Sunday, 28 September 2008

Up, close and personal with ANJORI ALAGH over an unpretentious dinner in Mumbai.

exclusive by Devansh Patel

There are many celebrities who claim their art is more important to them than fame or fortune. But very few back it up with action, no matter how rich and famous they become. Anjori Alagh is one of them. Bollywood columnist Devansh Patel gets to know her up, close and personal over an unpretentious dinner in Mumbai.

The turn of the millennium saw teen flicks dominate the box office charts. Producers and directors finally recognised the renewed power of the youth market and milked it with gusto. Horror movies, psychological dramas, comedies, even Shakespearian tragedies - all of them made a fortune when released on the big screen. And it was this period that saw the rise of Anjori Alagh. Her last week release in India '1920' got her far more noticed than her debut film 'Life Mein Kabhi Kabhi' inspite of her brief appearance in the film. But, no squeaky cutie and hugely ambitious, she's got all the equipment to grow into a serious actress.

I met her recently in Mumbai during the Press meet of her film 1920. Not an A-lister yet, there was something which was holding me back to go and meet her to question her about her latest film. Unlike other actresses, she wasn't eye candy, girlfriend material, lacking the talent to take on the meatier female roles. Many - the more bloddy-minded among them - work hard to widen their scope, and eventually succeed in earning their peers' respect. Anjori was a glowing example of this. And then when you are told from some Indian journalist that she is a daughter of yesteryears television and film actress Dr Maya Alagh, you stand where you are and question yourself, Is she?. Strangely, for someone whose screen persona is usually so open and simple, it's difficult to accurately describe Anjori Alagh. Sure, she's often feted for her Perizad Zorabian-like girl-next-door appeal. But then, like her mother Maya Alagh, she's also an unconventional beauty with tonnes of talent. Hard to pin down, is Anjori. Harder still when you know her unusually exotic background.

Having spent most of her years in the U.S studying, she surprised one and all by plunging into Bollywood. Her brother-in-law is the head of NDTV Imagine, Sameer Nair, who is today recognised as one of India's most creative and successful media personalities. NDTV Imagine is the new entertainment initiative from television news major NDTV Group. With only two films old, she has an impressive list of friends who are A-list Bollywood personalities like Zayed Khan, Apoorva Lakhia and DJ Aqeel to name a few. I'm not surprised. But what's surprising is the fact that with such a star studded family connection, Anjori could have misused her contacts, but she proved me wrong. I mean, her first film could've been with Shah Rukh Khan or Salman Khan or a Karan Johar film. Worst come worst she could've done a cameo with all but she went for the complete opposite. She choose to work with Vikram Bhatt directed two films Life Mein Kabhi Kabhi and 1920. So as most journalists would quiz the actress on her film career, I tried going the personal way.

Writing interviews, reviews and stories since last five years as a columnist is like drinking tea everyday. But this is the first time an actress has inspired me to write about her. When I met her for dinner at her favourite South Mumbai restaurant Indigo Deli, she came across as a complete natural. No fake smiles, no fake and cliched lines which celebs often use when they meet any journalist and designer outfit. In her white sleevless top and her blue denims she felt at ease. So when I asked her why a celeb like her was not draped in any sort of glitter, shimmer and shine, she replied, "Do I have to? I love comfort and I am wearing exactly that". No first impression last impression talks. She pulls out yet another stunner when asked what she will be drinking. Now when you are a celeb in Mumbai, you'd but naturally be dining with a glass of red or white wine. To my surprise, she ordered her favourite apple slush. No show off business and that's what will take this actress to her peak in the years to come. I mean, you order what you like. Straight up. Half way through our conversation we order a Pizza with a base as thin as a leaf. Never tried before in London though. Sipping my red wine which I ordered, Anjori now gets a bit more comfortable by sitting on the sofa folding her legs and talking about her favourite holiday destination London. Shopoholic by nature, she will grab anything she sets her eyes on from the high street biggies such as Jane Norman, Selfridges and Zara. As far as designers go, she loves herself covered in Gucci, YSL and Versace. But on the flip side, back home in India, she wears her favourite designer Nikasha Tawaday. The Pizza was delicious but I was more interested in her film career. In an industry filled with hundreds of new comers, Miss Alagh was different. Given her a choice whether she'd like to be known as a good actress or a superstar, Anjori settles for both. The urge in her is tempting. It's not her over confidence but her self confidence which comes to the forefront, and whether she claims both is just a matter of time. It's forty minutes past midnight and we leave. The kind actress drops me off to my place and gets ready for the next big day in her life - Her first chatting session hosted by Bollywood's premiere website Bollywood Hungama.

It was her debut chat where her fans would question her everything and anything, and to look after the proceedings I joined her at her house in Mumbai. It was rather strange to see that she had fans on the other end of the computer. And why not? Her brief cameo was worth a praise in 1920. Questions ranging from 'Did 1920 scare you?, Was the castle in which the film was shot haunted?, What equation did she share with the director Vikram Bhatt? to some very personal question like 'Will you marry me?' were asked. The diplomatic damsel answered every question with ease. Known to be a pukka sanskari (very cultured), she even had a table full of Indian snacks ready on the table for us to munch on. A personal touch was enough for the team of Bollywood Hungama and myself to stay back for a bit long now. Did I miss out on the special masala chai (spiced tea) too? Anjori's personal fondness for wood was pretty evident as her house had furniture to frames to decoratives made from wood. She then has to be a Woddy Allen fan. Crap joke, isn't it? With her big day over, it was now time for my big day in Mumbai - The red carpet event of the film EMI's Music launch which was attended by the A-list Bollywood brigade like Sanjay Dutt, Arjun Rampal, Sunil Shetty, Tusshar Kapoor, Urmila Matondkar, Malaika Arora Khan, etc. And there I was in my black trousers and stripped black shirt waiting to step my foot on my first red carpet event in Mumbai. But wait...I was not alone. It was my friend Anjori Alagh in her black and white Jane Norman outfit gracing the occassion with me too. She was normal but I was a bit emarassed. A journo walking along with an actress at a red carpet event at the Intercontinental Hotel. I even got more embarrased when she revealed that it was her first time with a journo at such an event. So as we both stepped on the red carpet, a pack full of Indian journalists flashed their cameras at Anjori. She didn't black out with the lights and the attention she was getting. She was loving every bit of it. We entered the marquee where the launch was about to take place. We sat... but at an arms length. The music was released and I escorted her to the car.

She went. But her loving gestures, comments and memories linger in my mind even today as I sit on my desk and type this story. In my five and a half years as a Bollywood columnist in the U.K I've met the good, the better and the best of Bollywood stars. Today I met a friend.

Arjun Rampal in an unplugged and a candid conversation from his Dadar office in Mumbai.

exclusive by Devansh Patel

2008 will be remembered as my most memorable trip to Mumbai ever since I've moved to London in 2002. And it's not just about meeting Bollywood stars and having lunches and dinners with them. It was more about knowing them personally. So after having a drink with the director of Rock On, Abhishek Kapoor, in Olive Bar at Pali Hill, Bandra, I moved on to having lunch with Farhan Akhtar in his Santacruz office. But it was my last day in Mumbai, 26/09/08 which was the busiest with none other than my pal Arjun Rampal. Dodging the Mumbai traffic I had to reach Arjun's Dadar office at 7pm. I press the door bell and to my surprise it's Arjun Rampal who receives me with a friendly hug. He offers me tea and tells me to wait for a couple of minutes till he finishes his interview with some reporter. The moment he is done, he comes out and angrily questions me, "Where the hell are you man? You've come to meet on your last day in Mumbai?". So to make my day special he plays the perfect host. He grabs his guitar and starts the best ever unplugged session in his room. But the worst was still to come. He wanted me to play with him too and willingly agreed to give me some exclusive tips on how to play the instrument. We had a ball. Then enters his wife Meher Jessia Rampal. A long chat for almost an hour over a masala chai made it even more special. It was 8.30pm. Arjun had to attend the Rohit Bal Fashion show at the ITC, Lower Parel. He tells me, "Come with me to the fashion show. It's your last day in town. Let me make your day extra special". We reach and go back stage where he meets his friends from the modelling world. The show gets started, Karan Johar walks the ramp with Rohit Bal. A standing ovation and we depart. Indeed, Arjun is a star but on my last Friday night, he made me feel like one. Presenting you, Rampal as never heard before in an exclusive interview with Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent Devansh Patel.

Hows life post Rock On? Heard your fans are soon becoming your followers?
I am really glad that I could give them that because they've been extremely supportive. So I feel really happy and my family too. My fans feel the same way too. I know the kind of mail I used to get. I know the kind of support I've got from them. So you feel like you haven't let somebody down. They feel proud of the fact that I took time to choose the kind of work I wanted to do. As an actor you can walk out of a film feeling satisfied but that film may not necessarily satisfy audiences. But when the film does satisfy the audiences, then you know that all your efforts and energy you put in has paid off. You don't make a film to watch it for yourself or to watch it on a DVD at home, you want people to come to the cinemas and enjoy the experience. So yeah, everything feels just great.

Do you see Rock On re-release after a decade just like in the past, films like Sholay and DDLJ have re-released?
I definitely think so. It can happen. Rock On is a path breaking film and why I say that even though it sounds pompous is because a lot of people thought a film like Rock On won't work, especially the seasoned people within the industry. They called me and told me what kind of a film was Rock On where we all were looking like some rock band. I laughed and said that was the whole idea (laughs out loud). They said, 'Aaj kal kaun dekhta hai aisi picture. Yeh film kaam nahin karengi aur ise opening bhi nahin milengi'. Now that the film has had an amazing opening, the same people tell me that its a metro centric film which means that it will only work in the main centres. But the film performed even in the interiors and small towns and cities of India. That's when you realise that your audience has changed. They don't want to leave their brain at home. On that level I think Rock On should re-release after a few years.

Can I now say that Rock On is a bigger success than Om Shanti Om?
No, I wouldn't say that. I think in terms of a box office success, Om Shanti Om is a much bigger film today. But Rock On is a success in its own way. It's not right to compare two genres and types of films. It's wonderful to say that you were in both the film (laughs) and both the films were super successful. Om Shanti Om is the biggest film ever in terms of magnitude till date and to what it created at the box office.

Moustache has now become quite synonymous with your success. What say?
(laughs) Please don't say this because I don't want to be stuck with moustaches in all my films.

A rather surprised Farhan Akhtar tells me that Rock On performed the worst in the U.K. Do you think it lacked the star power?
I am a huge star in the U.K (laughs) and my U.K based fans are really huge and if it was based on that then I think people would've come in. I was very surprised to see why Rock On did not perform well in the U.K even after I did loads of interviews. But then I realised that there were a lot of theatres in the U.K. So I called the Big Pictures, a Reliance company and asked them where exactly was Rock On screened. To my shock, the film wasn't released in parts of Birmingham and Leicester where a huge Asian population thrives. As a distributor, you can't do that. That was a big draw back. But I'm very confident that everybody in the U.K will see Rock On once it comes out on the DVD for sure.

It makes sense if Rock On continues from where it ended. I mean, why isn't a sequel on the cards?
It was Abhishek Kapoor's dream to make Rock On. It really did come from his personal experiences and friendships. It was a very honest and a sincere approach to the film. If he can do that again to make a remake then he should. But if he can't, we should just leave Rock On where it is. If the driving force is not there, you can't make any film, forget the sequel. He will have to showcase the same innocence in his protagonists, the innocence in terms of dialogues and the relationships shown in the film, etc and to re create that, it'll be very very difficult. What Rock On gave to some people was a lot of hope and nostalgia. Like for example, a lot of people who are working today wanted to meet up with their college friends after watching the film, a lot of bands re united. A lot of musicians thanked me for giving them hope. It is that extra special magic what Rock On created. Now if you can't create that magic, a sequel can't be made. Just like a remake of Sholay can't be made and we all know what eventually happened (laughs).

From your rocking persona, there was also your soft side seen when you almost started crying after Mr Amitabh Bachchan's comment.
You're right. He is my ultimate hero and all heroes worshipped him while growing up. We still do when we work with him because his energy is just unbelievable. So when he stood there and put his arms around me in front of 15,000 people and said, 'I'm so proud of Arjun Rampal', my eyes went moist. I think anybody would get moist eyed.

Your time is right Arjun. Producers and directors are now chasing you. But let's talk about you 'Chasing Ganesha', your production house. How's that shaping up?
It's not about the right or the wrong time. I never do things according to the timing. You do things with conviction. You do things what you believe in. We have been working on a script which is an action packed story, we are trying to get the right director on board to direct our film because it is something new and novel. It's an entertaining film which the audiences will enjoy. Chasing Ganeshas first script was ready even before Rock On was released. Yes, we are seriously getting into production and will at least produce one if not two films a year through our production house and that is our goal. We may also do things on television, may be do things related to fashion and promoting talent. So there are lot of thing I want to do which are based around the entertainment industry and that's what Chasing Ganesha Entertainment stands for.

What's happening with your restaurant 'LAP'?
LAP which is called Lounge and Party will open up in December in Delhi. That's something I really wanted to do. I was in Goa on a flight and I met A.D.Singh who owns all the Olives Bar and Restaurant throughout India. So we got talking and chatting and finally zeroed on opening LAP together in partnership. As I don't understand the business side of things, he will be looking after it and I'll take care of the entertainment side of things which I understand well.

What next after Rock On?
Well, now EMI is going to release because I've done enough heavy roles and I wanted to do something light and refreshing. I was missing the song and dance so I wanted to get back into it. That's why EMI. It's a fun film. I play a DJ in the film, a guy who misuses the credit card completely. A bit of a conman and then he meets Sanjay Dutt, a recovery agent. My next after EMI is a thriller called 'The Fox'. It's a really interesting thriller with Sunny Deol. We've almost finished shooting it. Then I am doing another heavy duty kind of a role in a film called 'Rajniti' directed by Prakash Jha. The whole backfrop is very political just like the name suggests. I play a politician in it. I am very excited about Rajniti because it's got tremendous amount of talent in it. There's Ranbir Kapoor, Nana Patekar, Ajay Devgan and Manoj Bajpai. So it's going to be a very powerful, hard hitting, realistic film. Then I do this film called 'Kunal' which is a period film produced by A.B.Corp.

What suggestion would you like to give the male models who want to join Bollywood soon?
I've always believed that it is more difficult to come into an industry where you're already known and have been seen. When I got into films, I stopped modelling completely. That was in 1996 end. So from 1996 to 2002 I never did any modelling because my film took five years to be made. People had completely forgotten what I looked like, there was a nostalgia and a memory in terms of a name. What people do in todays time is not correct. They use modelling to be a stepping stone towards films. I always tell youngsters when they want to join films from modelling that why did they choose modelling then, why can't they just go train as an actor. When I was modelling, I only came in as a model because I enjoyed it and wanted to contribute to the fashion industry which was growing and booming at that point in time. That's how people remember us. I got bored of it in two and a half, three years. I started professional modelling in 1994 and ended in 1996. That's it. But people still remember you because you were honest with your work. So don't mix the two up. Choose one profession and do it. If you really want to act, come and do acting and if you're good, you'll get a chance. Then it's what you do with it that counts. Right now all the male models are confused.

You're one of those very few actors who havn't quite his profession inspite of many flops.
Because I beleived in myself and I've always been honest to my work. I didn't work for other people but myself. The day I worked to prove myself to other people I was unhappy because how many people can you eventually please. The day you work from your heart, you'll know you're not a flop.

Any parting message for your fans?
I am very dissapointed that my U.K fans haven't seen Rock On and it shows from the figures we've got from the box office. So make sure you buy the music CD and a DVD of Rock On and please don't download it (laughs).

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Minissha Lamba talks about her favourite possession - her film KIDNAP and her BIKINI

exclusive by Devansh Patel

Often a young actress will deliver a performance so strong, so mature she is feted as the Next Big Thing. But the description is usually used more in hope than expectation. We all know that many years and many films can pass before she'll live up to her early promise, if indeed she ever does. But the wait might just be over for the sexy Minissha Lamba. Why sexy? Well, you'll have to watch Kidnap or if you're a journo like me, you'll have to meet her to know the answer. Actually, close observers had been saying this about Lamba for some considerable time. Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent Devansh Patel met the hottie Minissha in time for breakfast early morning at the producers office in Mumbai to talk about her biggest film till date 'Kidnap' and her most talked about 'white bikini'.

So, you're wearing red today, which symbolises power. Is Kidnap that powerful?
I'm wearing red today because it's early in the morning and everyone would be a bit sleepy including me. So hopefully a bright spot of red would just be the dash everyone needs to wake up. Coming back to the film, all characters are powerful in the film. The role I play of Sonia is a seventeen year old girl who is estranged from her father. Her parents are divorced and her constant fight with her mother is that she wants to meet her father. She is rebellious. It has made her a tough girl. Sonia is just waiting to turn eighteen so she cannot be stopped by any force to go and meet her father. So it was one of those days when a regular fight gets escalated to the point where she storms out of the house and how when she gets kidnapped, entire change of events is set into motion. How finally her father has to come down because the kidnapper will only speak to her father. Now she has a double mission to get out because her father is finally here and she is trapped in this house with a kidnapper. So now she is going to make the kidnapper's life a living hell. Such is her power.

There's a lot said about your white bikini outfit in the film. Why such a big issue?
I don't know. You know, I've not been a big film buff. But I think in the seventies, we did have makers and an India which was very progressive. Then the 80's and the 90's were like the dark ages which reflected in the cinema's as well. The quality of cinema went down. Now we have a very popular culture and the bikini is back in business. We wear equally sensuous Indian outfits as well. But when you wear a bikini, the westernised form of the ultimate sexy minimalistic outfit, there is a lot of curiosity out in India because we feel that the Indian women are shedding their so called shackles which are representative of conformist clothing. Then you have actresses like Aishwarya who've gone completely gorgeous in Dhoom 2, you've got Esha Deol and Bipasha Basu who're seen clad in a bikini. The recent was Kareena Kapoor in Tashan. So there is nothing that stops me from doing the same. Especially when you've got a vehicle that is going to present it well. When you've got a Sanjay Gadhvi coming to you and saying that I'm going to make you wear a bikini and you're not going to say no to it.

What if some other director comes to you and asks you to wear a bikini in his or her film?
You know what, the whole novelty of doing it is wearing it once. What's the point of wearing a bikini in my next film release after Kidnap?

We will come back to the bikini issue but tell us how did Sanjay Gadhvi manage to kidnap you for the film?
It was very simple actually. I was called for a general meeting at Shree Ashtavinayak's office, whop are the producers of this film. I was then introduced to Sanjay Gadhvi. I didn't know that he was signed by the producers. I had no idea about a film called Kidnap. I had no idea that the casting for such a film was happening there. Sanjay started talking and eventually it turned out to be a work meeting. We spoke about the film and he told me straight on that this is what I'm looking at doing. You'll have to loose weight, you'll have to wear a bikini and you'll be dressed in ultra glam clothes. Are you up for it? That's what I like about his honesty. He put his cards on the table and said that this is it. I don't want trouble later on. I don't want you saying that this wasn't told to me. So if you're OK with it, we'll proceed. I had just seen Dhoom 2 then and didn't we just loved Aishwarya in it? Couldn't we not take our eyes off Hrithik Roshan? So how could I say No to Sanjay Gadhvi? I was ready...ready for the change.

Did you ever try wearing a bikini at home and look yourself in the mirror and say – Wow?
Well, I do wear a bikini when I go swimming to the beach but not otherwise. I laze around in the sun and make sure I come back burnt to a crisp. It's fun but for screen it's a whole new ball game. I did go back home and saw myself in the bikini. I was like – Oh my God! I need to do a lot of work. It was hard. Wearing a bikini is not easy. It is actually a very tension filled deadline because everyone is going to be looking at you. Your mind is ready for it and your body is talking a whole different tune together. So you need to whip your body into shape and tell that this is what you are going to do.

What different has Sanjay got out of you besides a great sexy body in a bikini in Kidnap?
That's exactly what I thought. The idea of wearing a two piece is great but I'm getting kidnapped and a kidnapper is going to put me in a dark corner. Then what's different about my role? Then he gave me the script to read and it's not as if I was getting kidnapped and put in a corner and she periodically comes out and creates a tantrum. It's not that at all. She is a very integral part of the story. She and the kidnapper form a very weird bond which is different. So Sonia isn't just a fancy prop in the film. She is someone who is giving a hard time to Imran because on the one side he has the father and on the other side he has this rich spoilt brat to take care of.

Kidnap at one point of time was going to be shelved after Sanjay Dutt's imprisonment. What was going through your mind?
We all were extremely worried. Ultimately this is a film. At the end of the day we were worried that we knew Sanju baba was a part of the film before he got arrested. So you do think about the film being shelved or not. Then you pause and think. Wait...this is a human being we are talking about. Projects take off and sometimes don't. It's a part of life and even the biggest of actors have got their films shelved for whatever reason. But this was a human being we are talking of right here and that was more important. Suddenly Sanju baba's trials which we all used to read about in the papers became humanised to us because we were a part of it. The tragedy hit us and we started to think that this can't be happening to us. Please don't do this to him. Sanju baba has seen enough. Kidnap the film was secondary for us at that time. Sanjay Gadhvi was very categorical that he had written this film only for Sanjay Dutt, I have waited for four years for his dates which means that tomorrow whatever happens, there will be only Sanjay Dutt playing the role of Vikrant Raina and nobody else.

Tell us a bit about your introduction song which brings in a lot of colour and flavour in the dull Mumbai rains at the moment.
Thank you very much. Nice to hear that you loved the song. The song was shot in Mauritius and you know I can't tell you how excited I've been about Kidnap and it's been the film where I've got to wait the longest for. While we shot this song we shot it around this time last year, a little late actually. We went in November last year, and I remember after we shot it the songs were on my laptop. So I was very sneaky and immediately uploaded the songs. But Gadhvi was ten steps ahead than me. So while on our flight back from Mauritius he asks for my laptop. He deletes the song and I said to him that I will not make anyone listen to this song. He said that he trusted me and knew how much I loved this song. I wouldn't resist myself in making people hear it. But Mausam is another song in the album which is my favourite song.

Now brief us about Mausam then?
See, this is what I'd like to emphasize. Mayur Puri has written the lyrics and it goes – Mausam yeh awesome bada. Now anyone would've suddenly made the song filmi. But when it came to Gadhvi and the music directors, they knew what they wanted out of the lyrics. The mood of Sonia was important to be captured in this song. She is using an english word, a very regular english teenage expression in a song that is I think one of the most beautiful melodies I've ever heard. I liked the way Sanjay Gadhvi shot it too. It's awesome!!

You're now looking a bit tensed. Why?
No. I'm a bit nostalgic. I'm hearing my stomach growling and I'm sure even you can hear it. So we both will share the grilled sandwich when it finally arrives.

I love to see you in pain Minissha. Don't get me wrong. I'm talking about that one second scene in the trailor where Imran grabs your neck. Was it painful?
It was a beautiful shot scene I should say. Imran would be very scared and he would gently hold my neck. I said to Imran that I have to resist you. So if I'm going to resist Imran, he will have to hold on to my neck and grab it as if he was going to break it. He was like – Are you sure? I said, 'Imran, just go for it'. If you're going to grab my neck thinking that you're not going to hurt me, I'm just going to break free and the scene would look weird. Imran is such a non violent person as a human being that for him to do this role was really tough because he had to beat up a woman, he had to be cruel, he had to be physically violent, etc. I had to beg him that it was Ok if he hurt me. If he grabs my neck and it hurts, I'd love it. After the scene he apologised to me too.

As the sandwich is making it's way to you, tell us about your eating habits while filming Kidnap. I bet you had to stay extra ultra fit.
(laughs). I was on a very strict diet which I always carried from home. Maximum I'd have is a chicken from the sets and that's it. It was home made.

Is it the right time then to tell all the leading ladies of Bollywood, 'Bachna Ae Haseeno'?
October 2 shall tell them.

Is there any action in Kidnap?
See there are a lot of confrontation scenes in the film. The action is mainly between Sanju baba and Imran Khan. Plus I wasn't there to see the action as I wasn't a part of it. So can't really tell you how much of the action is there in the film. Also, I haven't yet seen the film.

How would you spend 51.7 billion dollars if you had the money right now?
I would first not know how to value it. It just becomes a number then. When you have that amount of money, I assume that you have everything in the world you desire. So what more would I want anyway? Materialistically, there's nothing to look forward to but ambition wise, the money would definitely count.

U.K audience don't know much of Imran Khan and Minissha Lamba. Is it the right time for you and Imran to be in the middle of London's Leicester Square enacting various scenes from the film?
You know what! If such an idea is on, I'm definitely up for it because as far as the promotion of the film is concerned, one should go all out. Not to ignore your NRI audience. Out here in India Bollywood is religion. We need to have a premiere out of India and do a lot of other activities to promote our cinema outside India. As an actor, you want to be known world wide and there are films that are going world wide and are doing successfully world wide. As of now I've only got Bachna Ae Haseeno which has done a decent business abroad.

What are your expectations from Kidnap?
That people should love it.

Why is Kidnap going to be worth it's wait and watch?
Because it is going to be one of the very few dramatic thrillers coming out of Bollywood. It is one of the very few films that have come out in this genre. It is an extremely well written film. It's got Sanjay Gadhvi. It's got Imran Khan who has been loved in Jaane Tu and it's got Sanju baba after a sabbatical and's got me in a bikini. Aren't these good enough reasons to go and watch Kidnap?

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Imran Khan gets tough and mean with Devansh Patel in Mumbai for KIDNAP

Exclusive by Devansh Patel

Imran Khan is on time. It's 9.30 am at Shree Ashtavinayak's office. The nations press is eager to meet him and quiz him on his second film Kidnap. It's a step away from the usual cute boy-next-door role that Imran has cornered the market in, ever since he became an instant star with Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. He is sporting a strange looking beard and long hair for his next film Delhi Belly. But it's Kidnap which is giving him the shivers at the moment. He sits on the sofa folding his legs, gets comfortable and recalls his days with me in London while he came for Jaane Tu promotions. The same smile, the same personality, the same style but a very different Imran Khan this time - bold, matured and fearless and ready to take on the Press. In this exclusive tete-a-tete, Bollywood Hungama's London Correspondent Devansh Patel met the teenage Khan and asks him - Khan you do it one more time?

So what rules are you going to set for us while we watch Kidnap?
What rules do I set? You'll have to wait and see this one man! This is a really tricky film. In that I have to be very careful with every question that I answer because I might give something away. So much of the film relies on mystery and the audiences not knowing what's going on. It's like a minefield. Every single question you ask has to be analysed.

Is the battle inevitable? Drona v/s Kidnap and Abhishek Bachchan v/s Imran Khan?
Every single Friday a film releases. There are many Friday's where three to four films are released. This comparison business is inevitable. There are more films than the weekends in the year. There are going to be clashes, there will be films releasing on the same day, you make your film and promote it the best that you can and make sure that it is the best you can possible make and hope for the best. That is what is going to happen when two biggies meet on October 2.

Kidnap's scripting has been in the making since five years. Don't you think that Kidnap is releasing a bit late or do you take it as a bonus after your JTYJN success?
Two things. Firstly it's a tremendous bonus for me. It gives me a chance and a challenge to stretch myself to the limit. Nothing like it. Secondly, when it comes to late, I don't think so. Jaane Tu also took a long time coming together. We had a lot of problem while we were making that film. The project got stuck and then it got restarted. But in spite of that the film touched success only because the product was good. We all feel the same way about Kidnap. Certainly you have to update a few things. Now say from 2003 to 2005, few things changed. Technology changes a little bit and you have to update those little things. But the base story of the film never changes.

Studio 18's last film in the U.K grossed over a million pounds. Will it's Midas touch work on Kidnap too?
Studio 18 has got a killer line up this year. They got Singh is King and Kidnap. They've got Ghajini too and I bet they're going to be very happy by the end of this year.

Why go for a tanned look in Kidnap?
Thanks to Vicky my make up artist, I looked perfectly tanned. My director Sanjay Gadhvi had a particular look in mind. He wanted me to look harder and meaner. You can see the my hair cut. It's buzzed on the sides. That made my face looked different. It made my face look sharper. The darker skin colour gave me a tougher look.

Is Kidnap a hard core action flick?
No its not. There are a few action pieces but it's not an action film. It's a kind of a drama thriller with two or three action sequences.

What did you learn from the father figure like actor Sanjay Dutt?
I didn't learn anything from him. He doesn't preach. If you know him at all and have tracked his career, you'll come to the conclusion that he is a guy who has walked hi own path. He is very much the rebel, very much the rock star. He does it his way and the way he wants to do it. Sanju baba is not the one who is going to go around telling people how to live their lives.

Tell me something interesting about Sanjay Dutt.
Ok. Here you go. We are doing a scene together and I'll sit with my dialogues for 45 minutes before I get ready. I'll march up and down the stairs doing rehearsals and reciting my lines this way – that way, taking a pause here and there. Sanju baba will walk on the sets and the assistant director will hand over the dialogues to him. He will sit and read through it once. We then do the scene where I say my lines and he'll say his line and look at me with sheer intensity that I forget the rest of my lines. Such is the weight of this actor. The gravity he brings with him shocks you.

The cute Minissha Lamba is out and the sexy Minissha Lamba is in. What say?
Definitely she is sexy. But having said that, she is not a damsel in distress. There is a major confrontation scene between me and Minissha. She is not a girl who is kidnapped. She is very much Sanjay Dutt's daughter. She is fearless and fights back with a vengeance. Sanjay Dutt's character is like a very tough and a fearless guy. Like father like daughter. She doesn't submit that easily and looks for a way out to escape, she looks for a way to hurt the kidnapper, etc. Yes, a tough and a sexy Minissha for the first time on screen.

Tell us a bit about the tattoo you sport in the film.
That's a permanent tattoo. I got it when I was seventeen. I've had it for years. It's just that in Jaane Tu, it didn't suit my character. We tried to cover it with make up and my costumes. That's why I was seen wearing lots of collared t-shirts in the film. The shot where you see my tattoo in the trailer was in fact the last scene we shot for the film. It was the last day of the shooting and we shot it in the middle of the night. After that shot, it was pack up. The film was over. Sanjay Gadhvi decided to use the tattoo because he knew that it was covered and hidden in Jaane Tu. He liked the look of the tattoo and he thought that it would add to the character of the kidnapper.

A few weeks back we also saw another thriller drama release in the form of 'A Wednesday' which was well received by the public. Do you think people are now willing to experiment with different genres and Kidnap will see the same results?
Kidnap is not that different from I'd say 'A Wednesday'. It's still a very commercial film though. Sanjay Gadhvi is in that space and likes to make commercial blockbusters and he is very clear about that. Kidnap is different in way as there is less concessions to the audiences. There is always an idea that we are making a serious film or a thriller or an action flick then you have to put in the romance and comedy element to give the audience a break. It is very demeaning and Kidnap is not that.

Then what about songs?
There are songs in the film but I don't sing or dance. 'Mit Jaaye' is not a part of the film because it comes in the end credits. But there are two song with Sanjay Dutt. One is shown in the flashback and the other is a situational number. Then there is Minissha's introduction song. There is no place for Mit Jaaye in the film because the theme and the tune of that song is used as the theme of Kidnap. So it's there throughout in the background music.

Were you hesitant to play a kidnapper knowing your chocolate boy looks?
I was a little hesitant to play a kidnapper. I mean, I loved the character but was a bit unsure. But at the same time I really wanted to do it. It was a tricky role and was tough too because I couldn't find a common ground with this guy. In Jaane Tu, the guy was so much like me. I understood him very well. In Kidnap, I was fumbling and trying to hold things together. In this tough time, Sanjay Gadhvi helped me through this. I wouldn't have been able to do this role without his support and backing.

Any research work went into your character for Kidnap?
There was no research which I could do for this character. There was a closed room on the fifth floor of the Ashtavinayak office where Minissha, Gadhvi and myself thrashed out our characters. For my own part to find the aggression with my character, I changed the music I was listening to in my I-Pod. About a year, I was only listening to metal and rock to get the darkness and the aggression.

Tell us about the time when you thought that Kidnap was not going to be made?
The entire film took about 12 months of shooting time. It took a year because Sanju went in the jail mid way. We thought the film was not going to be made now. We had shot for about five months and we were in middle of one major shoot with Minissha and me when we got the news that the judgement has come out and that Sanju was jailed. Suddenly everything stops. We didn't know what was going to happen. I am panicking as it was just my second film. It was Minissha's big film too and it was Sanjay Gadhvi's dream project. Plus the producers made a huge investment too. So all of us were sitting there and went mute. We asked each other, What do we do? What next? The worst thing was that there was no body who could take Sanju's place. There were no options available. The only thing you could do was just sit and pray and hope that he comes out.

Is Kidnap a lot of burden on your shoulders than Jaane Tu?
I wasn't nervous during Jaane Tu at all. This time I am very nervous because I don't know how I have done my role. I have not seen the film and have only seen my parts during dubbing. I don't know if it's good and I don't know if people will think it's good.

Why are you growing your beard then?
Oh! This look while you are interviewing me is for Delhi Belly. I am growing my beard and growing my hair for the role. I have to keep growing it until I hear back from my director. So everyday I go to my director and say whether it's enough and he says, 'No'.

Any message for your fans in the U.K who loved Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na and are eagerly awaiting to see you in Kidnap?
You know Jaane Tu didn't fare well in the U.K? It wasn't well accepted there. So here's a message for them. It's hard to give a good reason why one should go and watch Kidnap because it's quite subjective. This time around I'd ask them to be kind because I'm really nervous about Kidnap. Hope Kidnap does fare well than Jaane Tu in the U.K.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Go and watch 1920 for Adah Sharma & Anjori Alagh - Review of the film 1920

exclusive by Devansh Patel

Take for example during the cold months of the winter of 2008, the release of a horror film called '1920' becomes a national phenomenon. Would-be viewers stand outside for hours in bad weather to get a ticket, and the lines in Mumbai City were said to circle entire blocks. The film about demonic possession becomes a cult...a Phoonking success. Then suddenly you open your eyes and face the reality.
According to the director Vikram Bhatt, his new, spruced-up version of last years Bollywood hit Bhool Bhulaiyaa is not being labeled a "director's cut'. The reason is simple: director has stated loudly and frequently that he regards the original period horror flick 1920 as his definitive cut. So let me figure out what was so definitive about the film. The story is based in the pre-independence years of India. Arjun Singh Rathod (Rajneesh Duggal), a rajasthani architect fights his royal family for Lisa Taylor (Adah Sharma). Both get married in the court and start living happily till one fine day Arjun reads out a letter to Lisa saying that he would get a 20% increment in his salary if he gets successful in demolishing the beautiful period castle to make way for hotel. And that's when the horror film starts unfolding slowly in front of your eyes. The couple are seen arriving through the mist in a horse driven chariot to live in the haunted castle. But as soon as they step in their new home, spooky events start to take place every night. It is the locked door in the castle which is haunting Lisa. Soon, however, Lisa is hearing strange noises and experiencing violent tantrums and seizures. As her condition worsens and she begins speaking in an inhuman voice, the army of attending doctors and the father of the church (Raj Zutshi) advises calling in spiritual help. After examining Lisa, the priest agrees to assist in an exorcism, which will be performed by the priest himself. But way before that, the locked door opens up and you see a life size painting of Gayatri devi (Anjori Alagh). It was Gayatri's past which was troubling the present Lisa. To find out the solution to the problem Arjun Singh Rathod heads to meet the only woman who knew about Gayatri. What happens next is for you to experience.

I have always believed that horror films churned out of Bollywood are overrated. It is a creepy and atmospheric film that contains a few viscerally shocking scenes. 1920's strength is that it places character development on the same level as the horror elements, but it is not a ground-breaking motion picture. It is also a bit long, with a setup that could have accomplished the job with equal effectiveness in about 2/3 the time. There are instances when the first hour of the film noticeably drags. The addition of the second half, although extreme, does nothing to alleviate this problem. In fact, if anything, it exacerbates it. And there's certainly nothing in the myriad of newly included moments that makes 1920 a better motion picture.

Although the beginning portion of the film unfolds slowly, it accomplishes the aim of introducing the characters and highlighting their relationships. The real turning point comes when the door opens up to reveal Gayatri's past. It reminds you of the Salman Khan and Amrita Singh starrer 'Sooryavanshi'. At that moment 1920 shifts into the fifth gear. Every sequence subsequent to this one raises the stakes a little higher as one door becomes the focal point of a war between the forces of good and evil. Despite not containing many special effects (other than Lisa's spewing white and rustic gook at just about anyone who comes near her), the movie makes forceful demands on the makeup crew. Their success is mixed. The layers applied to Adah Sharma effectively transform her innocent face into a mask of torment and ferocity. The same kind of kudos goes to Anjori Alagh's make-up, who comes across looking exactly like what she is: beauty personified. Her wet hair look, her long white dress and the cut of her costumes made her look like a perfect Raj Kapoor heroine. Rajneesh, in some scenes had a bit more of than the usual puff n pancake routine.
Speaking of the two debutants, Rajneesh was rock solid as the architect who quietly exhibits the torment of a man of God who is losing his faith. Of course, the standout was Adah Sharma in her first major motion picture role. The strength of Adah's performance in 1920 was her innocent face. I mean, you just can't see the beautiful Anjori take over from the cute and petite Adah. Vikram Bhatt did the casting right but brought out one of the worst one minute blunders ever to take place in a horror film. Adah running around and playing hide n seek in the penultimate scenes laughing out loud. So much so that the press who were invited for the special screening couldn't stop imitating her laughter. So here's a horror film, a period horror which makes you laugh and that Mr Bhatt is the last thing a film maker wants to hear. On the flip side, I would've loved to see more of Anjori Alagh in the film. She came across as an actress with a lot of potential, she had less dialogues but her eyes did most of the talking. I always say, "For every beauty there is an eye somewhere to see it".

The cinematography was decent enough to make it look like a period film. Direction was good. Vikram Bhatt gets four on five for that but in the dialogue department, things didn't look that great. It suffered big time with predictable cliched lines and besides the Hanuman Chalisa and the melodious tunes of the piano there wasn't much to talk about Adnan's music.

It will be interesting to see how 1920 fares during its release. The film does not boast of a 'hatke' film. As a Bollywood columnist working in the U.K, I've seen viewers fleeing from the movie in shock and of stunned silence reigning throughout packed theaters while watching noir cinema. To add a bit of humor, 1920 is sepia. One generation later, much is different and movie-goers have become desensitized to the kinds of images presented in horror flicks. Indeed, there were instances when audience members seemed to view the film as an exercise in high camp. However, regardless of how movie-goers react, there is nothing dated about 1920 except the backdrop, the sets, the castle, the costumes, the candles....and ofcourse, the script.

Rating - **