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BOLLYWOOD | Guftugu:

My Name is Khan, and That’s the Problem | Rakhi Chooses Canadian Businessman in Reality Show | Welcome to L.A. | Eyeing IPL | Curry Westerns | Twitter Gal | Swine Flu Scare | Bollywood on Brit TV

My Name is Khan, and That’s the Problem

Shah Rukh in “Billu.”

Bollywood badshah Shah Rukh Khan, stung by his treatment at the hands of U.S. immigration officials, has told fans the screening process was discriminatory and embarrassing.

Khan was taken for secondary screening at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey for about 90 minutes, which he said happened because of his Muslim name and South Asian origin.

Some Indian wise guys say the Indian media has overblown it. "You can't expect (border guards) to know each and every actor or celebrity," said Dr. Bhaskara Rao, chairman of the Center for Media Studies, a New Delhi-based watchdog group.

Perhaps. But in this day and age, surely they know how to Google?

The incident is "as absurd as Brad Pitt coming to India, being strip-searched, investigated and interrogated," Bollywood director Karan Johar wrote on his blog.

That hasn’t silenced all critics, some of whom are slyly observing that King Khan could be milking this unfortunate incident for all the publicity he could get.

The Bollywood badshah has flatly denied he was highlighting the incident as a publicity stunt for his new movie, My Name is Khan about the discrimination Muslims face in the U.S. after the Sept. 11 attacks.

"I don't mean to sound pompous," the actor said. "But Shah Rukh Khan doesn't need publicity."

Wah, wah, kya baat!


Rakhi Chooses Canadian Businessman in Reality Show

Rakhi Sawant

If you thought Indian reality television couldn’t get any cornier, you are in for a surprise. Take the case of Rakhi Sawant, hardly anybody’s idea of a bashful bahu.

Some TV guy came up with the bizarre idea of having Rakhi choose a possible mate in front of millions of ogling, inquisitive eyes, and such is the lure of fame (or should we say notoriety?)  Rakhi not only agreed, but she has chosen a dulha.

Rakhi may have chosen NRI businessman Elesh Parujanwala as her life partner but the Toronto native said that he will only marry the controversial “item girl” when he is able to support her financially.

Describing the win as God’s destiny, he said that he had the intuition that he would be the chosen one.

“I had seen this image before that I am going to marry Rakhi. I just knew it. I was 99 percent sure, but that one percent depended on Rakhi. It was Rakhi’s decision ultimately,” he said. Boy, that must have pleased Rakhi!

“I didn’t marry Rakhi on the spot not because I am unsure about her. I am doubly sure about Rakhi, and I am committed to her. But at this stage I cannot support her financially. I need some time to establish my business,” he said.

Parujanwala, who beat the two other finalists from Delhi, Chittiz Jain and Manas Katyal, said that he is least bothered about his fiancee’s image.

“I like everything about Rakhi. I am not bothered about her so-called item-girl image,” he said, adding that he would like his wife to continue her career after  marriage.

The shock and awe strategy of Rakhi Ka Swayamvar seems to have paid off for NDTV Imagine, as the show earned the channel its highest viewership since its launch in January 2008.

Well, what do you know. A marriage made in television!


Welcome to L.A.

Mallika in “Guru.”

You would have thought the ceremonial key to a city would be given to men and women of substance, with a lifelong record of public service.

Well, the City of Los Angeles appears to have stretched the definition just a wee bit.

Flanked by city councilmen Tom LaBonge and Jose Huizar, Bollywood actress Mallika Sherawat was made an honorary citizen of Los Angeles during ceremonies Aug. 14 in the Los Angeles city council chamber.

Calling her the “original Bollywood bombshell” who has taken “the world by storm,” and the first actress from the Indian film industry to be honored s such by the city, Huizar declared that Sherawat was being recognized for her “extraordinary career and her charitable efforts.”

Extraordinary indeed. The City of Angels is, after all, the home of Hollywood, so Sherawat’s public service — often in various states of undress in front of the camera — is one that strikes a chord.

LaBonge said Sherawat “is going to make people a better life, not only as an actor but as a humanitarian.”

During the official photo session with composer Yanni, who has invited Sherawat to participate on his next album in India, LaBonge gave Sherawat his card in case “you have an problems on Second Street, Third Street or Fourth Street,” he said.

Mallika dedicated this award to “the millions of NRIs who came here before me, and this is how I hope to follow in your footsteps.” She said that she plans to make Los Angeles her new home.


Eyeing IPL

Salman in “Salaam-e-Ishq.”

Bollywood actor Salman Khan  is eyeing a franchise in the Indian Premier League, according to its chief Lalit Modi. Salman would join fellow stars Shah Rukh Khan and Preity Zinta as IPL franchise owners if the deal goes through

The multi-million dollar Twenty20 series, which features almost all top international players, has also gained popularity for its entertainment element — Bollywood superstars Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta and Shilpa Shetty all own IPL teams.

Salman Khan met Mr Modi on Wednesday to explore how he could join the bandwagon, reports Reuters.

"He is aware of the price of a franchise, which will be between $200 to $300 million," Mr Modi told television channel CNN-IBN, adding that two new franchises would be up for sale by January.

"He has been keen for some time now, so he was curious about the process of auctions and the money involved," Mr Modi added.

Ever since its inception two years ago, IPL has proved to be a money spinner, raking in millions of dollars in advertising and ticket revenues.

The celebrities the tournament attracts, combining Indian passion for film and cricket, has further boosted its profile.


Curry Westerns

Dhishoom-dhishoom is back, with brown-skinned cowboys ready to rule the screen.

But first a little background. When the population of southern India fell in love with spaghetti Westerns in the 1960s, local filmmakers scrambled to pay homage to low-budget Italian-produced hits such as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

The result was the Curry Western, a genre that blended Clint Eastwood-esque grit with romantic Bollywood song and dance numbers and conservative Indian values. In the 1970s its exponents produced some of the most popular works in world cinema, and some releases ran for years.

The format fell from grace in the 1980s, but now the Curry Western has ridden back into town with the release of Quick Gun Murugun, a parody that harks back to the glory years of India's celluloid cowboys.

The film's eponymous star, billed as "a sincere South Indian cowboy" and kitted out in an emerald green silk shirt, leopard print waistcoat and dude ranch duds, first appeared in an advert for a music television channel 15 years ago.

On the small screen his one-liners – "First I'll finish the sambar, then I'll finish you!" – helped win him a cult following across the subcontinent.

His transition to the big screen – played by Rajendra Prasad, a veteran of "Tollywood" (the Telugu-language film industry) – may well repeat the feat. Already the film, which tells the story of a cowboy who protects cows by promoting vegetarianism, has won positive reviews from some of India's harshest critics. Aamir Khan, a Bollywood megastar not known for lavishing praise, lauded the film on his blog this week.


Twitter Gal

Lara in “Billu.”

After Priyanka Chopra, Sonam Kapoor and Mallika Sherawat, Bollywood actress Lara Dutta is the latest celebrity to enter the world of Twitter (twitter.com/duttalara).

The former Miss Universe, who is currently shooting for her upcoming film Housefull with Akshay Kumar, Deepika Padukone, Jiah Khan and Riteish Deshmukh, was helped by her co-star Riteish in setting up the Twitter account.

“Hiya! Just set up my account with help from RD on the sets of Housefull! Very excited!,” Lara wrote Aug. 17 in her first tweet on the micro-blogging Web site.

However, Housefull director Sajid Khan was not too happy with the Twitter activity on the sets of his film.

“Hi guys, this is Sajid Khan. Please do this later as I need Riteish and Lara on the set, Sethji-Akki (Akshay Kumar) is waiting along with Arjuna,” the director wrote on Riteish’s Twitter page.

The 31-year-old actress now joins the list of Bollywood celebrities including Shah Rukh Khan, Karan Johar, Uday Chopra and Gul Panag on Twitter and already had nearly 3,000 followers as of press time.


Swine Flu Scare

Bollywood is the latest casualty of the swine flu scare, with shoots being cancelled and actors staying away from foreign locales in a bid to protect themselves from the pandemic.

Director Karan Johar has cancelled a two-day shoot in Pune for his upcoming film Qurbaan, which stars Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor.

Johar had flown in a 180 member crew for the shoot, but decided to postpone it after 10 cases of swine flu were reported from Pune.

Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan too had commented about the hoopla surrounding the flu which has been rechristened H1N1 virus, on his blog, saying, “This has been causing extreme alarm throughout not just Delhi but the entire country.”

Actress Sameera Reddy had her friends and family worried when she came down with fever after a trip to Singapore. Thankfully for Reddy, it turned out to be a case of a mere virus, but she has cancelled her trips abroad to be on the safe side.

When the disease was first detected in Mexico, Hrithik Roshan had reportedly asked his Kites co-star Barbara Mori to return to Mumbai.

The swine flu scare has also forced Hollywood A-listers to cancel their holidays. Talk show queen Oprah Winfrey had cancelled her trip to Goa in May, and the Mexican premieres of many Hollywood films were cancelled after first reports of a breakout three months ago.


Bollywood on Brit TV

Some of the classics of Indian cinema will be shown on Channel 4 as part of its annual Bollywood movie season that begins with a special program titled “Movie Mahal: The Golden years of Indian Cinema.”

The program Sept. 6 will provide an insight into the glorious years of Hindi cinema from the late 1940s to the early 1960s. The season will end Oct. 12.

The introduction to the 12-film season will include interviews with key film personalities such as Lata Mangeshkar, Helen, Javed Akhtar and Gulzar as well as archive footage featuring songwriters and singers Talat Mahmood, Majrooh Sultanpuri and Laxmikant.

The program also looks at the work of actors including Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand and Amitabh Bachchan and will seek to showcase the enduring impact of the 1950s, when great masters of Indian film made world-class cinema.



Click here to read the Current Issue in PDF Format

Pandemic and Panic:
Swine Flu FAQs
The global swine flu pandemic is causing understandable alarm. Siliconeer presents answers to frequently asked questions.

Father Nahin, Baba Kaho:
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The first person to demand the right to write a doctoral thesis in Hindi was a Jesuit of Belgian Flemish descent. Ved Prakash Vatuk outlines the remarkable life of Baba Kamil Bulke.

Waiting for Justice:
Dalits in Jajupur
India’s independence has a hollow ring for dalit landless farmers in Jajupur in Uttar Pradesh’s Hardoi District, writes Sandeep Pandey.

EDITORIAL: Swine Flu Pandemic
IN MEMORIAM: Senator Ted Kennedy (1932-2009)
CELEBRATION: India Independence Day
TRIBUTE: Happy Birthday, Chennai
SUBCONTINENT: Swine Flu in India
SUBCONTINENT: India's New Bill: Education for All
CELEBRATION: The Other Pakistan
RECIPE: Broccoli Masala
TRAVEL: Skiing the Alhambra
AUTO REVIEW: 2010 Kia Soul +
COMMUNITY: 2010 U.S. Census: Be Counted!
BOLLYWOOD: Film Review: Kaminey
BUSINESS: News Briefs
HOROSCOPE: September

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