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BOLLYWOOD | Guftugu:

Amitabh Bachchan, Ben Kingsley Come Together | Bipasha Needs Help to Wear a Sari | ‘Jai Ho’ Touches Hearts of Chinese Fans | World’s Sexiest | Shoe Thrown | Media Frenzy | Splendid Film | Right Candidate, Not Party | Sorry Bahenji | True Actor | Purposeful Film | Benegal Ready | IIFA 2009 in Macao

Amitabh Bachchan, Ben Kingsley Come Together

Amitabh Bachchan

B is for BIG. Bachchan. And Ben. As in Ben Kingsley.

No wonder Amitabh Bachchan is thrilled. The Bollywood mega star recently got to act with Oscar-winning Indo-British actor Ben Kingsley.

Upcoming film Teen Patti will see the union of two of the biggest names from Bollywood and Hollywood, with Bachchan and Kingsley coming together for the first time.

“Soon after we get into a photo shoot and reading rehearsals for the shoot, with Sir Ben Kingsley. He plays an important part in the film,” Bachchan, who was in London to complete the last schedule of the film, wrote in his blog.

“The possibility of meeting up with two decorated personalities and in fact working with them together, seems awe inspiring,” the actor wrote informing the fans about his upcoming interview with famous TV presenter David Frost.

Kingsley, who shot to fame with his portrayal of Mahatma Gandhi in Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi, is the latest Hollywood star to join the cast of the ambitious film which already boasts of a cameo by former James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan.

Some unconfirmed reports suggest that Richard Gere will also throw in a guest appearance in the gambling thriller.

Bachchan, however, refused to divulge details saying, “There are some important names being mentioned for the shoot, but unless it all happens it would be premature to talk of them. Perhaps a little later when we are deep in progress on our work.”


Bipasha Needs Help to Wear a Sari

Bipasha Basu

You gotta feel sorry for Bollywood starlet Bipasha Basu.

Wearing a sari is so difficult for our Bips that the 30-year-old actress and model still needs someone to help her out.

“Wearing a sari is difficult. I cannot wear it myself. This is only the second time this year that I am wearing a sari,” she told reporters after putting the ramp on fire dressed in a red and white sari from the Monapali collection at the ongoing Kolkata Fashion Week.

Praising the work of rural weavers which is the theme in the city’s first-ever fashion week, she said she likes their work which strikes a balance between ethnicity and modernity.

“The theme is good as it showcases the talent of weavers and this is what makes Kolkata Fashion Week different from all other fashion weeks,” she said while praising city-based fashion designers.

Asked whether working in films is easier or walking on the ramp, the Bengali actress quipped: “In cinema it is easier. Here if I trip, all the television cameras will catch me. I cannot make mistakes on the ramp.”

On her style statement, she said she likes a mix and match of everything. “I wear everything. I have national and international stuff in my collection. But I also have street stuff,” she said.

Regretting that her celebrity status restricts her from going around Durga Puja pandals in her home city, Bipasha said, “No one lets me sit in the pandal these days. I miss the pujas.”

Known for her role in films like Raaz, Jism and Corporate, she won the Filmfare Best Female Debut Award in 2001 for Ajnabee.

Her boyfriend and co-actor John Abraham walked the ramp at the concluding show of KFW for ace designer Rohit Bal.


'Jai Ho' Touches Hearts of Chinese Fans

A scene from “Slumdog Millionaire.”

The rags-to-riches tale of two Mumbai kids in Slumdog Millionaire movie has become a rage in China with its Oscar winning track “Jai Ho” reverberating across this Communist nation.

Music maestro A.R. Rahman’s anthem “Jai Ho” has won the hearts of people here who are enjoying the rhythmic nuances of its tune even though the lyrics are beyond their comprehension.

“Frankly speaking I do not know the meaning of ‘Jai Ho.’ But I like the song as it touches my heart,” said Dong Hui, a Beijing University student.

The creation of British director Danny Boyle, the movie which clinched eight Oscars, including Best Song for “Jai Ho” this year, is running to full houses across China.

The movie, which showcases lives of two kids who grow up in slums of Mumbai and one of them wins the Indian version of TV game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? has been dubbed in Chinese.

“It is a proud moment for everyone of us as an Asian film got eight Oscars. Since the film tells about a rags-to-riches story, it struck the imagination of an average Chinese,” documentary filmmaker Zhang Jie said outside Chang Hong Cinema in Beijing, one of the many theatres where currently the film is showing.

After coming to know that there was indeed one hosted by actors Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan, some responded with shrieks of joy. “Shah Rukh is so cute,” said 29-year-old Wan.

One of the viewers wanted to know the winning amount in the Indian edition of the show. “Two million Indian Rupees! It’s huge money,” he said.


World’s Sexiest

Freida Pinto

So now it’s official. What discerning gentlemen knew has been confirmed by a magazine that has voted  Slumdog Millionaire star Freida Pinto one of the top 10 sexiest women in the world, no less.

British men’s lifestyle magazine FHM (nudge, nudge) has Pinto featured in the list for the first time.

The Indian beauty, who shot to international fame with her debut role in the multiple Oscar-winning film, secured the 10th position in the list which was topped by “Girls Aloud” singer Cheryl Cole.

The 24-year-old Mumbai native had also featured in the Vanity Fair’s most beautiful women’s list recently.

Cole, 25, became the first British woman to come on top in the last three years. She knocked last year’s winner, actress Megan Fox, 22, into second place, Sun online reported.

The others in the top-10 list were actress Jessica Alba, who came third, pop singer Britney Spears secured fourth position while fifth spot went to Keeley Hazell.

Actress Anna Friel returned to the ninth spot after her success in the TV show “Pushing Daisies.”

Nearly ten million readers of FHM cast their votes in the worldwide poll.


Shoe Thrown


It happened to George W. Bush. It happened to P. Chidambaram. Now it’s happened to yesteryear’s Bollywood hunk Jeetendra.

A man hurled his footwear at Jeetendra who was campaigning for a Congress candidate in Maharashtra April 21.

The actor, known as “jumping jack” in Bollywood and popular for wearing white shoes in films, was taken aback by the incident but it is unclear if the slipper hit him. However, his motorcade did not stop.

Jeetendra is a friend of former minister Amrish Patel of the Congress who is contesting from Dhule Parliamentary seat in Maharashtra.

Patel told PTI that Jeetendra was his family friend and had come to campaign for him this morning and also went to adjoining Nandurbar.

Patel downplayed the slipper-throwing incident and said, “The man looked like a drunkard. But I feel that the act was planned.”

The Congress Party is facing a tough challenge in these two constituencies. Supporters of veteran Congressman Rohidas Patil had opposed Patel’s candidature while in Nandurbar, Nationalist Congress Party leader Vijay Kumar Gavit’s brother is contesting as the Samajwadi Party candidate.

TV footage showed a bearded man hurling his two slippers in the direction of the actor, dressed in white. The man casually walked away after the incident.


Media Frenzy

Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan

Bollywood stars Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan, who came together in April to support film producers’ stance in the ongoing standoff with multiplex owners, were apparently embarrassed by the attention they received.

Cameramen clicked every time the duo, who have been sparring in public for a while, came closer to whisper something to each other.

The actors, who are also producers, were seated next to each other during the press conference representing the United Producers and Distributors Forum.

They shared the dais with top notch producers like Yash Chopra, Rakesh Roshan, David Dhawan, Sajid Nadiadwala, Ashutosh Gowariker and Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra.

Producers have refused to release new films in multiplexes since April 4 as their long standing dialogue over revenue sharing issue with exhibitors has not yielded any results.

“We are here as spokesmen for the production sector. This is not a show of power but the media is free to give any angle to their story,” Shah Rukh said.

“You can even give headlines that Aamir and Shah Rukh have become friends. Nobody can stop you,” he said, tongue-in-cheek.

Asked whether he would have shared a platform with Aamir if it had not been the producers-exhibitors row, Shah Rukh said that neither of them had any issues sitting together and discussing important issues like producers seeking equal revenue share.

“Hopefully, we may be together in a film someday,” he said.


Splendid Film

Rahul Bose

Bollywood actor Rahul Bose, who has made a mark for himself in the field of parallel as well as commercial cinema, considers The Japanese Wife the most splendid film of his life.

Bose is elated about his forthcoming film with Aparna Sen. This is Bose’s second film with her after Mr & Mrs Iyer and he considers it to be a most rewarding experience.

The film also stars Raima Sen, Moushumi Chatterjee and Japanese actress Chigusa Takaku in the title role. It is in English, Bengali and Japanese. The film depicts the story of an ordinary schoolmaster, who marries his Japanese pen-friend and maintains the relationship through letters, without ever meeting her.

Talking about his co-star Raima Sen, Bose articulates in his witty manner, “She is catty, she is batty, but she has a heart of gold.”

Raima plays the role of a simple village girl in the film.

The Japanese Wife is supposed to be released in June, “but whether it will be through a film festival or otherwise, I don’t know, that is up to the producers,” said the actor. Bose’s last commercial release was Dil Kabaddi.

Apart from acting, Bose is also involved with a number of social issues including communal harmony, social injustice, women’s rights and breaking of orthodox stereotypes.

Bose has an NGO of his own named The Foundation, which is very soon going to work for the victims of child sex abuse, who suffer due to this “sexually depraved nation,’ the actor said.


Right Candidate, Not Party

Salman Khan

Facing flak for campaigning for different political outfits, Bollywood actor Salman Khan said he campaigns for “right candidates and not political parties.”

“I campaign for candidates who are my friends and work hard for development of the country and upliftment of the society,” the actor said here in Gujarat.

“Right candidates are my priority and not political parties,” the 43-year-old actor said.

Salman had earlier conducted road shows for Congress candidates in Unnao (Uttar Pradesh), Mumbai, and Chindwara while he campaigned for BJP candidate from Punjab’s Gurdaspur constituency Vinod Khanna.

The actor has campaigned for Congress candidates Murli Deora and Priya Dutt in Mumbai and for Union Commerce Minister Kamal Nath in Chindwara.

Underlining the importance of spreading education in the country, Salman said just learning to read was not enough but people should acquire skills which can ensure them jobs.

The actor will conduct road shows for Congress in the city and will also address the party’s youth workers before flying back to Mumbai.


Sorry Bahenji

Bollywood star and aspiring politician Sanjay Dutt, who is running for a Lok Sabha seat, is finding out the hard way that when in Uttar Pradesh, you don’t mess with bahenji aka U.P. Chief Minister Mayawati.

After discovering that his flippant remarks about the mercurial Dalit CM hade landed him in hot water, Sanju Baba was contrite.

In the eye of a storm for his “Jadu ki Jhappi” remarks, Sanjay April 22 apologized for the statement, saying Mayawati was just like a sister to him.

In the reply sent to the district magistrate and district election officer Pinki Jowal through fax, the actor and SP leader apologized for the remarks and said it was a mere dialogue from his Bollywood blockbuster Munnabhai series which were used in the rally to spread a message of love in society.

Saying Mayawati was just like a sister to him, Dutt held that the dialogue was from a brother to a sister to strengthen the bonds.

“Even so, if the dialogue has hurt the sentiments of anyone I apologize for it,” Dutt said in his reply.

A show cause notice was served to Dutt for his remarks against the Bahujan Samaj Party supremo during an April 16 election meeting here. The district election officer had given him three days time to file his reply.

Three complaints have been registered against Dutt for his alleged remarks against Mayawati that he will “give jaadu ki jhappi and pappi (magical hug and kiss) to the people of Pratapgarh, and given a chance he will do the same with the BSP supremo Mayawati.”


True Actor

Irrfan Khan (l) and Lara Dutta

Indian actor Irrfan Khan has decided to continue shooting of his upcoming film and declined to use a body double for the remaining sequence despite sustaining a bad leg injury during one of the takes.

The actor, who is playing an athlete-turned-dacoit in the film, “Pan Singh Tomar,” inspired by a true incident, completed the difficult scene with his leg plastered.

Irrfan fell and twisted his ankle badly during the take of a sequence in which he was required to run fast.

“The scene required me to run fast but I lost my balance and fell down, twisting my ankle. I had to complete rest of the scenes wearing plaster,” the actor told PTI.

The actor, who is riding high on the success of Oscar-winning film “Slumdog Millionaire,” has not taken up any new projects as he wants to focus his energy on this film only.

“The script is very intense and requires a complete involvement for the character. This is why I don’t want to take up new projects till I complete this film,” Irrfan said.

The film, which is expected to hit the screen later this year, is being produced by UTV.


Purposeful Film

Piyush Jha of  King of Bollywood (starring Om Puri and British model Sophie Dahl) fame began his career as an ad film maker. His very first film Chalo America was showcased in the “Indian Panorama” section at the International Film Festival of India and many other international film festivals. Now Piyush has readied his new suspense thriller Sikandar with terrorism as its backdrop.

Explaining the gap between King of Bollywood and his new Hindi film, Jha says, “I am a filmmaker who works on ideas and thoughts that grabs me from what’s happening in society. So I wanted to evaluate that side of my craftsmanship to understand what kind of films I want to make. I also wanted to travel that . . . Meeting new people and exploring new cultures opens up your horizons to be a better storyteller. I did almost six months of research on my subject and it took me quite some time to sell Sikander as a project because people liked the idea but were not ready to take a risk.”

Jha always wanted to make socially-relevant films but when he grew up he went into advertising and producing commercial products. “So when I traveled, explored and I looked at myself, I got in touch with my old self. I have worked on three scripts like these, the first of which is Sikandar. I want to attract the masses and reach out to them and make it relevant cinema. So it’s not a documentary or a boring depiction of Kashmir but an interesting suspense thriller.”


Benegal Ready

After getting rave reviews and good box office collection for his last venture Welcome to Sajjanpur, noted filmmaker Shyam Benegal is ready with his new satirical comedy Well Done Abba.

Benegal has collaborated with Big Pictures, the motion picture brand from Reliance Big Entertainment Ltd, to produce the film.

Welcome to Sajjanpur was produced by UTV Motion Pictures. Well Done Abba stars Boman Irani in a double role, along with Minissha Lamba and Sammir Dattani. It has been shot in Ramoji Film City and Ibrahimpattnam village, Hyderabad, Filmcity in Mumbai and the Pune-Mumbai expressway.

Talking to reporters, Benegal said the film narrates the story of Armaan Ali, a driver working in Mumbai. He takes leave for a month to find a husband for his teenage daughter who lives in a small locality close to Hyderabad. Armaan Ali returns to work only after three months.

“His young employer wants to sack him but is persuaded to listen to the reason why Armaan got delayed,” he said.

Benegal said the film is inspired by two short stories — “Narsaiyyan ki Bavdi” by Jeelani Bano and “Phulwa ka Pul” by Sanjeev.

Ashok Mishra has written the screenplay, music is by Shantanu Moitra and the lyrics are penned by Mishra himself, Swanand Kirkire and Ila Arun, Benegal said.

The film also stars Ravi Kissen, Ila Arun, Salim Ghouse, Sonali Kulkarni, Rajit Kapur, Yashpal Sharma, Ravi Jhankal among others, he said.


IIFA 2009 in Macao

Amitabh Bachchan (4th from r) with the Streetmosphere performers from The Venetian Macao, venue of the 2009 IIFA Weekend and the IIFA Awards.

The International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) will celebrate the Videocon IIFA Weekend and the tenth year celebrations of Idea IIFA Awards 2009, June 11-13, at the exotic locale of the Venetian Macao Resort Hotel, according to a press release from the organizers.

IIFA brand ambassador Amitabh Bachchan said, “2009 celebrates a decade of IIFA magic and promises to be yet another enthralling experience. Macau is an excellent choice and we are excited to bring IIFA’s magic to that fabulous city.”

For the tenth year celebrations, IIFA promises to be bigger than ever before with a whole set of surprises at the Weekend.

The event is conceptualized and promoted by Wizcraft International Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.

IIFA also stressed that it will continue its pledge to environmental causes, by yet again hosting an eco-friendly awards function

The event will be broadcast globally by STAR TV to reach nearly 500 million viewers in 110 countries, the release added.



Click here to read the Current Issue in Pdf Format

Changing the World:
Bilaal’s Voyage

Everybody can make a difference, writes Bilaal Rajan, 12, who to date has raised over $5,000,000 to support the less privileged.

Battling Toxics:
Rizwana Hasan

Syeda Rizwana Hasan’s legal battle to reduce the impact of Bangladesh’s hazardous ship breaking industry has won her the 2009 Goldman Prize for the Asia region. A Siliconeer report.

Status Quo, Jai Ho!
Media and Elections

The rampant bias in favor of the ruling Congress Party hasn’t changed at all in many decades, writes a frustrated Partha Banerjee.

EDITORIAL: Making Change
SUBCONTINENT: Red Alert: Naxal Offensive
BOOKS: South Asian Storyteller
PHILANTHROPY: Helping Bangladesh
TRAVEL: Spain: Toledo Norte
CULTURE: The Demise of Saang
SUBCONTINENT: Violence and Rape
BOLLYWOOD: Review: Aa Dekhen Zara
RECIPE: Tandoori Chicken
TAMIL CINEMA: Ananda Thandavam
COMMUNITY: News Briefs
PHILANTHROPY: Music for Kids
CULTURE: Habib Khan Live in Concert

81st Annual Academy Awards
A Siliconeer Exclusive Photo Essay

IIFA Awards 2008
A Siliconeer Exclusive Photo Essay

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