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BOLLYWOOD | Guftugu:

Singh is Not Kinng in Toronto Fest | Chiranjeevi in Row Over Wedding  | From Slapstick to Slap | Unhappy Star | Middle Finger | Star Author | Film Fest Invitee | ‘Kanjeevaram’ Premieres

Singh is Not Kinng in Toronto Fest

Akshay Kumar in “Singh is Kinng.”

Bollywood superstar Akshay Khanna is maha gussa. His Singh is Kinng has set cash registers ringing, and even the Toronto International Film Festival has screened his film. But the kaminé film critics at the festival are bitching about it no end.

Akki reportedly faced hurdles to see his blockbuster through in the festival.

Now critics at the festival are looking askance at this masala film rubbing shoulders with art films.

However, TIFF co-director Cameron Bailey has strongly defended his decision to invite Singh is Kinng to Toronto.

“The idea is to bring the full diversity of Indian cinema to audiences in Toronto. People here are familiar with India’s regional cinema but commercial Hindi films haven’t had the sort of exposure it deserves. It is an integral part of the Indian cinema landscape,” he said.

In fact, in the course of a party hosted by Percept Picture Company, Akshay revealed that he was keen to have Priyadarshan’s comic drama Bhool Bhulaiya included in the official Toronto film festival list last year.

But the organizers of North America’s premier film festival rejected the request, the veteran actor said.

Now his film is in, but the critics are carping about it. And Akki is not the slightest bit happy about it.


Chiranjeevi in Row Over Wedding


Politics ain’t bean bag, poor actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi is discovering. Here he was, basking in the glory of founding a political party. South Indian history is replete with films stars ruling the roost in the political arena after donning greasepaint, so he can’t be blamed for dreaming of success.

Similar success stories in the past are numerous — M.G. Ramachandran and Jayalalitha in Tamil Nadu, N.T. Rama Rao in Andhra Pradesh.

However, the film star’s reverie got a rude shock after after he attended an inter-caste wedding that triggered objections from the bride’s family.

The occasion was the marriage of noted Dalit activist-writer K. Padma Rao’s son Chetan with Nalini, a 24- year-old engineer belonging to an upper caste.

The matinee idol attended the wedding, held at Film Nagar Club in Hyderabad and blessed the couple. He also spoke about the virtues of inter-caste marriage and the need for creating a casteless society.

Boy, were the bride’s parent’s pissed!

Accusing the actor of staging a drama only to gain political mileage for his newly-launched party, Nalini’s parents T. Subba Rao and T. Mani pointed out how Chiranjeevi himself had disapproved of his teenage daughter’s proposal to marry her lover outside the caste.

They went to a local television channel with their version of the story and made allegations against the actor and the Dalit writer.

Poor Chiranjeevi must be wondering how different the real world is. On the silver screen, all he had to do is spout some riveting dialogue and all would be okay in the world.

Reality alas, is messier. Talk about a reality check.


From Slapstick to Slap

Govinda in “Money Hai Toh Honey Hai.”

What’s with Bollywood star Govinda? Is he trying to give Bollywood enfant terrible Salman Khan a run for his money? Just a few months after slapping an onlooker on the sets of Money Hai Toh Honey Hai, the Bollywood star slapped Neeraj Vohra, his director of the film Run Bhola Run, on Sept. 9 afternoon.

An eyewitness on the sets said, “The incident took place when the unit of Astavinayak's Run Bhola Run was shooting at the helipad in Film City, Goregaon. Govinda and actor Aryan Vaid were enacting an action scene where Aryan had to push Govinda and then slap him.”

During the shoot, Aryan accidentally slapped Govinda and the actor was furious. Govinda then went up to Neeraj Vohra who was sitting near the monitor and slapped him. Govinda even accused him of using the scene only to humiliate him on the sets.

What a contrast with the on-screen persona of the ever-smiling Govinda, cute as a button!

And it gets worse. You would expect the film star to come to his senses and apologize, right?

Wrong! He went on to harangue the director. “He also asked Neeraj why he had to include such a scene, which would ridicule him. After that, Govinda left the sets in a huff but not before hurling the choicest abuses at Neeraj,”  the eyewitness added.

Shame on  you, Govinda. Oops, now he is going to slap me!


Unhappy Star

Rani Mukerji in “Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic”

Bengalis have a particular affection for their premier festival, Durga Puja. Bollywood star Rani Mukerji is no exception. No wonder she is unhappy with friend and producer Aditya Chopra.

At Yash Raj studios, for Aditya, work comes first. Apparently, the production unit of Anurag Sinha’s yet-untitled film is scheduled to shoot in Amritsar and Chandigarh during Durga Puja.

As a result, Rani’s plans for Durga Puja with her family had to be abandoned. While her family will celebrate the Puja in town, she will be off shooting for Yash Raj’s film.

What’s more, it didn’t help when Rani expressed her displeasure at the prospect of missing out on the Puja to Adi.

Says a source close to the production unit of Yash Raj Films, “Recently, Rani and Aditya had an argument when Rani requested Adi to change the dates so she could be in town to attend the Puja. But Adi didn’t budge and maintained that the schedule was a combination of dates of several actors and no alterations could be made.”

Adds the source, “Rani has no option but to pack her bags and set off for the shoot. She tried arguing with Adi to give her some time off, but in vain.”

Every year, Rani, her parents and brother Raja Mukerji, celebrate the Puja with great enthusiasm in Mumbai. Last year, in spite of having a hectic shooting schedule, she made sure that she took active part in the celebrations in the city.

This time is going to be different. Poor Rani.


Middle Finger

Arjun Rampal in “The Last Lear.”

How would you like to see Arjun Rampal give you the middle finger? Well you could have, if Suniel Shetty and Ekta Kapoor had allowed things to be.

But they got cold feet at the last moment. Director Saurav Kabra, while shooting a promotional video for EMI, accidentally shot Arjun Rampal giving the middle finger to the camera. While the first cut of the song featured this scene, at a later stage they decided that perhaps such behavior may not go down too well with the Censor Board.

It was a choreographic slip on Rampal’s part that led to the — shall we say — awkward shot. The song was meant to feature the actor using his fingers to count the number sequence 1-2-3 backward. “The dance step was in rhythm with this three-two-one theme, and each finger was being successively reduced. Accidentally Rampal did this. It isn’t something we realized while shooting,” said Kabra.

“After the scene was shot, we immediately realized this, and thought of the repercussions this might have. So we immediately removed the shot.”


Star Author

Sanjay Dutt in “Kidnap.”

Quick, what’s the first thing that come to mind when you think of Sanjay Dutt?The amiable goon Munnabhai. TADA. Doing time in prison. The screwy shenanigans surrounding his wedding with Manyata. Anything but books.

Well, think again. Our Sanju baba has decided to put away his Kalashnikov and take up the pen.

Word is already out that publishers are rushing to get the book’s rights. Interestingly, Manyata is already in talks with a couple of publishers even though Sanjay has just begun to write.

Says a source, “Currently, Sanjay is busy with his films. As and when he gets the time, he’ll pen down his thoughts. The book will definitely take some time to be written.”

Although Sanjay has often told his friends about his wish to write an autobiography, it was Manyata who immediately supported his decision. It was her encouragement that gave him the confidence. Our source adds, “When Sanjay told Manyata about wanting to write an autobiography, she told him to go with his gut instinct.”

Manyata seems to be having a civilizing influence on Sanju baba. No wonder the wife is known as the better half.


Film Fest Invitee

Cinematographer-turned-director Santosh Sivan’s Tahaan, a fable-like journey of an eight-year-old boy in militancy-ravaged Kashmir, has been invited to eight international film festivals.

The film has been selected in the competition section of the prestigious Rome International Film festival beginning from Oct. 22, CineKid International film festival (Oct. 23) in Amsterdam, Amazonas film festival (Nov. 11-15) in Brazil, Dubai International film festival (December 2008) and Stockholm international film festival (March 2009) in Stockholm, a statement by the production house IDream Productions said here Sept. 24. Besides this, Tahaan has been invited for official selection at the Pusan International film festival (Oct. 8) in South Korea, BFI London International film festival (Oct. 15-30) in U.K. and Palm Springs International film festival in the U.S. next year, the release said.

The film was released in India Sept. 5 by Sony Pictures Entertainment. Tahaan made its global debut at the Cannes film market earlier this year. While in Pusan festival last year, the script was awarded a place in the prestigious Pusan promotional plan, a project market focused on Asian cinema that provides financers and producers an opportunity to discover top quality projects.


Kanjeevaram’ Premieres

From comedy to the historical, noted filmmaker Priyadarshan is now into the realistic genre.

His latest Tamil film Kanjeevaram was premiered in Thiruvananthapuram as the inaugural movie of the 101-day festival of the Soorya Stage and Film Society here.

After his success in Mollywood and in Bollywood, he has ventured to make what he calls a “realistic film” for which he enjoyed complete freedom.

“This is not an art film, but a realistic one that came straight from my heart. And I enjoyed the freedom while shooting for just 28 days,” he told a meet-the-press arranged by the press club here.

Kanjeevaram, which was shown at the Toronto festival recently, was a turning point in his life, Priyadarshan said. It was a subject he had been carrying in mind for nine years.

features Prakash Raj and Sriya Reddy in the lead roles. Written and directed by Priyadarshan with M.G. Sreekumar composing the music, the film makes a critical study of Communism. Set in the backdrop of Kanjeevaram's handloom silk industry from the 1920s to 1948, it is the story of a non-political weaver who leans towards Communism and soon becomes a revolutionary leader and an advocate of the ideology, only to find himself caught between personal needs and his pursuit of social equality. The underlying theme of the movie is that such movements around the world fail because people who preach an ideology often fail to practice it.



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