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BOLLYWOOD | Guftugu:

Yash Chopra Made Officier de la Legion d’Honneur | Disney Buys Video Rights of ‘Taare Zameen Par’ | Adieu, Ishmeet | Splittsville? | Lost Luggage | Turning Filmmaker | Haircut | Rushdie Record | High Hopes

Yash Chopra Made Officier de la Legion d’Honneur

(Right): Yash Chopra

Bollywood director-producer Yash Chopra was July 5 conferred with the Officier de la Legion d’Honneur, the highest French distinction, for his contribution to Indian cinema.

The king of romance, whose films have also been released in French cinemas and were highly popular among the audience there, was decorated with the honor by French Ambassador in India Jerome Bonnafont at an impressive ceremony.

The award, instituted by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, was bestowed on Chopra for his exemplary work in Indian cinema during a more than 50-year-long career.

With this honor, Yash Chopra has joined the likes of the late Satyajit Ray, Lata Mangeshkar and Amitabh Bachchan among other Indian film personalities honored by the French government with the Officer of the National Order of the Legion of Honor.

“Yash Chopra has shaped today’s Indian cinema industry and he is the embodiment of Indian cinema and Bollywood in particular, and has always been helpful in building bridges between the Indian and French entertainment industry,” Bonnafont said while conferring the award.

The ambassador said that the French President Nicolas Sarkozy had decided give this honor to Chopra who has excelled in various field of film making and has emerged as a “global artist.”

“I am overwhelmed with this honor. It has been a long journey for me with the film industry. And, whatever I am, is because of my brother, B.R. Chopra who guided me in thick and thin of my career,” said Yash Chopra.

Badhaai ho, Yashji.


Disney Buys Video Rights of ‘Taare Zameen Par’

Aamir and Darsheel Safary (r) in “Taare Zameen Par.”

Talk about arriving

Walt Disney has picked up the rights of Aamir Khan’s directorial debut Taare Zameen Par for U.S. mainstream home video release.

Studios in the U.S. are familiar with the quality of Aamir’s work since his film Lagaan was nominated for the Academy awards.

“Two factors led them to buy the home video rights. One was the fact that the film has done extremely well in the United States and the other is that the film shows concern for children and their upbringing. Disney wanted to be associated with the film since it caters to children’s issue,” Aamir said.

He said he was happy and proud to be associated with Walt Disney.

“They are the best when it comes to kids. The film has done well in the U.S. and I hope the same happens with the DVDs as well,” Aamir said.

Taare Zameen Par is a 2007 award-winning film directed by Khan and produced by Aamir Khan Productions. The film was initially conceived of and developed by the husband and wife team, Amole Gupte (writer and creative director) and Deepa Bhatia (concept, research, and editing) and features music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy with lyrics by Prasoon Joshi.

The film tells the story of eight-year-old Ishaan (Darsheel Safary) who suffers greatly until a teacher (Aamir Khan) identifies him as dyslexic. Both commercially and critically acclaimed, Taare Zameen Par won the 2008 Filmfare Best Movie Award as well as a number of other Filmfare and Star Screen Awards.


Adieu, Ishmeet

(Right): Ishmeet Singh

As the body of 19-year-old Ishmeet Singh made its last journey from his home to the cremation ground in Ludhiana on July 31, ordinary folks and celebrities turned up in force to bid a tearful farewell to the “Voice of India.”

Ishmeet who won the “Voice of India” television singing contest Nov. 27 last year died under mysterious circumstances in the Maldive Islands.

In the contest, Ishmeet beat his closest rival Harshit from Uttar Pradesh in a keenly fought contest. He received the winner's trophy from Lata Mangeshkar.

Supporters of the singer had voted heavily for him from Punjab during the finals of the contest. Though Harshit led the votes tally in most regions of the country, the final count went in Ishmeet's favor due to heavy voting from Punjab.

While his death is in a swimming pool is shrouded in mystery, he was much loved. Thousands of mourners, among them Bollywood singers and Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, attended the funeral procession.

Residents of Ludhiana remembered how they had turned out with drums, crackers and sweets to celebrate Ishmeet's victory.

“I cannot believe he is no more. I felt that he would just get up and start singing in his sweet voice again,” said Rajbir Singh, who had come to Ishmeet's modest home.

Shops in the area remained closed for the second day to mark respect to Ishmeet.

Ishmeet's family - father Gurpinder Singh, mother Amritpal Kaur and sister - were inconsolable. They sat beside his body even as preparations for the last rites were being made amidst hymns and chants of Satnam Wahe Guru.



(Right): Salman and Katrina in “Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya.”

Sallu, it seems, is acting up again (So what’s new?) and main squeeze Katrina Kaif is has asked him to take a hike.

A little bird tells us that things came to a head after a spat between the Salman and Shah Rukh on Katrina’s birthday.

Industry sources said Katrina is no mood to forgive him for his behavior with Shah Rukh on her birthday which attracted much media attention.

The sources said that after the incident Salman and Katrina are not on talking terms.

“Katrina is blaming Salman for the entire episode,” said a common friend.

Katrina opined that Salman should have restrained himself as he was playing the host. “But certain things are not in anyone’s control and it is destined to happen,” Katrina told a leading TV channel in an interview.

A close friend of Salman said: “He is good at heart. He took initiative for the party to please Katrina. But everything went wrong.”

The relationship had already hit a bad patch after Salman kept trying to advise Katrina about her career.

The British-born actress has long stopped taking his advice regarding her professional life, which irked the actor.

Salman, known for his hot temper, had objections to Katrina’s choice of films, her co stars and even the outfits she wore for some films.

Poor Sallu. He must be wondering: Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya?


Lost Luggage

(Right): Amitabh Bachchan in “Jhoom Barabar Jhoom.”

For Amitabh Bachchan, if’s beginning to feel like Groundhog Day. There seems to be no end to Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan’s woes over his checked-in baggage.

The film star has lost his baggage once again — the second time during his ongoing “Unforgettable” world tour — while travelling from Toronto to Port of Spain in Trinidad by an Air Canada flight.

“The airlines must love me, or my bags!” is the reaction of a bemused Bachchan after losing his bags for the 19th time.

Earlier, he lost his entire baggage in transit from London to Toronto in a British Airways flight.

The actor managed to get back his bags but with some items missing.

“Brilliant news! Half my bags gone again! And no it’s not British Airways this time. It is Air Canada!” Bachchan wrote in his blog.

The actor, who has a number of programs lined up during the tour, is now facing a serious deficit of clothes.

“I am only aware that I have run out in clothes that I travelled in. And jeans and hooded top are not the most comfortable bedtime attire,” he said.

“Because of baggage part delivery there is part compatibility in dress as well. Shirt from one, trouser from another and just one pair of shoe — the one I travelled in,” Bachchan wrote.

Commenting on the repeated assurances of the airlines staff, the actor says, “(They said:) ‘And Sir, this time you will get all your bags..’ and warmly shook my hand till it almost got dislocated... But you must know, the bags are GONE!”


Turning Filmmaker

(Right): Shilpa in “Shaadi Karke Phas Gaya Yaar.”

Joining the likes of Bollywood stars Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan, actress Shilpa Shetty has also turned producer “to make good commercial cinema with stories which she would aspire to watch.”

But a Bollywood wag with a mean streak said maybe Shilpa is making films “to make good commercial cinema with Shilpa Shetty.”

Nonsense, said Shilpa. “It is wrong to say that I am launching my home production because my career is going nowhere,” she said bluntly. “I may not fit into any of the characters of the two films I plan to produce every year,” Shilpa told PTI.

However, Shilpa said her experience as an actress will come handy to make her home banner an established one in the industry.

“If you have planned your moves, nothing is difficult. I have to live up to my own expectations,” she added.

The actress said her first film, an action comedy, under banner S2 Global productions to be directed by Manish Jha, was in advanced stage of scripting and will be launched later this year.

Shilpa said she had not planned to further her career in Britain after her Big Brother win. “I had never thought I would win,” she added.

“I was offered to host TV shows, films and serials in U.K. Despite that I could not devote my full time there because of my commitments in Bollywood. But, the media wrote that no good offers were coming my way,” Shilpa quipped.

In fact, Shilpa says she is happy with her lot.

“I am happy and content with whatever I have achieved, even without the backing of any big banner. My last films — ‘Apne’ and ‘Metro’ were successful and people recognized me as an actor. What more do I want?” she asked.



(Right): Irrfan Khan

This will be one film that will probably take the black comedy genre a notch higher. Shah Rukh Khan’s production Billoo Barber will see him playing himself, while Irrfan Khan will be seen snipping people’s hair.

Director Priyadarshan has adapted the story from Lord Krishna’s friendship with Sudama. Billoo Barber is the story of two friends, one rich and the other a poor villager. While SRK plays the rich superstar, Irrfan is the village barber. The two are friends from school who grow up and drift apart until they meet again. “It’ll be a pleasure to work with Shah Rukh Khan,” says Irrfan. “We haven’t shot together yet. But I must admit, I want to cut Shah Rukh’s hair in the film! I hope Priyadarshan adds a scene where I get to do so.”

If Shah Rukh will be seen romancing three hotties — Kareena Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone, Irrfan has the lovely and sexy Lara Dutta as his wife. Tabu and Ameesha were earlier approached for the role, but Lara proved to be the lucky one. “I always fancied working with Lara. I knew she has great potential and needed a good director to bring it to the fore. She is very intelligent, pretty and has strong views,” he says.


Rushdie Record

Controversial India-born author Salman Rushdie claims to have set a new record by signing 1,000 books in 57 minutes during a recent promotion tour, setting off a spat with the writer whom he allegedly surpassed.

In a letter to The Guardian newspaper, Rushdie, who last week won the “Best of Bookers” award, said that he had broken wine writer Malcolm Gluck’s record for book signings. Gluck’s claimed his record is 1,001 copies in 59 minutes, set at a wine warehouse in London in 1998. “His record is toast,” Rushdie crowed, in a letter to the newspaper.

Rushdie was on a tour in the U.S. to promote his latest book “The Enchantress of Florence.” The Guardian said that it was Gluck who started the controversy, questioning whether Rushdie could possibly have signed as many books as he had claimed, or whether he had just scribbled his initials. Rushdie said he had signed 1,000 copies, on his recent visit in a book warehouse in Nashville, Tenn., in 57 minutes.

Rushdie insisted: “Let me be clear: I did not initial the books, but signed my full name.

“I did have the support of experienced staff at Ingrams book distributors in Nashville, (and at many other U.S. bookstores), who will confirm that among the fastest present-day signers of books are President Jimmy Carter, the novelist Amy Tan, and myself,” he said. Gluck responded: “Well, if that’s true, I’m humbled. I’m delighted to learn of Salman’s achievement.

“I think it’s very funny actually.... I doubt there will be any women going for this record, this is just such a male thing.”


High Hopes

The connection between kismet (luck) and the much talked-about Shahid-Vidya couple is being put to test after their film Kismat Konnection released across India July 18. The love story centers around Raj Malhotra (Shahid), a street smart charming guy but despite his best efforts, success eludes him.

Raj’s luck changes when he meets an enigmatic fortune-teller Juhi who assures him that he is about to get lucky with a new chance. Deviating from his signature pair of Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla, Aziz Mirza has roped in current Bollywood heartthrob Shahid Kapur and Vidya Balan.

The director hopes that Vidya and Shahid will make it to the list of successful Bollywood reel-couples. When asked whether the super success of Jab We Met made him decide on Shahid, Mirza said, “It is not after the success of Jab We Met that I signed him for my movie.

“I was already impressed with Shahid’s performance in his debut movie, Ishq Vishq and had signed him even before Jab We Met.

The director, however, wanted a different fresh pair and that’s what made him sign Vidya Balan as her girl-next-door image suited well for the film’s character.

“I wanted my film with an entire new pair which is both young and fresh and that’s why Vidya Balan was signed for the film and she has done a wonderful job,” says Mirza.



Current Issue in PDF Format:
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The Parrot’s Beak: A Sikh American Passage
In this month of India’s Independence, we salute an Indian American heroine. We present an autobiographical sketch by Kartar Dhillon.

False Premise: Indo-U.S. Nuclear Deal
The U.S.-India nuclear accord is actually testament to the large-scale failure of the Indian Department of Atomic Energy, writes M.V. Ramana.

Infotech Nepal: Berkeley Meet
The Computer Association of Nepal-USA organized a two-day conference at the UC Berkeley, writes Bineet Sharma.

IIFA Awards 2008
A Siliconeer Exclusive Photo Essay

EDITORIAL: A Sikh American in California
SUBCONTINENT: Cell Phones: India Worried
ETHICS: Dow and IIT Bombay
SOCIAL WORK: Goodbye, Polio
ACHIEVEMENT: Eagle Court of Honor
SPORTS: Sania Mirza in Bay Area
TRAVEL: Alamos, Mexico
CULTURE: Srikanto Acharya Concert
AUTO REVIEW: 2008 Nissan Altima Hybrid
RECIPE: Khasta Kachori
TAMIL CINEMA: Subramanyapuram
COMMUNITY: News in Brief
BUSINESS: News Briefs

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