Sunday, 28 December 2008

"If people don't like my films, I take it as a learning experience", Aamir Khan talks to the media after the first Ghajini screening at PVR Juhu

exclusive by Devansh Patel



"We are very pleased that the film is finally releasing now and infact, we are sitting in PVR cinemas where the press show has just finished and the second is about to start. Couple of days back, the entire cast and the crew were tensed whether the film would release or not but we are glad to announce that Ghajini is finally releasing across cinemas today". These were the words coming out from Aamir Khan immediately after the first ever press screening of Ghajini got over at the PVR cinema in Juhu around 7.30pm. Accompanying him was director A.R. Murugadoss too. Harrow Observer's columnist and Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent Devansh Patel was present during the surprise visit of perfectionist Khan and gets you some interesting tit bits by the actor as the media quiz him on the film, his co-star Asin, his X-mas celebrations, his New Year resolutions and much more.


Why was this copyright issue brought up at the last time?
This copyright issue has been with us for quite some time now and the producer of the film Allu Arvind was trying to resolve the issue in the court. The information I have with me was that the hearing was over by 10th December but the order came on the 23rd December. We appealed on the same day and you won't believe how happy I am today that our film is officially releasing. The producer has deposited Rs 5 crore in the court and there is no stay on the film.

Whoever has seen the film are saying that there is a lot of violence shown in the film.
The response I've just got before I came in to meet you all is that the film is being appreciated and the kind of advance bookings for Ghajini is the highest ever for a Hindi feature film because it's four times more than the previous films. I am happy that there is a lot of excitement surrounding the film. I am waiting for the response from the audience.

How different or difficult was it to portray a character who talks more with his eyes than his mouth?
To play the character was very difficult but I don't want to say anything about my role. Please let the audiences come out and we will talk then.

Normally a film title is based on the name of a hero or heroine. This one is based on a villian called Ghajini.
The film is called Ghajini because its the only clue which the hero has. That's the only name he wants to find and kill.



What was your biggest inspiration while you did Ghajini?
Soorya, the actor who was in the original Tamil version of the film Ghajini. He has done a fantastic job. After watching the film, I was a bit hesitant whether to do the film or not. I was in two minds. Soorya convinced me and said that I was the only one who could do justice to the character. He pushed me to do Ghajini.

As you've now got a lot of hair cutting experience behind you and then the legal hassles to face, do you think aap baal baal bach gaye?
(laughs) I am feeling very releaved and nice t know that there are no more legal hassles.

What have you to say on the paintings gifted to you by Salman Khan which Asin unveiled three days back?
I am truly touched by the gestures of Salman Khan. He is such a great artist and I didn't know that till I saw his work. He has made some amazing paintings on Ghajini and I thank him for that.

How did you relate those paintings with your character in the film?
One of the portraits he has made matches my looks and the personality in the film. The second one is a very conceptualized version of the same.

Pirated cd's and dvd's will be available from day two after the film releases. Aren't you angry?
I am but what can we do about it. No one is ready to take action against this crime.

How true is it that youself and Salman are forming a team or a camp against SRK?
There is no truth in that at all. I think, Salman, Shahrukh and me are individuals in our own right. I have a relationship with SRK and Salman. Both are friends and there are no camps or anything like that.

Anushka and Asin, both have made their debut. Who do you think will win an award come 2009?
(laughs) What awards are you talking about and to whom are you asking this question. Only our audiences can give awards, nobody else.

How do you intend to celebrate Christmas this year?
I am going to be at home with my family for Christmas.

With so much goodwill surrounding you in the industry and your films going to the Oscars and the Bafta's and people talking good about you and your films, this time around, are you ready to face criticism?
I am always open for criticism.



What if you get to know that Ghajini is not upto the mark?
If people don't like any of my films then I treat it as a learning experience.

What excited you to do Ghajini?
What excited me about this film was the action, the story, the exciting scrrenplay and above all the love story in the film. That really won my heart. One of the main reasons I did this film was A.R. Murugadoss. When I met him it felt like meeting a kid who has this toy in his hand. All my expectations were fulfilled after working with him. He is so clear and understands the film so well that it's really amazing.

The Oscar committee saw Taare Zameen Par and have praised it. What have you got to say about it?
The committee liked the film a lot and the concerned person called me to congratulate me on how good Taare Zameen Par was. That doesn't mean that we are nominated because I am sure he liked other films too. But the fact that he has taken the effort to call was touching and I am very happy about it.

Aamir, I've lost a bit of my memory. Can you please tell me who was the lead actor in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi?
Why do you guys do this to me yaar. You like such things, don't you? One day because of you, I'll be beaten up badly (laughs)



Who according to you has got the best body in business in Bollywood?
In male, it has to be John Abraham and Hrithik Roshan and in females it has to be Kareena Kapoor because she is very good looking and has a great body.

What is your New Year resolution?
I haven't yet thought about it. But I will be going to the theatres to watch my film Ghajini in disguise. Where and how I am going will be kept a secret (laughs).

Exclusive Ghajini review - 1 star

Harrow Observer, U.K exclusive by Devansh Patel



A hand clutches a Polaroid of a grisly murder, holding it for a long moment, before giving it an impatient shake... the way people do with Polaroids. But there's something odd about this shake. I have mentioned in many of my past reviews that cinema is a means of escapism but unfortunately after watching Ghajini, you want to escape the cinema hall to the near by chemist to have a dose of crocin or a combiflam. You cannot escape from the make belief world of films but are drawn into watching the most outdated and predictable world of some 1980's action thriller. I remember when Aamir Khan walked in the Juhu PVR after the first ever Press screening of the film, I grill him by saying - What if the film is a big disaster. The answer was - I guess I'll have to learn from my mistakes. Well, Mr Aamir Khan, it's time you do just that!

Writer - Director A.R. Murugadoss plays this weak Hindi remake of a South Indian classic Ghajini backwards to give us a clue of what's to come in the next three gruelling hours. Sanjay Singhania (Aamir Khan) wakes up in his room and can't remember how he got there. But we do. We can remember what happened fifteen minutes before. Singhania can't. He has a 'condition' in which he has a short-term memory. He somehow makes new memories. He can remember his lover Kalpana (Asin) being murdered and he can remember being conked on the head, the event that apparently caused his disorder. Now he must keep polaroids of everyone he meets and tattoos of everything he needs to remember on his 'eight pack' abs and 'popeye type' biceps. He is after Kalpana's killer, who he knows is called 'Ghajini'. Cut to a muscular cop wearing jeans above his waist is in search of Singhania who also happens to be a millionaire owner of India's numero uno mobile phone company. But the cop only comes to know this bitter truth after reading the 2005 diary which he finds in Singhania's house. It takes the cop in the flashback which shows how the Van Heusen clad Sanjay falls victim to Kalpana's lie, claiming him to be her lover boy. Sanjay fakes his identity and doesn't want Kalpana to know that he is a rich brat. For her, he is Sachin, a struggler in the ad-mad world. 'Aye Bachchu' and 'Behka' follow. Asin and Aamir sing. What is the cop doing? I wonder. The story continues. More plots, more polaroid pics, more blood shed, more deaths, more viloence and more unnecessary screaming with no justification. Short term memory can make you forget things, but you can speak Aamir! Why don't you read your own diaries in first place? Why leave it for the cop and a medical student to figure who you are?



The somewhat decent first half make you wonder what kind of suspense lies in the second. For an action thriller, the 'thrill' element is lacking. There is no suspense at all. It is too predictable. Though some movies are, but after hearing that Aamir Khan had changed the last thirty minutes of the film after not being happy with the final product make you want to sit on the edge of your seat and patiently wait for the unseen. How many times have we seen the same kind of revenge stories being churned out of Indian cinema's? What makes Ghajini different is the tattoos and the eight pack abs, and ofcourse, the cult hair cut of Aamir. At least that deserves a five star!

A.R. Murugadoss fails to create an atmosphere for Ghajini. Rather he creates a desperate approach to one man's personal hell. All the action sequences look to be a lift off from the south. Agreed, the director is a south indian genius but when one tries to tap into the Bollywood market, it's an all together a new ball game. Ghajini is not a masterpiece but the master himself has fallen to pieces after making this one. Aamir Khan's acting looked forced and become frustrating after a while. It certainly isn't a break-through performance from a perfectionist. The era of a perfectionist ends with Ghajini. At one point the film puts you in the same state as Sanjay Singhania. You too suffer from a short term memory loss. But seeing the 'pachar pachar' Asin, your memory comes back to normal. You want to see her more than anything else in the film. She is the reason why I could prolong my memory.

Ghajini is provocative entertainment, bold enough to challenge it's audiences, but it also suffers from the lousiest anticlimax to dither across screens in recent memory. But for all its formal wizardry, Ghajini is ultimately an ice-cold feat of intellectual gamesmanship. Once the visceral thrill of the puzzle structure begins to wear off, there's nothing left to hang onto. The film itself begins to fade. The music is again a let down except 'Guzarish' and so is the editing. Too daft.

The movie operates in a manner that reveals little details to us a piece at a time, almost as if the filmmaker want us to treat it like a giant jigsaw puzzle. The big difference here, however, is that we're trying to assemble it without the edges; in the reality that Singhania has become trapped in, nothing is certain and nothing precise. It's impossible for either side to see where this journey is heading, if the majority of his collected 'polaroid facts' are simply misconceptions brought on by his disorder or manipulated by outside forces, who freely use his problem to their self-fulfilling advantage. Can we even be sure that Sanjay Singhania kills the right man Ghajini? And did I mention Jiah Khan's character in this review? I'll tell you in fifteen minutes.

Watch the Indian hulk Aamir take over the southern fried chickens. A true christmas delicacy this year!

1 star

"I'd like to say that Jiah Khan does exist in Ghajini", Jiah Khan in a candid chat with Devansh Patel

exclusive by Devansh Patel



Slim, sexy and slick is what she was known worldwide for her portrayal in her debut film Nishabd. So if you've made up your mind to see the most desirable single woman again with minimal outfits in Ghajini, don't be shocked after you read this interview. The new 'wow' babe of Bollywood is on cloud nine at the moment after having worked with Amitabh Bachchan in her first film and with the perfectionist Aamir Khan in her second. But what makes her special is the fact that she's also the smartest actress and comes across as the most pluckiest with a dry wit to match. Bold, confident and raring to go she is one Khan who stands out from the rest of the Khans in the industry. In one of the longest interviews she has ever given, Jiah Khan talks to London correspondent Devansh Patel about her next release Ghajini, how she landed up in the film, her tough times shooting the film, the research which went into her role, why she thinks that this Aamir starrer will be her first big commercial success, and ofcourse, her views after viewing Aamir's fit physique...all in this Bollywood Hungama exclusive.


I can't help but start this interview by asking you how do you express your anger or emotion towards the Mumbai terror attack last month?
It is so depressing. I feel sad that we call ourselves civilians and yet we can't be civil to each other. Religion is turning out to be a huge hurdle now and what is considered to be so personal and sacred is being used to destroy humanity in the name of religion. All this is really disturbing and I hope it comes to an end someday.

Ever since the common man has heard about Ghajini's first look, the promos and the songs, the only thing they haven't heard about is Jiah Khan. What say?
I'd like to say that Jiah Khan does exist in Ghajini (laughs). It's upto Aamir Khan and the producers of Ghajini and the way they want to publicise the film. What they've done with my role and my image is going to be a big surprise. But why they've kept me out of the promos is something you'll have to ask the producers.

Your fascination with the letter 'A' is also being accounted for. Amitabh to Aamir. Two of the best in the business. When do you move forward?
Wow! That's a good observation. I think I'm very lucky. But eventually all is in God's hands and I hope it keeps on going this way.

Comparisons are bound to happen when you work with two perfectionist actors like the Big B and Aamir. Any interesting observations?
They both are very experienced as we all know and when you work with such an experienced bunch of actors you tend to perform much better and get your work finished much faster. As individuals they're extremely different. The way they communicate with their co-actors is also very different. I got to learn a lot from both of them and it feels as if I am ten films old now.

All actors say that they've learnt a lot from their co-actors. We want to know what exactly have you learnt?
My scenes in Ghajini are like on the edge and dramatic scenes. As far as acting goes, it was far simpler to do a Nishabd than to be doing Ghajini. To be working with Aamir Khan and then shouting at him is pretty hard which Aamir helped me with eventually. For Aamir to hold my hand in each scene and then take me through the scenes by doing rehearsals only to see which scene fits perfect was a learning experience. Right now I'm learning how to deal with different characters and different emotions.



A director will only go to an actor when he knows that he is talented and experienced and can give box office success. With no experience behind you, how did the producers and directors came knocking on your door for Ghajini?
I'd like to think it's because of my talent. You missed that out. If you see, both Nishabd and my role in Ghajini aren't glamorous. Both are performance based roles. When you're a part of a Bollywood film industry, luck has a lot of role to play. It's good to be doing a performance oriented role where you concentrate less on what lip stick shades you're wearing. When the switch is on and you're at the right place, it means your time is right. I guess, the producers and the directors came at the right time (laughs)

So how did the bell rang on your door?
I was approached by the producer where he handed me the copy of the original South Indian film. Aamir was on board then. So ofcourse that had to be accounted for. Then I had to audition for my role which took very long. Mentally it was quite draining to figure out whether I was in or out. For me being in the film was like a major turning point in my career. Within two weeks of the audition, they finally decided to cast me for the role. I was over the moon.

I have to ask you the cliched, 'what role do you play in the film' question.
(laughs) I play Sunita in the film who is a medical student with brain study as her special subject. She tries and case studies Aamir Khan's character and then how she gets to know about his personal vendetta and becomes involved in it is what my role is in Ghajini.

Is your voice being dubbed in Ghajini?
No it's not dubbed. It's my original voice. Everything is sync sound. Aamir Khan being a perfectionist wouldn't ok my sound being dubbed.

Was filming for Ghajini an uphill climb?
There was a lot of pressure because when you are performing with Aamir Khan or Amitabh Bachchan for instance, you cannot give many retakes. At the back of your head you know that if you don't get it right quickly, you'll tire them out and you don't want to be doing that. But to your surprise and mine, the crew started calling me a 'one take actress'. There were some extremely intense scenes where it was so draining and that's when Aamir lend me a helping hand.

The news circulating right now in the media is that Aamir Khan is not really happy with the way Ghajini has shaped up. Have you heard the same?
I have no idea about what you're saying and thus cannot comment on your question.

With Nishabd not working well for you, are you looking forward to touch your first commercial success with Ghajini?
I'd like to believe that, definitely. Ghajini is a commercial film unlike Nishabd but at the same time it is a thriller too. My portions in the film are very dramatic. The part of the film in which I am in is where the thriller element comes in play. I hope Ghajini turns out to be like your question.

What went into the research of your character? and any memorable sequence you can trace back?
Being a medical student, there were a lot of technical terms I had to be familiar with. Also the pronunciations had to be perfect. The research is one of the hardest things I've done in my entire life. There was one sequence where I had to run with Aamir Khan on a busy Mumbai road with thousands of onlookers and mad traffic. Ofcourse, Aamir Khan being there such scene had to happen but I was shocked to see the stampede. I thought that the crowd would all pounce on us but luckily I am alive (laughs)

Do you share any screen space with Asin?
No I don't. Asin is in the first half of the film and I come in after the intermission.

From Ramu to Murgados, both have made films in the South. How was it working with Murgados?
I am the biggest fan of Murgados. He is definitely one of my favourite directors, though I've only worked with Ram Gopal Varma. He is very adorable and one of the funniest members on and off the sets. He is very light hearted and a true perfectionist. So if my performances get appreciated in Ghajini, credit has to go to Murgados.

Your skimpy outfits made you look super sexy in your debut film. What kind of outfits are we going to see you in Ghajini?
(laughs) A complete opposite. I am covered up from head to toe. So even if I wanted to show a little bit of skin, Aamir and Murgados would cover me up.

Do you think after what's happened on November 26, Ghajini will attract crowds in theatres?
The whole idea of me joining the Bollywood industry was that films have always been an outlet for me and the people. We go and see a film to get away from the harsh realities of day to day life. I hope Ghajini continues to do exactly that and entertain the audiences. Go and see Ghajini because it is a fabulous film with me and Aamir and Asin. We know that Aamir doesn't do a lot of commercial films. For that reason one should go and watch Ghajini.

A very important question coming your way. What say about Aamir's never before seen slick and sexy physique?
You know what, I was on the sets passing him while he was in his boxer shorts shooting a scene. I actually stopped and couldn't breathe. He looked amazing. I don't know how he came up with such a physique but it is going to melt a many.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

"Oh Yes, Aamir looks hot", Asin in a tete-a-tete with Devansh Patel

exclusive by Devansh Patel



17 films old already down South, this Southern siren is now ready to hit it big in Bollywood come December 25 with her first Bollywood film Ghajini opposite Mr perfectionist Aamir Khan. Asin must now be added to the growing list of Indian actresses who've risen to Bollywood prominence. For a long time, though, it really looked like she wouldn't make it. But is there more to Asin than the all-south indian image she has created on-screen? Until recently the actress was a virtual unknown in the all-important Indian movie industry. Now she's one of its biggest stars or is she? It's hoped the movie will do for Asin what Namastey London did for Katrina Kaif. But like Kats, Asin is remaining resolutely down to earth about becoming Bollywood's latest leading lady. In this Bollywood Hungama exclusive the beauty gets ready to talk to our London correspondent and Harrow Observer columnist Devansh Patel about why being a part of Ghajini was a piece of cake, why she would love to treat Aamir with some Idli and sambhar, how perfect is the perfectionist Aamir Khan and will her film come as a welcome relief for the grieving India.


We all know it's not a sin to work with Aamir Khan. It's a boon and a blessing in disguise instead. What say?
(laughs out loud) Nice way to put it huh? I've been an ardent admirer of Aamir Khan movies, his acting and himself ever since I was a kid. It is a dream come true. To work with him in my first hindi venture is fabulous. I must say that he is a very supportive co-star, encouraging and very down to earth. That is the high point of his personality. He is passionate about his work which we all know and to see him in an avtaar like this in Ghajini is inspiring.

What made your director Murgados or Aamir for that matter, sign the same face of the tamil version Ghajini in hindi too?
(laughs) I have no idea. You'll have to interview Murgados to get your answer. All I know is that I've done the original Ghajini and am lucky to be a part of the same film made in Hindi.

I'm sure the hindi version of Ghajini must've been a piece of cake for you, isn't it? Same role, etc
You're somewhat right. I was already familiar with my character. My role in the hindi version of Ghajini has not been changed and is the same as in the original. Kalpana, the girl I play remains Kalpana except the settings keep on changing. The film has been changed a little bit in the second half, the action sequences too have been changed and the climax of Ghajini is tweaked for the better.

Now to ask you the question, how was your experience working in a biggie like Ghajini makes no sense because you'll be seen doing the same thing what you did in the original?
Not really. The people working on the hindi Ghajini are quite different from those working in the original. When you're working with a different technical crew and the people behind the scenes, they tend to bring a whole new flavour to the film. It's not always the same as to what you've done before. I wouldn't say this film is a repeat of the tamil version because the entire experience of working with the cast and the crew was like a new change. I would advice the people who've seen the tamil version to go to the theatres with a fresh frame of mind to watch Ghajini and watch it as a different movie.



Thanks to Aamir who liked the tamil version and we know the rest is history. But if it wasn't for Aamir's fondness for the subject, we wouldn't have seen Asin launch in Bollywood.
(laughs) That's an interesting observation. Well, I had been getting Bollywood offers before Ghajini but I was waiting for the right kind of projects to come to me. When I was approached for Ghajini, I thought it was the perfect baby step into Bollywood because it's a dream come true to be working with the perfectionist Khan in your debut. When you've got Murgados behind the camera, when you've got A.R.Rahman's music and when you've got Ravi K Chandran's cinematography you can't ask for more in your first film.

The song Aye Bacchu has got a lot of attitude which is picturised on you. Have you got one?
(laughs) No I don't but the song has. Aye Bacchu has got a bindaas attitude with a message, live your life to the fullest, which is basically what Kalpana the character is all about. It's my introduction song. Off screen I am bindaas too.

How do you rate Aamir as a dancer?
I really don't have any song with him where we actually shake a leg. The only two songs in which I'm there with him are romantic duets. Aamir is doing most of the singing and I'm just filling in the gaps. I'm sure Aamir is a good dancer but I can't rate him as the best.

Having said that, can Mr Perfectionist be perfect if he moves to the south Indian film industry?
Absolutely yes, there is no doubt about it. He can not only be perfect in the south but all over the world. I'm sure if he goes to Hollywood he will be accepted with open arms. And yes, he doesn't have to have a moustache if he intends to join Tollywood because that's an outdated concept now. It's a wrong notion that people have about having a moustache. All this quick gun murgan thing is not at all applicable in todays time down south.

Is Ghajini an A.R Murgados film or an Aamir Khan film?
In a way, an Aamir Khan film. Ghajini is about Sanjay Singhania, that's Aamir Khan's name in the film. It is also a complete Murgados film because it is visualised, screenplayed, written and directed by Murgados. Ghajini's highlight is exactly what an Indian commercial romantic action thriller needs and both Murgados and Aamir have proved that.

Will Ghajini come as a welcome relief for the grieving India?
I hope people find the movie watching experience good and they enjoy it. There are parts of romance in the film which will make you feel good, laughter which will make you laugh and drama which will keep you on the edge of your seat. India and Indians are surely going to bounce back in days to come. I know this time around it's a different story all together.

How really perfect is Aamir Khan the perfectionist. Or is he?
Perfectionist is a good term to describe Aamir. But somewhere I've seen the media has portrayed him slightly in a negative manner. Yes, he is very particular about every shot, looks into the detailing a lot. People think he ghost directs, he hasn't done that in Ghajini but if he gives an idea to the director, the media thinks he directed it. I don't buy that. He is non interfering at all.

Jiah said it, now it's your turn. Did you go ga-ga over Aamir's physique?
Oh yes. He looks so hot. More than the weight and his six packs, he has put in a lot of effort into his character. Another reason to watch Ghajini is Aamir's body. Bollywood's latest action hero is here.

Any exciting moments you can recall?
We shot on real locations in Mumbai. The roads, the buildings, etc. We hardly put up sets for the film. I remember I had to ride a scooty with Mr Aamir Khan behind me. It was real fun because imagine one fine Monday morning when people saw Aamir on a scooty in Mumbai. The excitment and the experience on real locations with Aamir was truly unique.

Did you then treat him with some idli sambhar or dosas?
(laughs) Not yet actually. I would've loved to treat him though with some idli wada and sambhar.

What message would you like to give to your fans in the south and your future fans of Bollywood?
I don't know. I seriously have no message for them regarding myself. But I'd love to tell all Bollywood fans to go and watch Ghajini, the experience that is - Aamir Khan. Remember the date - 25th December.

What next?
Vipul Shah's London Dreams with Ajay Devgan and Salman Khan and a Walt Disney production titled 19th Step with mr Kamal Hassan and the japanese actor Asanu. It is based on Indian martial arts.

"Will you marry me Anushka?", Devansh Patel to Anushka in an exclusive interview

exclusive by Devansh Patel



"Thank you so much. I've been answering the same old questions two thousand times". This is what the delighted Anushka Sharma with a beautiful smile told to me when I walked in to the YRF Studio's first floor room after letting her know that I wasn't in a mood of asking cliched questions to her for her film Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. But she forgot to ask me my mood then, because for once, I was in a mood to create something new, something cheerful, something light, something entertaining, something more flirtatious. What's more, she was ready and comfortable with my mood, but what she didn't see coming was her first ever proposal by a journalist in a closed room. I asked her out on a date first and then asked her whether she would marry me. To my jaw dropping surprise, she said, "Yes". Listening to her talk, you can hear the qualities that made her Taani in the film, she has become the face of the season that you would want to hear the news from and a reason for anyone to fall in love with. In some ways, she says, the life chose her rather than the other way around. With her exotic looks and her obvious sense of fun, you'd think Anushka Sharma would have many a men beating a path to her door. But no. I was the only first and the last man standing which put her through this fancy-free and flirty conversation. Not that she doesn't want a man in her life - it's just that Rab found me for her. Harrow Observer UK and Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent brings you the never before heard or seen conversation with the sexy, single and now successful Anushka Sharma on Rab, Tab aur Ab (God, then and now).

Shahrukh told me that Adi Chopra believed the film was made by Rab. What's your opinion on the quote?
Absolutely correct. Me being a part of this film is also because of Rab because now that I've done this film, in a strange way I believe that everything that has happened in my life before this has kind of structured to get me to this. In terms of me moving to Mumbai, me not being too exposed inspite of being in the modelling world for quite some time, etc all help me get Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. It was entirely Rab's blessings for all of us, not for me alone.

The recently updated UK figures have grossed almost half a million pounds in seven days for your film. Are you going to be a million dollar baby by the end of two weeks?
(laughs) Actually I don't understand the figures very well. I do ask Yash Raj how the film is doing at the box office and what the people are thinking about it. But as you're telling me that the film has grossed half a million pounds, I'm sure the people are going to the cinemas and watching it. But I wanted everyone to come out of the theatres and scream on top of their voice - What a film man! I'm going and watching it the next time. It feels good to be a part of a successful film and even special when you know that you've contributed towards the success.

Will the success of Rab Ne take your feet off the ramp?
This film happened by chance but modelling was something that I always wanted to do. I've never said that I wanted to be Miss World or an actress. I just wanted to be a model walking the ramp. Whether I will return back to the ramp is all upto Rab now. Let's see.



Are you happy with the unhappy response from quite a few critics from the media world?
Yeah, I heard that many critics haven't taken the film very well. But that's fine. Everyone is entitled to their own individual opinion and they are viewers after all. I respect all the critics opinion.

How critical were your parents after watching the film?
My elder brother will never pay me any compliment because he is harsh. And so is my dad. After watching the film my brother said, "You can act huh". For my mother, I'm the best in the world. My dad was impressed though.

You made my friend and colleague who was sitting next to me while watching the film cry. Why?
(laughs) Really? Actually I wanted everyone to cry. My friends called me up saying that they really enjoyed the film and had fun throughout. But in return I asked them whether they cried watching the same. I wanted them to cry. If someone has cried, they are feeling for you and your character. I guess it's nice in a way.

So tell me, are your parents going to look out for a boy like Suri or Raj for your marriage?
(laughs) My father always says, "You please go and find a boy for yourself because I doubt if I will ever find one for you". I tend to go the hyper way sometimes which is fine because that's my age. So if I was ever to find someone for me, the guy has to be like Surinder Sahni. If you are dating a rich brat, how far can you go on is my question and where are you going to go? You want to be with someone who loves you like Suri does, that is unconditionally. He has to be sweet and genuine. I was watching the film and was cursing my character because I failed to understand why isn't Taani falling in love with him.

You envy Gauri Khan then?
(laughs out loud) No, not at all. They are such a cute couple. I can never think of that.

Ok, would you leave your husband in real life if you find someone else?
For Taani, she didn't marry out of choice but Anushka Sharma is going to marry out of choice. And when I do get married I will never think of leaving my husband.

Now please close your eyes and tell me where do you see Rab when you open your eyes. I know it's me but still go on, tell me.
(laughs out loud) Yes, it's you in front of me. But on a serious note, you are not seeing Rab in someone, you see the goodness of Rab in a person. Someone who is so correct like Suri doesn't have a single bad bone in his body. He is such a nice man and is so good to everybody. That's what God is like, right?

You are a classic dancer with a classical grace.
Thank you for the compliment and thanks to my Bharatnatyam classes I did till I was in the seventh standard. My mother always wanted me to learn classical dancing but I kept running away from it. What you've seen on screen is thanks to Shiamak Davar who helped me for one whole month of training.

When do you plan to go to the UK and show your beautiful face to the country which has accepted you and your film with open arms?
I'm booking my flight with you. Let's go together. That's a good idea isn't it? I've never been to the UK and I'd love to go there once.

You don't need to climb the ladder of success because you are so tall.
(laughs) You're right. But in the film, I wasn't wearing any heels. If I was, I would've looked taller than Shahrukh.

Have you been offered any toothpaste commercial because your smile kills.
Oh really (laughs). I haven't been offered any toothpaste commercial but the day I get an offer, I'll send you a thank you note.



How similar is Anushka to Taani?
In more ways than one. But Anushka right now is very tired and I've been doing these interviews since morning which will go on till 11pm. Please tell me how do these actors do it. Hats off to them. I have to learn the tricks of the trade. Sometimes it does get tiring to answer the same questions again and again. I must say, your questions are a welcome relief.

I can't keep my eyes off you and I have to say this, will you come out on a date with me?
(laughs) Yes, I don't mind but on one condition. You don't have to ask me any questions, I will ask you the same question forty times and you'll have to answer it. Secondly, we will go the Yash Raj canteen outside for our date. Thirdly, you will have to compliment me, talk all the nice things about me and be very sweet with me. If that's what you can do, I'm up for it.

Now you're being conditional here.
I have to if you want a date with me (laughs)

How about a step forward. Will you marry me Anushka?
(laughs out loud) Yes but again it will be conditional. You know what, my father may agree to your proposal also because he will be more than willing to say, "Accha hai...koi toh mil gaya...ab meri tension khatam".

What do you have to say to your UK audiences who are comparing you with Kajol's character Simran? They think you are the new Simran in SRK's life.
Wow! I didn't know this. Thank you so much and thank you to all the UK people who've appreciated my work. I hope I do many more films with Shahrukh because he is too good. He is fun to work with. When I saw Kajol and SRK in the 'phir milenge chalte chalte' song, they both looked like made for each other. Their pair is just awesome.

Are you going to watch Aamir's Ghajini?
Yes, I am going to watch Aamir Khan's Ghajini. I think it's going to be a good film. It's not about competition, now a days, the more the films do well, better it is for our industry.

RGV's Agyaat make big moves

exclusive by Devansh Patel

Looks like Ram Gopal Varma's Agyaat is having a snowball effect in Sri Lanka. It's rolling at a lightening pace. A source close to RGV informs me, "It's raining since couple of days in Sri Lanka but inspite of the wet and wild conditions, Ramu still wants his cast and crew to carry on filming. This is how RGV works by thinking that the rain will add flavour to the film. How Agyaat (unknown) is that?". I further quizzed him on the news which is doing the rounds on whether Agyaat will be dubbed in Telegu and Tamil, to which the source answered, "The news is true. Sudhakar Reddy's son, Nitin Reddy who plays the lead actor in the film is a Telugu super star who has given huge hits down south. That's the only reason why Telegu rights are going to be so high followed by the Tamil rights". Now it's not only the south who is looking forward to the film but Bollywood too is sneaking in from the behind. "RGV is in talks with Bollywood's top most corporate houses for all the rights regarding Agyaat right from promotion to distribution to marketing, so on and so forth. Not only that, Ramu has also decided that he is not going to show any person wearing a costume of the predator or an alien. The post production guys from Pixion are creating the creature for Agyaat now. The cast and the crew along with director Ram Gopal Varma are planning to return back to India on January 14 and are trying their level best to hit the deadline in times of recession. Still to shoot are some of the toughest action sequences in the jungles of Sri Lanka and the man helping to achieve that is the action director from past films such as Shoot Out At Lokhandwala and Mission Istanbul", said the source. Whether the film will be a hit ya miss can only be judged after it's release. One things sure, the action of Agyaat will certainly pack a punch.

Exclusive Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi review

exclusive by Devansh Patel



When the entire film fraternity and the media had written off Yash Raj Films, once again the King of Bollywood Shahrukh Khan comes to their rescue. Devansh Patel brings you the exclusive review of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi and tells why is SRK and YRF a match made in heaven.

I fail to understand why do critics go to the cinema halls, stand in long queues for 20 minutes to buy their favourite combo meals but can't stand a 2 hour 45 minute film which is much more delicious than their junk food. Please don't take my comment personally but it's the bitter truth. We all know that Aditya Chopra is making a comeback after eight long years and you can't expect him to be the same. So what does he do? Well, he makes a light entertainer which makes you laugh, sob a little and again puts a smile back on your face the time you are about to leave the cinema halls. Yes, the film is long but it doesn't drag and make you yawn. SRK is welcomed with open arms in a different get up, new comer Anushka Sharma is the best find of 2008 so far and apna Vinay Pathak as usual is versatile. So how did I come up with the above conclusions? This is how:

Cut to Amritsar. With a yellow suitcase, wearing a checkered shirt with grey trousers, walks in specsy Surinder Sahni (Shahrukh Khan) with his beautiful wife Tanni (Anushka Sharma) in red chudidar kurta. The film opens up with the couple not talking to each other due to unforseen circumstances which got them married. Surinder and Tanni live under the same roof but seems miles apart. Surinder works in Punjab Power but is powerless when it comes to making their married life a bliss. Surinders very good friend Bobby (Vinay Pathak) who owns a hair salon comes knocking on his door in anger because Surinder did not tell him how and why he got married. But after listening to Sahni's side of the story he gets emotional. Then again comes knocking on the door self invited guests and colleagues of Surinder from Punjab Power for free chicken and whiskey, and then the first of the many beautiful scenes of Rab Ne arrives after the guests leave, the confrontation scene between the husband and the wife where Tanni very bravely tells Surinder that she won't be able to love him but promises to be a good wife. Our common man has no option but to leave everything on to Rab (God) to change his married life for good. Trying to get the smile back on her face, Tanni enrols herself in Amritsars one and only dance competition titled 'Dancing Jodi competition'. Then a transformation of character takes place. Surinder desperate to find love from his wife goes to Bobby's salon for a makeover by suggesting Bobby to change his appearance to impress his dull and gloomy wife which becomes his only mantra of life now and ofcourse, to become a hip and happening dance partner of Tanni. In the meantime, the makeover gets completed. Surinder turns into Raj, 'naam toh suna hi hoga?' He becomes Tanni's dancing jodi and both bring back some love and laughter in each ones life. Aware of the fact that Tanni doesn't recognise him, Raj aka Surinder tries to keep her happy but for how long is the question. The fun filled ordinary first half gives way to the emotional and an extraordinary second half and the movie climbs higher and higher.



Films are a work of fiction and make belief. So if a Krissh jumps across sky scrappers, no reviewer will question, "This is stupid, how can a human fly?" But when Rab Ne releases, an even astonishing comments start coming in, "How is it possible for Tanni not to recognise her husband even after the makeover. I'm sure she can recognise her voice." Fiction...make belief....rings a bell? Open your eyes!

You will walk out of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi not talking about its blown-out budget or its lengthy running time, but of its enormous emotive power, as big as the banner Yash Raj Films. You may think of it at first as a good old disaster movie (many critics thought the same way) but there is no terrorist threatening with bombs, nor a natural disaster to wreak havoc. The baddie here is our own arrogance, shortsightedness and frailty. Aditya Chopra has written a warm and turbulent romance that is flung into the dance floor back to the salon and back again. The film is dramatically well balanced so that our anticipations are held in check with surprises and an engaging story, while Adi fastidiously builds up the environment. This is how the film delivers its punch; we don't just see the setting and the people, we can feel the environment, we can feel how we each person would feel, we can feel the whole damn drama and the poetic, lyrical love story. This is emotive cinema, a film that carries you (unless you are a die hard cynic with a heart that's switched off) and involves you.

So if DDLJ created history and Mohabbatein broke box office records, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi will do what both these films could not do, it will reinforce the notion that an exemplary marriage of superb writing and masterful cinematic artistry is more than a real possibility in today's Bollywood.

Performances are unbelievable. SRK and Anushka Sharma are terrific, though Anushka shines, giving a haunting, eloquent performance as a young woman who fights free of the shackles of class to a more unconstrained relationship with the free-spirited Raj. Shahrukh has this bouncing back ability. Everytime the critics try to write him down, this King writes his own destiny which changes the way people think about him. He is a joker in a pack of cards, more powerful than the ace. Look out for the spiky Vinay Pathak who is in his element. Salim Sulaiman's music is pleasing to the ears, especially the background score which cuts your heart and pierces right through leaving you painless, aided by some sharp cinematography by Ravi K Chandran, taut editing and some good special effects (the one where SRK shows Anushka the I Love You lighting).

In times when our India is grieving, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi brings the resilience back to the cinema halls. So tuck your shirt, wear your spectacles and if needed, spike you hair in your nearby salon and go to the nearest cinema hall to catch this light romantic entertainer with your favourite jodi. Yash Raj Films is back from the brink!

****

Saturday, 13 December 2008

SRK in an exclusive interview with Devansh Patel from Mannat

exclusive by Devansh Patel



What's the best thing that can happen to you as a journalist when you fly down from London to Mumbai in the month of December? Attending Page 3 parties? Eating hot and spicy curries? Going to the best ever New Years bash? Meeting celebrities on the sets? Naaaa! But imagine you getting a text message one morning which reads - SRK interview tomorrow at 3.15pm at Mannat. You have 15 minutes. I then call the YRF PR to confirm the message. Positive answer. What once was a distant dream becomes a near reality. What happened in the next 24 hours was truly one of my most fulfilling experiences as a Bollywood columnist. Everytime you come to Mumbai city and pass by the lovely band stand area, you just cannot move your eye away from Mannat. I call it Jannat. I mean, which actor wouldn't want to live there? I enter the Mannat Annexe, his new three storey office behind Mannat. Security check takes place, identification proof and then I enter. All this and I felt like I was in Heathrow airport checking in. Off I go to the second floor where three to four print journos were waiting for their turn to meet Shahrukh the Datuk. He is no more a King but way beyond that. For me he is the matinee idol look combined with the sex symbol loveliness. That sums up SRK's pin up appeal since two decades. Whether he plays a lover boy in DDLJ or a music teacher in Mohabbatein, he posseses an all-too-nice guy charm. He's willing to put that charm to test too. In Chak De India we didn't see SRK, we saw Kabir Khan - no pretty love interest, no wisecracking sidekick, not even a comic genius. And, such is the weight Shahrukh carries with a worldwide audience, such is the skill he has developed over two decades plying his trade, he pulled it off. His Friday release Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi hopefully will take it further. Sitting in his black v neck t-shirt and jeans he poses for photographers, goes to the terrace on the third floor to get some more natural shots, comes down, shakes my hand and humorously asks me, "Are you the same Observer journalist who reported about the terrorist? I say, "No". He orders a hot cup of coffee for himself, talks about the hot Anushka Sharma, talks about the hot parathas and much more in what should go down as the best ever interview of SRK in ages. As he aptly said, "You are here to interview me and you'll hope that this one is better than your last one".



We don't start with ABC here but with SRK. So tell me what makes an extraordinary SRK ordinary?
I think the reason people become extraordinary is because their roots are ordinary. I don't think it works the other way round that you happen to be an extraordinary and then with humility and modesty talk about your ordinaryness. First of all, I don't believe I'm extraordinary. My very good friend and writer of Chak De India, Jaideep Sahni told me yesterday that the irony of your life is that when you tell people the truth, they believe either you're being too humble or honest which is true. I don't find anything extraordinary in what I do. It's a job like everyone else does. I wake up every morning, apply my make up and try and get my best shot possible. You are here to interview me and you'll hope that this one is better than the last one. That's what I'm doing since last 20 years and our film Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi is akin to that.

Is that being diplomatic or simplistic?
I always say this, I am an employee of the myth of SRK. For the first time you will see the worker behind this myth and Rab Ne's Surinder Sahni, the character, is that worker who is a little boring, hard worker, may be not good looking but he is actually the engine what drives the myth. It's being simplistic.

What characteristics do you think are most important for having a fulfilling jodi?
If you are talking about my own experience, it's the space. Allowing the space that your partner wants and still occupying it with love is crucial. Besides that it's subjective. It's different strokes for different folks. Overall, everybody likes to have that space. When I start making a film I tell everyone, "Listen guys, we are hundred of us and we are going to formulate a team. There are two of us, a director and an actor. We are trying to make a film but are we making the same film? Are we both doing this film for the same reason? Are we telling this story to earn money from that or just want to tell a story? Whatever the reason, it should be on the same page. Then anything you do, whether it's your personal life or professionally, you become one fulfilling jodi.



What ideas, values or experiences did you and Aditya Chopra bring along with you from 2000 to 2008, from Mohabbatein to Rab Ne?
What we've realised from DDLJ days is that a lot of faith has been put in our creative ability to entertain. For years what we've tried to do is cater to what we think people want to see. We've always said that we'd like to see a cool guy singing Tujhe Dekha Toh Yeh Jaana Sanam in Switzerland and we gave that to them. It's not important that we keep giving them what they want to see, but the question is, can we give them what they want to show and ask them whether they liked what they saw. That is the difference from Rab Ne to Dilwale. When we made DDLJ we were very anxious. we tried to show the lamborgini or the harley davidson but now we want to show them the engine that drives these things. We are now challenging the status of faith given to us by the audiences saying, You guys told us that you like us, now we will show you what we like and not what you like to see.

And what is Adi going to show them this time around?
Rab Ne is a big entertaining film and the most funny film Aditya Chopra can make because for the simple reason that he is not a funny guy. Even during DDLJ, I had to bring in a lot of humor. We've tried this time to bring this same humor in an ordinary way. People when they travel abroad eat chicken in KFC or a burger in McDonalds or some grilled food in some restaurant. But when they come home after a month or two and sit down and are being served hot paratha and curd, you feel it's the best you've ever had. Rab Ne is the best you've ever had.

Extending on what you said that there was a Lamborgini, Harley Davidson, etc, all YRF films have seen rich NRI's. Since Chak De we are now seeing an emerging trend of a middle class Indian in YRF films, more closer to our home. Is it a planned move or what?
It's not like that. As time goes, you get attracted to different kind of stories. I am still attracted to a super hero story that I still want to tell, I am still attracted to a fun film like Om Shanti Om. I was never attracted to love stories to be honest. I just do them because my friends really believe in them and I do it for them. Lately, I loved the idea of Don. I think it's really cool. There was an anti establishment time in 70's and 80's when Mr Bachchan used to act in films. Then come 90's our economy prosperred, people went abroad, they did well for themselves and wanted to achieve their dreams of having a big house, a big car and a big family happily settled in the UK or the US. So films like DDLJ came and made those dreams come true on celluloid and now the time has come where people don't want a big car. It's fine for them to travel in a bus. What todays people want is their status identity, whoever they are, they are heroes.



But what about todays kids, let's say Aryan, will he identify with his extraordinary status?
When I am trying to show my son Aryan heroes of todays day and age and even heroes of our mythological era, he is not interested. For kids, a hero is a guy who is normal and ordinarily extraordinary. They don't need their hero to be in flashy clothes. But as long as he performs he is a hero for them. Like footballer Ronaldo is a hero for kids because his actions are performance based. Hero toh woh hota hai jo Shah Rukh Khan hota hai, that's not true. Hero is one who does his job well. For Aryan I might be his hero too because he knows I do my job well. I've seen that an ordinary man is very secured about his status. The purpose of life and your existance is becoming more important. I tell me kids that I did Om Shanti Om because I believe that if it's not happy, it's not the end.

What's your status then?
It's strange but the people of Malaysia knew what my status was when I went there to receive my knighthood. They were holding these huge banners which said, The person who likes to see people smile - Datuk Shahrukh. That's what I am. It's another thing that I get paid crores for doing that now. But I got Rs 5,000 for my first film to do the same thing and will continue doing that in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi.



Chak De garnered a great deal of attention from fans and critics, especially in the overseas. Do you think Rab Ne will tread the same path?
I don't know but I think that the film is too entertaining for the critics to like it (laughs). It'll make you laugh and cry. Honestly, critics have been really nice to me, they give me much more than I deserve. I'm sure in Rab Ne too they will think that I've acted well. I truly believe that Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi is Aditya Chopra's bravest film. So I hope he gets the feedback. We've made the film, it's our baby now and it's up to the audiences to say whether they like it or not. It's an important film for Adi and me.

It's strange to be working with a stranger. You expect the unexpected from them. How did Anushka Sharma come across?
All these girls are really wonderful. They are in a world which is very well informed, more informed than my world when I was 20. They have access to information and because they have access to information, I believe that they have access to expressions that I didn't have at that age. I've grown up with some expressions of life. I didn't know what a terrorist was, I didn't know what an internet was. I had to first access it and then learn it. So when you're working with new comers as talented as Anushka what happens is they express themselves in a language that I'm just getting to know. Over the last couple of years, I've learnt not to correct them (new comers) because I need to correct myself. When I said a line in DDLJ which went - Zindagi mein do raaste milte hai, ek sahi, ek galt. Everybody told me how beautifully I had said those lines. I don't think Anushka will say the same lines like I did. But when she says it the way she says it now, it'll be as beautiful. I truly believe that new comers are great actors because they do things completely out of the box. I just thanked her and her parents last night by saying, "Thank you for allowing me to do something different.

So how different is Rab Ne as a film?
Rab Ne is very believable and different because of Anushka, more than me or Adi.

Apart from your cameo in Bhoothnath this year, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi is your only full length feature role and film of 2008. Is age catching up haule haule?
No, that's not true. I messed up on dates this year, big time. I was doing two films this year, Robot with Shankar and Three Idiots with Rajkumar Hirani and both didn't kick off due to some problems. Suddenly my dates got free. Now if I get to know just now that I've given up a film, I can't sign a new film next day because the people who make films with me plan their films in advance. So I started a small film with Irrfan Khan called Billo Barber which we are ready with. I postponed it because Rab Ne was releasing in December. We are releasing it in February now. Plus IPL was there too. I spent a good couple of months just concentrating on that. Then My Name is Khan got postpone because of dates in America and times. Next year, I'lll still do three films. I am flying to L.A on the 18th December for My Name is Khan and will be back in February before Billo Barber's release. So if everything goes by the paper, you'll see me in three films in 2009.

You go that extra mile Shahrukh, for the different look,, for the different style or be it a different film. You bend yourself out of the shape just to get it right. But what difference does it make?
I don't know, I guess the director wants me to do it. Everyone who wants to sign me now says that they don't want SRK. They want me to look different and act different. Farah Khan came up to me because she wanted a six pack from me for Dard E Disco. So I did it. Shimit Amin wanted me to have a beard in Chak De. I did that too. For Rab Ne I had to shed a lot of kilos. I didn't like doing it but it was work. Now Karan Johar wants me to have short hair and a bit more weight for My Name is Khan. I am doing it. You tell me I'll do it is what people want from me now.

Luck plays a significant part in everyones life. It has played in your life and mine too. I want to know how luck has affected Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi?
Adi says that this film is made by Rab and not luck. I just called him and told him that should we just postpone the release of our film keeping in mind the situation in Mumbai right now and he said, "This film is made by Rab and we will let it release on time as planned. All whats happening was made to happen. Rab knows what he is doing". I never planned to work with Aditya Chopra and he never planned to make a film. It all just happened. The reason I did Rab Ne is because Raju Hirani's film got cancelled. So Adi came to me and said that he had written a film in 12 days and wanted me to be a part of it. I agreed and we finished the film in 47 days. Rab Ne is 20% better than what we planned to make. It's all in Rab's hands.

You have people in this profession whom you trust and have made a difference in your career, YRF. What say?
Rab Ne is the seventh film I've done with them. The last six films with YRF have never failed, business wise and keeping in mind audiences reactions. They've loved it. We started with Darr and ended with Chak De India. Now it's Rab Ne. People keep blaming us that we make similar kind of films. I doubt that. When you look at Veer Zara, Darr, DDLJ and Chak De, the roles ranged from a 65 year old man to a villian to the romantic hero to the patriotic Kabir Khan. To have these four variations is doing something different and not similar. But the good thing about me and YRF is that we never try and work together. We always try and tell a story together which we love to tell. 90% of my stardom is because of YRF. Hopefully Rab Ne will take it to 100%.

Any parting message for all the beautiful jodi's out there?
Love you all, be happy and don't forget to eat some parathas and curd as I said earlier. This goes out especially to my overseas fans (laughs).

Thursday, 4 December 2008

"It is not our security which has failed over the years but our system", Adah Sharma

exclusive by Devansh Patel



It's been a week of terror, anger, protests, resignations, condolences, rallies and deep silence. Where shops, cafes and restaurants attracted very few customers, our very own Bollywood industry too suffered it's worst ever week with cinema halls running half empty.

Every Mumbaiker and an Indian has gone through their toughest days, but far away in the west there was one actress who was also affected by what she saw and heard, a true Mumbaiker, Adah Sharma. The actress has just returned from the U.K after a three week shoot of her next Vikram Bhatt production titled 'Phirr'. Shocked after having landed in Mumbai just two days back, Adah unfolds to me how she passed her last seven days in Newcastle away from her dearest city Mumbai.

"We were shooting in one of the penthouses in Newcastle. Rajneesh Duggal and me were filming the scene. Praveen Bhatt received an sms from his son Vikram Bhatt who was in Mumbai. Vikram was only there with us for the first one week. Pravin uncle told us that there were bomb blasts in Mumbai. Within a few minutes, another sms from Vikram said that there was a second blast somewhere from Nariman Point followed by a third sms which told us something similar. Everyone on the set started talking about it but no one had a clue as to what was going on, how many were killed, etc. So we went ahead and completed the scene, wrapped the shoot and came back to the hotel", the actress revealed. But what Adah was about to hear and witness next left her in a state of shock.



She continues from where she left, "My mother was in the hotel waiting for me and was busy surfing channels on the television. My eyes couldn't believe what I was seeing. The Taj and the Oberoi taken over by the terrorists. BBC, Channel Five, Sky News, all had the same story to tell, Mumbai under attack. I sat next to my mother and there was silence in the room with only reporters doing the talking. After a short while I got a call from my friend in Mumbai who informed me that our common friend was trapped in the Taj with his parents who had gone there for a wedding reception. I spoke to him via a conference call made by my Mumbai friend who'd called me". She adds further, "I felt numb, I was still confused as to what was happening. Figures kept on changing. First it said that 900 were dead, then it came down to 500 to 250 and then 100 the next day morning. Before I could think of me being scared, I wanted to know how everyone in Mumbai was".

Like many, Adah Sharma woke up on a chilly Newcastle morning of the 27th November with a thought in her mind that everything would've come to an end in Mumbai. But her thoughts couldn't change the reality. Mumbai was under attack on the second day running with hundreds of hostages in both the hotels, some killed by the brutal terrorists. Now what had become a worldwide headline, I asked Adah whether the hotel staff were worried about the cast and the crew who had come down from Mumbai, to which she replied, "The next day when I came down for breakfast, the hotel staff came up to us and wanted to know whether our friends and family back home were safe. They were very supportive. Even while filming a scene in the middle of a road near a small coffee house, a very old couple came up to us and wanted to know what film we were shooting. They came to know it's a Bollywood film we were making and immediately showed their concern to what was happening in Mumbai. Every Britisher was talking about the Mumbai bombings and it was so nice to see that the whole world comes together to lend their support and help during a crisis like this. I was touched".



All this and it was back to work for the actress. But did it affect her work was the question. Adah answered, "We all knew what was happening back home but it was our responsibility to finish the shoot. Yes, our mobiles kept ringing, messages kept buzzing, but work too kept going. The last few days was like your worst nightmare coming true". One of the youngest actors around, Adah has got a long career ahead of her. So what does she think as the city's youth, what change is needed to safeguard our country? "It's no point cursing the politicians and the government. It will only change once new laws, new policies and new politicians take over. As far as the security is concerned, I think our police should be equipped with more arms and ammunitions. What happened at the CST station was unthinkable. All the police could do was run away from just two terrorists only because they were short of guns. The police could have saved more lives if they had enough arms and ammunitions", thinks Adah. And what does she think of the RGV incident? "I've been reading about it ever since I came to Mumbai. I think it's not nice to comment on something you don't know about. But I knew that the police had no weapons at the CST station and thus I can comment on that", comments the actress.

If we flip the history pages, we have come to know that security has not been able to save anyone, be it JFK, Indira Gandhi or Rajiv Gandhi. The actress agrees with me, "You're right but it's stupid that if your intelligence warns you a good four months ago about such terrorist attacks, the country's security should be kept at high alert. You cannot cheat death but you can save more people from dying. It's not our security which has failed over the years but our system because we have only managed to cure the ill, not the illness. Once we understand that, our nation will be secured".

Saturday, 29 November 2008

"Muslims are the ones the radicals target as their recruting ground", Gul Panag

exclusive by Devansh Patel

Gul Panag dropped an intellectual bombshell last Friday when I called her, surprising the nation with her vision and comment on the Mumbai bombings. She quoted, "I don't know how my comments will be taken by you but this had to happen and is not a complete surprise. Me and you only take notice of terror when it enters the malls or the hotels. But if the same thing happens in the slums we are ok with it. This is a much larger issue than it looks. Have you ever taken into consideration the Islamic population of India? It's in the region of 18 to 20%. The figures keep on varying. Do you know what percent of Islamic population is living below the poverty line? It's 40%. I am not a fundamentalist but I am looking at a much bigger picture. There are certain segments of the society which have not got its due, whether you agree or not. But if you look at the demographics, you'll understand. Whatever the population of muslims in India, is that population propotionate and reflect in the jobs of this country? When people are poor and have no where to go, they have no choice but to turn into radicals. I hope my views and comments make people understand the broader picture".

Gul's comment ignited anger demanding an explaination to the above quote. While some demanded an explaination to her remark, others said it wasn't enough, and some even agreed to what she said. One of the reply to her quote said, "I do agree with what Gul is trying to say, people are just taking it wrongly. Islam doesn't teach violence and neither does it allow innocent killings and mass murders. When Muslims do something like this in terms of revenge, they are called terrorists but when Hindus, Jews and Christians do it, they are called Freedom Fighters". Debashri, one of the users who think that Gul's comment was a flaw said, "Its not because of poverty that some Muslims take the fundamentalist route. Then we would have had an equal number of Hindu terrorists too. I think we have made a habit out of making terrorists look like victims! It is fashionable to side with them. Do we then take out guns and start killing people? No. The trouble is the indoctrination that takes place". Another user Roopa also disagrees. She said, "Poverty doesn't justify the birth of radicalism. Many terrorists are rich and come from educated backgrounds (Osama). If people feel the government isn't helping them, it is up to them to educate themselves and grow". Mamuh who sides Panag said, "I like Gul's view was very much well thoughtout and accurate. We can't stump terrorism, until we see the root of it. Injustice like Gujurat Riots or Orissa Riots need to stop. When significant politician turn a blind eye and something drastic happens. India just sucks if you're a poor or a minority". A user called Light said that the actress did not make sense, "Islamic population is 18%, where as hindus make it 80%. Does that mean all hindus are rich ? Are they not umemployed?. Muslims must learn basic ethics of living and change their mindset. You dont have to go and kill innocent poeple, one can demonstrate peacefully. It's all their wrong teachings for personal gains. If one knows his pocket he will keep track of his expenses. So muslims must just not go and have dozen babies in one family. Learn first and then step ahead.

Well, it wasn't Gul Panag who was made the target for her quote. The above named user Light also dragged actress Shabana Azmi into the picture. The posted comment read, "People like Gul Panag and Shabana Azmi who thinks they are literate think all crap. People like them are the one who provoke peace minded Islamic people to fight and bring terror. Islam was good till the rich Islamic people corrupted poor peoples mind".

So when the actress got up this morning and logged on to bollywood hungama, she was taken by surprise to read comments posted by users on her quote. This got Gul to write even more. Within 10 minutes, the actress sent me what she thought of the above reactions and the many more posted on our website. This is what she had to say: "Yes, there are rich who also get involved. The percentage is small. The machinery in place that goes about recruiting these people is very advanced and unscrupulous. They are highly motivated by people whose full time job is to mislead these people. Their modus operandi is to show videos of Muslims being tortured /killed/women being raped, and other forms of propaganda. In Punjab ( I am a Sikh from a village in Punjab called Mahadian, Distt Fategarh Sahib), many youngsters from well to do families after seeing their relatives/ kin burnt alive by mobs, tortured and raped by the forces were badly shaken up. Psychologically numb. And were ready when extremists came knocking on their doors to garner support. As for the security lapses, I am sure there are many loop holes. We apart from being a booming economy are also a country of the poor and homeless, (who's primary focus is two square meals). We are NOT the United States, where we can single mindedly pursue security). But having said that, it's important to understand, that not even the best trained force in the world can be prepared for someone who is ready to kill himself. The terrorist wins by not losing/dying (for whatever short period he wreaks havoc) and the forces "lose" by not winning immediately (ultimately they do in a Mumbai like scenario, but not in J&K, Iraq). And how can I be biased? Because I am in Indian and believe that the same set of rules must apply to all? So Muslims who kill people are terrorists but Bajran Dal/RSS activists who burn Christian homes, rape nuns are "angry misguided youth"?? My father is a serving army officer; he has 40 years of service to the nation and is currently posted as Army Commander Central Command, at the very tip of the army pyramid. He also served as Northern Army Commander. I have been brought up in the most secular way possible, where I have observed at close quarters what the army does for the Nation. And it pains me to read about people pointing fingers at the forces being "inefficient" when they constantly give away their today for us to be able to blog like this, sleep peacefully and enjoy life as we know it."

As far as I am concerned, the moment we want to believe something, we suddenly see all the arguments for it and become blind to the arguments against it. Discussion is an exchange of knowledge and an argument an exchange of ignorance. So when an argument or an opinion flares up, a wise man quenches it with silence. That's all I can say! What say Gul?

Bollywood reacts on the Mumbai bombings

exclusive by Devansh Patel



26th November 2008. The city that never sleeps has come to a grinding halt. Mumbai sees its darkest night ever. The term 'terrorism' or 'terrorists' is enough to scare the living day lights out of you but terrorism is a criminal act that religious beliefs or political positions can never justify. The removal of terrorism should be carried out through reasoned judgment in accordance with laws, not by military retaliations or wars. Two and a half years have passed since the July 11 Mumbai train bombings by the terrorists in 2006, where our police and politicians concluded: 'Mumbai is safe and our security is tightened throughout the city'. The reality, however, is the opposite of this. What has become clear though in the past two and a half years is that our security and intelligence has not only failed to remove terrorism and terrorists but given even more room for such hideous activities. Today these radicals threaten the safety of the Indian people. Like our Independence, securing our freedom now is a long-term struggle but the road to victory will begin and we as Indians won't back off. Bollywood unites once again and from celebrities turn into citizens of this city only to bring out their support and sympathy towards those unlucky few who have been a prey in what's considered to be Mumbai's worst ever terror attack at the Taj and the Trident Oberoi. Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent Devansh Patel gets you some first hand comments and anger expressed from the stars just hours after the horrifying incident that not only shook the city of Mumbai but the entire world.


Madhur Bhandarkar:
Mumbai won't be the same after this dreadful attack by the terrorists because the scene of the attack was the epicentre or the hub of the city where you have heritage sites like The Gateway of India and The Taj Hotel. What was considered to be the safest place in the city is now not safe any more. People seem to be in a state of shock. The question of all the high profile personalities and celebrities will also have to be looked into now. My sympathies to those who have lost their near and dear ones and for those who are hostages. I hope peace prevails soon.

Kunal Kohli:
This is the worst attack on Mumbai. The Taj is the symbol and not just a hotel. It's a symbol of heritage and culture of Mumbai and when we saw the images of The Taj burning, it was beyond our emotions to describe the scene. This attack is as bad as 9/11. 26th November will be remembered as the darkest day in the Mumbai history. This is not the time to think whether our film industry is at threat or not. It's the time to save more people as we can. There is a time for everything. You cannot be sitting and putting blame on people regarding lapse of security. How do you secure every corner of the city? In Jammu Kashmir blasts take so frequently inspite of security.

Gulshan Grover:
This is absolutely the worst terrorist attack in India. I am very much disturbed and shocked by this behaviour and the way the terrorists have taken innocent people as hostages. I would like to believe that Mumbai will change for better after this horrific incident.

Jagmohan Mundhra:
As you are talking to me, I'd like to tell you that I've just returned from L.A. day before yesterday because my mother-in-law had passed away. It has nothing to do with the attack. Right now I am at my in-laws house in South Mumbai which is just few hundred yards from both the Taj and the Oberoi. All night long we have been up and alert. I could hear the blasts and firing all night long. Never before have I seen South Mumbai in such a shape. This is going to have a tremendous impact on the tourism of India in the near future. This is such a cruel and a random act of violence that there seems to be no logic behind it. It's scary when you think what could be the terrorists motive.

Vatsal Seth:
Right now there is so much of anger in me that I cannot help my own citizens in the time of crisis. There are couple of my friends brothers and sisters trapped inside the hotel so I am really messed up in my mind. I couldn't sleep last night.

Vidya Malavde:
Mumbai needs to change since a very long time and now such incidents are becoming a regular nuisance to all of us. I can't understand how we as politicians or people can't do to stop this act of terror. This is becoming something like a habit for Mumbai. I am so sad today that people are dying left right and centre. I am not angry but helpless that I can't go out there and stop people from being killed. There are bunch of people who come on a boat and blow things up, what kind of a security or intelligence are we talking about? Mumbai will bounce back today or tomorrow itself but that's not the point. The point is that somewhere something needs to be done with our security system.

Vinay Pathak:
Yesterdays attacks are the worst ever I've witnessed in Mumbai. I hope that the security measures in the city should change after all this. Such attacks will never break the spirit of Mumbaikers and this will bring us all a lot closer than ever before to team up against such anti social elements.

Anil Kapoor:
It's the worst ever attack to take place in India. But I am in no mood to talk about this incident because I want the police, the army and the government to answer the questions to what has happened.

Abhishek Kapoor:
I don't know how this incident will change the city of Mumbai but I know one thing for sure that it's going to change the way our security measures are in and around the city. This will put a certain amount of fear in peoples mind for a few days to come but will prevail normality in days to come.

Gul Panag:
I don't know how my comments will be taken by you but this had to happen and is not a complete surprise. Me and you only take notice of terror when it enters the malls or the hotels. But if the same thing happens in the slums we are ok with it. This is a much larger issue than it looks. Have you ever taken into consideration the Islamic population of India? It's in the region of 18 to 20%. The figures keep on varying. Do you know what percent of Islamic population is living below the poverty line? It's 40%. I am not a fundamentalist but I am looking at a much bigger picture. There are certain segments of the society which have not got its due, whether you agree or not. But if you look at the demographics, you'll understand. Whatever the population of muslims in India, is that population propotionate and reflect in the jobs of this country? When people are poor and have no where to go, they have no choice but to turn into radicals. I hope my views and comments make people understand the broader picture.

Anjori Alagh:
I was pretty close to the Taj hotel yesterday as I had to travel in town by 4pm. I couldn't travel to Andheri where I live and am now at a friends house in South Mumbai. The entire area is sealed off and for once I think that the city of Mumbai has changed. What's scary is the fact that people coming in boats with no security or patrol in the sea, get down at the Gateway and enter with guns and grenades in the Taj, Trident and Oberoi and create havoc. It does raise a question on the security, but having said that, we do have security in all our hotels but it's not up to the mark. I mean, I can't see many CCTV cameras outside the hotels or in the nearby viscinity. Every Indian is concerned and I am hoping that we as Indians make an effort to increase the security of our country. I hope we learn something from this so that we don't turn vulnerable again. We really need to fight back these terrorists. They should be killed as ruthlessly as they are killing innocent people.

Arjun Rampal:
It is ridiculous that we are experiencing such events in our city. Every Mumbaiker has the right to ask the government the questions about our city and countrys security. How the terrorists got in so easily and create so much damage is unbelievable but has to be answerable by our politicians. We are all upset but the anger should not be directed towards innocent people. We do have to put our concerns about the security and intelligence lapse to the government. There is a lot of corruption in our country and needs to be addressed immediately, Like why aren't there good enough CCTV cameras in our city? The government cannot come down upon our city and nor can these terrorists. We are only going to grow stronger day by day.

Eesha Koppikhar:
I am fine but in no mood to talk about what has been happening in Mumbai. What's happening is very sad and I hope the law and order situation comes under control soon.

Apoorva Lakhia:
As far as the change in the city of Mumbai is concerned, the government and the army need to see where such attacks can happen from. I mean, people coming in from boats and all looks like some kind of a commando film. It just shows that we need to get a proper cell which deals with terrorism like they do it in the west. Mumbaikers have always shown unity whenever such horrific incidents have taken place in our city.

Minissha Lamba:
The city of Mumbai is extremely resilient. It's a survivor city. An attack on our city is an attack on our country. I don't know whether it's a lapse of security which has lead to such an incident. I mean, how far can the police force protect such a big city like Mumbai. They are doing the best they can to save our brothers and sisters today. It could easily have been me in one of the hotels. This is like an eye opener and has taken the terrorist activity to the next level where they are taking hostages now. This is the scariest day in Mumbai I've ever witnessed.

Mugdha Godse:
I don't know what are the consequences which will come out once this dark day is over but I think people, whether it's us as civilians or the government, should pull up our socks. Right now I am just praying for the betterment of all those who are in the hotels and are injured and have died. I am in a shock state of mind. Our city of dreams is no more the same. In todays time one has to take care of themselves and I am sure we all do and I am sure all those who are trapped in the hotels will do the same. We Indians haven't learnt how to bow down.

Celina Jaitley:
I've been stuck at the 4 seasons hotel in Worli which had been quardened off for security and had to stay the night there. I had come for dinner with colleagues of my father here. Suddenly there was chaos . We heard all the major hotels were being targetted and being a major expatriot hotel I started getting phone calls to stay put where I was by freinds and security head of my bodyguards company . The hotel staff was incredibly nice in keeping everyone calm and quite. I started getting calls from my friends in London and Ireland and from my father in lebanon who were watching all the carnage on TV . We were up till 3 am last night close to safe exits till we finally went up to the rooms. I was meant to go to Trident for dinner but some gut feeling made me change my mind am still shaken and scared and will head back home as soon as its safe .My rakhi brother is heading the NSG commandoes operation. They haven't come out yet . Aashish Chowdhary's sister and brother in law are missing at trident . Our city is falling apart. I have one word for these terrorists - "We are not scared and will fight back".

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

"Slumdog Millionaire isn't a cross over film. It's a Hollywood film directed by Danny Boyle", Anil Kapoor

exclusive by Devansh Patel



With entertainment dominated by fresh-faced actors now-a-days, it's extremely heartening to see someone break into the corridors of power when in their late forties. Better still when that person's an accomplished actor making a comeback in Bollywood. But what if I say that he is just about to make his Hollywood debut in what's said to be a film which undoubtedly is going to win accolades at the Academy Awards and the Bafta's next year? The film – Slumdog Millionaire, the director – Danny Boyle, step forward Anil Kapoor, a renaissance man who's squeezed several (mostly successful) lives into one and come out on top of the Bollywood tree. In this world exclusive interview from London, the jhakaas actor talks in depth to Devansh Patel about his first Hollywood film Slumdog Millionaire, his London Film Festival experience, his expectations, his family reactions, his special message to his fans and above all, praises, praises and more praises for his director, the award winning director Danny Boyle.


We are all eager to know how did an acclaimed Hollywood director like Danny Boyle sign you up for a role in his next film Slumdog Millionaire?
I received an sms saying that Danny Boyle wanted to meet me regarding his next film Slumdog Millionaire in which he had a role for me after he watched Tall and Virasat. Now as you are aware that in Bollywood one is so busy with their commitments that they tend to forget who Danny Boyle is. But when you talk of films like Trainspotting and The Beach, suddenly the name of the director pops up. So I mentioned this to my son as he is a big Danny Boyle fan, in fact all youngsters are. He loves his kind of cinema which is out of the box, pulsating and youthful. He got very excited and told me to reply back to the sms which was lying in my inbox since quite a few days. So I called my friend Deepak Nayar in L.A who coincidently was handling the production of the same film. He informed me that Danny Boyle is a cult figure in the U.S. Then the script came and me and my son read it. We loved it, fixed an appointment and there I was, without any auditions, a part of Slumdog Millionaire.



Were you at all worried about the screen space Danny would've given you in the film initially when he offered you the film?
When you're working with the likes of Danny Boyle and when the script is written by Simon Beaufoy, there is bound to be a good role for you irrespective of the length of your own role. When you work in an international film like Slumdog Millionaire, even two scenes done correctly in the film work wonders. And you're forgetting that I had already read the script. It's only in India that you worry about screen space and the length.

Danny Boyle has projected Mumbai in Slumdog Millionaire like no other film maker has ever done. What do you think?
I am more than happy about it. In fact, Slumdog Millionaire is a fairy tale kind of a film. You have to see the film to believe it. I mean he has shot some scenes in the slums so beautifully, you feel touched by the direction and the camera work. It was so perfect.

People across the globe who've watched Trainspotting, A Lifeless Ordinary and The Beach wouldn't expect a Slumdog Millionaire, will they?
Danny has got his own style. When the chief of Fox Searchlights, Peter Rice, was introducing Danny Boyle in a tribute to the director in L.A, that's the time I realised the kind of respect he has across the globe. Peter Rice quoted, "Danny has never made the same kind of film ever". When Danny was offered to direct Alien 4, he was offered a big cheque which he refused. He just wanted to direct films which he would believe in and wanted to make. He chose to direct a 15 million dollar film than a 150 million dollar one. He is a risk taker in a way. I mean, the only well known face in Slumdog Millionaire is Irrfan Khan who is known worldwide. All the rest are new comers including me.



You play the host of the famous tele series 'Who wants to be a Millionaire'. From Big B to SRK and now comes Anil Kapoor. Any kind of research went into playing the role of Prem?
A lot of literature was sent to me through the script anyway. But first I spoke to Danny and the way he saw the character and how he wanted him to behave. Then he gave me some material on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire. In Mumbai, I contacted Siddharth Basu, the person who was responsible for the programme in India. He was very helpful in the research too. Playing an engineer, stock broker, doctor or a businessman is easy because you meet them in your everyday life. But there are very few hosts of the television programme whom you don't meet regularly. You see them only on the television. So there was not a direct reference point here except for the episodes of Mr Bachchan and Shah Rukh in India and the shows done by hosts in the U.K and the U.S. I went through all these tapes and started doing some episodes with Siddharth and his team. I also had a lot of workshop with Danny and the main protagonist of the film Dev Patel.

But how was it to be working with the British talent Dev Patel who plays the boy from the slums winning the million rupees?
He is the main hero of the film. He is the protagonist of Slumdog Millionaire. His journey has three characters who do the same role. How as a child in slums he grows up, then becomes a bit older and then it is Dev Patel. There are three actors and the casting of those three Dev Patel's is phenomenal. I was speechless after watching the film at the London Film Festival and thanks to Loveleen Tandon who has done an amazing job of casting in the film.

Was Dev at all nervous when he met you for the first time?
Not at all. He was a thorough professional. He originally comes from Gujarat but is born and brought up in London who has also done one T.V serial called Skins in the U.K. For me, it was my first English film and for him, it was his first feature film. So we both were a bit nervous initially even though I had come with a lot of experience behind me. We got along very well and Danny also told me to help Dev out in whatever and whichever way I could. He had to play a slum boy and because I've had a personal experiences in the slums and have done films like Mashaal, etc I could identify with his role. I was very handy in adding flavour to my and Dev's role.

The critics in the U.K are vouching Slumdog Millionaire to get selected as the Best Film nominee at the Academy Awards in the U.S and at the Bafta Awards in the U.K. What do you have to say?
It's a bit too early to discuss this right now. Let's keep our fingers crossed and hope that whatever you've just mentioned comes true.

Any other Hollywood films you're going to be a part of in the near future after the thunderous applaud you received after the screening?
I am at such a stage of my career that whichever film comes across me has to be exciting, on par or better than the one I've done earlier. Currently I've got my hands full in India as far as Bollywood is concerned and if someone does come knocking on my doors from the West, why not?



What differentiates Danny Boyle from all the Bollywood directors you've worked with so far in your career?
Danny is not only different from the Indian directors but international directors also. He has his own stand and style and when people do have this speciality in them like what Danny has, they always are different from others. As I've mentioned before, he is one director who hasn't repeated his style. Danny improvises a lot and never tells his actors how to act. He gives you the script and lets you be. His instructions are minimal and the most important thing – Danny didn't come to India with any attitude. Instead, he told us to help him make a good film. That made a world of difference. It's a hallmark of a great human being and a great director. There isn't a game show being used as the main part of any feature film script. That's the USP of Slumdog Millionaire.

Has your family seen the film and what did they think about it?
Yes they all have seen the film. My wife, Sonam and my son, all loved the film. They've said it's awesome. The kind of feedback I've received is incredible. The best comment I received was from a critic who writes for The Independent, UK. He said, "Anil Kapoor makes a memorably narcissistic and two faced quiz host smiling disingenuously while trying to ensure the contestant looses". Even the newspapers like the Observer, Telegraph and The Times have praised not only my performance, but all the other actors in the film who were truly worth admiring especially Dev Patel.

Any message for your fans who are awaiting your first ever Hollywood film?
Yes, I'd like to tell my fans in the U.K that the film releases on January 9 next year in the U.K and to my India fans, well, you'll have to wait just a little bit more. Slumdog Millionaire releases in India in the last week of January. That's our tentative date. We are also planning to keep a special première of the film. And more importantly to all my fans across the globe, Slumdog Millionaire isn't a cross over film in English. It is a Hollywood film directed by Danny Boyle. Looking forward for all your comments next year.