does he realise how
wrong he was."
Bobby is quite fascinated by the "evil" character. "He's like a
small kid who says, 'I want, I want' without realising how
selfish he is. I'm also a child at heart, but I don't have
that mean streak. I like playing people who are not like me."
"Shaka Laka..." has no romantic lead. "The guy's in love with
his music - and only his music. I can't understand that mindset
because I'm in love with so many things.
Besides my work, I love my family, my privacy, food, a
holiday.... In fact I need to take my family out on a holiday
this summer. I wonder if I can get away!"
One person Bobby loved working with was Shaad Ali in "Jhoom
Baraabar Jhoom". "He's such a chilled out guy. He treats
everyone - from actors to spot-boys -equally. I was
very comfortable being directed by him."
The 'soldier' is marching into 2007 with a lot of hopes hanging
on his well-toned shoulders. "The six films are going to
determine my future to some extent."
Kumar Mangat aims for films with a message
New Delhi, April 7 His first production venture "Omkara"
is proclaimed as one of the most intense films of 2006. And
Kumar Mangat wants to continue making films that are different
from the rest, that have some message.
His next is "No Smoking" directed by Anurag Kashyap with John
Abraham, Ayesha Takia, Paresh Rawal and Ranvir Shorey in lead
roles. This will be followed by Rohit Shetty's "Sunday" which
stars his favourite Ajay Devgan along with Arshad Warsi and
Ayesha. The third will be his daughter's launch pad "Haal-e-Dil".
Ajay's brother Anil is wielding the megaphone for the film.
"I want to make zara hatke films. I want my films to have some
message. For example, 'No Smoking' will show that smoking not
only harms the lives of those who are addicted to tobacco but
their families as well," Mangat, who is currently shooting
"Sunday" in Delhi, told IANS.
" 'Sunday' is a film about Delhi and about life here. It's a
crime-thriller with dollops of comedy. I'm planning to release
it in October. We are shooting practically everywhere in the
city. We've shot at Dilli Haat, India Gate, Chandni Chawk,
Connaught Place, Lal Qila, the airport, Pragati Maidan and are
planning to shoot in the metro. We took permission two months
back to shoot in all these places."
His bonding with Ajay is unshakable.
"I've been with Ajay for so many years. He is one of the best
actors in the country and is also one of the best human beings
in the world. When I decided to be a producer, he gave me full
support. He never let me feel that I'm new in this field.
"No, it's not true that he's acting in all my films but he is
like family. Though he isn't working in 'No Smoking' he helped
with the script. I always take a second opinion from Ajay."
In "No Smoking", Mangat was impressed with John's level of
commitment and professionalism.
"When I signed John, I was told he's a little moody but I never
felt it. He was very cooperative. The thing is that actors also
see the attitude of producers. Problems crop up when a producer
fails to give due importance to his project. In that case actors
also take it lightly. The fact is that everybody is looking for
success and if a team is doing a good job than every actor gives
Mangat, who recently launched his daughter's debut film "Haal-e-Dil",
says he never took her passion for films seriously till she
started getting offers from outside. Then he decided to launch
"She was interested in acting since she was a kid but I never
took it seriously. She joined John Matthew in 'Shikhar' as an
assistant and in 'Omkara' she worked as an executive producer.
She took on the responsibility of the entire production work.
She would get up at 4 in the morning and get the entire unit
ready for the shots. It was after 'Omkara' that I started taking
her passion for films seriously."
"Hal-e-Dil" is a triangular love story starring his daughter and
two new actors.
"The entire main cast is new. There are two heroes in the film.
You must have noticed that if a love story is made with new
stars it works. The budget of the film is going to be more than
Rs.100 million. We are going to shoot it lavishly."
Talk veers around to "Omkara", which was lauded all over the
world but didn't get the same recognition on the home front. But
Mangat has no regrets.
"I am more than happy with 'Omkara'. When I released it last
year, Mumbai was flooded. Gujarat, Bihar, all these places were
flooded. So it had an impact on box office figures. But on the
whole, we are more than happy. I'm hugely satisfied after making
'Omkara'. Distributors are happy too."
Mangat says he can't expect more.
"It got four awards in Pakistan and also won trophies in Egypt,
Morocco, Singapore and Malaysia. And people are still inviting
the film across the globe."
Apart from "No Smoking", "Sunday" and "Hal-e-Dil" he is making
two films with Ashwin Dhir.
"One is a comedy with three heroes and is still untitled. The
second is 'Headlights', and is about the media. We are going to
show how the media manipulates news according to its own
The latest trend of corporate players entering into showbiz is a
welcome relief, says Mangat.
"My production company Big Screen has joined hands with Eros
Media. More corporate houses mean more funds. Also, they have
networking in the overseas market, so that also helps. Then they
have their own people and their own vision, which helps in
strategising the marketing and promotional plans. Good marketing
can make a good film better and bad marketing can ruin a good
Randeep Hooda exasperated by lip-lock publicity
By Subhash K. Jha,
Mumbai, April 7 The forthright Randeep Hooda is
incensed by pictures splashed all over showing him locking lips
with Sushmita Sen in the film "Karma Confessions & Holy".
"I'm disgusted by the producers. Surely they've more to bring
the public into the theatres than a kiss between two actors? By
flashing one scene they're just being cheap and undignified in
their promotion. Maybe they need a less cheesy publicity
The last time when a smooching scene featuring Sushmita Sen was
splashed she had blown her top.
"And she should protest against this tacky publicity again. It's
not right," says Randeep.
He isn't aware of the film's release plans. "No one has informed
me. The kissing scenes are part of the film. And I'm not the
least embarrassed about kissing such a gorgeous woman on
But considering how much water has flown under the bridge
between Randeep and Sushmita, there's bound to be certain
awkwardness about the scenes. "We're both professionals. And we
were just doing our job. I'm looking forward to the film. It was
a great experience working with her because of our association
off-screen. It was very funny maintaining a balance between the
rapport on and off screen."
Randeep feels the real-life rapport makes no difference to what
happens on screen. "Once the camera rolls the relationship in,
the script takes over. I go by the guidelines provided by the
script and director."
The actor feels boundaries in cinema have disappeared. "But let
me point out 'Karma Confessions & Holy' isn't a Hollywood film.
It's an independent film made by Rapture Films. According to me,
Hollywood films are those made by the studios in LA... this
independent film gave me a chance to feel very independent."
"Having a slice of the Big Apple was a great experience. In
essence, Mumbai and New York are very similar. I hired a
limousine and travelled all over. I visited every possible
watering hole. I loved the freedom and passion in NY," he added.
Randeep says his sister, who is a doctor and stays in NY, is his
inspiration to become an actor.
The forthright actor continues to be extra-picky about his
roles. "My first film 'Monsoon Wedding' was released in 2000.
Now I'm doing my fifth film 'Risk'. I couldn't bear myself on
screen in 'Monsoon Wedding'. So I took a long sabbatical to
improve myself as an actor. I got involved with theatre.
"I got a strange compliment about my performance, which at that
time I thought to be an insult. A distributor in Venice told me,
'In the entire film you were the only one who didn't seem to be
acting'. I took it as criticism and decided to improve myself,
though in hindsight it seems a compliment."
Is Randeep a sucker for worldly perks? "I go through these
phases where I think all success is so transitory. But the next
day I'm fighting for material things. I need money to encourage
and empower those around me. It's not about owning two cars. I
can only sit in one...Though I do drive around in many cars
these days. It's very therapeutic."
He's on the verge of signing a bunch of new films.
"I just want to make sure which one to go by. Signing is easy.
But would I be able to live with it until its completion? I
don't take up a challenge until I'm up to it. Am I a good
decision-maker? Sometimes it's better to let the decisions be
made for you. I guess I'm childlike and I want the child within
me to remain alive. I'm awed by life. I'm excited and challenged
by life. I've got certain innocence about me that I value. I
watch my two-year old nephew and learn how to live.
"When I was helping Naseeruddin Shah with the staging of Kahlil
Gibran's 'The Prophet', I read a line that has stayed with me.
'If you're looking for God, look at the children playing around
you.' I love children and they love me back."
After 'The Namesake', I seek a better deal: Irrfan Khan
By Subhash K. Jha,
Mumbai, April 7 He has won accolades for his
powerful performance, including in the most recent "The
Namesake", and is recognised as a cerebral actor, but Irrfan
Khan is upset that he continues to be shunned by commercial
"For me it's important to be commercially viable. The
distributors should be willing to pay for my space. I still have
very limited choice... So what's the point of being known as a
good actor when you need to be recognised as commercially
saleable? I want a better deal," Irrfan told IANS in an
And he still regrets having missed out on being a part of Vishal
"At first I had thought I would be in 'Omkara'. In this film
industry you can't start getting possessive about the people you
work with. There's life beyond a film. Sure Vishal has worked
with big stars this time. And why not? Everyone needs to have
their priorities right... I don't want to play the blame game.
It only pulls you down."
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: Where did you disappear after the rousing performance in "Maqbool"?
A: I was away in NY shooting for Mira Nair's "Namesake". I had
to make more of an effort over that role than anything I've done
recently. I had to play an unobtrusive man. When I read the
novel I realised I had to play a man who's almost invisible. It
was very difficult to do. Also I had to play a man who's
approaching old age. That was very disturbing. The reminder that
the body is prone to decay was very discomfiting. I had to keep
reminding my mind and body what lies in store for me. Just
before I joined Mira's unit I had to warm up for 10 days.
Q: How was the experience of working with Mira Nair?
A: It was a roller-coaster ride. She has very strong
convictions. She's very vibrant and has innumerable channels in
her mind operating at the same time. On the first day when I
reached her office I could see Mira was fatigued. But she wasn't
putting off anything. She was supervising everything, including
the colour of the orchids that were to be brought for Tabu who
was arriving in the evening.
Our location was a 90-minute distance from the apartment where
we stayed. Mira used to come at 4 a.m. and ask us all to join
her for yoga. It wasn't compulsory. But we soon warmed up to
doing yoga before shooting. It was very rejuvenating.
Q: How were your vibes with Tabu this time?
A: Very interesting, though not the same as "Maqbool" where we
were very demonstrative in our mutual passion. In "Namesake", we
aren't dying to touch each other. The feelings here are
understated, unspoken and unexpressed. We play a couple beyond
this life. But we never express it. In fact, in one scene she
asks me if I want her to say she loves me. Then she doesn't say
Q: After "Maqbool", any regrets about not being in Vishal
A: At first I had thought I would be in "Omkara". But in this
film industry you can't start getting possessive about the
people you work with. There's life beyond a film. Sure Vishal
has worked with big stars this time. And why not? Everyone needs
to have their priorities right. Vishal needed the budget that
only the stars could afford for him. I don't want to play the
blame game. It only pulls you down. Mumbai city has so many ways
of bringing you down all the time. The best thing is to think
Q: Why does commercial Hindi cinema continue to shun you?
A: I do feel that quite often. For me it's important to be
commercially viable. The distributors should be willing to pay
for my space. I still have very limited choice. Even Mani Ratnam
now makes projects with big stars. Everyone is into it. So
what's the point of being known as a good actor when you need to
be recognised as commercially saleable?
I want a better deal. The Bhatts have taken non-stars and made
them hits. I like working with them. I've the freedom to say no
to them and there's no bitterness about that.
Q: I expected huge things to happen to you internationally after
Asif Kapadia's "Warrior".
A: I thought so too. It should've been made in the English
language. And the way Miramax released the film really killed my
chances. They waited till last year. It was too late for the
film by then. Miramax was on a buying spree. The director Asif
Kapadia saw through the game and he took on Miramax. Now Miramax
has taken pronounced elements from "Warrior" in a new Nicole
Kidman film called "Snow Mountain".
Q: But that's so wrong!
A: When money is a religion, wrong and right don't matter.
Q: Your Bollywood films continue to disappoint?
A: It is. I'm flooded with scripts. But they all disappoint me
after two pages. I only get projects with a budget of 2-3 crore
rupees. They're main leads. But mostly cheap thrillers. I don't
mind doing a 50-lakh film as long as I feel inspired by it.
Q: Jokes aside would you be able to kiss a man on screen?
A: Surely. Why not? Anything for a good role. I want to do roles
that will challenge me as an actor. Besides "Killer" there's a
film called "Deadline" with Konkona Sensharma. I'm also very
excited about new director Kaushik Roy's film. It stars the
Tamil actress Shobhana and me. This is Shobhana's first Hindi
Q: So the beauty and the beast?
A: That's right. It's a film about parenting and what pressures
we put on our children. We've titled it "Buddhi" but I want them
to change it. Who wants to watch a film called "Buddhi"? I'm
also doing Tigmanshu Dhulia's "Ghulami" and his next "Tevar".
I'm eagerly waiting for "Tevar", which is about two brothers. It
has the same rough and rugged feeling as Dhulia's "Haasil" which
was a big moment for me as an actor.
Q: What are you looking forward to now?
A: I want another milestone like "Maqbool", "Warrior", "Haasil"
and "Namesake". It's been a long journey. But I've a long way to
go. I'm happy with life. My wife is writing for Rituparno Ghosh
and Bela Bhansali. I've two kids, aged eight and three. I'm
enjoying watching them grow. No experience can match that.
'Shaka Laka...' embarrasses and disappoints (REVIEW)
By Subhash K. Jha,
Film: "Shaka Laka Boom Boom"; Cast: Bobby Deol, Upen Patel,
Kangana Ranaut, Celina Jaitley; Director: Suneel Darshan;
Strange things happen in this tale of two musicians, who are
absolute megalomaniacs, and their ego clashes.
When Kangana, playing a ping-pong ball to the two, decides to
succumb to the senior musician's sexual advances, she decides to
nearly strip right there in the hallway with the valet looking
down at his feet. We second the valet's emotion.
You watch this laugh triangle with a deep sense of embarrassment
and regret. This could have been the comprehensive film about
the competitiveness that destroys the very core of creativity.
Bobby is the senior musician in "Shaka Laka Boom Boom" who gets
jealous of the smug and cocky new kid on the block played by
The whole ego tussle between the junior and senior musicians
echoes the rivalry between Antonio Salieri and Amadeus Mozart.
The bits and pieces of life's less spoken drama are turned into
a cacophonic celebration of envy and pride, decorated in colours
so garish they could make you blind.
And you could go deaf with all the noise that Himesh Reshammiya,
Viju Shah (background score) and writer Anurag Kashyap hurl at
Surprisingly for a film so steeped in high-drama, there's little
motivation for the characters. The crucial jealousy and rivalry
between the two musicians is dealt within a few lengthy
sequences that are written in the style of random episodes from
long-running soap operas.
Bobby conveys angst in some of the scenes. But most of the time
he's grappling for a graph.
Upen Patel has a strongly written role, but little to match his
embarrassingly high confidence level. He messes up his role with
a double dose of self-confidence.
Kangana Ranaut, who was so watchable in her earlier films, looks
shockingly lost and washed-out here. Wrong make-up, wrong
motivations and wrong film lady!
Celina Jaitley, playing a journalist who sleeps with anyone she
writes about, appears almost brain dead.
The marginal characters include Bobby's two sidekicks Asrani and
Vivek Vaswani, and his music baron boss Dalip Tahil.
Suneel Darshan probably means well but ends up creating a ritzy
mess of the film.
India's World Cup debacle boon for 'Namastey London'
By Subhash K. Jha,
Mumbai, April 7 Director Vipul Shah must be one of
the very few Indians happy with our cricket team's poor show at
the World Cup - it enabled his "Namastey London" to fare better
at the box office.
The release date of Namastey London coincided with a critical
World Cup match that "did affect our film initially", says Shah.
"But the film opened well. I couldn't push my film to the end of
the World Cup because Yashraj Films would be releasing 'Tara Rum
Pum' on April 27, followed by a spate of Yashraj Films. Where
would I have taken my film among these big films? However, once
India's verdict at the World Cup was out we had nothing to
Vipul Shah is all praise for the London crew.
"As far as talent is concerned, we don't lag behind. I don't
think our Ravi K. Chandran is any less talented as London-based
cameraman Jonathan Bloom. But we really need to learn from their
way of working.
"The whole crew had a script and each member of the unit knew
what was to be done. Everyone went on location together, and all
the time on camera was spent directing the actors instead of
wasting time in getting shots and scenes organised. That kind of
collaboration needs to be brought to Mumbai."
'Provoked' belongs to Aishwarya (REVIEW)
By Subhash K. Jha,
Film: "Provoked"; Cast: Aishwarya Rai, Naveen Andrews, Miranda
Richardson, Robbie Coltrane, Nandita Das; Director: Jagmohan
Mundhra; Writer: Carl Austen & Rahila Gupta; Music Director: A.R.
Rahman; Ratings: ***
In Irish novelist Roddy Doyle's "The Woman Who Walked Into
Doors", the battered wife Paula keeps justifying her bruises by
saying she as a habit walks into closed doors and hurts herself.
The battered wife Kiranjit Ahluwalia in Jagmohan Mundhra's
jolting exposé on domestic values never gets a chance to walk in
or out of that closed London door where she lives with her
brutal husband. She chooses her husband's death over her own
It's amazing how the true-life Kiranjit found freedom by setting
her abusive husband on fire. In one of the film's most
sensitively delineated dialogues, Kiranjit says to her rather
overly benign prison-mates, "I've never felt freer in my life."
What sort of trauma would it take for a woman to feel free in
"Provoked" answers the complicated question of domestic
disharmony with a deft and direct approach to the question of a
woman's place in the man's 'scream' of things.
The intermittent flashbacks showing Kiranjit's spousal
nightmare, cut deep and hard into the narrative. Full credit to
Aishwarya Rai for plunging deep into a part that she plays from
True, at times she looks too pretty to be ravaged. But the
vulnerable, fragile, little-girl-lost quality in her personality
works to great advantage in portraying the spouse-burning victim
as a woman scorned beyond endurance.
There're moments in the narrative where Aishwarya melts your
heart like an ice-cream cone left out in the sun for too long.
Madhu Ambat's cinematography is so sweeping in its specificity
that it creates a spatial bond between the protagonist's heart
and her hostile-to-compassionate surroundings.
Mundhra and Sanjay Mirajkar have edited the harsh material with
extreme economy of expression. The film moves mercilessly
forward leaving no room for a breather.
Among the unforgettable sequences, count the one where the stern
lady constable asks Kiranjit to take off her jewellery and
clothes. Kiranjit pleads in hushed anguish, "Never take clothes
off in front of husband."
Aishwarya's inherent inhibitions give the character a mocking
edge. How could this tender woman set her husband on fire?
Imagine the levels of torture she must have suffered!
Blessedly, we are shown only fragments of Kiranjit's trauma.
Director Mundhra makes sure they are enough scenes to make us
wince without making our stomachs churn.
Cleverly but tenderly formatted as a thriller-in-flashback,
"Provoked" opens with the burning figure of Deepak Ahluwalia (Naveen
Andrews) running screaming out of his house. Mundhra moves
smoothly backwards into events leading to this gruesome
Female bonding has always been a favourite theme in Mundhra's
films - remember Shabana Azmi and Deepti Naval in "Kamla? In
"Provoked" the bond that develops between Kiranjit and her
cellmate Veronica, played by Vanessa Redgrave's daughter Miranda
Richardson with supreme cheer, is remarkably well tuned to the
sisters'-solidarity theme that forms the narrative's backbone.
Nandita Das is also in fine form as a spunky 'sister' activist
holding up a torch for the torched husband's tortured wife.
Every actor in the smallest role gets it right and bright.
Naveen Andrews's despicable brutality as the husband makes your
skin crawl, as it's meant to.
But the film clearly belongs to Aishwarya. She gets a grip on
her character Kiranjit's predicament with a fluid grace, her
large eyes brimming over with untold grief as she pleads with
her lawyers, "Please let me see my children."
Alok Nath wishes he could play a wicked character
By Subhash K. Jha,
Mumbai, April 6 The wonderfully talented and natural
actor Alok Nath has come a long way since his amazingly
successful role as Masterji in Ramesh Sippy's TV series "Buniyaad",
but not far enough.
"I agree with you when you say I deserved a lot more. But this
is what destiny had in store for me. And I'm happy to do the
work that I get on television. Of course, not all of it is
commendable. But one can't blame anybody for the standards on
television. The home viewing medium is the essence of
middleclass entertainment. I'm very happy with the work I'm
doing on television," Alok told IANS.
The actor, however, regrets being typecast.
"The problem in both cinema and television is, an actor gets
slotted in a particular character... Once I made a mark in the
hearts of the audience as the patriarch, I continued playing
While Aneeta Kanwar refused to be typecast as the matriarch
after "Buniyaad", Alok couldn't do the same.
"She had the guts to walk out of the entertainment industry. I
didn't. It wasn't easy for me to support a family on my own
terms. So I made career compromises, and I'm not ashamed of it.
One has to bow down to opportunities. If one fights the system
one is taken to be arrogant."
For a while there was talk of Alok's arrogant behaviour.
"Some unfortunate incidents did happen during 'Tara'. But these
controversies didn't damage my career. In fact, they added that
little bit of spice and helped in my efforts to change my image
from Masterji in 'Buniyaad' to the modern city-guy in 'Tara'.
But soon after, producers went back to offering me the role of a
goody, goody father. That's the role I get. What to do?"
In cinema Alok is struggling to hold up his head.
"The father roles that I did in films are being offered to
younger more trendy actors. I've done enough films. And I don't
mean to sound defeatist, but I've stopped fighting the system.
Ultimately, this is my bread and butter. I've no regrets."
He admits films are a disappointment.
"I've an interesting though small role in Mani Shankar's 'Mukhbiir'.
Shankar has the vision to cast me against my popular image as a
retired underworld don. In fact, he has cast a talented newcomer
Sammir Dattani in the central role. We need more directors with
such guts. I enjoyed doing 'Mukhbiir'. But in Rajshri's 'Vivah'
I again played the sweet father."
Television still gives Alok the space he wants.
"I get lengthy and meaty roles and I'm allowed to work on my own
terms. I'm doing the serial 'Sanskar' for Doordarshan which
Chander Behl has directed. Though I play the father again, he
isn't submissive. My character gets to fight the world to defend
his family. I'm enjoying playing a dad who has his values in
place but is nonetheless a modern man."
He's also in the Rajshri Productions TV series "Woh Rehnne Waali
"Again I play an ideal father. I wish I could play a wicked
character. But no one wants to cast me in that light. I wish I
was as good in real life as I'm constantly made to be on
Alok has often been compared with the late Sanjeev Kumar and the
actor is, of course, flattered by the comparison.
"Sanjeev Kumar was a great actor. My career did take off in
cinema to an extent. But it didn't reach a stage where roles
were specially written for me. The cinema and television mediums
changed. I was too busy trying to grapple with the changed
reality on both the mediums to care about the content of my
Kangana missed a chance to be Amitabh's Lolita
By Subhash K. Jha,
Mumbai, April 6 If all had gone well, Kangana Ranaut
would've been Amitabh Bachchan's Lolita long before Ram Gopal
Varma thought of it.
"I was supposed to do a Lolita-like subject with Amitabh for
Pahlaj Nihalani. Then they told me Naseerji (Shah) was supposed
to replace Amitabh. But Pahlajji was in a hurry and wasn't
willing to wait for Naseer. Then I was told Govinda would do
Lolita with me. The hero kept changing. I finally returned the
signing amount and moved on," Kangana told IANS.
She is upset with the fact that the long buried issue is once
again making headlines.
"Suddenly that dead project has been brought up again in the
press, as though I had done something dirty. What was the need
to shame me for a film that I had signed and backed out
properly? I feel it was a deliberate attempt to embarrass me."
Things couldn't look up any more for the plucky and frank
"Gangster" girl. In just about six months since her startling
debut, Kangana did one more central character of a traumatised
girl in "Woh Lamhe" and trotted off to Johannesburg to shoot her
first masala film "Shakalaka Boom Boom" with Suneel Darshan that
And that isn't all. She has just clinched a three-movie deal
"From Anurag Basu to Suneel Darshan is a long way, isn't it? I'm
having so much fun," she screamed with characteristic
Johannesburg was fun. "When I did 'Gangster', I didn't even
realise what I was doing. I did whatever the director said. And
I was like a part of the unit, helping out in whatever way I
could. Here in Suneelji's film I was treated like a star."
In "Shakalaka Boom Boom", Kangana plays this chic stunner who
gets caught between the ego of a music badshah, played by Bobby
Deol, and his protégé Upen Patel.
"I loved letting my hair down, loved the dancing, plus the
performing scope. It's a Bollywood film. But it gives me a lot
Kangana says she has become used to playing the central
"Both 'Gangster' and 'Woh Lamhe' featured me in central roles.
Even in 'Shakalaka Boom Boom' I'm no walkover. I'm central to
the plot. I feel very satisfied with my progress. To take up
such challenging roles at such an initial stage of my career is
a big challenge for me.
"I don't know how I'll respond to a role where I just have to
stand around looking pretty and dumb. During 'Gangster' I
wondered why I had to scream and shout while my co-stars Emraan
(Hashmi) and Shiney (Ahuja) were doing their jobs quietly. In 'Shakalaka
Boom Boom' I've a much quieter role. I've to emote through the
eyes. Even my look has changed completely."
For the first time Kangana got the full glam treatment.
"I play a very glamorous character. I had Manish Malhotra do my
clothes. I'd like to believe Manish has transformed me just as
he transformed Karisma (Kapoor) and Urmila (Matondkar). I'm not
the kind of actress who accentuates her mouth and eyes with
makeup. I go for the natural look.
"I feel I look very soft, glamorous, vulnerable and innocent in
'Shakalaka Boom Boom'. I've straightened out my hair. You won't
recognise me. I've never felt I looked good. But in 'Shakalaka
Boom Boom' I do."
She describes her co-star Bobby as "out of the world".
"He's so down-to-earth and so willing to help a newcomer like me
although he's such a big star. Luckily, both Bobby and Upen are
tall. I had no issues about shoes. I could wear high heels
without feeling guilty."
She's all set for the release of Anurag Basu's next.
" 'Metro' has an ensemble cast. To be honest, I like the thought
of not shouldering a film. It's nice to have talented co-stars
like Shilpa Shetty, Shiney, Konkona (Sen Sharma), K.K. Menon. I
got to learn so much from them, just as I've learnt from Bobby.
Even the way he glances at his mirror shows how professional he
She sighs. "I think unintentionally I've taken on too much work.
Now I'm going to slow down. I want to give my hundred percent to