Saturday, 30 August 2008

ROCK ON weaves its MAGIC in the U.K!!

exclusive by Devansh Patel

Sitting in your college canteen and discussing about your cult-fest or outside IIM or any University grounds sipping a hot cuppa of the morning tea with a maska-bun (buttered bun) in your hand and talking all day long about the rock band peforming in the annual music-fest or glued on to your I-pod listening to Aerosmith's 'Living on the Edge' while having a cappucino in a Leicester Square Starbucks is a thing of the past. Rock On has arrived guys....with a touch of class.....and ofcourse, Magic!

In the overseas, Bollywood films more or less talk about the beautiful swiss locales, the dancing around the tree couple, the bad guy swearing at the good guy and one big happy traditional family. Well, if you think Abhishek Kapoor's Rock On has any of the above cliched Bollywood scenes, you should be living in a cave! All I can advice you is to come out of the dark and enter the never-before-seen Indian film which will not only change the way you think about Bollywood in the overseas but will be proud of the fact that Bollywood just isn't about pretty well known faces. Freshness galores in Rock On!

When you've got a star as big as Arjun Rampal, when you've got an experience as big as Farhan Akhtar, when you've got a talent as big as Purab Kohli, you can do whatever the hell your heart desires. Well, that is exactly what director Abhishek Kapoor has done while filming Rock On. Such is the lesson to be taken away from this film. This simplistic and a subtle tale follows ten years in the life of a small-time band called Magic, who almost, by sheer hard work, passion and dedication hit it big with their titular single 'Pichle Saat Dino Mein'. The cast is spearheaded by Arjun Rampal as Joe Mascarenhas who is the lead guitarist. Purab Kohli plays KD aka 'Killer Drummer', the group's drummer who is somehow super cool when it comes to girls. Add on moody frontman and lead singer Farhan Akhtar as Aditya Shroff, who looks down-right classy, plus a wise, nice and quiet Luke Kenny as Rob, and you've pretty much got the band. But more than the band and its music, Rock On is a film about lost relationships, lost friendship and lost fame. The reels start off with all four friends scattered and somehow drifted apart and unhappily settled in their own private lives. Joe sits at his guitar shop and does pretty much nothing except recalling his magical days with Magic or listen to the endless bickering of his wife Debbie played by Sahana Goswami. Aditya too is married and too busy to listen to his wife because of his hectic role of an investment banker and fails to invest quality time with his wife played by Prachi Desai. Rob strings in a few small offers from the music companies and tries to survive and KD is busy helping his father in their 'watch' business which struggles to bring a good time in his life but manages to keep a smiling face. Flip ten years back, all four and their one catchy tune transforms Magic into reality, and brings them to the attention of the national Rock competiton, until Magic find themselves with a record contract. Their progress is uncomplicated, if not exactly quick and their downfall is even quicker. One such incident changes the bands present and future. But it was Aditya's wife who brings back the estranged friends together and even tougher choices to be made by all four.

One of the beauties of any film is that as a medium for communication it has the potential to both entertain and make a powerful statement. But rarely do they succeed in both departments. While most movies have themes, they're more concerned with entertaining, the recent example being 'Singh is King', and that's great because entertainment is first in my books too. But when I see a film like 'Rock On', I am reminded just how affective this platform can be. It's a powerful and honest film that doesn't give easy answers. The director leaves much to be figured out too. Rock and Roll and cinema usually mixes like oil and water, coming across as either pretentious, self-absorbed messes but this one is an exception because of it's emotional connect which the audiences can identify with. Rock On shows all the promise of becoming a cult movie, with the polish, textual fluidity and its rocking music but a distinctly underground sensibility and countless memorable moments. And whoever says that the film should be trimmed and is slow paced, have a snails brain. Every department is perfect and as Farhan Akhtar's Dil Chahta Hai says, 'It is very difficult to perfect your perfection'.

Unfortunately, the act of drawing attention to any singular performance seems to almost undermine the effectiveness of the cast as a whole, since it is the outstanding interrelationships formed that are so effective in the overall presentation. But I'll have to do this! Arjun Rampal delivers his best ever screen role so far. If he won awards for his last years hit 'Om Shanti Om', this one will only double it up for the matured-like-wine actor, the older he gets the better. He perfectly conveys both the emotional highs and the petty jealousies and frustrations within the band. Similarly, both Purab Kohli and Luke Kenny deliver the kind of support we've come to expect from them. The backbone of the band, however, delivering a sweet-natured performance that's never less than believable. But the real find is the producer/director turned actor Farhan Akhtar. His suave, sophisticated and a charasmatic look in suits compliements the sexy, cool and a dapper look in jenas and T-shirts. The best debutant award male nominee for the next year is here!

Rock On is, well ...perfect on numerous levels. As a straight narrative, it contains a tight, gripping structure that grabs the viewer and holds their interest throughout. As a character study, every portrayal is believable as well as likable, and as a "coming of age" story, each person goes through a full and complete arc that is satisfying and worth the time invested.

While it seems to be about music, band and Rock N Roll, it is, ultimately, a movie about love. It is about what we can lose through self-interest, and what we can gain through giving ourselves to others, in faithfulness, in friendship, and in honesty. The director Abhishek Kapoor has given the audiences around the world their best ever summer gift. With all of the flash and glitter and gloss, this definitely packs more heart into two and a half hours than any recent Oscar or a FilmFare winner, and more intelligence too. Unarguably deserves more stars than just five!

This one is a must see for the non Asian audience too!!


Monday, 25 August 2008

World exclusive by Devansh Patel

Pablo Picasso once said, "There are painters who transform the sun into a yellow spot, but there are others who, thanks to their art and intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun." For a change, this man from Maharashtra, India, has done just both. He has not only transformed Ram Gopal Varma's blockbuster hit Sarkar Raj onto a canvas but has also managed to bring the same paintings to life by his creative talent. In this world exclusive interview with Architect Amit Pimple who works as an Urban Designer in one of U.K's leading architectural firm John Thompson & Partners. Bollywood Hungama's Devansh Patel brings you the world exclusive first look at the Sarkar Raj paintings by Pimple, the story behind each of them, what inspired him, his future plans and a special four feet long oil colour painting gifted to Wizcrafts Unforgettable Stars in London.

It was the day every Bollywood lover was waiting for. The Bachchans, the Zinta, the Deshmukh, Vishal-Shekhar were in London last week to promote their Unforgettable Tour. The morning rush hour, the jet lag and then the big press conference. The Print, T.V and Radio crew were busy giving their final touches before the start of Bollywood's biggest press conference. After nearly an hour long wait, the stars arrived, a welcome speech from Showbiz International, the promoters of the Unforgettable Tour in the U.K, then Mr Bachchan and the Q's were thrown open to the media. The conference got over in an hours time and the journalists got busy talking about Abhishek's quiet presence, Aishwarya's infectious smile, Mr Bachchans adoring personality, Preitys drooping eyes and ofcourse, their Unforgettable Tour. Within seconds Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan walk past me and suddenly they are stopped by a 5 feet something man requesting both the Bachchans to see his artistic creations inspired by Sarkar Raj. Abhishek was utterly surprised and could not believe what he was seeing. But that wasn't enough for Amit Pimple to be content with. After all the media Q & A's were done and dusted, the entire Unforgettable gang were up for their big surprise wrapped up in a golden wrapping paper waiting to be unveiled by non other than Indian Film Industry's finest - Mr Bachchan Bachchan (I wish someday he gets his knighthood and we all can call him - Sir Amitabh Bachchan) - a four feet long oil painting depicting Mr Bachchans undying support to promote the Indian Film Industry worldwide and a memorablia for the entire cast and crew of the Unforgettable Tour who've come to London for their show. Without further ado I present to you Mr Amit Pimple and his creation.

'The Power' is a core theme of the film. Sometimes 'Power' is used for a good purpose such as offering services to people and to fight against injustice, like the way it's been used by Sarkar in the film Sarkar Raj. But sometimes it's also used for negative purpose such as to create social polarization and to achieve stronger position. The new electricity plant would also generate a form of 'Power' for the prosperity of the people of Thakarwadi in the film. In the painting, the electricity gripped in a hand depicts achievement of supremacy in Maharashtra. Electric pylon and cables symbolizes power plant. All happens on the land of Maharashtra shown in the background. Silhouette of Maharashtrian village community is shown at the bottom. This painting also reflects the debate of tradition v/s modernity.

Development and conspiracy:
Maharashtra is a land of Saints, illustrated by a Tilak, a mark worn on the forehead of a person which is a focal point of this painting. Shown in the background is a subtle outline of a flying dove that symbolizes prosperity which will prevail by the new power plant. But the conspiracy brings twist to the story shown by blood drops. Tilak also symbolizes Rao saab, the mastermind behind the plot and his non-violence philosophy which he generally pretends. Finally it all comes down to Subhash Nagre, the supreme power, illustrated by the Rudraksha at the bottom of the Tilak. This all is for people….faces shown in the background.

Besides Sarkar Raj being an intense political drama, the film is also a story that explores relationship between Subhash Nagre (Amitabh Bachchan), Shankar Nagre (Abhishek Bachchan) and Anita Rajan (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan). It creates a triangular matrix generating synergy between them. The painting is divided in three zones and illustrates this trilogy. Three zones are coloured as Black, Red & Yellow. Black colour symbolizes character of Subhash Nagre - old, mature, experienced, supreme and a messiah. It also resembles his black linen outfit in the film. Red colour stands for Shankar Nagre - young, vibrant, dynamic and modern. Yellow illustrates Anita Rajan - colour of prosperity, development and foreign collaboration. These are also the signature colours of Sarkar Raj the film.

Inherent successor:
Three hands. Three generations. Top hand is of Subhash Nagre with a Rudraksha chain…middle one is of Shankar…Now it's the time when we need the third one who would come with a great power and force …Chiku…who would stand for poor people and would fight for them… like Subhash Nagre and Shankar Nagre did in both Sarkar and Sarkar Raj. He would be an Inherent Successor.

What inspired you to do paintings on the film Sarkar Raj?
It was a combined effect of contemporary storyline, direction, cinematography, score, star cast and more importantly Mr. Amitabh Bachchan's performance; the overall audio-visual experience was spellbinding. My interpretations of this movie have come out through graphical expressions, colours and strokes on canvas and it was a very spontaneous reaction. I think all forms of art can be complementary to each other and one can take inspiration from the other to foster. By doing these paintings on Sarkar Raj theme, I have tried to explore a synergy between two creative disciplines- film making and paintings.

What medium have you used in your paintings? Crayons, oil paints, etc?
I didn't restrict myself to one particular medium hence these paintings are done in mixed-media; water colours, ink, pencils, crayons and collage.

How much time did it take you to finish all the paintings?
Approximately one week. I have done this series in my spare time.

How many paintings have you made?
Four at the moment. I may do a few more.

What comments did you receive from Mr Bachchan when you gifted him the painting?
His first reaction was "wow! fantastic". He couldn't discuss more on Sarkar Raj paintings at that moment because of his busy schedule before the Unforgettable Show, but he has kept my paintings and said that he will get back to me with a detailed response.

What was it to shake hands with your favourite actor?
It was like my dream came true! Firstly I couldn't believe he was in front me and I am talking to him. I was waiting for this since a long time. It was definitely an 'unforgettable' moment.

Name three of your favourite Amitabh Bachchan film?
Agnipath, Black and Sarkar Raj.

Have you donated or painted anything else or gifted anybody such a gift? If Yes, then where and when and why?
I recently presented Mr. Bachchan and his Unforgettable World Tour team a four feet long oil colour painting, thanks to Digwa family of Showbiz International who gave me this opportunity. I created this painting mainly to appreciate Mr. Bachchan's efforts to promote Indian cinema worldwide and as a memory of their show in London. When Bachchans unveiled the painting, they were very impressed and told me that it summarizes everything about the show. In the past, I have gifted six feet long painting to one of the Indian Community Centres in London when I was awarded by Indian High Commission in the UK. The painting was to promote Indian culture in the UK. I also do illustrations voluntarily for a NGO to promote their various educational and rural development projects in India.

Tell us a bit about your background?
I grew up in an environment endowed with creativity while working with my father, Mr Satish Pimple, who is a renowned artist in India. I have had my six solo shows in India - Maharashtra, Pune and my home town near Nagpur called Akola. I have also given lectures and painting demonstrations in some Universities. Later, I chose Architecture for my career where I used my creative abilities to design buildings and neighbourhoods.

What brings you to the U.K?
Having achieved First Rank in the order of merit throughout my Architecture course, London Metropolitan University awarded me International Graduate Fellowship to do my Masters in Urban Regeneration. Now I work as an Urban Designer with one of the UK's leading architectural firms - John Thompson & Partners and I always share my UK professional experience as a freelance writer in the press like the world renowned A+D magazine published by a Hong Kong based media company. I am keen to contribute positively in my home-country's comprehensive urban development when India is poised for major transformations in its infrastructure.

Why haven't you gifted the paintings to Ram Gopal Varma, the director of Sarkar Raj?
I don't have his direct contact details hence don't know how to reach him. I definitely want to share my creations with him.

Do you like Ram Gopal Varma's films? Name 3 of your favourite RGV film.
Satya, Company and Sarkar Raj.

What is next in the pipeline? Any more paintings in the future?
I may do some paintings on environmental sustainability. I think as a human being, we all should contribute something to save our environment.

This is your first big interview and that too an exclusive. What are you going through right now?
I am very excited about it and eager to see how it's been featured. Hope it'll encourage readers to an extent to take out some time from their routines and be a bit creative; it gives immense satisfaction! Don't believe me? Then try yourself!

Any message you'd like to convey to your favourite actor Mr Amitabh Bachchan and director Ram Gopal Varma through this interview?
I'd love to have both Mr Bachchan and Ram Gopal Varma's personal feedback to me on my Sarkar Raj paintings!
Another thing is about Climate Change. I have gained some international experience of creating sustainable, energy efficient and eco friendly developments that create minimum impact on our planet. By using this experience and my creative abilities, I would be able to contribute in Mr Bachchans campaign to create public awareness in India. I have some ideas in my mind and I would like to know his views on this.

Last but not the least. Do you think Sarkar Raj trilogy should be made by Ram Gopal Varma? And whom would you like to see play the role of Chiku?
Ofcourse yes. I would love RGV to make the third part of the Sarkar film. It'll also be interesting to see Hrithik Roshan play the role of Chiku because the chemistry will be electrifying. It'll be one of Indian cinema's finest combination - Ram Gopal Varma and Hrithik Roshan.

Did you know Abhishek Bachchan has also recommended Hrithik Roshans name?
Wow! That's a strange coincidence. The first name that came to my mind when you asked me this question was Hrithik. I didn't even know what Abhishek Bachchans choice for the role of Chiku was. Well, as they say - Great minds think alike!

Friday, 22 August 2008

"This is getting extremely embarassing and I'd like to leave now with your kind permission", Amitabh Bachchan from the Unforgettable Tour in London

exclusive by Devansh Patel

"Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Firstly our apologies for being late. We've just got off the plane from New York, baggage, getting dressed and trying to cope with the jet lag has been taking its toll. That's why I'm wearing dark glasses. I hope that you'll understand. It's been several years since I've been on a concert of this nature and I'm truly enjoying the experience. It's not my age to be on stage anymore but I'm being provoked by the youngsters and the younger generation. The fact that this is going to give me another oppurtunity to meet the fans and to be with the audiences has got me on board. We've had a wonderful trip so far and as we approach our last leg, we do look forward to giving it that little bit extra in the last miles, as we all say. Thank you for your support. Media, you've been wonderful with us throughout this tour and we hope you'll continue doing that. We truly appreciate the contribution of Wizcraft for putting up a show which has surpassed some of the previous efforts that have been done by us. Once again, Thank you so much for being here everyone". With this speech, everyone sitting in the Press Conference put their hands together for one man who has brought and is bringing the Indian Film Industry and it's lovers across the globe together with each passing day - The indespensable and the undisputed, Mr Amitabh Bachchan. Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away. Unforgettable Tours London Press Conference was just that apt moment for those who love and cherish Indian Cinema. So, Bollywood Hungama's Devansh Patel brings you the exclusive chit-chat with the Unforgettable Stars from London's St James Park Hotel where the entire gang interacted with the U.K media, strangely, in a very fun loving and a humorous mood after a long one hour wait. Well, let me tell you, it was worth the wait!

Q. Being a live show, how did you physically train yourself with the stress levels?
Amitabh Bachchan - Oh dear. Thank you for reminding that I need physical training (everyone laughs). I think that we all have a routine every morning or evening or whenever we work in front of the camera. When the show was initiated, I think that we needed to get a little more energy because there is a lot of singing and dancing. Being on stage live is a totally different experience from being in front of the camera where you have the benefit of re-takes. But Yes, we've been doing our regular gyms and rehearsals for over three months and hopefully it's working well.

Q. This goes out to everyone on the panel. Out of all the performances, except your own, whose performance did you enjoy the most?
Amitabh Bachchan - Vishal and Shekhar (everyone laughs).
Preity Zinta - We all liked each others performances but above all, Mr Bachchans dialogues. That was my favourite part from the Tour.
Riteish Deshmukh - I agree with Preity. I think when Amitji recites his lines, it's extremely emotional and gets difficult to perform after that.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan - The whole show is awesome. We've genuinely enjoyed all the performances. But Pa's dialogues are just totally in the movement. Every entertainer works and performs for the audience. So it's the audiences response which is the most memorable at every venue. They've just been exceptional.
Abhishek Bachchan - Having Dad on the Tour is a great honour for all of us present on the dias right now. Needless to say, he is a star attraction. Whenever he is on stage, everybody backstage just stops everything and focuses on his performance. Coupled with that, I'd like to believe that the show is very interactive and the way the audiences have performed has been truly unforgettable.
Amitabh Bachchan - For me it's a little bit depressing backstage when I watch these youngsters move (other actors laugh) because I can't move like that now. I feel depressed and I hope that some day I'll be able to do what they do on stage.
Abhishek Bachchan - he comes out on the stage and knocks us straight out (other actors laugh).
Vishal Dadlani - Yeah...and then comes out on the stage and says 'Aaj Khush Toh Bahut Hue Honge Tum, Haiii?' (Amitabh Bachchan laughs)

Q. How strenuous has the schedule been for you so far?
Preity Zinta - It's been hectic because we've been travelling the world over but it's been fun. I think the most hectic has been last nights travel. None of us has slept on the plane. But we're here in London and it's nice to see such a big gathering. There is a lot of excitement and fun associated with this Tour. So you don't feel the stress that much.

Q. How much of the show is really rehearsed and is there something somewhere, some kind of a surprise for the London show?
Wiz Viraf Sarkari - The show is absolutely rehearsed. Preity Zinta - Not when Abhishek is there (laughs).Wiz Viraf Sarkari - We've been rehearsing before we kick started the show for about a month in Mumbai. Every last performance happens to be a rehearsal for the next performance. I think there are some special moments in the show especially when the stars are jamming into each others acts.

Q. How is the London show going to be different from the other shows you've done so far in the Unforgettable Tour?
Amitabh Bachchan - Oh! (After a pause) We have Shilpa Shetty in this one (everyone laughs).Preity Zinta - When we had this show in San Fransico, my brother came for the show. I asked him how did he find the show, to which he said that it is the best show he has ever seen because everything he knew about Indian Films was a part of this show. He could really identify with it. I think that's why the show is different and hope that you come and see and....
Abhishek Bachchan - (completes Preity's answer)....have the same opinion.
Preity Zinta - Sorry I am a bit slow (laughs)

Q. The Tour must have been a special one for you Mr Bachchan as you must have spent some quality time together with your family?
Amitabh Bachchan - All of us are just one big family. It's not just the three of us. It is great fun being together. We often don't get time in Mumbai even though we are in the same city working on different films in different studios near by, live near each other. We do not get time to even see each other. That goes for the members of my immediate family as well. We all live under the same roof but many a times days goes by and we don't see each other because of our shooting schedules. But this has been a wonderful experience. We travel together, move together, perform together, laugh together, pull each others leg after the show is over. I hope that we can spend many more days like this.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan - Riteish said something really sweet yesterday. He turned around and said that as soon as we go back we all are just going to keep coming for breakfast and lunch and dinner as often as we can. We must meet up if we could because it's the Unforgettable Team continues as we go back. We are begining to feel it now. The time we've spent together has been so wonderful and we are all feeling the same way as Riteish.

Q. Is the brand Bachchan for world domination?
Amitabh Bachchan - (After a pause) No! (everyone laughs)

Q. What sort of happiness do you get by doing a live performance as suppose to the one in front of the camera?
Amitabh Bachchan - Good question. I think that when you're on stage and perform live it is far more fulfilling experience than when you're performing in front of the camera not knowing what kind of reaction you'll get. Because here the reaction is immediate, because visually you can see what it's doing to you, what you're doing to the audience. I think it's a lot more satisfying which is why when Aishwarya said that it's the audiences performance which is keeping us going and on stage. When we hear the screams and the roars and the applause, that provokes us and gives us that extra energy to perform better. I doubt very much if that kind of experience happens in front of the camera. It's just a very muted performance without reactions. At the most you get the director coming out and telling you that it was a goos shot. A lot of time passes since we start working on a film. Sometimes a year before you can actually get to hear that appreciation or not. Here this is a lot more enjoyable.
Q. How does this Tour compare with your other Tours?
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan - The tour is unforgettable for multiple reasons. We always feel unfair when you ask us to compare the tour experiences, film experiences or any of our work experiences because each one at that given point of time is extremely special. We give our all to it and we come out all enriched with experience that down the line if you ask us to choose, its like telling her mother to choose between her kids. But this Tour personally for me is extremely special because this is my first Tour with the love of my life (hugs Abhishek) and its his first world Tour. It will always be like...We did this together. It's again special because it's got my mother-in-law and she is here with us too. Moments spent with her were memorable and will be cherish for a long long time (everyone claps)
Preity Zinta - I'd like to be a bit humorous. Actually this is the first time that another heroine has taken care of me. So if I go to have lunch or dinner at her apartment or room, she always serves me and takes care of me. So I think that's pretty unforgettable (all laugh). I've always been pampered by Aish and there will never be a Tour like this again. So I'd like to thank Wizcraft and Mr Bachchan and everyone on this Tour. As a performer, its a different story all together seeing Mr Bachchan perform. And really...I've grown up watching Sholay and watching his films. So it's amazing and I know that such thing will never happen again (all applaud)Aishwarya Rai Bachchan - I'd like to add the fact that even though today I'm family and I do call him 'Pa' and that kind of comfort level, you know but it's just over a year now since I'm a part of the Bachchan family. I've been a part of this industry for a while and to grow up watching Pa's films is an honour. It's a dream to be doing this show with him. I am so glad Pa agreed to be a part of this Tour. He is a legend here.....
Amitabh Bachchan - (humorously)....This is getting extremely embarassing and I'd like to leave now with your kind permission (all laugh out loud).
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan - No way.
Amitabh Bachchan - Stop!! (then smiles)
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan - You're too sweet (laughs)

Q. This is your first world tour Riteish. Hows the experience been like and what steps have you taken to support the climate change which is associated with this tour?
Riteish Deshmukh - It's quite strange because I just finished shooting a film with Amitji. (looking at Mr Bachchan) Sorry Amitji, apologies but I had to mention it. As a child when I used to watch his films I was like ....Oh man! It's Amitabh Bachchan film. I never dreamt that one day I'd be doing a film with him. To share any kind of screen space and stage space with him is an honour and I'll always cherish it. The day when Abhishek called me for the world tour about a year and a half back, I immediately said, 'Let's go and have fun'. They've really taken care of me. As I've mentioned before many times that I am the youngest member of the Tour and the youngest one is the most loved one. I got to know Vishal and Shekhar and Preity a lot more through this tour. I got to know Aish know as well better. I am glad that because of Wizcraft, this day has seen the light of the day. About the climate change, about couple of years ago I got aware of the seriousness of this issue and what we could do to help it. I watched the ads all over and people talking about it. I do what I can do to support this cause and I think we need to take actions at our own level to make a change at a larger level.

Q. What does the Unforgettable Tour represent to you especially at this time at the world rennaisance for cinema and given the fact that three decades ago you took it from India to International shores?
Amitabh Bachchan - I think initially what it demonstrates is the resilience of Indian cinema and the fact that our presentations and our performances and the way we come out to perform has not only increased in numbers but increased in the way it's presented. I keep repeating this story again and again. In 1973 I came out with Jaya and was invited for a show in Southall and there were five people in the theatre. Two were Jaya's relatives and there were three ushers. Now we've matured to huge venues and a large number of people coming out to see us, the most memorable for me was at the Wembley Stadium. So every year with the awareness of Indian Cinema growing across Indian shores and different parts of the world, this is great news and if we can through our concerts and meet and greets and our performances create that atmosphere where our films are going to be watched by a larger number of people then I'm very happy to be associated with this. The entire film fraternity - my colleagues, my seniors, my juniors, they've all worked very hard with a great amount of confidence and aggression to make sure that the legacy of Indian cinema continues.

Q. What is the nature of your relationship with the Indians in India and abroad?
Amitabh Bachchan - Well, primarily we're really proud of our country, our history, our culture. It goes to thousands of years. We're proud of the fact that we fought for our Independence and the largest democracy in the world and we're really proud now that the way India is progreesing after the economic liberalisation. India today is a recognised force and I hope to see that India is no longer referred to as the third world country or a developing nation asnd should be referred to as developed nation (everyone applauds). Those that chose to go out of India and settle abroad and work, one must acknowledge their desire to do so but what I have noticed is that inspite of them going out and settling abroad, they still have never forgotten their roots and that's why we come and relate with them.

Q. You've been writing on your blog throughout the Tour. Are you really enjoying the process of writing it?
Amitabh Bachchan - I've not been just writing during the tour. I'm now on Day 120 (i) and as soon as I get off from this Press Conference, I'll start the Day 121. I just feel that it's a wonderful medium to express myself, to express thoughts and ideas that come to me, to be able to connect to my fans and well wishers on a daily basis and an immediate basis. I know that the media, through it's wonderful medium, will transfer the relationship that we have with you through your newspapers and television. Blog is something where we get to talk to them directly. We get their responses directly. It's a wonderful experience and I don't have to see the morning papers to check out what I said or what my reactions are or to wait for a week or a month to get a feedback in reverse as to what that particular article meant to several people. I write my thoughts and within seconds, at times even faster, I get a response and that's marvelous. I think very large percentage of those who visit my blog are complimenting. There are abuses as well, there is dislike and debate and there is discussion too. I encourage that. I do not ask my server to monitor any remarks that comes to me because I think that's important to give space to people who do not agree with you. It's wonderful to know that the whole world does not have to necessarily agree with what you have to say just because you happen to be a film star. I'm very happy what I'm doing and hope to continue that (everyone applauds).
Q. Who was the brains behind this Tour and who selected whom for this Tour?
Amitabh Bachchan - All of us, everyone's brains. All of us selected each other (everyone laughs and then applauds).

Q. There are so many other causes to support. So why only climate change, why not poverty? Climate change is a western cause which is finding its way back home in India. Did you find the cause or did the cause find you?
Amitabh Bachchan - When IIFA was celebrated in Yorkshire, thats the first time two years ago that Wizcraft International and the founding committee decided that we would acknowledge the cause of global warming. There was an association called 'Global Cool' which was based outside England and we joined hands with them and are very strongly behind it. When we took this cause with this tour, we thought that this was something universal. We felt it would be out of place to be performing in Houston for a village in India and we felt that if we're touring the entire world, we should look at a cause that encompasses everyone. I think that all of you would agree that global warming is indeed a universal cause that all of us should look after. You mentioned it being a cause too western. I think that is not entirely correct. I think all of us are victims of global warming. It could be that the U.S and the developed world is largely responsible for the emmissions. But in time to come with India developing and the kind of development that is taking place, we will also be victims of the same kinds of emmissions and therefore perhaps the West is trying to warn us to take pre active measures before we get into a situation that they are in now presently. I think that is very wise. At this years IIFA in Bangkok we had the good fortune of honoring Dr Pachauri whose work on environment got him the noble peace prize. During his lecture which he gave at the business forum we were made aware of several other factors which we were terribly excited and moved with. One was the idea of growing more trees and joining a campaign of a billion tree program. I'm happy to state that we have now managed to go beyond the billion figure. Dr Pachauri also stated that 33% of the world is still without electricity. It's a little contrary to global warming to try and work with electricity. But he wanted to use Solar energy to try and get electricity to the villages. A large number of that 33% comes from India. Hopefully through this Tour we will be able to atleast contribute to one village. As the Tour goes to different countries we want to increase the number of villages we can lend our support to. He has given us all a solar lantern. It's a kind of system that is well prevalent now in some of the villages in India and we hope to be able to propogate that (all stand up and applaude).

Friday, 15 August 2008

"I am absolutely appauled by this behaviour", Ranbir Kapoors hard hitting comment to the media.

Exclusive by Devansh Patel

Last Diwali when Ranbir Kapoor was feted worldwide for his performance in his debut, most reviewers expressed surprise that the young Kapoor protege was capable of such stirring efforts. After all, wasn't he just the pretty boy who'd sung, dance and smirked his way through Saawariya? Perhaps the reviewers should not have been so taken aback. Moreover, hugely adventurous and artistically ambitious, he'd proved from an early age to be a fledgling Renaissance Man (aakhir beta kiska hai), a cultural sponge, sucking up the wisdom of those older and more experienced than himself (Bipasha Basu), and he'd continued this practice in his film career, drawing on the likes of his great grandfather, grand father and father. In this Bollywood Hungama exclusive the actor spoke to Devansh Patel about his Saawariya days, why working with Minissha was special, his lucky girl Bipasha Basu, his friend John Abraham, his Independence Day message and his hard hitting answer to the question - Why Yash Raj Films should shut down?

Today is your last day of the promotion for Bachna Ae Haseeno as your second film opens tomorrow across the world.
I know man! It's been really crazy yaar, running up and down.

While Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Saawariya kept you in the closet right till the end. Here Yash Rajs way of working and promoting is a complete contrast. How different was it then?
Well, I think in todays day and age promoting a film is really important. Marketing has a huge impact towards the film because it makes all aware of that particular film and that's what we are doing for Bachna Ae Haseeno. I am going through the same emotions, nervousness and the anxiety which I went in Saawariya. It's all coming back to me now. So I hope that people like and enjoy Bachna Ae Haseeno and hopefully I will taste my first commercial success.

The first thing I noticed when I called you up was that your caller tune has 'Jab Se Tere Naina' song playing. Don't you think you should have 'Khuda Jaane' playing instead?
Saawariya was my debut film and 'Jab Se Tere Naina' is always going to be a special song to me because that song gave a lot to me. People liked the song and really appreciated it a lot. I am not being biased here but I have no second thoughts of changing the song right now.

You are working with your real life Saawariya, Deepika. Is that a good enough reason for Bachna Ae Haseeno to be a hit?
I don't think so. I don't think that if a real life couple does a film it's a hit. Yes, it does garner more attention as far as the media is concerned but I don't think anything beyond that makes or breaks the film. Both me and Deepika can't gaze our chemistry on screen but it's our audiences who know better whether or not our chemistry works and we are right now awaiting their response.

How was it like singing the same song which your father, Mr Rishi Kapoor, sung in 'Hum Kissi Se Kum Nahin'?

Singing 'Bachna Ae Haseeno' song was scary and at the same time it was quite heart warming because you can't compare yourself to the legends like Kishore Kumar, R.D.Burman and Rishi Kapoor. As the title of the film was Bachna Ae Haseeno we couldn't resist ourselves from using that particular number. The title track will not be seen in the movie as it's a promotional track. It was a great fun filming the evergreen song. It was our own sweet representation on the song and it has again caught on a lot with the youth of todays day and age.

Moving on to 'Khuda Jaane', we hear that the song is very near and dear to both you and Deepika. Plus the picturesque locations of Italy with your white outfit makes the perfect icing.
Well, it's a wonderful song and the first song of the album and obviously our main song. The song means a lot to us because it's my first romantic duet in the movie and I think it's been picturised on beautiful locations. Akki Narula did a great job with the costumes, Ahmed Khan choreographed the song and Siddharth Anand, the director, had this wonderful vision to the song. I hope the audiences like it when they see it on big screen.

Are you also scared of heights?
Yes, I'm petrified of heights but I overcome my fear while shooting 'Khuda Jaane'. When Ahmed and Siddharth put me on top of an approximately 100 ft rock type sclpture and I had to stand on top of it to sing 'Khuda Jaane' with different hand movements, it was really scary. But when I saw it on the big screen I felt proud that I managed to keep my nerve and do that shot. It has come out wonderfully well.

It's also your debut with all three leading ladies in Bachna Ae Haseeno. So tell me, who's the good, better and the best?
(laughs). I was comfortable with everyone but the chapter with Minissha was the most fun because we both are shown as seventeen year olds in the film. We got to do some really fun stuff like bike around Switzerland, ride on the huskies, on the glaciers, roller coasters, etc. Honestly, I've had a great time shooting with both Deepika and Minissha. Both are beautiful to work with and highly talented.

Share with us your experiences of working with your onscreen lucky girl Bipasha Basu.
When I started working on Bachna Ae Haseeno, Bipasha was the first person I started off the film with. I was in complete awe of her and much of the fact that she was my first major big co-star. So I was a bit nervous to be working with her initially. Apart from being hot and all that she has achieved over the years, she is a great human being and never made me feel as if I was a ranked new comer. I have now made a good friend for life. I'm really friendly with Bipasha and hope that I get to work with her again in the near future.

Your father too has been a part of Yash Raj Films and now you carry on the tradition. Any tips from Kapoor senior given to Kapoor junior?
There is nothing about taking an advice. Yash Raj is a very big banner. They make beautiful movies. Off late, yes, their movies haven't been really succesful but that doesn't take away the fact that they've given such amazing phenomenal films to the Indian cinema. I just feel priviledged and honour to be a part of such a production. Hopefully if this film does well then I'll be doing more movies with Yash Raj. My father lets me take my own decisions and learn from them.

From a sincere lover in Saawariya to a playboy in BAH. Correct me if I've got it wrong.
Let me correct you (laughs). I am not playing a casanova or a playboy. It's a role of a guy next door with whom you and every other person can identify with. It's a journey of Raj from 17 years to 30 years, different relationships he has and different phases of those relationships and what these relationships teach him about love and life.

Part of the world media strongly recommends Yash Raj Films to shut down. Do you want to comment on this statement?
I am absolutely appauled by this behaviour. People only judge actors and directors by their failures but do not take into consideration their successful films. Look at the kind of movies Yash Raj has given to Indian cinema over the past forty years. We should be proud of that. Movies run and don't run is not in the hands of the director or the producer. The fact that Yash Raj makes movies passionately and spoil their actors. They make you part of the Yash Raj family and to work with them in only my second film is a big achievment. I feel sad when I hear such bizzare statements, that too coming from the media.

Why should one go and watch Bachna Ae Haseeno on India's Independence Day?
India has tri colours and Bachna Ae Haseeno has the beautiful trio - Bipasha, Minissha and Deepika. Primarily that's the best I can think of what syncs with the Independence Day. Secondly because of the story, the music and a little bit of me. So everything put together makes a good enough reason to go and watch this film.

I know I might be in trouble if I ask you this but in good humour, did you call John Abraham up telling him that he is no longer Bipasha's lucky boy?

(laughs) Oh no. Not at all. I don't think anybody can be a lucky boy except John. I respect John a lot and Bipasha is such a great girl. I am really happy for both of them. But I'm also happy for the fact that I got to play her lucky boy in the film.

We are also hearing that you are going to be a part of an R.K. Banner film pretty soon. What's the latest buzz on that?
That's absolutely true. That's been my top priority. We're doing a film for the R.K. Banner and right now we are on the scripting stage. Hopefully by sometime late next year, after I'm finished with my other film commitments, I will start my film with my home production. We still haven't yet decided who will direct the film but a few names are still in the pipeline.

What message you'd like to convey on today's Independence Day to all your fans?
Start off your Independence Day with Bachna Ae Haseeno. August 15 is a great day for all us Indians and a proud day too. This Independence is even more special because of my film releasing on the same day.

Monday, 4 August 2008

"Me and John working together is never a plan. Our tastes are very different" Bipasha Basu in a fiery Q & A. Statutory Warning - The contents are hot!

An exclusive!

While most Bollywood stars do everything they can to appear cool, professional and squeaky-clean, diligently concealing all their nasty little secrets, Bipasha Basu appears wholly unconcerned by controversy. Ever-keen to talk about her breakdowns, her highs and lows, her fantasies and her boyfriend John Abraham, many would say she's built a career on titillating public confession. But she's also an increasingly fine and award-winning performer. It's another story that she hasn't won many awards but she definitely has won rewards even for her special apperances for lighting a beedi or being a part of phoonk de. It all goes to show that when Bips is on screen, she is on fire. No wonder she's hot! Bollywood Hungama's Devansh Patel gets ready for some fiery Q & A with Bipasha Basu. Statutory Warning: The contents are too hot to handle.

Hi Bipasha, long time no see. Where are you now-a-days?
Yeah that's what! I go in hibernation when I'm filming and when my film is about to release I pop out of my igloo.

You are no more an Ajnabee in Bollywood...
I better not be Devansh (ha ha ha)

...and you've made a mark for yourself which your filmography proves. But is it time to tell all the leading ladies, 'Bachna Ae Haseeno'?
(laughs). No yaar. I am too lost in my own space to say that. My survival technique is that the audience loves me and I have a direct interaction with them. I guess, I'm liked and that's why I'm here.

And the other interesting aspect of Bachna Ae Haseeno is also the fact that you are the senior most and highly experienced from the lot. As a teacher, what did you learn from the new bunch of students?
They are hardly students. You know what happens. When I started off acting I had come with no experience in the films, but all these new comers are actually not new comers because they come with so much of preparation for being in films that they end up knowing more than what I've learnt in the last seven years. So they are as experienced as me and a person like Ranbir, he knows way too much for sure.

Your last film with Yash Raj productions was two years ago, Dhoom 2. So how did two years after Yash Raj manage to rope you in for this particular role? Why not any other new comer?
Well, I guess the right casting is very important in any film and when I heard the narration of this film, I just knew that Radhika is the part that I want to do and that is what they called me for. So it was like bang on! I couldn't argue much over it because I fitted the casting and at the same time it was a challenge to play the role. When you see the film, you'll come to know that there is something endearing about Radhika. I've loved my character.

I have to say this. But it's quite unlucky for John that he is not the lucky boy in this film, it's Ranbir Kapoor. Did it make the 25 year old Ranbir uncomfortable while filming romantic and intimate scenes with a 29 year old Bipasha in the film?
No, not really because we are similar minded people and at the end of the day you're an actor. You've come to do your job and you do it. It really helps on the contrary because when you have some kind of an equation with your co-star and you're on great talking terms and a friend, then the chemistry is better as it shows on screen, rather than working with a person you don't get along with. Age has nothing to do with it.

You've already won the hearts of thousands by winning the 'Race' in the U.K. Will Bachna Ae Haseeno win the race in similar fashion too?
I do wish that Bachna Ae Haseeno is widely watched because it is actually a very nice and an easy film to watch. It's a kind of film where we talk about and celebrate love which is an emotion that everyone can easily identify with and especially today's youth will be easily able to identify with because it could be their story too. There are other USP's to the film too. The music is great, there are good looking people, great styling, excellent locations and above all a fantastic story which I think is a winner at the end of the day. It's a story that you follow.

You've been a part of films which can't be tagged as commercial such as Corporate. Any plans of switching to your corporate days?
I have 'Pankh' coming up which is considered to be a a little off the commercial track and I have another Bengali film that I've done which is definitely considered to be parallel cinema. So I have a mixed bag. I keep on doing things that I like and it doesn't specifically have to be in one direction. I like to keep a balance between commercial and realistic films and that's the way I like it. I don't want to be a cruisader of realistic films neither do I want to be this doll in commercial films. I'd like a mix of both.

After Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal and No Smoking in which you did a special appearance, any plans of working with John Abraham again?
We will see if something interests us. We working together is never a plan you know. We really don't plan it. Our way of thinking is very different and our choice of cinema is different. So if we really agree on one thing we will do it but I think the best thing to do is to work less together (laughs). I believe in that.

I don't know whether you know this or not but August 2 will now be officially celebrated as a Bollywood Day in the U.S after the mega success of the Unforgettable Tour. Are you shocked?
For a change, I am. But I don't know. It's quite a starnge thing. I don't even understand friendship day, mothers day, fathers day, etc. For me, friends and parents are forever. You cannot deny a realtionship and definitely when you talk of Bollywood, it is my ambition, my work and my work place. I cannot deny it on every other day, so I don't know what to do on one particular day like a Bollywood Day. If there is a festival organised around Bollywood worldwide, it's an interesting concept.

Are you particular as far as screen space is concerned when you are a part of a big film like Dhoom 2 with big actors and a film like Bachna Ae Haseeno where the only big actor is 'you'?
No. Sometimes people do crap when you are three hours in the film and some person comes in for twnety minutes and steals the thunder. So screen space has definitely never been my outlook. If you see my work profile, when you do multistarrer, the fun is in that they are such a number of good exciting talent all put together in one film. It's just that how you leave your mark behind which matters. There is no competition. It's what you do is important even for a few minutes. Length is not an issue.

Who is Radhika?
Radhika is a girl who is a dancer by profession. She is a dancer in Shiamak Davar's troupe. She aspires to be an actress. So she is today's modern and an independent girl, has a clean heart and believes in romance and being in love. She falls in love with Raj. The film is actually a journey of all these four characters how they grow to be what because of love.

Any other song which you have on your caller tune besides Lucky Boy?
(laughs). Right now Lucky Boy is the favourite song of lot of boys. I like the title track of Bachna Ae Haseeno. I do like Ahista Ahista a lot because it's got a new flavour of romance. Khuda Jaane is a typical romantic ballet. I like all the songs. Even Small Town Girl is different as it's got bhangra beats and a situational song and Jogi Mahi which is very traditional. So it's a mix bag. Look, I covered the entire album!

We are nearing our Independence Day in ten days. Any message for all the Indians across the globe?
Independence Day is highly significant for all Indians, whether they are in India or living abroad because it is for this day that our country was free and we could take up what we wanted to. Today, we are who we are because of August 15. I just fell that we should be patriotic towards our country and contribute in the progress of our country in which ever possible way. This year I am going to spread a little bit of happiness by releasing our film Bachna Ae Haseeno on the Independence Day.

Why should one go and watch Bachna Ae Haseeno on August 15?
I think Bachna Ae Haseeno should be seen by any person who celebrates love,, who thinks that love is important, who wants to fall in love and who is in love.

Being a non smoker, you've somehow got attracted to beedi's and cigarettes. When are we going to see you next jalaile a beedi or phoonk de?
(laughs) Nicely worded. As far as the song is concerned, I am right now pretty happy with my Lucky Boy yaar. I'm done with the smoke for the time being.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

"Americans have big tanks & sophisticated weapons which they can use against us anytime they want. All we have is our body" Jag Mundhra

He is a Hindu and in the past has made Provoked which was a controversial film starring the former Miss World Aishwarya Rai which revolved around the true life story of a Southall housewife Kiranjit Ahluwalia who killed her abusive husband after which the new law under Provocation got implemented. Now he is about to release his film on August 22 in the U.K which revolves around the mother of all controversies - the shoot out of Jean Charles De Menezes, an innocent Brazilian national who was shot more than ten times at point blank range inside the Stockwell Tube Station in London by the Metropolitan Police officers who thought of him as a suicide bomber. But the truth was that he wasn't a suicide bomber. Jagmohan Mundhra also known as Jag Mundhra took this bold and a brave decision of making Shoot On Sight on a subject which has many questions unanswered. For a change, Mundhra answered all my questions and came out with shocking quotes, comments and answers. Over to Jag.

It seems like you are too fond of making controversial films on controversial subjects. How do your films see the light of the day?
But they do, don't they? (laughs). When I make a film I don't think before hand as to how controversial it'll be. That is not the thought process. I first and foremost look at it that what will make a good dramatic story and to make a good drama you need to have a conflict. The external conflict drives the plot between the good and the bad guy and then there is an internal conflict which goes in the minds of these characters and that's what gives you a compelling story. A lot of times in the real life what people go through is so much more powerful and dramatic than something which will fictionally come with a figment of your imagination. So I pick subjects because they are compelling dramas of life. As a film maker, it's my responsibility to not run away from controversies.

Out of all the talent in the world, why only Jag Mundhra thought of making Shoot On Sight?
I am surprised to know that this was such a powerful story and a situation which was so dramatic that an innocent man was shot dead on the tube station in London by virtue of mistaken identity from the Metropolitan Police department. The time period when there was so much panic and the worlds one of the most well known and respected police force did such a bungling, nobody even thought of making a film on it. Some British film makers still believe that the subject is too raw and sensitive and therefore they are shying away. How long do you think one should wait to address such a situation. What about those who suffered the Nazi suffering and still are, they don't get over it through their entire life. Does that mean one shouldn't make a film about them. I feel one should confront an issue and open it up for a debate. Even if you are not politically correct and feel strongly about such issues, go ahead and put it on screen. By avoiding such issues, harmony cannot be created. I am still surprised to know why no film maker from UK or US has tapped into this topic.

So what kind of research went into making Shoot On Sight?
Quite a bit. I don't take my job lightly. When I make realistic films, I want to make sure that atleast they are authentic. Everybody knows that the cinema is a suspension of disbelief and everything they are going to see is fake but the only way you can create a suspension of disbelief is that if your attention to detail is good especially when situations are realistic even though the characters may be fictional. I cannot take liberties like a science fiction film or a fantasy film can. I went through seven or eight hours of tape of the speeches of Abu Hamza, the radical Muslim cleric, to be able to sort of distill and condense the points into the speeches of Om Puri in the film. It had to look convincing and real. There are so many people who are misguided and influenced by the speeches of such clerics to such an extent that they are willing to give up their lives for it. So these arguments have to be really strong. I am a non Muslim making a film on a Muslim protagonist. I had to film in a mosque, film the Muslim prayers and I cannot do these things superficially and make sure that nobody is offended by it. I went to the mosque myself to find out how they pray and the actual ritual of the namaz. I recorded the prayer which was done by the imam in the Regents Park Mosque and used it as the part of the backdrop for the film.

Is that all the research you've done?
I learnt that in any devout muslim conversation you don't take Prophet Mohammed's name lightly. His name has to follow 'peace be upon him'. This is something I didn't know before. Also when I was doing police procedures, I didn't know much about the ranks of the Metropolitan police. I went through the entire organisational chart of the Scotland Yard.

How did you manage that?
I googled it on the internet. I also went and met Mr Tarique Ghaffur, the assistant commisioner for central operations who gave me a few books to refer on. During the shoot, how the policemen operate, how they move was all researched by an ex-MI5 guy who is now a film consultant. We hired him for that. We also had a consultant for Islamic religious situations, Mr Parvez. So in that case, I'm pretty thorough in what I've researched.

You must have got some kind of a negative advice of not to make Shoot On Sight?
Ofcourse. People always tell me not to make such a film and will it work commercially. They've also told me that people go to cinema not to think but to have a good time. But Shoot On Sight is a different kind of cinema. Cinema is such a powerful art form that it cannot be used for one type of cinema. Until the script was ready I was not sure whether the dramatic art would be correct or it'll be good and I knew that since I'm making a feature film and not a documentary, it must work on the most basic fundamental level of being good entertainment, meaning a good engaging story. Then when you peel the layers out of it, you'll get more than just the good and bad guy image.

Terrorism is increasing day by day. Do you think your film Shoot On Sight will be like adding more oil in the fire?
I don't think that any one film can change the political, religious, cultural or social view points. What it can do is to make people aware of the issues. But the fact that there are lots of liberal muslims who are not considered liberal anymore by virtue of the fact that their voice is not heard. The voices which are heard are the voices which are making the most noise - the extremists, and because of them the 70% to 80% of muslims who believe in their faith and are not fundamentalists want to have peace and harmony with other communities. Now it's them who are being targeted as a suspected community. And not just them, that is true for all of us who know the distinction between a hindu and a muslim or india and pakistan. But for the white guys, for the western majority of people who don't know the difference, for them, all of us are suspect community. All of us who belong to a brown race, whether its Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, SriLankan, Hindu, Muslim, doesn't matter. I think Shoot On Sight will create that awareness in their mind that you cannot paint everybody with the same brush stroke. It also tells those of us who feel victimised that it is easy to point a finger at a white guy and say he is a racist. But do you also understand what they go through. When a person who is entrusted with making sure that another bobm blast doesn't happen and if he pulled the trigger, what was his fault. What if the guy truly turned out to be a bomber.

You've infact managed to rope in a few big names from the West for your film namely Brian Cox and Greta Scacchi. How did you manage to convince them?
I think the story attracts the actors. There are so many progressive people in the artistic community who feel strongly about issues but most films do not give them an oppurtunity to participate and show their point of view in an issue. Now a days majority of Hollywood films are made on super heroes like Batman, Spiderman, Superman, etc. Those films are driven by box office and not by the real life situations. So certain actors do such films for their big pay cheques and their lifestyles. But somewhere down the line, most actors, especially western actors have a political point of view and do not get a chance to express that in big Hollywood films. There was a time when bad guys used to be communists, then bad guys used to be the Nazi's and now the bad guys are Muslims. If you have a good relevant material which has its politics right, you'll find lot of big actors interested in doing the role given to them. But they don't give you a lot of time to do it. I finished Brian Cox's shoot in one week. I have to be much more organised and efficient than the big studio films because they may do two shots in a day but I do thirty shots in a day so that I can finish the actors job as soon as they have other big films to go to. I still pay them the rate they want but because I only need them for a week or ten days.

So when will you be working with Aishwarya Rai again after you worked with her in Provoked?
Next year. Aishwarya Rai's own secretary, Mr Hari Singh asked me to direct a film for his company called Band Width Productions. Aishwarya Rai has commited to do a three week guest appearance in the film. The tentative title of the film is 'Faisla' as of now. Aishwarya plays a strong village sarpanch based in Punjab whose husband is in the armed forces. She is an activist and how she takes up a cause of a village girl, etc.

How did you convince Naseeruddin Shah to play the role of Tarique Ghaffur?
When I finished the script of Shoot On Sight, I had three names for the role of an assistant commisioner. One of them was Art Malik, a Pakistani British Actor who has been working in the UK for quite some time now. One of them was Naseer and the third was Mr Amitabh Bachchan. Now you will ask me why Amitabh, to which I will say that a journalist based in India Mr Subhash Jha who had seen my film Provoked told me that I should rope in Mr Amitabh Bachchan. This was suggested after he read the draft of my film. Subhash Jha himself sent the letter to Mr Bachchan to have a look at the story because I could not have access to Mr Bachchan. Three days later he called me saying that Mr Bachchan liked the script. I flew down to Mumbai and met with him. I met him on the sets of Cheeni Kum and he first asked me why I didn't rope in a Muslim actor for this role because the assistant commisioner was a Muslim. I told him that actors are not Hindu or Muslim. It's the characters who are Hindu or Muslim. Since the film addresses an important issue, Mr Bachchan doing it would have a large audience seeing the film. He was also hesitant not to shave off his beard but then I told him that he need not worry as he will have to grow a bit. A well groomed muslim beard is perfectly acceptable in Scotland Yard as I had checked with them. We talked about other things as well. But all of a sudden the response from his side stopped coming. I have no issues over the matter. It can be that someone has adviced Mr Bachchan not to do the film because of it's controversial subject. But then Naseeruddin Shah came and accepted the offer by saying that if some actors are afraid of the muslim community, I don't care. I will do the film because I liked it.

Now that the film revovles around controversy, let me ask you the most controversial question of all. In the films trailer, a police officer is seen asking Naseeruddin Shah, 'Are all terrorists muslim or are all muslims terrorists'. Do you have any answer to this question?
There is no question that in today's time, except for groups like LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) commonly known as Tamil Tigers, all the terrorist events which happen around the globe whether it is the recent explosions in India's Ahmedabad and Bangalore states, Madrid blasts, etc. You come to know later on that there is a Muslim name behind it. So at this point in time I will agree with the above quote that all terrorists are muslims.

Can I quote what you've just said in the papers?
Yes. I've used the line but you can't use it as a headline because it will create unnecessary controversy. Having said that, we do know that suicide bombings was not started by muslim terrorists but by the Tamil terrorists of Sri Lanka who blew the then Prime Minister of India Mr Rajiv Gandhi during his election campaign. I read one of the Palestinian suicide bombers statement which shook me up. He said that the Americans have big tanks and sophisticated weaponary which they can use against us anytime they want. All we have is our body. We can't fight with them on a conventional war because we can't even come close to what they have. But in an unconventional war where we give up our lives and which they cannot afford is the only power we have. I think it is true what he said.

Where did you hear this from?
There was a documentary film called Paradise Now based on two Palestine guys. That's where I heard one of them say this. I don't agree with what America did to Iraq in the name of war against weapons of mass destruction which they never found. I don't agree with lot of things which are happening in Gaza too and how the Palestinians are treated but I'd say that all the sympathy for all these causes goes out of the window because they target innocent people. When innocent people get killed I don't care what cause it is. There is no justification for it. Suicide bombings is an exercise in hurting your own cause.

Are you going to keep the films premiere in the U.K?
We are planning to. The film is going to first open in the U.K on the August 22. It's not opening in the U.S, India or Pakistan on the same day because the setting of the story is post 7/7 London so obviously it makes sense to open the film first in the U.K.

Any message you'd like to convey through this world exclusive interview?
Shoot On Sight is not anti-muslim at all. One of the best comments I've heard about this film is that Shoot On Sight was such a difficult and a thin line to walk but I walked carefully and perfectly. It's not a biased film and does not take anybody's side. It presents issues in a very positive manner. So hopefully the people who are rational in thought and who are open minded and are willing to see another point of view will definitely come and watch this film.

August 2nd announced as 'BOLLYWOOD DAY' in Houston Texas!!!

August 01, 2008: The stage is set. The carpet is laid. The Unforgettable Tour, Indian cinema's biggest night out ever, is enthralling the world and is all set to mesmerize Houston. The magic of the Unforgettable Tour will unleash at the Toyota Centre, which will house more than 12,000 Indian cinema aficionados.

The Harris County, Texas, has extended warmest greetings and congratulations to the Unforgettable Team on the outstanding production that is sure to delight and entertain all attendees. Ed Emmett, Judge of Harris County, Texas, has proclaimed Saturday 02 August 2008, the day of the show in Houston, as Bollywood Day and his representative presented proclamations of the same to the Unforgettable Stars - Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Riteish Deshmukh, Vishal, Shekhar and Wizcraft Director, Wiz Viraf Sarkari today at a press conference held in Houston.

With the tour seeing unprecedented success in Toronto, Trinidad, Los Angeles and San Francisco, the Houston show promises to set new benchmarks.

This Indian Cinema spectacle brings together the greatest icons of Indian Cinema: Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Bachchan, Preity Zinta, Riteish Deshmukh and the music director duo Vishal-Shekhar in a spectacular production. The Unforgettable Tour after Houston will move on to 3 more cities in U.S before reaching UK, Holland and Germany!

The US shows get bigger with the 'Dancing Queen', Madhuri Dixit joining the US leg of the Tour. On her association with the tour, Madhuri said, "I am very excited to be associated with the Unforgettable Tour. There have been attempts in the past to bring Mr. Bachchan and me together onstage, but it didn't materialize. Now through the Unforgettable and Wizcraft, I will have the pleasure of performing with him, Aishwarya and Abhishek on the same stage. I am really excited about reaching out to my fans."
Extensively extravagant performances, choreographed by Shiamak Davar and glamorous costumes, along with the iconic Indian cinema superstars will enthrall the audience. After spellbinding Houston on 02 August 2008 , the Unforgettable Tour will travel Atlantic City, Chicago, New York, London, Rotterdam and Germany. The first leg of the concert tour began in Toronto on 18th July followed by Trinidad on the 20th of July, Los Angeles on the 26th and San Francisco on the 27th.

Amitabh Bachchan, while speaking about the Tour's success so far shared, "Incredible, non-stop adrenaline!! The fans in Toronto, Trinidad, LA and San Francisco spurred us on and item after item just went off like a bomb. This show is packaged very well and credit should go to Wizcraft for putting in a fantastic presentation. The banners that went up from the vociferous crowds, the roar of appreciation with every move on stage and announcements were so uplifting."