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Biggest Opening Five-day Collection in N. America | British PM Calls Amitabh Bachchan ‘Greatest Talent’ | Hrithik Welcomes Wife Sussanne to Twitter | Germany Release | Dutiful Bahu | Madhur Fan | Animated Video | Malayalam Remake | Big B Blasts Media | Seeking Shilpa | Balaji Makeover

Biggest Opening Five-day Collection in N. America

There is a reason the guy is called the badshah of Bollywood. Bollywood matinee idol Shah Rukh Khan’s latest film My Name is Khan has grossed the maximum collections ever by a Bollywood film in the first five days of its release in North America, sneaking past Rajkumar Hirani's 3 Idiots.

My Name is Khan is estimated to gross $336,000 on Presidents' Day, bringing the estimated four-day opening weekend figure to $2,275,000.

This makes the Karan Johar film the fastest Hindi film ever to break the $2,000,000 mark, beating the previous record set in December by 3 Idiots which grossed $2,149,227 in its five-day opening over the Christmas holiday weekend.

In fact on Sunday, the film performed better than expected, grossing $761,000 for a four percent increase over Saturday. The film was initially expected to drop by seven percent to $682,000.

The Sunday figure now ranks as the highest one-day gross ever for any Hindi-language film in North America, promoters of the movie said based on real collections.

The Fox Searchlight release's revised opening weekend figure for February 12-14 now stands at $1,939,000 — still a new all-time record for a Hindi film beating the $1,764,131 achieved by Om Shanti Om in 2007.

Starring Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol, My Name is Khan has turned out to be a box-office monster, averaging a stellar $16,158 from 120 theaters across the U.S. and Canada over three days.


British PM Calls Amitabh Bachchan ‘Greatest Talent’

Well, well, even the goras are taking notice. Applauding the cinematic genius of Bollywood mega star Amitabh Bachchan, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown described the actor as one of the "greatest talents" of our time.

Brown spoke glowingly of the 67-year-old star as he presented him with the keys for a Mobile Diabetes Unit at a charity dinner in London.

The bus, named “Amitabh” in honor of Big B, will help screen people in Mumbai for diabetes and has been donated by diabetes prevention charity organization Silver Star, founded by Indian-origin Labor MP Keith Vaz in 2007.

"It is a pleasure to be here with Amitabh Bachchan. I talked to him just as we arrived. I was saying that I had 4 million viewers in a TV interview. I asked how many people will watch his next film and he said 500 million people. That shows the greatness of this man," Brown said.

"Some years ago, we met in India and now here. He is more prosperous now. He is one of the greatest talents of our generation," the prime minister added.

Bachchan was joined by Bollywood actors Sanjay Dutt and Shilpa Shetty at the charity event. The actress is a known face in the U.K. after a media storm over a controversy over the television show Celebrity Big Brother in 2007.

Brown described Shetty as an "acting phenomenon and a committed humanitarian."

"Your campaign for AIDS awareness is an inspiration. We all know the stigma attached to HIV and AIDS but no injustice should be allowed to last for ever... you are tackling one of the difficult issues," he said.


Hrithik Welcomes Wife Sussanne to Twitter

The first Bollywood couple to share their mutual admiration on Twitter, superstar Hrithik Roshan has been joined by wife Sussanne on the micro-blogging site.

The couple, known guard to their privacy, however, has been quite forthcoming about their love on the Web site.

Welcoming Sussanne to the social network, the 36-year-old actor wrote, "Friends, please welcome my wife, my friend, my lover, the coolest, the purest, the exotic SUSSANNE to twitterland !! Give LOVE tweeple!!!(sic)"

After being praised so profusely by her husband, the mother of two wrote back, "so inspired whn I c my Hrithik working.. has the eye of the tiger..no stoppin till he gets it perfect n only becoz he loves u all 2 much!!(sic)."

To which Hrithik replied, "stop it sussanne, stop complimenting me in twublic!! (but thanks, felt good) (sic)."

The couple has two sons Hrehaan and Hridaan.

Fans will be relieved had because just a few months back the rumor mill was working overtime with news about a possible falling out. Hrithik apparently was getting too close for comfort to his Kites co-star Barbara Mori.


Germany Release

Following its successful European premiere at the 60th Berlin International Film Festival, Peepli Live, produced by Aamir Khan,  will be released in Germany along with India.

Mumbai-based UTV pictures, which has the distribution rights of the Anusha Rizvi directed movie, has reached a deal with the Cologne-based Rapid Eyes Movies for the release in Berlin with German sub-titles in August. The German company has also bought the home video rights for the film.

"Simultaneous to its Indian release, Peepli Live will also be released in Germany. The film could not be released in India earlier as we had to rush for the Sundance Film Festival," Rizvi told PTI.

The debutante director said that it was a great honor for her film to be screened in the Berlinale Special section, the second highest festival slot after the competition section.

Peepli Live is the second Indian film to get this privilege after Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan's film Om Shanti Om was shown in this program two years ago.

"I am thrilled by the enthusiastic reception given to the film by the Berlin Film Festival audience. Their response exceeded my expectations," Rizvi said.

The film is about two destitute farmers in an Indian village facing the risk of losing their land for failing to repay their bank credit. When one of them announces his decision to commit suicide so that his family can claim government support, his house is soon besieged by TV reporters, politicians, police, gawkers and businessmen.


Dutiful Bahu

She has always been the dutiful bahu of the Bachchan family and even physical illness could not hold back Aishwarya Rai from visiting her husband Abhishek's grandmother on her birthday.

Actors Abhishek and Aishwarya Bachchan, who were recently voted India's favorite celeb couple, arrived in Bhopal to celebrate the 80th birthday of Jaya Bachchan's mother, Indira Bhaduri.

The 36-year-old actress accompanied her husband and in-laws, despite suffering from high fever and sore throat.

"Made a surprise trip to Bhopal last night. Was my nani's 80th birthday! Aishwarya is much much better, but still not 100 percent. But she's my nani's favorite so she made the trip too. Should be back to fighting fit..." Abhishek wrote on his Twitter page.

The couple also made it a point to visit Abhishek's aunt Rita Bhaduri and her family.

Abhishek's father, megastar Amitabh Bachchan has not been able to accompany them and has expressed his good wishes for his mother-in-law in his blog.

"It is the 80th birthday of my mother-in-law. She is in Bhopal and the entire family is with her to wish her health and prosperity and happiness for this auspicious day," wrote the 67-year-old actor who was in Delhi to attend an awards event.


Madhur Fan

Sultry star Deepika Padukone seems keen to ditch her glamorous image and prove her mettle as an actress, as she has professed her admiration for filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar and expressed a desire to work with the director known for his gritty dramas.

The model-turned-actress dismissed reports that she has already been signed on by the director for a sequel to his film Corporate, but said that working with the three-time National Award-winning filmmaker was on top of her wish list.

"If Madhur offers me a film with an interesting script, I would love to work with him and actually he is one of the directors I really want to work with and I am a fan of his films," said the actress who was in the capital to promote her latest film Karthik Calling Karthik.

The 24-year-old actress has been paired with Farhan Akhtar in the film by debutante director Vijay Lalwani, but said that despite the pairing which seems unusual, both of them (Farhan and her) fit their roles perfectly.

"I don't understand everybody going on about the unusual pairing. I think more important is the fact whether one fits the character. I was initially nervous about being paired with Farhan, but it went so well, because he is a very funny person," said Deepika.

The actress, who made her Bollywood debut with Farah Khan's Om Shanti Om opposite Shah Rukh Khan is sporting short hair for the first time on-screen in the film.


Animated Video

Contributing her bit towards environmental awareness, Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra is all set to make her debut in an animated video to promote a greener earth.

The music video, which is a part of the NDTV-Toyota Greenathon campaign, features the National Award-winning actress in a mix of animated and real life sequences.

"It was the first time I shot for an animated video and I had to imagine everything as I was standing against a chroma screen. The storyboard created by the NDTV team was fabulous and really helped me visualize what I had to do," said Chopra, who is the ambassador for the campaign.

The song, “Hawaaein, Patte, Paani,” has been composed by Bollywood's musical trio Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy and the lyrics have been penned by Gulzar.

"We were very sure about the fact that it had to appeal and connect with audience and not be boring and preachy. The video shows us how we can make small and easy changes in our lives that will make a big difference in the long run," Chopra said in a statement.


Malayalam Remake

After a spate of comedy hits, Bollywood actor Ajay Devgn is making a return to action genre and has teamed up with close friend Rohit Shetty to remake a superhit Malayalam action movie.

The 40-year-old actor-producer has bought the rights of Malayalam action film Puthiya Mukham for an undisclosed amount, to remake it in Hindi.

Puthiya Mukham starred Kerala superstar Prithviraj and was one of the biggest hits of last year.

The Hindi remake will be produced by Devgn and directed by Shetty, marking the return of the actor as well as director to action films after a spate of successful comedy flicks like Golmaal, Golmaal Returns and All The Best.

"I have seen Puthiya Mukham three times. Ajay and I have been wanting to do a hardcore action film for the last three years. At last, we are doing it," Shetty said in a statement.

The director's last action film was Abhishek Bachchan, Bipasha Basu starrer Zameen in 2003.

The film is scheduled to go on floors by year end or early next year, as Devgn already has his hands full with a diverse set of films releasing this year including Ashwni Dhir's Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge?, Prakash Jha's Rajniti, Kireet Khurana's Toonpur Ka Superhero, Priyadarshan's Garam Hawa, Bunty Lutharia's Once Upon a Time and Shetty's Golmaal 3 which begins shooting this April.

The National Award-winning actor started his career with the superhit 1991 action film Phool Aur Kaante.


Big B Blasts Media

An angry Amitabh Bachchan has blasted what he called a "false" and "insensitive" media report on his daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai's health saying, "I shall not tolerate it."

A city based tabloid published a report saying Aishwarya had been trying to conceive for some time but has been unable to do as she is suffering from stomach tuberculosis.

Bachchan, who was "too incensed and angered" by the claims of the tabloid, posted the copy of the report on his blog calling it the "lowest quality of journalism.”

"I write to you today in deep anguish, pain and disgust. This article is completely false, completely fabricated, unsubstantiated, insensitive and of the lowest quality of journalism there ever was," Bachchan wrote on his blog.

"I am the head of my family. Aishwarya is not my daughter-in -law, she is my daughter, a woman, a lady in my house and home. If anyone will speak derogatorily about her, I shall fight for her till my last breath. If you have something to say to the men in the house, Abhishek or me, I shall bear it. BUT .. if you shall make injudicious remarks on the women in my home, I shall not tolerate it !!!," Bachchan added.

The 67-year-old superstar further wrote, "I am too incensed and angered by the contents!! Not a single portion of the article is true!! I have much to comment upon on this, but shall hold on till another day."


Seeking Shilpa

He is a stranger to the world of Bollywood but American singer Richard Marx is aware of actress Shilpa Shetty and hopes to catch up with more of Bollywood during his short stay in India.

Marx, the voice behind international hits like “Right Here Waiting” and “Hazard,” is on his second visit to India. The artist performed along with Backstreet Boys at the Rock In India festival Feb. 20.

"I am a complete stranger to India and its films but I am aware of the music of Slumdog Millionaire and actress Shilpa Shetty who is talked about a lot in the American media. Hopefully I will learn more about it," said Marx.

"I wish I had more time to explore the country. Frankly, I didn't know I was so popular here. I would love to come back here and perform every year or two with my band," he added.

From giving background vocals to becoming one of the most sought after soloists in the music world, Marx feels his rise to the top is worth all the effort.

"It's better than I ever imagined and worth all the effort. At times though I feel I never had the time to take a deep breath and take a look at what I achieved as I was always working," the singer told PTI.

"I got to sing on many hits for many different artists, and every session was fun. I learned from them, struck up relationships and they ended up playing on my own records, and still do to this day," he added.


Balaji Makeover

Media and entertainment conglomerate Balaji Telefilms Ltd has gone for a corporate image makeover, unveiling a brand new visual identity, with plans to diversify into movie and new media production.

Ekta Kapoor, joint managing director, Balaji Telefilms Ltd told PTI that the makeover was part of the re-branding and re-invention of the company.

"Maintaining its core competency of fiction television programming, Balaji is diversifying into movie production and new media. At the same time, Alt Entertainment, Balaji's sister concern, will cater to the upwardly mobile young Indians with television and film content as well as global audiences through the new media like Internet and mobile," she said.

Explaining the reasons for a new company, Ekta said, "Disney is known to make children's programming. If it makes a hard hitting movie under the same banner, audiences will not identify with it. Similarly, Balaji cannot deviate from its brand of core programming."

Alt Entertainment aims to become the "preferred content provider" for its target audience between the age-group of 15 to 36.

The new identity reflects the fresh perspective adopted by Balaji Telefilms towards existing and new businesses and the core brand values that the brand has successfully been built on over the last 15 years, Ekta added.



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Be Counted!
U.S. Census 2010

It is imperative that all members of the Indian community participate in the forthcoming 2010 U.S. Census, writes Inder Singh.

Picking the Pieces: After the Pune Attacks
The recent terror strike in brought a rude reminder of the role of indigenous terror groups and in orchestrating militant strikes in India, writes Siddharth Srivastava.

Making Your Case:
U.S. Visitor's Visa

To avoid the frustration of being denied a visitor’s visa to the United States, an applicant needs to be honest and prepare meticulous documentation, writes attorney Mahesh Bajoria.

EDITORIAL: Be Counted!
U.S. Census

NEWS DIARY: February
REMEMBRANCE: Remembering Ekushey
SPORTS: Battleground Cricket
RECIPE: Hot and Sour Soup
REAL ESTATE: Strategic Default
SUBCONTINENT: The Kidnapping Menace
TRAVEL: Deutsches Museum
AUTO REVIEW: 2010 Ford Fusion SEL
BOLLYWOOD: Film Review: My Name is Khan
TAMIL FILM: Theeratha Vilaiyattu Pillai
BUSINESS: News in Brief
COMMUNITY: News Briefs

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