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BOLLYWOOD | Guftugu:

Bollywood Gets a Seat at Oprah’s Show — Again | Rani Plays the Perfect Host for Durga Puja! | Mallika in Burqa | Music to My Ears | Wake Up Karan | Kid’s Fest | Sex, Violence Sells | Turns Vegetarian

Bollywood Gets a Seat at Oprah’s Show — Again


Abhishek and Aishwarya in “Sarkar Raj.”

Aishwarya Rai and her husband Abhishek Bachchan appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show Sept. 28. Rai and Bachchan taped the episode in Chicago in August.

This marks Rai’s second appearance on the show. The actress previously appeared on the hit daytime show in 2007, and Oprah made the occasion memorable by wearing a chiffon sari.

In her first Oprah appearance she tried to clear many a misconception prevalent in the U.S. about Indian culture and the status of women.

In her latest appearance on Oprah, Aishwarya dressed in a traditional Indian sari with bindi and bangles. Abhishek was also elegantly dressed. The couple appeared to impress Oprah, and the three seemed to have a lot of fun.

Bollywood’s first couple talked about Indian traditions and values. Abhishek recalled the time he proposed to Aishwarya.

Abhishek said, “I was filming in New York for a movie and I used to stand on the balcony of my hotel room and wish that, ‘One day, wouldn’t it be nice if I was together with her, married.’“ Much later, when they were actually a couple, they came back to New York City for the premiere of Guru, and he proposed to her on the same balcony.

About a possible pregnancy, Aishwarya said: “I have been proclaimed pregnant already a couple of times. I’m like, ‘Okay, is that a hint?’

“People would be watching every little bulge, and I’m like, ‘Oh my God. If you’re not in shape, you’re pregnant.’”

Oprah also asked them about their living arrangements, as they stay with Abhishek’s parents. “It’s normal,” Aishwarya said. “It’s absolutely natural to us. … I lived with my parents before we got married, so it’s a natural thing.”

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Rani Plays the Perfect Host for Durga Puja!


Rani Mukherjee in “Dil Bole Hadippa!”

Forget the latest gossip about her being a man-hunter, and forget, also, for a moment, the volatile rollercoaster ride of her acting career. Bollywood’s svelte star Rani Mukerji is first and foremost a Bengali at heart, or a bangalee, as the Bongs like to say. Especially come Durga Puja time.

It was a special week for the Mukerji gals.

The Durga Puja hosted by Rani and Kajol’s family — the illustrious Mukerji puja — was celebrated with much pomp and show. On the last day of puja, Rani had a special preeti bhoj, where she invited her close friends and family.

Looking like the perfect Bengali beauty that she is (wearing a stunning pink sari, bedecked with gold jewelry), and playing a perfect hostess to her guests, Rani was spotted serving delicacies like khichuri, kheer and other Bengali sweets to everyone. Kajol, with daughter Nysa in tow, was also serving food to their guests.

Ayan Mukherjee (newbie director of Wake Up Sid) joined his cousins too, and when someone asked him how he looked so relaxed considering his first movie was on the verge on facing its fate at the theatres, he said, “It’s not sinking in yet. I guess it will hit me only after the release.”

Zoom was the only channel present for the puja, and not only did they get a taste of true Bong experience, they enjoyed Queen Bee’s company and uske hathon ki mithai. Or as Bongs call it, mishti. And that goes for both the dessert and the person who was serving it.

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Mallika in Burqa


Mallika Sherawat in “Maan Gaye Mughall-E-Azam.”

I kid you not. A little bird tells us that bombshell starlet Mallika Sherawat was spotted in a burqa. Scout’s honor.

We don’t blame you for being flabbergasted. We were scratching our heads too. After all, modesty is not the first thing that springs to mind when one things of our luscious Haryanvi sexpot. Last time we heard, she was off to Los Angeles, charming the pants off (hey, that’s a figure of speech, so get your minds off the gutter!) Angelenos of all stripes, with the odd celebrity thrown in. Musician Yanni had expressed a fondness, and all sorts of people were falling all over themselves to honor the curvaceous cutie from the Los Angeles City Council to an ice cream parlor naming a flavor after her.

So what gives? Menfolk, relax. Our beloved Mallika has not gone the Taliban way, nor has she developed a newfound (and given her past history, distinctly uncharacteristic) affinity for brahmacharya, either.

It was simple a matter of expediency. See, here’s what happened. During a recent trip to the Madhya Pradesh city of Indore to attend a function, she decided to don a burqa to evade mobbing fans. Minutes after alighting from a plane at Devi Ahiliya Bai Airport, Mallika put on a burqa to hide her identity.

“I repeatedly requested her to remove the burqa for a while and pose for a photograph, but she did not. So I took her snap in the burqa itself ,” said a press photographer, who had waited near the airport to take her photograph.

Mallika, in fact, is still keen on basking in the adulation of her fans. In fact she had announced her visit on the social networking website Twitter.

“I will be in Indore. Come say hi my tweeps,” the actress had twittered.

So you see — Mallika is keen as ever to continue to show her talents (wink, wink, old-timers, think of Parveen Babi and Time magazine’s double entendre of yesteryear.)

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Music to My Ears


Amitabh Bachchan in “Sarkar Raj.”

You gotta hand it to Big B. The man continues to surprise all of us. Amitabh Bachchan’s singing talents have been exploited by the musical duo Vishal-Shekhar in Sujoy Ghosh’s Aladin, we have learned. That in itself is remarkable, but there’s more.

The song “O re saawariya” is sung by Bachchan himself, and the music composers were in for a pleasant surprise when the actor, on the spur of the moment, decided to add a small alaap to it. Says Vishal, “The alaap at the end of the song was never planned. Mr Bachchan went along with the flow and came up with this impromptu addition during the recording, which turned out so well that we decided to make it a part of the song.”

What impressed everyone all the more, was the fact that Amitabh, who is not really professionally trained, was able to sing it so well. “Singing an alaap is not easy and requires thorough practice. But Amitji did it wonderfully and that’s really amazing,” adds Vishal. Interestingly, the film’s theatrical promo opens with this rendition in Big B’s distinctive baritone. Theaters around the country will doubtless reverberate with appreciative cries of “Wah! Wah! Kya Baat!” from adoring fans.

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Wake Up Karan


Ranbir Kapoor and Konkona Sen Sharma in “Wake Up Sid.”

Poor Karan Johar. The filmmaker was waiting with bated breath for the audience reaction to his latest release, the funky teenage love story Wake Up Sid, when a rude wake-up call Oct. 2 interrupted his thoughts.

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena activists were crying bloody murder.

And why did these esteemed folks think the world was coming to an end? The use of “Bombay” instead of “Mumbai” in his latest movie Wake Up Sid had outraged their tender sensibilities, it turned out.

What is the world coming to? Don’t these activists have anything better to do?

Well, the sad fact is that you can’t piss of activists like that and hope to get away with it.

So as angry activists tried to disrupt its screening in at least two south Mumbai cinemas, a harried Karan rushed to meet MNS chief Raj Thackeray at his Shivaji Park residence.

“He has tendered an unconditional apology for this faux pas which the party has taken serious note of,” MNS vice-president Vageesh Saraswat said.

Emerging from the meeting, an aggressive Raj said that such things (like using “Bombay” instead of “Mumbai”) would not be tolerated and Karan has realized his mistake.

“He has sought time from us to rectify the error. We shall wait for three-four days before the next step,” Raj said. “When the names of other cities like Delhi and Chennai are not changed, why should Mumbai be change to ‘Bombay’?” he thundered.

This will remind bibliophiles of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, with its tales of war being fought on absurd, flimsy pretexts.

Karan has assured the MNS chief that he would be able to insert an apology at the start of the movie. “We shall wait and watch. If the apology is not shown as promised, we shall plan our further steps in the matter,” Saraswat warned.

You can’t make this stuff up.

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Kid’s Fest


Nandita Das

Actress Nandita Das, the newly appointed chairperson of the Children’s Film Society of India, promises to bring maximum number of kids to the children film festival, starting Nov. 14, despite the fact that kids are hooked to reality shows.

“My top priority at this moment is to attract a large number of children from different regions and classes to the children’s film festival,” Nandita said recently.

The six-day Golden Elephant International Children’s Film Festival of India will be held in Hyderabad.

“I will try to include quality movies and renowned juries in the festival to make the festival more attractive. With reality shows attracting eyeballs, it is certainly a big challenge to attract children to the film festival. But I will try to make the festival interesting by bringing in quality movies,” she added.

Nandita took the charge of chairmanship from Nafisa Ali after the latter resigned last month. Nandita, who recently ventured into direction with Firaaq, also said that she is looking for a good script to show her directorial skills.

“I am certainly looking for a script which is close to my heart. I am in search of a good script to direct,” she said.

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Sex, Violence Sells

A dash of sex and violence is a sure shot formula for filmmakers to bring in audiences, says censor board chief Sharmila Tagore, who insists she doesn’t cut scenes if they gel well with the script.

“Sex and violence sells. Everybody is not Shakespeare, everybody is not a great director or an Imtiaz Ali whose ‘Jab We Met’ was a clean film and yet worked at the box office,” Sharmila Tagore said recently.

“Some people make a clean film and then put one item song because they feel that will bring in the audiences and it does turn out to be true. They do it for the sake of money. You can’t blame them as filmmaking is ultimately a moneymaking proposition,” she added.

Sharmila, 62, who was also on the jury of the Cannes Film Festival recently, says it’s high time audiences and those who believe in moral policing stopped pretending about the existence of an underbelly in Indian society.

“In every city and village, there is an underbelly and there is a clientele that does go for drinks, gambling and dancing with women in red light areas. So by hiding all that, we cannot pretend it’s not happening. If it is happening, it will be shown in movies.

“We can’t look away from reality. We don’t want to be a state or country of pretenders or hypocrites. But, yes, we have to keep a balance in what is shown; so we censor accordingly,’ she said.

A few months ago, gay activist Sridhar Rangayan, who has made movies like Pink Mirror on issues confronting the community, had said that the censor board needs to update its rule book and rid itself of “antiquated rules.”

But Sharmila differs.

“I don’t agree with that statement. We do have a set of rules, but it is interpreted by everyone differently. One rule says, ‘Don’t glorify violence.’ Now every individual will be comfortable with a different degree of violence in a film — it’s subjective.

“All of us at the censor board know India and Indian sensibilities. I have been involved with media for the last 50 years, my regional officers are sensitized and trained and the panel is good. We know our country and know how regional sensibilities differ — so we censor when it is required,” she said.

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Turns Vegetarian

The three-and-a-half month stay behind bars made actor Shiney Ahuja, who walked out of the Arthur Road jail Oct. 3 evening on bail, turn vegetarian.

Shiney, on most occasions, shared home food of Mustafa Dossa, a 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case accused.

Dossa would have non-veg food while Shiney ate vegetarian food, prison officials told PTI.

Shiney and Dossa were lodged in adjacent cells, each of them having a small room to himself. The doors of the cell would open from 6:00 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., providing them opportunity to interact and even take a stroll.

There are only six cells in the high-security jail which hold a person each, while other cells have groups of prisoners lodged inside.

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COVER STORY
The GDP Myth: The True:
Measure of Well-Being

Economists Amartya Sen and Joseph E. Stiglitz  urge the adoption of tools that incorporate a broader concern for human welfare than just economic growth. A Siliconeer report.


THEATRE
Magic of Satyajit Ray:
Naatak Performances

Naatak presents plays based on filmmaker Satyajit Ray’s short stories, writes Kamala Subramaniam


SUBCONTINENT
Code Pink In Uttar Pradesh: The Gulabi Gang
Fed up with the corrupt and unresponsive law and order machinery, a bunch of women in pink saris are taking action in Uttar Pradesh, writes Priyanka Bhardwaj.



SILICONEER SPECIAL
DIWALI Gifts & Shopping


SILICONEER SPECIAL
Incredible India Reception
Los Angeles, Hollywood


SILICONEER SPECIAL
2009 CUPERTINO DIWALI
FESTIVAL PHOTOS


OTHER STORIES
EDITORIAL: The Myth of GDP Growth
NEWS DIARY: September
SUBCONTINENT: Tough Times for Ministers
SUBCONTINENT: The IIT Strike
TRIBUTE: Maharaj Kaul (1940-2009)
PERFORMANCE: Sita Haran
COMMUNITY: Incredible India Festival
RECIPE: Kheer
FICTION: Tales of a Haveli
AUTO REVIEW: 2010 Infiniti QX56
BOLLYWOOD: Film Review: Wanted
BOLLYWOOD: Guftugu
FESTIVAL: Diwali Gift Suggestions
TAMIL FILM: Aarumugam
BUSINESS: News Briefs
COMMUNITY: Diwali in Cupertino
COMMUNITY: News Briefs
INFOTECH INDIA: Briefs
HOROSCOPE: October


ENTERTAINMENT
2009 IIFA Awards, Macau
A Siliconeer Exclusive Photo Essay



ENTERTAINMENT
81st Annual Academy Awards
A Siliconeer Exclusive Photo Essay



ENTERTAINMENT
IIFA Awards 2008
A Siliconeer Exclusive Photo Essay



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