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BOLLYWOOD | Guftugu:

Aishwarya Outshines Khans in Forbes List | Shah Rukh Says He is Fine After Surgery | Amitabh Honored at FICCI Indian Film Academy Event | What the F***? | Shooting Okayed | Remaking ‘A Wednesday’ | Hollywood is Better | Actor Assaulted

Aishwarya Outshines Khans in Forbes List


Aishwarya in “Guru.”

Slumdog Millionaire may be the toast of the season with its bouquet of Oscar nominations, but Aishwarya Rai has emerged as the most bankable star from India in Hollywood and has been ranked even more valuable than the Khans of Bollywood in a new Forbes magazine list.

Rai is among half a dozen Bollywood actors on the list of “Hollywood’s Most Valuable Actors,” compiled by the American publication known for its rankings of the world’s richest persons.

Other Indians on the list include Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Irrfan Khan and Hrithik Roshan.

Although at 387th position in the global list of as many as 1,411 actors from across the world, Rai is ranked highest among all the Indian actors and is the only female actor from the country having made to this elite club.

Besides six actors from India, the list also includes Indian American actor Kal Penn, who has starred in movies like The Namesake. At 476th position, Penn is ranked higher than all the Bollywood actors except Aishwarya Rai, who stars in the new Hollywood venture, The Pink Panther 2.

Among male Bollywood actors, Aamir is ranked highest at 540th in the global list, followed by Shah Rukh (735th), Salman (753rd), Irrfan Khan (825th) and Hrithik Roshan (1059th).

The global list, topped by Hollywood actor Will Smith, is based the bankability of actors around the world, as voted by members of the global entertainment industry, Forbes said.

The rankings are based on scores given to more than 1,400 working actors globally by the industry people on a scale of zero-to-ten, in terms of their bankability to ensure the financial success of film projects.

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Shah Rukh Says He is Fine After Surgery


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

Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who underwent a successful shoulder surgery here, was discharged from hospital Feb. 17 and said he was feeling fine but would take some rest and take care of his kids’ studies.

“I am fine...but I will be taking rest for three weeks,” he told reporters in suburban Bandra after he was discharged from Breach Candy Hospital, where he underwent the surgery to repair the tear in his left shoulder muscle Feb. 16 after he returned from London where he attended the premiere of his latest home production Billu.

Shah Rukh also said he would be travelling to watch Twenty20 cricket matches. “I don’t watch my own movies,” he said in a reply to another query. “I will take care of my children’s studies in my rest period,” he said.

Shoulder specialist Dr Sanjay Desai, who performed the operation on the 43-year-old actor-producer, told PTI that Shah Rukh had recovered well and so was discharged. “Shah Rukh has resumed his normal diet and had a sound sleep.”

The actor, with his left hand in a sling, looked cheerful and waved at fans and photographers waiting outside the hospital.

He had injured himself on the sets of Dulha Mil Gaya last November and continued shooting for Karan Johar’s My Name is Khan in Los Angeles for 45 days at a stretch during which he experienced severe pain.

He was told by his doctors last month about the urgency to get the tear in the main muscle of his left shoulder fixed. He decided to undergo the operation after release of Billu.

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Amitabh Honored at FICCI Indian Film Academy Event


Amitabh in “Last Lear.”

Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan was among the top 10 Bollywood personalities to be felicitated with the first FICCI-IIFA (International Indian Film Academy) Awards for the Most Powerful Entertainers of the Decade.

The awards function which was held here Feb. 17 night to commemorate the 10th anniversary of FICCI-FRAMES and IIFA saw Bachchan and actresses Kareena Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Preity Zinta and Shilpa Shetty collecting their trophies while the other winners Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar, Aishwarya Rai and Hrithik Roshan did not make it.

The evening also witnessed the presentation of the FICCI-USIBC (US-India Business Council) Award to Hollywood actor and leading social activist Danny Glover and to Congressman John Lewis.

Speaking on the occasion, Bachchan recalled that he had completed 40 years in show business Feb. 5.

“I am happy at being a part of the film industry which is a symbol of national integration,” he said.

When Danny referred to Bachchan as the greatest actor in the world, an apparently embarrassed Bachchan thanked him for the compliment.

Later in his blog, Bachchan wrote if there was space beneath his chair, he would have disappeared in there.

Actor-producer Danny Glover has a commanding presence on screen, stage and television for more than 25 years. As an actor, his film credits range from the blockbuster Lethal Weapon franchise to smaller independent features, some of which he himself had produced. The actor also gained respect for his wide-reaching community activism and philanthropic efforts.

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What the F***?


Indian rapper Hard Kaur

The name says it all. With a name like Hard Kaur, you’re asking for trouble, and that’s exactly what a club in India got when it invited the Indian rapper to perform.

Kaur was a bit under the influence, and started cussing. Now this being a club where the audience was largely Punjabi, listeners were not impressed.

After all, who wants to pay good money to listen to cussing?

Kaur, totally drunk interspersed her cussing with brief bursts of singing, rather than the other way round.

As is typical in Punjabi cussing, Kaur was soon suggesting that audience members were having carnal relations with their near and dear ones.

But hey, this was a Punjabi crowd, so after a few polite requests, they gave back as they got.

Club manager Bhavik Bhatt tried to put a positive spin on the fracas. “I heard words like ‘f*** you’ etc.,” he said. “But that’s normal, you can’t call that abusing, she was just being naughty on the floor.”

Naughty indeed.

When told that audience members had a different story to tell, Bhatt backtracked.

“I know she’s capable of messing up a party. She said too much on the mike, when people were there to listen to music. Most of the people who were present last night requested me not include her in any of our future events. Now we are definitely not going to call her for our events, even though she’s very popular and can draw crowds.”

Now that makes sense. Hard luck, Hard Kaur!

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Shooting Okayed


Salman and Priyanka in “God Tussi Great Ho.”

Six days after ordering Bollywood star Salman Khan to pack-up filming Veer at Amber Fort in Jaipur, the Rajasthan High Court Feb. 19 softened its stand by allowing him to complete the shooting in four days after paying Rs. 2 million as damages for the harm caused to the protected monument.

The court, which had slammed state officials for their “greed” and “madness” that had created havoc at the 16th century monument during the filming earlier, said the Rs 2 million compensation would also include compensation for 15 people injured in a wall collapse in the fort during the shooting Feb. 12.

The order was passed by a division bench of Acting Chief Justice R.C. Gandhi and Justice M.N. Bhandari.

While putting a stop to the filming Feb. 13 after taking cognizance of media reports, the court had said, “Unfortunately, not only the public but especially the concerned authorities have become blind, deaf and dumb in the glitter of money. In recent past, historical protected monuments have become commercial source of income.”

Justices Gandhi and Bhandari also directed the superintendent of Amber Fort, Zafarullah, to keep a watch against any damage to the fort and monitor the activities of the crew during the four days time granted to finish the shooting.

The order came on the plea of the film producer, Vijay Dalani, seeking resumption of shooting of the film featuring state Tourism Minister Bina Kak besides Bollywood star Salman Khan.

The court also lifted curbs slapped on the media on publication of any report on its proceedings over the issue. The curbs were imposed Feb. 18 on a petition filed by the film producer.

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Remaking ‘A Wednesday’


Tamil super star Kamal Haasan

Bollywood actor-filmmaker Kamal Haasan is all set to play Naseeruddin Shah’s role in A Wednesday which will be remade in Tamil and Telugu.

Malayalam superstar Mohanlal will enact Anupam Kher’s character in the bilingual film.

Both the versions will be produced by Kamal himself and would be directed by Chakri, a U.S.-based filmmaker and a good friend of the actor.

The actor was at the FICCI Frames convention recently to speak on “Focus South.” He said he and Mohanlal wanted to work with each other for a long time.

Kamal said there was nothing wrong in remaking a good idea.

“I had remade Govind Nihalani’s Drohakaal in Tamil a few years ago,” he said adding that the film will go on floors very soon.

Kamal said he had liked A Wednesday very much. “A friend of mine who watched the film told me that I suited Naseer’s role very much and should have done the film. So I decided to remake it,” he said.

When asked what preparations he would make to perform the role, Kamal said: “Naseer has already done my homework. I have now only to perform.”

Kamal, who completes 50 years in the film industry next year, said he is a reluctant actor. “I always wanted to become a technician. But, filmmakers like K. Balachander persuaded me saying that I will not make much money. Now, I feel star Kamal is the financier of technician Kamal,” he said.

On joining politics, Kamal said he had no core competence to become a politician. “Just because many film personalities have entered politics, it does not justify my entry.”

“If you consider politics as an alternative business, it is dangerous for the country. M.G. Ramachandran (MGR), M. Karunanidhi and J. Jayalalithaa came to politics not just out of ambition. They had the experience and training of studying under great personalities, MGR under Annadurai and Karunanidhi under Annadurai and Periyar,” he said.

He admitted that lack of communication among regional film industries in the country was a tragedy. He said finding parochial cracks and driving a wedge within different sections of the industry is a bad trend. “Chennai or Mumbai is just an address, I am an Indian actor-filmmaker.”

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Hollywood is Better


Bickram Ghosh (l) with Pete Lockett

After working with Pete Lockett, the music composer of James Bond films, in his new album, top Indian percussionist Bickram Ghosh is now looking forward to a future in Hollywood.

Ghosh’s latest album “The Kingdom of Rhythm,” which is poised for release this month, features Lockett who has composed the background score for many Bond films.

Hollywood is a better place to be in as a percussionist as you get recognition there. In Bollywood that doesn’t happen,” he told PTI.

Citing the example of Lockett, he said, “Pete plays on the Bond soundtracks and gets screen credit which does not happen in India.”

Ghosh shot to limelight after he worked in Pandit Ravi Shankar’s album “Full Circle” that won the Grammy Award for 2004.

Known for his collaborations with international musicians, including ex-Beatle George Harrison, Yosi Levy, Ilan Salem, Khaled Kouen and Mstilav Rostropovich, Ghosh also played for Harrison’s Grammy nominated album “Brainwashed.”

He is the first tabla maestro-ever to be offered an endorsement by Remo, the biggest drum-heads company in the world.

Explaining why he prefers Hollywood, Ghosh said, “Hollywood’s music is background-score driven while it is song-driven in Bollywood. In India we are still to take the background very seriously. However, this is changing.”

“Here, if you play background music, you remain in the background forever,” he said.

Asked if he is now looking forward to working in Hollywood films, he said, “Yes, if the offer is good.”

Ghosh has composed music for Little Zizou, an upcoming Mira Nair production that stars Boman Irani and John Abraham. He has collaborated with guitarist Modarelli for the movie.

He is now working on the score for a mystery thriller in Hindi based on a Sherlock Holmes story, The Diamond Murders.

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Actor Assaulted

Actor Rajan Varma was allegedly assaulted in suburban Goregaon Feb. 12 by two unidentified men who objected to his playing the role of Ajmal Kasab in a film based on the 26/11 attacks, police said.

“The actor was told that whatever he was doing was not right and he should stop it immediately. His vehicle’s rear pane was damaged,” senior police inspector of Malad M. Rathod told PTI.

“We are recording his statement and are in the process of registering a complaint,” Rathod said. According to police, Varma was heading for shooting Feb. 12 morning from his residence in Goregaon to a studio in Aarey colony when two unknown persons stopped his vehicle. “They threatened me not to do the film. Apprehending risk, I immediately rolled up the window pane. I heard a bang as my rear pane was damaged by them,” Varma said. “I do not know who they are. After the incident I immediately rushed to the Malad police station,” Varma claimed.

“The shooting of ‘Total Ten’ in which I am playing Kasab’s role is going on for a couple of months,” Varma said.

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COVER STORY
Bangla Festival: NABC 2009
The 29th North American Bengali Conference will bring together some of the top Bangla artists from West Bengal and Bangladesh. A Siliconeer report.


CULTURE
Memories of Holi:
Festival of Love

Poet and folklorist Ved Prakash Vatuk reminisces about a time in his childhood when Holi in the village was a colorful, culturally rich time of celebration.


SUBCONTINENT
Who Wants to be PM?
Tomorrow’s Leader

Rahul Gandhi, Mayawati and Narendra Modi are leading contenders to be the next prime minister in India, writes Priyanka Bhardwaj.



ENTERTAINMENT
81st Annual Academy Awards
A Siliconeer Exclusive Photo Essay



ENTERTAINMENT
IIFA Awards 2008
A Siliconeer Exclusive Photo Essay


OTHER STORIES
EDITORIAL: Celebrating Bangla
AWARDS: ‘Slumdog’ Slam Dunk
NEWS DIARY: February
SUBCONTINENT: India’s Gas Boost
HEALTH: Battling Heart Disease
COMMUNITY: Remembering Ekushey
CINEMA: Asian American Film Fest
ESSAY: Stage-managed Feminism
TRAVEL: France, Morocco
AUTO REVIEW: 2009 Toyota Venza
BOLLYWOOD: Review: Billu
BOLLYWOOD: Guftugu
RECIPE: Vegetable Jalfrezie
TAMIL CINEMA: Siva Manasula Sakthi
COMMUNITY: News in Brief
INFOTECH INDIA: Tech Briefs
HOROSCOPE: March

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