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BOLLYWOOD | Guftugu:

Amitabh Asia’s Sexiest Veggie Man | Home Sweet Home . . . in Dubai | Hate Guru | Thai Release | Blockbuster Opens | Lage Raho! | Coincidence | Release Postponed

Amitabh Asia’s Sexiest Veggie Man

Amitabh in “Cheeni Kum”

You wouldn’t think there is anything sexy about being vegetarian — after all, carrots, lettuce or cauliflowers are hardly the stuff to get your hormones going.

Well, think again. Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan has just been named Asia’s Sexiest Vegetarian Man for 2008.  If at 65 you can make the ladies drool, that’s no small achievement, huh?

A poll by animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has chosen Bachchan for the top male slot and Hong Kong’s singer-actress Faye Wong as Asia’s Sexiest Vegetarian Woman for this year.

While Bachchan has dominated the silver screen in India for nearly four decades, Wong — known as the “diva of Asia” — has graced the covers of leading lifestyle magazines like Vogue, Elle and Marie Claire, in addition to having a successful musical career.

Runners-up in the competition included Taiwanese stage artist Barbie Xu, Hong Kong’s popular actress Maggie Q and Cantopop singer and actress Stephy Tang, according to a statement posted on the PETA Asia-Pacific Web site.

“Going vegetarian is the best thing you can do for animals, the Earth and your health. Plus, there’s no easier way stay slim and sexy — and Faye and Amitabh are living proof,” PETA South Asia director Jason Baker told the media.

Outside the Asian continent, pop star Leona Lewis, singer Chris Martin and TV show host Russell Brand were among the celebrities who were voted as sexiest veggies.


Home Sweet Home . . . in Dubai

Aishwarya and Abhishek in “Guru”

Bollywood star couple Abhishek and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan have bought a house in Dubai, becoming the latest celebrities from India’s tinsel town to acquire property in the gulf island.

Having bought a place in Sanctuary Falls — a 96-villa double-gated community home — the actors also attended a residents party for owners in Jumeirah Golf Estates recently, a gulf daily reported.

While no details were divulged on the couple’s new home, it is expected to be ready in the first quarter of 2010, the Gulf News newspaper said.

Just in case you are having any thoughts about getting a second home there, be aware that according to the developers, the price of the villas ranges from $9.5 million to $4 million. Enough said, huh?

For the film stars, though, it’s no big deal, and they say they have an attachment to Dubai.

“Dubai is special to us not just as a place where we enjoy great warmth and generosity in terms of love from the people, but it’s become a remarkable place and one that is so close to home for us,” Abhishek said.

Speaking on the film Sarkar Raj — starring both Aishwarya and Abhishek, besides Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya said the Bachchan family had a great experience working for it and were excited about sharing it with the audience.

Asked if they planned to move to the emirate, Abhishek said relocating “in the real sense” was not on the cards, as the family lived and worked in Mumbai.

However Aishwarya said they were looking forward to spend more time in the island.

“It’s so close to Mumbai, so we’ll probably be spending a lot more weekends here,” she was quoted as saying by Gulf News.


Hate Guru

Jessica Alba and Mike Myers in “The Love Guru.” [George Kraychyk/Paramount]

Going by the furious response that the Hollywood film The Love Guru has drawn in some quarters in the Hindu community, maybe the film should be renamed Hate Guru.

Hindu groups  in the U.S. carrying out a campaign against the film  have appealed to the Motion Picture Association of America to suspend the membership of Paramount Pictures, the presenters of the movie, for allegedly “hurting” sentiments of the community.

Bhavna Shinde, representing the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and Sanatan Society for Scientific Spirituality, alleged in a communique to MPAA and its chairman Dan Glickman that Paramount went back on its promise to pre-screen the movie for Hindu leaders.

Hindu groups are protesting the release of the movie, alleging that it “lampoons their religion and beliefs.”

 Well, for heaven’s sake, get real, guys. This is a comedy, for crying out loud, and a pretty silly one, at that. Only a complete moron would draw any conclusions about Hindu society from what’s shown here.

Sometimes one wonders if some folks are going a bit overboard. As the brouhaha over Salman Rushdie has amply displayed, protests against any perceived religious slight can be counterproductive. Often, all you do is give the allegedly offensive issue a whole lot of free publicity.

The smartest thing would have been to watch from a distance with polite disdain and allow The Love Guru to sink in its own silliness. Which it has, by the way.

Thai Release

Aamir in “Fanaa.”

The guy is a thorough professional, you have to give him that. While everybody else was having fun at the IIFA Bollywood jamboree in Bangkok (See a separate photo spread in this issue), Aamir Khan, always the professional, was figuring out how to advance his own business interests.

Now we get the news that Taare Zameen Par is all set to release all over Thailand.
Taare Zameen Par will be the first Bollywood film to be released across Thailand.

The film’s co-producer PVR pictures and Bangkok-based Major Cineplex, a leading multiplex chain in Thailand, are working out the release dates to be proceeded by a major promotional campaign, Wizcraft director Sabbas Joseph told PTI June 18.

He said the film’s full-fledged release with sub-titles in Thailand, where interest in India and Indian cinema is low, was a major achievement of the IIFA weekend which was held in Bangkok June 6-8.

Interestingly, Taare Zameen Par was not included in the nomination list for the IIFA awards this year because its producer Aamir Khan had not entered the film for nominations as per the IIFA guidelines.

Sabbas said at the round table conference of Indian filmmakers and Thai distributors during the IIFA weekend, it was felt that distribution and exhibition of Bollywood films was hampered because the films were not released with sub-titles and were not dubbed in the local language.


Blockbuster Opens

Kamal Haasan in “Dasavathaaram”

Tamil superstar Kamal Haasan’s magnum opus Dasavathaaram, featuring the superstar in 10 roles, was released across the country June 13 with fans celebrating the occasion by pouring milk on their idol’s cut-outs and posters and performing aarti.

The Tamil film, the costliest-ever movie in India made with a colossal budget of nearly Rs. 1.3 billion, was also released in Telugu and Hindi. Dasavathaaram was released in 50 cinemas in Chennai and its suburbs alone. Most of them carried “House Full” boards in the morning itself but people were still seen thronging them.

Haasan fans made a beeline to many cinemas and celebrated the release by pouring milk on his cut-outs and posters and performing aarti. The actor essays 10 different roles from a Vaishnavite priest to U.S. President George W. Bush.

The fans were happy that the film was screened after it surmounted legal hurdles. The Supreme Court had June 12 dismissed a petition seeking a stay on the film’s screening alleging it would hurt religious sentiments of Vaishnavites. “Kamal Haasan has made a great movie. He is awesome in his 10 avatars,” said a fan in Chennai. While Asin plays the heroine, Bollywood actress Mallika Sherawat adds to the glamour quotient.

In Mumbai, the film was released in 27 cinemas. “We have released the film with sub-titles at multiplexes,” Nambi Rajan, exhibitor and distributor, told PTI.

Dasavathaaram has been in news since the time of its making and is sure to arouse curiosity among the ten roles Kamal Haasan has performed. Basically, the film is good and the trade reports are also excellent,” he said.

A spokesperson of Cinemax chain of multiplexes in Mumbai said the opening for the film was extremely satisfactory. The box office collections were about 70 percent and the movie elicited a pan-Indian audience.


Lage Raho!

Sanjay and Arshad in “Lage Raho Munnabhai”

Sanjay Dutt starrer Lagey Raho Munnabhai which introduced the term “Gandhigiri” by invoking the values of Mahatma Gandhi, swept the 54th National Film Awards for 2006, by winning four honors, including for best popular film.

It thus became the first Hindi film sequel to repeat the feat of winning the award as Munnabhai MBBS had bagged similar honor in 2003.

Veteran Bengali film actor Soumitra Chatterjee won the best actor award for the Bengali film Podokkhep, while Tamil actress Priyamani won the best actress award for the film Paruthi Veeran.

Madhur Bhandarkar won the best director award for his film Traffic Signal, while Khosla Ka Ghosla won the award for the best Hindi film.

Malayalam film Pulijanmam  directed by Priyanandanan, won the honors for the best feature film. Kabul Express directed by Kabir Khan shared the honors with Madhu Kaithapuram’s Malayalam film Ekantham, for the Indira Gandhi award for the best first film of a director.

There has been no announcement on the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for outstanding contribution to Indian cinema.

Announcing the winners of the 54th National Film Awards 2006, chairman of the jury for feature films, Budhhadeb Dasgupta told reporters here that Lagey Raho Munnabhai won awards for other categories like best lyrics (Swanand Kirkire), best screenplay (Rajkumar Hirani, Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Abhijat Joshi), and best supporting actor (Dilip Prabhavalkar, who portrayed Mahatma Gandhi in the film).

Director of the Directorate of Film Festivals Neelam Kapur said that national award nominations were running a year behind schedule due to a controversy which was later resolved by the Supreme Court.

In 2006, documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan had filed a petition in the Bombay High Court challenging the entry criteria for national awards, which does not allow films without a censor certificate.

The Bombay High Court had upheld the petition in July 2006, but the Directorate of Films had later challenged the decision. In April 2007, the Supreme Court verdict had put aside the Bombay High Court’s decision.



Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan has said that her latest film Sarkar Raj has not been made with an intention to deliberately present the three Bachchans — her husband Abhishek and megastar father-in-law Amitabh being the other two — together.

“Ramu had decided to make another film on ‘Sarkar’ much before the actual filming started. I was offered the film when I was not married,” the former Miss World told reporters after the successful premiere of “Sarkar Raj” at IIFA weekend in Thailand.

“When Ramu finally decided to make the film, the storyline and cast remained unchanged. It will be unfair to say that the film is a deliberate strategy to present all three of us together for the first time after my marriage to Abhishek,” she said after the film’s screening late June 6 night at Siam Paragon Cineplex.

The premiere was attended by veteran actors Mumtaz, Feroz Khan, Randhir Kapoor, Rajiv Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, lyricist Javed Akhtar, filmmakers Karan Johar, Vashu Bhagnani, David Dhawan among others.

The princess of Thailand Maha Chakri Sirindhom was the chief guest at the star-studded event.

Indians living in Bangkok and other parts of the country thronged the Cineplex to catch a glimpse of the actors, especially Amitabh and Abhishek.


Release Postponed

The release of noted Indian director Jagmohan Mundhra’s film on the July 7 London bombings has been postponed after victims’ families expressed outrage at plans to showcase it on the tragedy’s third anniversary.

The film Shoot on Sight, featuring Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah, Brian Cox, Greta Scacchi and Sadie Frost, will now be released July 25, the third anniversary of the police shooting of Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes on the London underground, who was mistakenly suspected to be a terrorist.

“Though my film, as such, is not focused on the terror attack itself, I respect the sentiments of the people who either lost their dear ones or themselves became the victims of 7/7 bombings. So I have decided to postpone my release,” Mundhra told the India-E.U. Film Initiative, a London-based film think tank.

He said that the film was more about profiling an innocent Muslim who becomes the victim of a paranoid London and its overzealous police force in targeting a community.

“My film throws light on how young impressionable minds are recruited in the name of jihad and khilafaa — a global Muslim nation. We have plans to release Shoot on Sight simultaneously in the U.K., U.S., India and Pakistan on July 25,” he said.

The film would be screened at Osian Film Festival on July 11 and Stuttgart Film Festival on July 18.

The Daily Mail newspaper reported the outrage expressed by the victims who felt it was “insensitive” to release the film on July seven.

Lisa Cassidy, 28, whose 22-year-old brother Ciaran died at Russell Square, condemned the project.

“Are we going to get to see this beforehand? We want to know exactly what this film is about and what they are portraying. I think it is completely insensitive to release it on July 7 — they are just trying to make money and raise publicity,” Cassidy said.



Current Issue in PDF Format:
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The Obama Revolution:
A New Era in U.S. Politics

The nomination of Sen. Barack Obama for the U.S.presidential elections marks a profound political revolution and South Asians should get on the bandwagon, writes Partha Banerjee.

Ode to a Titan: Faizan-e-Faiz
Urdu enthusiasts gathered to honor the greatest Urdu poet after Ghalib, writes Ras H. Siddiqui.

Our Gods on Earth:
A Rationalist’s Dilemma

When reason gets short shrift in the frenzy over spiritual leaders, what is a rationalist with a scientific temper to do? Sujit Saraf writes about how he chose to write a play.

IIFA Awards 2008
A Siliconeer Exclusive Photo Essay

Honda FCX Clarity:
Next Generation Vehicle

Honda’s next-generation, hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicle’s only emission is water, and its fuel efficiency is three times that of a modern gasoline-powered automobile. A Siliconeer report.

A Trip to Hong Kong: Travels in Cathay

EDITORIAL: Obama and South Asians
SUBCONTINENT: India’s Bio-fuel Option?
COMMUNITY: iForum Meet
COMMUNITY: AAPIO Doctors Celebrate
CONCERT: Indian Ocean Live
BUSINESS: BioPharma in India
AIR TRAVEL: Jet Airways at SFO
MUSIC: An Evening of Ghazals
RECIPE: Makhan Malai Paneer
BOLLYWOOD: Film: Sarkar Raj
TAMIL CINEMA: Pidichirukku
COMMUNITY: News in Brief
COMMUNITY: Gujarat Day

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