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BOLLYWOOD | Guftugu:

Freida Pinto is Top Earner in Bollywood | Neil Mukesh Keen on Acting, Singing | Tax Man Cometh | Bollywood? Kabhi Nahin! | Dharam Da Puttar | Raring to Go | Shilpa Saddened | Love Rajasthan

Freida Pinto is Top Earner in Bollywood

Freida Pinto

This girl is going places. Freida Pinto, the star in the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire, has leaped ahead of her Indian rivals to become the highest paid actress in Bollywood, a news report said March 26. Following the success of Slumdog, which took home eight Oscars and whose worldwide box office receipts so far are estimated at over $270 million, the Indian model-turned-actress has landed a series of lucrative roles with top directors, including Woody Allen and Julian Schnabel.

According to a report in London’s The Daily Telegraph newspaper, she has pushed ahead of her rivals, Kareena Kapoor, Katrina Kaif and former Miss World Aishwarya Rai to become the highest paid actress in India. The Indian actress is in Israel to shoot for a new film that focuses on the interwoven lives of an Israeli and a Palestinian woman from the early years of the state through the early 1990s. The daily, quoting sources close to the Indian star, said her earnings have now topped 2 million pounds sterling to overtake top Bollywood actresses.

“Freida is fast reaching top status in the international arena. The actress’s projects with big film-makers like Woody Allen have helped her join a league which no other Indian actress has achieved so far,” said a film analyst.

“Freida can’t be compared to Aishwarya, because we’re not pitching her as an Indian girl in international films. Freida is a true global face,” Anirban Das, CEO of her management company, was quoted as saying in the report.

You go, girl!


Neil Mukesh Keen on Acting, Singing

Neil Nitin Mukesh

Johnny Gaddar star and Bollywood actor Neil Nitin Mukesh wants to follow the footsteps of his idol Kishore Kumar.

No, not by getting married repeatedly. (Get your mind out of the gutter.) Or by having temper tantrums. Or by jumping up and down the stage.

He wants to act and sing like the legendary Kishore.

Neil, who has sung the title track of his upcoming film, Aa Dekhe Zara, is happy that the song is ruling the music charts and is being liked by the audience.

The 27-year-old actor, who is the grandson of legendary singer Mukesh, wants to take his family tradition forward while concentrating on his acting career.

“I would to love sing and compose music in my upcoming films if my producers think that I am capable enough,” Neil told PTI.

The actor, who has been trained in music by his grandfather, writes lyrics for his self composed tunes.

When asked whether his singing for the film was an effort to match up with the current trend of actors turning singers, he said, “Singing is a passion for me. I want to be associated with creativity in whichever way I can, be it acting or singing. And I think it helps in my acting, especially in voice modulation and expressions.”

Of late, a lot of Bollywood stars have lent their voices to their films’ music. Be it Akshay Kumar rapping for Chandni Chowk to China, actor-composer Himesh Reshammiya or director-turned-actor Farhan Akhtar, who made his singing debut with Rock On, they are more than happy to show off their vocal talents.

On his singing abilities, Neil said, “I would not say that I am a professional, but yes, I can sing much better than a bathroom singer.”


Tax Man Cometh

Amitabh Bachchan in “Baabul”

Big B is in hot water — again. The Indian Income Tax Department has moved Supreme Court, challenging an order of the Bombay High Court which gave tax relief to Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan on his income from the popular TV game show Kaun Banega Crorepati.

The move came seven months after the Bombay High Court had allowed IT exemption on 30 percent of Bachchan’s total income of Rs 50.92 crore from the show.

The High Court had accepted the plea of the superstar that being an artist he should be given tax relief under the Income Tax Act.

The IT department in its appeal challenged the order on the ground that the relief is specifically given to those artists who either earn by performing outside the country or receive payment from foreign agencies.

It was submitted by the IT department that Bachchan was acting as an anchor in the television show for Star India Limited and cannot be termed an artist for his role in the game show.

The actor received the payment from E-Entertainment Limited, a foreign company incorporated under the laws of the British Virgin Islands.

The actor transferred 70 percent of his earnings to his company Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Limited.

The actor was said to have no objection over imposition of tax on 70 percent of his total earnings from the show, which was transferred to the company.


Bollywood? Kabhi Nahin!

Kalki Koechlin in “Dev D.”

Despite finding commercial success as Chanda in Dev-D, debutante Kalki Koechlin is in no hurry to join the rat-race of Bollywood and hopes to make a career out of doing meaningful roles.

“I feel settled in life and at peace with myself. Life changed after ‘Dev D,’ but I am not keen on commercial cinema or any rat race of such sort,” Koechlin told PTI in an interview. Koechlin was a part-time model and theatre actor before getting her big break with Dev D which saw her portray a school-girl who turns prostitute to support herself after being disowned by her parents after a scandal.

The debut was a daring choice for Kalki, especially in an industry that is quick to typecast its actresses.

“The role was so special, it had to be done. It just could not be refused. And I am not looking for a career in commercial cinema, so it does not matter,” said Kalki, who was in the capital to attend Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week. The former model enjoyed the stint on the ramp as she modeled for designer Preeti Kapoor.

“I had attended fashion week last year. I was doing a hair show, but it was very low profile then. I enjoyed the experience as the clothes are very bohemian, a lot like my personal style. Though my style sort of keeps changing every day,” said the 26-year-old actress.

The actress who will next be seen in boyfriend Anurag Kashyap’s Happy Ending, is currently working on a play called Skeleton Moments.


Dharam Da Puttar

Bobby, (r) and Sunny Deol with Dharmendra (c) in “Apne.”

After sharing the silver screen with his legendary father and brother in Apne, Bobby Deol is all set to work with Dharmendra once again in Cheers, a road-trip Bollywood movie about self-discovery and love.

Bobby Deol, whose latest action-thriller film Ek — The Power of One is all set to hit the theatres March 27, plays an estranged son in Cheers, who discovers the love of his father after he is forced to go on a road trip with him.

The film, which is being directed by Sangeeth Sivan, will mark Dharmendra’s 50th year in the Indian film industry.

“I am doing Cheers with Sivan, which is being produced by us. The film is an emotional story about a father and his son. It has me and my dad together,” Bobby told PTI. The young Deol, who played a boxer in Apne, hopes to work in a film in the near future, which will bring the whole Deol clan together including his cousin Abhay Deol.

“We would love to work together. We could have made ‘Apne’ years ago but we did not have the script at that time. To get an idea which works out for all four of us would be great. People do come to us but we are still waiting for a good script,” said Deol.

After playing romantic characters in Jhoom Barabar Jhoom and Dostana, Bobby Deol is back acting in a hard-core action-thriller.

Bobby Deol portrays the character of a contract killer in Ek, which is a remake of a South Indian film, and hopes that his stylized appearance in the film will click with the audiences. He is paired opposite South Indian beauty Shreeya Saran in the film, which has Nana Patkar playing a cop. Ek is the remake of south Indian film Aathru.


Raring to Go

Akshay in “8x10 Tasveer.”

Unnerved by the failure of his last release Chandni Chowk to China, Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar March 22 said he was confident that his forthcoming supernatural film 8x10 Tasveer, directed by Nagesh Kukunoor, will do well.

“I did Nagesh’s film because I liked the story and went by the director’s instinct. I am confident it will do well,” Akshay, who has taken a break from comedies to feature in thrillers in 2009, told reporters.

The actor said he was used to “over the top” performances in his last few films but Nagesh wanted him to be restrained.

“I got irritated for the first four days of our schedule but on the fifth day we understood each other and I decided to go by the director’s vision,” he said, adding that this was the reason for rumors surfacing about him walking off the sets after fighting with the director.

“I would never do that with any director. I am satisfied with the end result and happy that I followed his vision,” he said.

Asked about the huge money riding on his shoulders, Akshay, whose upcoming films in 2009 includes big budget movies like Blue, Kambhakt Ishq, Houseful and De Dhana Dhan among others, said, producers have earned money through his films from 2006-08.
8x10 Tasveer, that releases April 3, is the last release before the producers bodies’ ban on screening films in multiplexes comes into effect from April 4.

Shailendra Singh, the producer of 8x10 Tasveer, thanked the producers’ bodies for deferring their strike.

The production company supports’ the producers bodies on the issue of revenue sharing with multiplexes, he said. But release of this film was very important, he added.


Shilpa Saddened

Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty said that she was saddened by the demise of reality TV star Jade Goody due to cervical cancer.

The terminally ill British TV reality star died in her sleep in the wee hours March 22 at her home in Upshire, Essex.

Shilpa, who is in London, said that she was deeply saddened by the news “but in hindsight, glad that she is out of pain and passed away peacefully in her sleep. Words cannot express how I feel but my heartfelt condolences to the family,” the actress said.

Shilpa, who was hoping to meet Jade earlier this week, could not since the latter’s health had deteriorated.

The actress felt that Jade was a “catalyst and architect” of her fame in Britain.

“I always felt that she and I were connected in a strange way,” she said.

Shilpa and Jade were participants of the “Big Brother” reality show in Britain in 2007 with the former being at the receiving end of Jade’s racist comments.

The actress, who went on to be the winner, said life brought her and Jade together again through “Big Boss” reality show last year.

“That is where we met and spoke after two years and went on to becoming friends. I really discovered a new Jade compared to the one I saw in ‘Big Brother.’”

Shilpa said that this experience made her realize that life is too short to hold any grudges.


Love Rajasthan

Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman, who is currently in Udaipur to shoot for an ad film directed by Shekhar Kapur, is the latest Hollywood celebrity to visit Rajasthan. Kidman, who arrived March 24, is reportedly staying at the Udaipur’s Lake Palace Hotel, which is a hot favorite amongst visiting celebrities.

Another Oscar-winning actress to visit the state was Julia Roberts, who stayed in Jaipur during a family holiday with her husband and children in January this year. The other prominent Hollywood celebrities to visit Udaipur include pop singer Madonna, actor Richard Gere and Madonna’s ex-husband Guy Ritchie.

Hollywood power couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie had taken time out of their shooting schedule for A Mighty Heart in Mumbai to visit the desert state in 2008. Rajasthan is also a favorite of Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger, who last visited the state in 2008 with daughter Jade. He stayed at Hotel Rambagh Palace while in Jaipur. Similarly, actress Elizabeth Hurley chose Udaipur as the setting for her lavish wedding with NRI tycoon Arun Nayar in 2007.

The state, popular for its vibrant culture and beautiful palaces, is not only a favorite with the celebrities but has also been a part of Hollywood films.        Films like the 007 film Octopussy, Jungle Book, Far Pavilions and Kate Winslet-starrer Holy Smoke were shot here. Mira Nair’s film  Vanity Fair also featured the state in all its royal majesty. Recently, Adrien Brody-starrer The Darjeeling Limited was shot in Rajasthan. Hollywood actor Michael Douglas has visited the state scouting for locations to shoot his film “Racing the Monsoon.”



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EDITORIAL: The Promise of Obama
SUBCONTINENT: The General’s Gambit
REAL ESTATE: Loan Modification
ART: Growing Value of Indian Art
EVENT: India Rising
CULTURE: CCF’s Raas Garba Fest
TRAVEL: Hellbrunn Palace, Austria
AUTO REVIEW: 2009 Kia Borrego EX 4x4
BOLLYWOOD: Film Review: Jai Veeru
RECIPE: Vegetable Pilau
TAMIL CINEMA: Kanchivaram
FESTIVAL: Rang Barse!
BUSINESS: News Briefs

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