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Aishwarya Rai Bachchan to Contest Elections? | ‘Ghajini’ Earns Rs 1 Billion Net | Living Her Dream | Truce Over Spoof | Marry-Go-Round | Top Grosser | Complaint against ‘Slumdog’ | Tourism Campaign

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan to Contest Elections?


Aishwarya in “Sarkar Raj.”

After “Munna Bhai” Sanjay Dutt, it could be the turn of Aishwarya Bachchan to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha polls as a Samajwadi Party candidate. SP workers and leaders in Bihar have decided to offer Ash the party ticket for the Madhepura seat against Janata Dal-United (JD-U) national president Sharad Yadav, a party official said. In view of the overwhelming demand of the party workers, the SP Bihar parliamentary board has recommended Ash’s name to party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Senior party leader Tulsi Singh said that a large number of party workers and people had requested him to convince Mulayam Singh to give the party ticket to Aishwarya from Madhepura. Singh is chairman of the party’s state parliamentary board.

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Ghajini’ Earns Rs 1 Billion Net


Aamir Khan in “Ghajini.”

Box office hit “Ghajini,” starring Bollywood star Aamir Khan, has raked in over Rs. 1.04 billion net collections nationwide in the first 23 days since its release, besides an overseas collection of about $1.5 million (approximately Rs. 7 crore).

Stating this in an affidavit in the Madras High Court Jan. 27, C.H. Ravikumar, director of Geetha Arts that produced the Hindi version of the Tamil film, said the estimated collection details were from the film’s distributors in India (theatrical) for the period Dec. 24-Jan. 15 and overseas distributors Dec. 24 – Dec. 31.

The overseas collection came from about 20 countries, including those in the Gulf, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Mauritius, South Africa, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Hong Kong and Sri Lanka, the affidavit said.

On Dec. 24, a division bench had stayed a single judge’s interim order directing the producers not to show the film scheduled for release on the Christmas day on a petition by proprietor of Sri Saravana Creations’ A. Chandrasekaran who claimed that the firm alone had the sole rights over the film.

Chandrasekaran had produced “Ghajini” in Tamil.

The bench had directed Geetha Arts to deposit Rs. 5 crore with the court registry and to furnish a statement of accounts relating to the collections at theatres and other amounts received in connection with the release of the film.

When the matter came up before Justices D. Murugesan and M. Satyanarayanan Jan. 27 evening, they posted it for hearing Feb. 5 for filing of objections. 

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Living Her Dream


Freida Pinto in “Slumdog Millionaire.”

The unexpected recognition for Freida Pinto of Slumdog Millionaire fame has prompted her TV producer sister to insist that she had the makings of a star since childhood.

“I always knew she wanted to do something in front of the camera. As a child she would stand in front of the mirror and imitate actors. She would stick photos up in her room of actors and actresses she liked,” Mirror Online quoted her elder sister Sharon as saying.

She said Freida” is taking it as something surreal and is going ga ga over the whole experience.

“She’s a real Mumbai girl. The other day she called me up from Los Angeles, all excited, and told me to switch on the TV. And there she was at the Golden Globes with Shah Rukh Khan! I was so proud of her,” her sister said.

This English graduate from St Xavier’s was also involved with theatre and has done several ad films, Sharon said.

“Against the odds, and after nearly six months of auditions she eventually won the part in which she plays the love interest of Dev Patel’s Jamal,” she said proudly.

This Sushmita Sen fan is climbing the ladder of fame and the 10 Oscar nominations her movie has earned are testimony to that.

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Truce Over Spoof


Shah Rukh Khan in “Billu Barber.”

Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan met veteran actor Manoj Kumar for an out-of-the-court settlement regarding the cases filed against him in connection with the spoof in his home production Om Shanti Om.

Kumar called him to his residence to discuss withdrawal of the court cases, Shah Rukh told reporters here Jan. 27 night.

“He told me that he was elder to me and was forgiving me for the mistake committed. I and director Farah Khan had sought forgiveness from him several times for our mistake,” he said.

“The spoof in the film was not with an intention to belittle him or hurt him. He told me that he would not like to carry on the burden of the court cases,” Shah Rukh said.

Kumar had dragged Shah Rukh to court for not honoring the promise of deleting the sequence in the film that shows security guards of a movie theatre beating him up after he displays a driving license showing his photo in his trade mark style covering the face with his palm.

The veteran, who has produced and directed several patriotic films earning him the title “Bharat Kumar,” had asked Shah Rukh to withdraw the scene to which director Farah Khan and he as the producer of the film agreed.

But the scene continued to be a part of the film and before its television premiere Kumar filed a case against Shah Rukh.

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Marry-Go-Round


Sushmita seen here with Mudassar.

After meeting her parents in Kolkata in December, it seems that fiancé Mudassar Aziz wants to take his relationship with Sushmita Sen to the next level. We hear that the director proposed marriage to the actress recently.

Our source said, “Mudassar wanted to formalize his relationship with Sushmita. Mudassar was initially in awe of Sushmita, which turned into fondness and gradually the two hit it off very well. Sushmita too is very fond of Mudassar. However, she has chosen to be non-commital on the marriage front. Maybe she is not prepared for it as yet.”

Mudassar had confided in close friends that if it was in his hands he would make all his films with Sushmita playing the lead. “Even the script that Mudassar is penning down currently is being written keeping Sushmita in mind,” said our source.

Though Sushmita has had her share of relationships in the past, it may be recalled that Mudassar was the only one she took to Kolkata to meet her family.

When contacted, Mudassar said, “The day I get married I will scream from the rooftop.” We then asked him if he had proposed marriage to Sushmita Sen, he replied, “Not true!”

Sushmita, true to her non-commital policy, did not reply to messages.

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Top Grosser


Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka in “Rab Ne Bana De Jodi.”

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, which released worldwide Dec. 12, has grossed a phenomenal Rs. 180 crore worldwide till date and has broken all previous box-office records for Yash Raj Films, as well as become the highest-grossing Shah Rukh Khan film till date.

The film was released at an extremely precarious time, just after the terror attacks in Mumbai. Amidst uncertain consumer sentiments and apprehensions from the trade regarding market conditions at the time, the film has achieved an unparalleled box-office run against all odds. Moreover, the film had to further contend with the record-breaking onslaught of Ghajini Dec. 25, despite which it has continued unabated and endured a hugely successful run in its third, fourth and fifth weeks, and promises to carry on in the same vein.

The total collections of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi for the first five weeks in India are Rs. 83 crore net (with gross collections of close to Rs. 140 crore). The film has thus surpassed Yash Raj Films’ previous highest grosser, Dhoom: 2, which collected Rs. 80.6 crore net across its entire run in India and is considered as one of the highest-grossing films of all time. “Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi” has also comfortably surpassed the collections of two of the biggest hits of the last two years, Singh Is Kinng and Om Shanti Om, and is now second only to “Ghajini” in terms of all-time India net collections.

The film also leads among all 2008 films overseas. The total gross collections for all overseas markets are $8 million (around Rs. 40 crore), making Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi the highest-grossing film of the year, ahead of both Ghajini and Singh Is Kinng. In the U.K., it has grossed close to £1.5 million till date, which makes it the biggest hit of the last two years in this market. In the Middle East, it grossed a staggering $2.25 million till date, making it the highest-grossing film of all-time in this region by a huge margin. The film has also achieved a box-office gross of $2.1 million till date in the U.S. and has also enjoyed a grand box-office performance across all other overseas markets, such as Australia, Europe, Africa, and Asia, and ranks as the highest grosser of the year across these regions. The above facts and figures are courtesy Yash Raj Films.

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi has evoked a sensational response from audiences all over the world, which is clearly reflected in its record-breaking collections, and continues to win hearts across the globe as it goes forward from strength to strength,” Yash Raj Films said in a release.

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Complaint against ‘Slumdog’


Dev Patel and Anil Kapoor in “Slumdog Millionaire.”

A rightwing Hindu outfit has filed complaints against the producer, writers and directors of Slumdog Millionaire, alleging the Oscar-nominated film shows Indian culture in bad light and has hurt religious sentiments of a particular community.

Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, in its complaints, has accused producer Christian Colson, writers Simon Beaufoy and Vikas Swarup and directors Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan of “hurting religious sentiments.”

“The movie has shown Lord Rama and the Indian Culture in poor light thus hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus,” HJS spokesman Jayesh Thali said.

The HJS has filed three different police complaints in the cities of Panaji, Mapusa and Margao in India’s western coastal state of Goa.

The outfit’s sympathizer Nanda Nagvekar from Margao has lodged a complaint at the local police station, while two other complaints were filed by the organization itself.

“These complaints have demanded that the police take immediate action against the offenders as per the provisions of law, and ban the screening of the film in the jurisdiction of the respective police stations,” Thali said.

Earlier on January 26, the HJS had demonstrated against the movie at INOX theatre here.

A week before their demonstration, Shiv Sena had attacked the multiplex demanding immediate withdrawal of the movie and 12 Shiv Sainiks were arrested in this connection. 

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Tourism Campaign


Aamir Khan against a backdrop of Taj Mahal.

Donning a new hat, Bollywood actor Aamir Khan will now be seen asking countrymen not to misbehave with foreign tourists and deface monuments as part of the Tourism Ministry’s social awareness campaign.

Aamir will appear in TV commercials, national dailies and also on the Internet as part of the domestic ad campaign of “Atithi Devo Bhavah,” tourism secretary Sujit Banerjee said.

The campaign consists of two TV commercials — one sensitizing against misbehavior with foreign tourists and the other against garbage and graffiti at tourist sites.

In the 60-second first commercial, the “Ghajini” star appointed brand ambassador of the ministry’s “Atithi Devo Bhavah” campaign, advocates friendly behavior towards tourists saying it is a “matter of national honor.”

The second commercial, of 40 seconds duration, shows Khan asking people not to dump garbage and put up graffiti on monuments. The ad has been shot at the Kanheri caves in Mumbai.

The script of the advertisements have been written by Prasoon Joshi and directed by Rakeysh Mehra of Rang De Basanti fame.

The ministry also launched an interactive Web site with Aamir seeking participation of visitors to stand up against misbehavior with tourists and stop people from defacing the monuments and littering at tourist sites.

Posters will also be put up at various strategic points in cities to make the campaign a complete integrated program which will eventually turn into a mass movement, said Banerjee.

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COVER STORY
Cultural Terrorism:
The Growing Threat of Intolerance

India, and for that matter the whole world, appears to be drifting towards bigotry and intolerance, laments poet and folklorist Ved Prakash Vatuk.


SUBCONTINENT
Hunt for Energy:
China Edges India

India and China are both eager for economic growth and India’s giant neighbor seems to have an edge in the hunt for energy, writes Siddharth Srivastava.


MIDDLE EAST
Tragedy in Gaza:
Israel’s Indefensible War

To understand Israel’s unconscionable behavior in Gaza, you have to understand its history, writes historian Avi Shlaim.



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IIFA Awards 2008
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AUTO REVIEW: 2009 Ford Flex
BOLLYWOOD: Chandni Chowk to China
BOLLYWOOD: Guftugu
RECIPE: Tutti Frutti Sandesh
TAMIL CINEMA: Villu
COMMUNITY: News in Brief
INFOTECH INDIA: Tech Briefs
HOROSCOPE: February

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