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BOLLYWOOD | Guftugu:

Amitabh to Shave Off Beard? | Madhuri Dixit Open to Film Offers | Sexy Siren | Bad Hair Day | Not so Goody | Smooth Opening | London Fest | Film Debut

Amitabh to Shave Off Beard?

Amitabh and Salman in “God Tussi Great Ho.”

Big B without the beard is like idli without the sambar.  Well folks, plain idli on its own is on the menu if filmmaker R. Balakrishna has his way. The filmmaker of Cheeni Kum fame has once again teamed up with Amitabh Bachchan in Pa and says he is giving the legendary actor a complete makeover.

Big B is said to have agreed to cast off his beard for this emotional drama. Balakrishna, though, is being as coy as a fickle teenager in love.

“I’m not going to tell you whether I’ve asked Mr Bachchan to shave off his beard or not. But for sure, this is going to be his most startling makeover in recent times,” said Balakrishna.

“While Abhishek will be given a more intrinsic personality change, I’m totally changing Amitabh’s look,” he added.

After Sarkar and Sarkar Raj, Amitabh and Abhishek will again be seen playing father and son in a film.  “Pa would be a far more emotional story than Cheeni Kum, which was far more caustic, dry and sharp-tongued,” he replied.

In Pa, Amitabh plays someone he has never played before. “While in Cheeni Kum he was a character I had seen earlier, in Pa he’s a totally different person. It’ a very emotional father-son story, but the emotions won’t be melodramatic.”

In Cheeni Kum, Balki roped in Tabu to play Amitabh’s love interest, but there is no romantic track for him in the forthcoming movie. Vidya Balan is cast as Abhishek’s love interest.

“Amitji will have no love interest. His world revolves around his son. Will I borrow from Amitabh’s real-life relationship with Abhishek? No. In fact, I know them so well that I'll make sure I avoid all references to their real life.”


Madhuri Dixit Open to Film Offers

Madhuri Dixit

Whatever you think of Bollywood actress Madhuri Dixit, she is a fighter.

So what if her comeback vehicle Aaja Nachle went down like a lead balloon? The yesteryear Bollywood heartthrob is undaunted. Though based in the U.S., where she lives with her surgeon husband, she has said she was open to film offers.

“I have been offered scripts and will sign if something very interesting comes up. Logistics can be worked out whether the film can be shot in the U.S. or India,” she told PTI over phone from New York.

Madhuri was the guest star of the Amitabh Bachchan-led “Unforgettable” tour in the United States and performed in six cities, including the last one in New York.

The actress, who dominated the silver screen in the 1990s after making her debut in 1984, said the tour was a thrilling and unforgettable experience.

On whether she will be doing any Yashraj or Meghna Gulzar’s film in near future, Madhuri said there were many offers during her last visit to India to collect the Padma Shri award.

“Meghna’s film was one of the many offers that came. But nothing has been decided as yet. I have a lot of respect for Yash Chopra and visit him when I am in Mumbai. People might have construed my visit to him wrongly, but I would surely do a film for that banner if a good script came up.”

About her comeback vehicle Aaja Nachle, a Yashraj movie that failed to recreate her old magic and proved a dud at the box office last year, Madhuri said she still thinks the film’s subject was good enough.

“What I know is that we made the film from the heart. But one cannot always win,” she added.


Sexy Siren

Kim Sharma

Frontbenchers, take a bow. For too long your catcalls and whistles have drawn frowns from the prudes. Now we have a starlet who has the honesty to say she likes turning you on.

Kim Sharma enjoys being called a sex symbol and makes no bones about it. “I love being tagged sexy. That’s an adjective I don’t mind carrying at all,” she said.

Desi prudes, you’ll just have to deal with it.

In fact, Kim isn’t above being a little tease.

The Mohabbatein star recently got a tattoo done, well, right above her waist. “I was getting bored with my empty back so I got it tattooed,” she grins. “However, I never wanted to make it public earlier, but now I want to talk about it. And I think Ben (the artist) has done a wonderful job.” says Kim.

If personally she is happy at the moment, then, workwise too, she feels comfortably placed. “Currently, I’m working in Indra Kumar’s comedy movie Daddy Cool. Apart from that the other projects I’m working in are Mahendra Dhariwal’s King is King and a couple of south Indian movies,” she said.

However, she would like something special. “I haven’t got my dream project as yet. I want to work in a movie in which I really have to work very hard,” she said.

Well, maybe, just maybe, if that’s what you want, Kim dear, making frontbenchers moan with desire isn’t the best way to go.


Bad Hair Day

Aamir sporting his controversial “Ghajini” hairstyle.

Following your favorite Bollywood star has its price, as college students in Bangalore are finding out the hard way. College authorities have cracked down on students sporting a hairstyle popularized by Bollywood star Aamir Khan in Ghajini. The close-cropped couture that mimics the coiffure of U.S. inner city ghetto kids has been just too much for the staid tastes of college authorities.

Almost all the colleges in Bangalore have formally announced that they will not allow students to sit in the classrooms if they sport the Ghajini hairstyle.

Aamir is bemused.  “I have also heard about this from my friends who are based in Bangalore,” he said. “It is very interesting, because this particular hairstyle was created after a lot of effort and experimentation.”

Aamir wants to know why his Ghajini hairstyle is being banned in colleges. Is it in any way interfering with the students’ concentration when they are attending classes? A little bird tells us that Aamir is asking some blunt questions: Why are colleges objecting to his hairstyle, what is so indecent about it? Any objection needs a reason. Is this hairstyle attracting flies? Is it disturbing the concentration of the students in the class?

“I haven’t yet figured out why the college authorities have objected to the look,” he said.

Aamir has spotted youths sporting this hairstyle in New Delhi.

Are Delhi colleges going to get into the act as well?


Not so Goody

Shilpa Shetty

Oh dear, it seems to be like déjà vu all over again for Shilpa Shetty. Is the bad nightmare that was the Big Brother show revisiting her?

Goody was thrown out of the Big Brother show in Britain last year after she was shown bullying Shetty. The 27-year-old mom of two was also labeled a racist and her effigies were burnt in the streets in India.

In fact, Shetty was branded “Shilpa Poppadom” by Goody in last year’s Big Brother show. However, Goody says she is in the Indian Big Brother “to clear her name and prove to people that she’s not a racist.”

How’s Shilpa taking it? The British tabloid The Sun quoted her: “When I found out Jade was going on Big Brother India I was as shocked as when I first met her. Why go through this again?

“But a part of me was really happy as it is an opportunity to show how welcoming we are. She’s going in as someone who has had misconceptions about our country. I hope Jade learns first hand about our culture and how wonderful our people are.”

Smart move, Shilpa. When you think about it, the British show catapulted Shilpa to fame, helped her launch a perfume, and got her a lot of media attention.

Her Bollywood career didn’t go anywhere, though. But that’s nothing new, is it?


Smooth Opening

Rajnikanth in “Kuselan”

Tamil superstar Rajnikanth has had a tough time. His recent remarks on a Tamil Nadu-Karnataka dispute angered folks in Karnataka, but when he tried to placate them with a conciliatory move, Tamil fans got angry.

What is a film star to do with a gazillion-rupee blockbuster on the line? The good news for Rajnikanth is at least the overture has paid off in Karnataka.

His new film Kuselan hit cinemas across Karnataka and his fans have responded with customary restraint.

Jubilant over withdrawal of threats to its release by pro-Kannada activists, they celebrated the occasion by pouring milk on their idol’s cut-outs and posters and performing aarti.

Fans, carrying flags, cut-outs and photographs of the actor as well as the tricolor, rode through the streets of the city prior to the first show of the film as police made elaborate security arrangements.

Bursting crackers and shouting slogans, the fans sang and danced and adorned their star’s posters with huge garlands of fresh roses.

At some cinemas, fans performed aarti and performed milk abhishekam to his posters, jubilant that all obstacles had been cleared to the movie’s release following the withdrawal of agitation by pro-Kannada groups against the actor after he expressed regrets over some remarks he made during the height of the Hogenakkal row in April.

Seventeen cinemas in the city began screening the film.

Members of the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike had threatened to disrupt the screening of the film unless the actor apologized for his remarks.

They later announced the withdrawal of their agitation after Rajnikanth expressed regret.


London Fest

A 10-day Indian Cinema Festival, with special focus on Bollywood and Malayalam movies, will be held here from Aug. 14.

Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s box office hit Chak De India and director Sagar Bellary’s comedy Bheja Fry are among the movies to be screened at Mantra in Tower Hill organized by India’s global construction company SRK Group.

Other films featuring in the festival include Bhairavi — a musical legacy left behind by renowned sitar player Ustad Karimuddin Khan, Summer 2007 — a film about the sensitive issue of farmers’ suicides in Vidarbha in Maharashtra, and Delhi Heights — a film about three couples, a mystery man and a bunch of youngsters. In addition, Mithya, directed by Rajat Kapoor with Naseeruddin Shah and Neha Dhupia in leading roles and Johnny Gaddar, starring Dharmendra, Neil Mukesh, Rimi Sen and Vinay Pathak are the other movies. The Malayalam films are Sheelabathi — a movie about a computer teacher who disappears mysteriously and ends up being sexually exploited, Mayavi — a young man who fights against injustice and Kadhaparayumpol — a film based on a barber’s life. The festival would conclude with musical shows involving Tamil, Hindi and Malayalam cinema songs. Artists of Anandha Mantra will perform.

The entry for the film festival is 12 pounds per show which would also include an Indian buffet dinner specially prepared by chefs of Mantra, which will feature north and south Indian cuisines. The organizers are also offering a 10-day package for 90 pounds and 50 pounds for five shows including dinner.


Film Debut

Sharon Prabhakar, who burst onto the Mumbai stage belting out “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” in the 1980s with Alyque Padamsee’s version of Evita, is ready to take her act to Bollywood.

Yes, she can act, dance, sing, and thanks to some Punjabi blood in her, Sharon can speak the language fluently and has been called to play a Punjabi character in the comedy Saas, Bahu aur Sensex.

This at a time when her pretty daughter Shazahn is toying with the idea of getting into Bollywood herself.

“People said, movies and Sharon! And for a long time I thought this way, too. But my family supported me. It began when Kirron Kher heard me speak Punjabi and was amazed. Then came producer Jayshree Makhija and director Shona Urvashi with the movie script. It sort of fell into place,” says Sharon.

Initial anxiety gave way to confidence with the first few takes of Saas, Bahu aur Sensex, an Indian version of Desperate Housewives.

“I’m among four women who invest hard-earned kitty party income in shares. Farooque Shaikh plays the share broker. And then a riot of incidents happen as we ensure that the share market does not crash,” reveals the debutante actor.

There’s no way of knowing, as yet, if Sharon sings in the film.



Current Issue in PDF Format:
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Subversive Subprimes:
The Political Economy of the Financial Crisis

Dodgy housing loans and murky financial instruments have created an unholy financial mess, writes Ashok Bardhan.

A Sindhi’s Ordeal: The Incarceration of Safdar Sarki
Sindhi nationalist Safdar Sarki recently spoke about his 20-month ordeal in Pakistan, writes Ali Hasan Cementdaur.

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

IIFA Awards 2008
A Siliconeer Exclusive Photo Essay

EDITORIAL: Financial Meltdown
SUBCONTINENT: Legal to Love?
ART: Urban Impressions
SOCIAL WORK: Helping Bangladesh
COMMUNITY: India I-Day Celebrations
PHILANTHROPY: Eastern Elegance
TRAVEL: Sequoia National Park
CULTURE: Rathyatra in SF
AUTO REVIEW: 2008 Lexus RX 400h
RECIPE: Hawaiian Crispy Fritters
FILM REVIEW: Streets of Karachi
CULTURE: Rhythm Sorcerers
COMMUNITY: News in Briefs
BUSINESS: News Briefs
HOROSCOPE: September

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