Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Adah Sharma on the cover of Avant Garde Life

by Devansh Patel

"You can opt for natural and dainty or stay bare,
or be garish and gaudy and have fake hair,
it doesnt matter what you do,
as long as your 'adah' is alive in you!"

If you think being a cover girl for a lifestyle magazine is an unachievable pipe dream, this proves it's not. The above short poem or a rhyme, whatever you call it, is written by the newest cover girl Adah Sharma. Now let's admit it, to become a cover girl (for any magazine) is an honour. The first thing that is required of cover girls is a suitable physical appearanace. Of course, typically every model has a suitable appearance in order to remain in their given profession. But cover girls are selected based on different aspects of beauty. Instead of typical high fashion models which are primarily suitable for runway modelling, magazines enforce a commercial look, a commercial celebrity that'll sell their glossy pages. Welcome Adah Sharma to the newest form of art - the cover

Adah quotes, "Its my first fashion shoot. the cover is about a dazzing diva, the arc lights shining brightly at her, staring at her and shes staring back at them strongly. Her eyes are confident, constant, decided and doubtless. She's chic and snazzy and oozes charisma from every pore, and with all that heavy metal shes wearing , yes shes a rockstar!"

She adds, "To me 'style' you have to be born with.. 'fashion' can be bought. While fashion keeps changing every months, style is eternal. Your style is your 'adah'. You can buy all the fashionable stuff from everywhere on the planet but if u dont have the right 'adah' you can go all wrong. I love being well dressed, dressed in all the loveliest clothes but if you lack poise and grace you cant flaunt your clothes off. Style is my way of life, its ingrained in the way I walk and talk. I breathe in style, eat, think, sleep and even sneeze in style. Every cell in my body has in it a different 'adah'."

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

"I wish I had conned a whole lot of producers, I'd have had a better career today" - Arshad Warsi

by Devansh Patel

“I wish I had conned a whole lot of producers, I'd have had a better career today”, is what Arshad Warsi humorously quotes as he sits comfortably in Anil Kapoor's office looking cony in his black and white chequered shorts with a black tee. I compliment him by saying, “Those moustaches (which he has kept for Vishal Bhardwaj's film Ishqiya) are looking so good on you”. “Yeah. I was conned for that too”, comes the reply. The latest hoardings doing the rounds of Short Kut has Arshad in the same moustaches. Now we know why he says that he was conned. “When you get to a certain level doing comedy, people just start laughing even when you're not being funny,” says Warsi, slumped back on the chair lighting his cigarette. And it's all Arshad's doing, of course. With his unique talent for hyperactive outbursts, he wields enthusiasm that's so relentless, so shamelessly unhinged, just looking at him makes you crack up. But come to think of it, he ain't that funny. He is a serious man looking seriously into his debut film 'Kaun Bola' as a producer under his production house called 'Shooting Stars'. UK's Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent thinks that 'explosive' is not the word to describe Arshad Warsi's talent as an actor. Instead, words like 'gigantorous,' 'magno-rific,' 'Tyrannosaurus Rexian.' works because you have to coin new terms to describe how potent a force he is to our Indian Film Industry. Today, the actor has reasons to be cheerful. He hasn't applied any short cuts to climb up the ladder of success and his latest film Short Kut shows exactly the opposite.

You've worked with newly set up production houses before. What is the criteria on which you decide to work for them?
It all depends on who owns or runs the production house. There are so many people who are new comers and want to make films. 99% of them do not want to make films because they love cinema but because they want to know the industry and get to know these gorgeous actresses. People like ABCL, AKFC are in the cinema, know cinema and like cinema. That is the reason I've too set up my own production house called 'Shooting Stars'.

I really like the look of yours on the posters of Short Kut.
Oh, don't say that. I look pathetic in Short Kut. Actually, my look on the posters is from Vishal Bhardwaj's film Ishqiya. I was shooting for Ishqiya and had come for the photo shoot. So the banners are looking good. I do these stupid things and then regret by saying, 'Why did I do this?'. I play a role of a guy who has no scope of becoming an actor and yet becomes one. He is a bad actor with a bad look and is not meant to be anywhere near the film industry. So I wanted this guy to be as grungy as possible. Badly dressed, etc.

Have you decided yourself not to break away from the comic image everyone has tagged you into?
No I don't. The fact is that eight out of ten films that are being made are comedy. You can't be so obscure and wait for those two films that are serious to come your way. I don't even remember the last time I saw a sensible cinema being made, like New York.

So the famous Neha Dhupia quote should change?
Yes, SRK, sex and comedy sells. Absolutely correct.

When do we see you in a sensible one then?
I'm actually fed up doing comic roles. It's like eating the same food everyday. Comedy is getting on my nerves now. But I keep myself growing by doing different kind of comedy. I've never repeated my Munnabhai character ever. Once the film is over, my role is over and my character is gone. Short Kut is a new role for me. I've never played a crazy, funny and a villainous guy before in any film. Vishal Bhardwaj's Ishqiya will also have a different sense of humour. Dhamaal and Golmaal was like chalk and cheese too. I'm waiting for some sensible film to come my way now.

How would you describe your humour?
I don't have any humour. I'm an actor who performs the role. You write a role for me and I will play it much better than how it is written. That much I can guarantee you. I cannot define anything and in today's time we actors are slaves to the pen.

Do you think somewhere down the line the box office also relies on you; more than you rely on the box office?
I do think so. Nobody will hire me if I've failed a producer or if people didn't like my work. It's not rocket science. I'm getting something back on the table for my producers and that's why both me and the box office are going hand in hand (laughs).

Anil Kapoor mentioned that Short Kut - the con is on, is not a comedy film. You conning the public?
(laughs). It is not. Anil is right. It looks like a comedy film when you see the film poster. It's a story filled with emotions and the time I enter the scene is where the comedy starts from.

Have you been conned before?
Yes. Hulchul was the film, and my co-actor was Akshaye Khanna. That film should've been called - the con is on. I completely thought something else will come my way but when I reached the sets it was a different ball game all together. But because I had committed I decided to do the film.

Akshaye Khanna is termed as a man who sticks to himself. He is more of a recluse. Is that true?
Yes. He is a guy who keeps to himself. I don't know him very well as a person because personally, I haven't hung out with him. We haven't spent a lot of time together. But whenever I've seen him, he is in his own world. Having said that, he is a damn good actor. His last film Gandhi My Father deserved an award. I remember seeing his first film Himalaya Putra and I said, "This guy can act." He has done a very good job in Short Kut too.

When will your career reach its peak Arshad?
I don't know man, and I don't know if it ever will. See, there are lot more other things that require to become a super star or a star who is worshipped. You got to have a very sharp mind, got to be a good business man, you got to keep your entire personal life somewhere else and go crazy behind your profession. You need to be very hungry and greedy. I am not. I can't do all these things. I have a simple and a straight life. I like to balance my personal and professional life. Plus, I'm very lazy too. Arshad Warsi is not aggressive. I like to chill out with my family, hang out with my kids, I'm fine if I am not working. I will buy a car if I can afford but can do without it too. I am a satisfied person.

When was the last time you've applied a shot cut to climb up the ladder of success?
I've never done it. Short cuts can only be obtained by people who've got the facility to short cuts. Say for example, a star kid will always have a short cut ready to enter films. A regular guy can never get a short cut. Mine was a freaky case. I was doing something else and was picked up and put into acting.

You never dream of pursuing your previous career as a choreographer?
Oh I wish! Dancing is something that requires time. I had opened a dancing school but had to shut it. Now if you open a school, you need to be able to run it. Don't lie to the public. If I want to learn dancing, I want to see the person teaching me how to dance. I do not want to see any tom, dick and harry teach me how to shake a leg. Acting is such a profession that takes a lot of your time. The time you're free you see yourself promoting the film or doing something else. Not many people know that I love photography too but then again, it is just a hobby. I cannot think of turning it into a profession.

You're quite lucky for the new directors.
You're right. Let's put it this way. I cannot think of any well known established directors I've worked with. Whichever films I've worked on, new directors took over. Whether it was Raj Kumar Hirani, Rohit Shetty, Siddharth Anand, Kabir Khan, etc. Of course, now they are all established and have set their place in Bollywood. Neeraj Vora for that matter is one of the very few known directors I'm working with in my career. What I like about the new lot is that they bring in a new energy and a new thinking wave, new technology and new creativity. Then the already established ones stick to their age old formula and template which they follow. It is only Ram Gopal Varma who has got the b**** to take chances in film making.

How's your rapport with Anil Kapoor?
He is a fighter. Anil Kapoor is the only man in the film industry who will come across as a new comer, from his first film to his last. He always wants to prove that he is the best, and he has always proved himself right. Anil is the best in the business.

Has your wife seen the film?
Yes. Maria has seen it and she liked it. She liked the music of Short Kut and whenever I came on screen. Other than that, I think the romantic bit in the film got dragged a little bit.

Introducing - Sheena Shahabadi in conversation with Ruslaan Mumtaz

by Devansh Patel

It’s hard for Bollywood to make any movie that doesn’t involve some sort of preaching. However, Satish Kaushik managed to do one outside of the studio system. The fact that his next film Teree Sang deals with teenage pregnancy – and doesn’t preach at all – is a feat of film making. So when I met the new comer, the new entrant and the newest actress to hit Bollywood at actor Ruslaan Mumtaz's residence, I was impressed. Impressed on the way she perceived her first role. She said, “ Pregnancy in early age is itself a big issue. Teen pregnancy is very difficult as it has not only the physical consequences; it also has social, emotional and moral consequences. The study shows that in past ten years there is a dramatic increase in the teenage pregnancy. The reason behind this is the immaturity and lack of knowledge among teenagers.” And then started some serious debate, a serious argument and a serious opinion on teenage pregnancy. UK's Harrow Observer columnist Devansh Patel tried to play a different ball game this time around. Instead of throwing the questions to both the young actors, we decided to let them battle out themselves in this Bollywood Hungama exclusive. Presenting you the scintillating face launched by Satish Kaushik – Sheena Shahabadi in conversation with the new found talent Ruslaan Mumtaz. It's time to grill!

Ruslaan Mumtaz: How does it feel to be the newest leading lady of Bollywood?
Sheena Shahabadi: It feels great. As far as I can remember, I always wanted to become an actress since childhood. It's a dream come true for me.

RM: You've started your film career working with one of the veterans of Bollywood, Satish Kaushik.
SS: I've seen Mujhe Kuch Kehna Hai and Tere Naam. The latter can be termed as my favourite Satish Kaushik film. He is an actors director and it was great working with him.

SS: Would you work with Satish Kaushik again?
RM: My first director was Robby Grewal. He wanted me in his next film. I did not like my part and had to turn him down. He was upset with me for a while. I told him not to give me a hit film but a hit role and I'll do it. At this point of time, I want to guarantee my success. Satishji has looked after us for more than a year but even if he doesn't give me a good part in his next film, I'll reject it.

RM: Why the term, a kidult love story?
SS: I don't think that the word 'kidult' is funny. It's like kids who behave like adults later on and that's why the term 'kidult' is used. Even if we have made a mistake. We know how to be responsible for it.

SS: What are your views on a word like 'kidult'?
RM: Kidult is an American word which says that the young teenagers are like kids but are more responsible than the adults.

RM: Today's actresses have problem playing the role of a mother. But your debut film sees you as a fifteen year old mother. Were you hesitant?
SS: I wasn't hesitant at all. I wasn't scared. I've read in the newspapers about fifteen year old girls getting pregnant and similar kind of stories. I think it's high time people face the reality and be aware of what they are and aren't doing?

RM: If you were pregnant today. Would you then abort your child?
SS: I think the biggest crime you can ever commit is to kill your child. Abortion is nothing but killing your child. In fact, you are killing someone who has not even entered this world. I am against abortion.

SS: What are your views on abortion?
RM: I will completely go by the girls decision here. She is carrying the child in her womb. She is the decision maker because she brings the child into the world. For me, a fifteen year old girl should not have a child but if she wishes to, there should be no reason to stop her too.

SS: Do you prefer men being pregnant?
RM: I seriously wouldn't prefer men being pregnant. I am happy that I am a man. Women go through a lot of things, a lot of pain while pregnant or otherwise. So its the men who come to the rescue. They give them respect, love and a chance to decide or choose what they want to.

RM: What about live-in relationships?
SS: I will not be comfortable with live-in relationships at all because I wouldn't like to commit a mistake at such a young age. I think everything has its own time. I am not saying that you can't have sex, but not at an early age where you can't look after yourself. Personally, I wouldn't go for a live-in relationship even today when I'm twenty one.

SS: What are your views on live-in relationships?
RM: For me, a live-in relationship will only start if the girl doesn't have a house to stay in or she is not from the same city. But if we both have our individual families in the same city, we should only live together once we are ready to get married or engaged.

RM: What sort of a message does a film like Teree Sang give?
SS: Teree Sang is against teenage pregnancy and that's the message it gives. It says not to get pregnant at an early age.

SS: Is Teree Sang a difficult film to digest?
RM: Yes, it is a difficult film to digest. We have a fifteen year old girl getting pregnant. The day I walked into Satish Kaushik's office and I saw Sheena, I was stunned. She did look fifteen. So I too had to loose a lot of weight to match up with her in terms of looking like a school boy. The film deals in conflict of today's and yesteryears mental attributes.

RM: Teree Sang is going to be compared to Kya Kehna. Have you seen the film?
SS: I have seen the film. In Kya Kehna, Preity Zinta is aware of what she is going into. She knows what she is doing. In Teree Sang, I am too innocent and just do it. Plus, Saif Ali Khan abandons Preity Zinta. Here, I support the woman.

RM: Did you seek help to prepare for a role like this?
SS: I did seek help from my mother who gave vital inputs into the preparation for a role like this. I also asked my on screen mother Neena Gupta for tips on my role as a pregnant teenager. She was very helpful.

RM: Are you prepared for failure and success?
SS: Yes I am. You need to be prepared for both once you choose to come into the profession like this. I am confident that I will move ahead. I don't know about the film. But yes, failure is the first step towards success.

SS: Are you ready for failure?
RM: I choose a film and do not expect to be a box office success. I choose a character right. So even if the film fails, the character doesn't. My previous film MP3 didn't work but I got more roles after my debut film. My next film is a Nikhil Advani production. I am not buying a lottery ticket. I am an actor. You give me a good script and a part and I'll do well. Box Office is producers domain.

RM: What is the feedback you've got till now on your performance?
SS: The film hasn't released but my family has seen the film and they liked it. My friends have given me a good response on the theatrical promos.

RM: Was it tough to shoot your first kissing scene?
SS: I was a bit nervous initially. The kissing scene is not censored. The scene is done in a very poetic way. It won't look vulgar or cheap. In today's films you can't have a couple in love who do not want to kiss. It's stupid. I was well aware of the scene before the shoot started, though I was a bit hesitant.

SS: Which is your favourite scene from the film?
RM: The scene where you talk on the phone to your father telling him to forgive us rather than punish us. The mistake cannot be corrected and forgiveness is the best result. I just kept on looking at you. The tough scenes were well acted by you but it was the simpler scenes which are tough ones. You had to be told to touch me because you were very nervous.

SS: What about the kissing scene?
RM: Thanks for reminding me because you were the one who told me to speak to Satishji to remove the scene from the film till I told you to have it. I was a little worried at that time but everything went well and the scene too.

On a Date with AMRITA RAO

“It's not being good seventh in the list of your dates” - Amrita Rao

by Devansh Patel

If anyone says they haven't had a bad date they're either lying, or they don't date. For me though, dating some of the most beautiful actresses of our Indian Film Industry can be termed nothing short of an achievement, and that my friends, is not a lie. Today my seventh date is described as the newest hottie in Bollywood because of her spicy makeover from the sati-savitri look she adored in her previous films. As the saying goes, 'There is no short cut to success'. Now here's an interesting tip which few of my colleagues and friends gave me before I dated this petite figure. “It is almost impossible to date Amrita Rao. Beware, she is a hard nut to crack”. But that wasn't on my mind. Buying a gift for a date is prone to disaster sometimes. So some careful thinking is involved. You meet someone, you like them, you want to please them so its only natural in our commercial world to want to get your plastic out and start spending. The challenge wasn't whether I could crack it or not, it was what to gift my date. 'Little Birdie' is what I felt she was, every time I saw her on the big screen or in the daily tabloids. So I picked up a lovely looking candle stand in the shape of a birds nest. Too creative can be too candid. But it worked, and then came a big 'wow'. Didn't I say I'd cracked it? I really don't care for false modesty from celebrities but sufficiently grounded celeb gets my vote anyway. But it's a little hard to tell which camp Amrita Rao falls into as she's always played things on the low-key-side, except maybe when she was dating me.

Devansh: Wow! You are my seventh date. Do you consider yourself lucky?
Amrita: No! It's not being good seventh in the list of your dates and that too in such a short span of time (laughs)

A: This is my first official date and how lucky are you!
D: Oh don't you worry. I'm going to make this one interesting.

D: People warned me before going on a date with you saying that you are too sati-savitri types. What so sati-savitri about you?
A: I guess because I wear a saree in my house, have oil in my hair and wear a bindi on my head. Sometimes if my lens solution runs out, I wear my glasses too (laughs).

D: You can't be serious.
A: I am. In fact many people feel that I am the quintessential boring Indian woman (laughs)

D: How would you describe a 'Date'?
A: I'd say that a 'Date' is synonymous to a perfect romantic outing.

D: This is my first date at someone's house. I mean, I've always had my dates in hotels or coffee shops.
A: Yeah, it couldn't have got more predictable because you knew I was a sati-savitri. But we can go to Oris if you'd wish.
D: Yes, I do wish but had to go against my wishes this time. That'll keep our second date open.

D: Anything in particular you'd like to wear on a date outside?
A: I think a nice pair of jeans with a tight strapped backless corset.

D: What gift would you have expected from me other than a boring candle stand?
A:(laughs) A nice, hilarious, good humoured and a light hearted evening with you.

D: Thank you. I'll try my best not to dissapoint you then.
A: At the moment you're fine (laughs)

D: It's humour that turns you on on a date then?
A: Yes, with a good smile and somebody who has something sensible to talk. I'll go for sense with a tadka of humour.

D: I fail to understand why my lovely dates don't ask me questions?
A: Ok, let me try then. Why do you sound like Farhan Akhtar? (laughs)

D: This is a very repeated question
A: Yeah but it's a good question. And do you also sing rock music like him?

D: You know what? Farhan and I've never discussed this before. So the next time I meet him, I'll let him know of our similarities.
A: (laughs) See, I'm not the only one who spotted your talent.

D: Moving further, what type of music turns you on?
A: Hindi music. I feel that it's a part of such a talented and a versatile industry. In fact, 'Jai Ho' was not even a patch of what A.R.Rahman is capable of. He definitely deserved an Oscar but I wish the West had heard his 'Taal', 'Dil Se' and 'Rangeela'.

D: What would you expect me to sing for you today?
A: 'Ek ladki ka phone number' from Rock On. You might just sound like Farhan too (laughs)

D: You truly are hilarious. So what's a good looking man for you like?
A: Your looks cannot change your personality but your personality can surely change your looks.

D: Lucky you for not going on a date with M.F Hussain. But tell me, what impressed him about you?
A: He got attracted to 'Poonam'' from Vivaah. She reminded him of the real charm of any small North Indian town. In one of his interviews he quoted that I reminded him of those girls who stood in the balcony or walk past him in the lanes who had their eyes down and yet they had that faint smile on their face.

D: Who informed you that you were M.F Hussain's muse?
A: Khalid Mohammed called me after talking to Hussain saab and informed me that after eleven years of having Madhuri Dixit as his muse, he chose me. To own a Hussain is every art collectors fantasy. You see a Hussain painting and you want to insure it.

D: Have you ever insured this beautiful birth mark of yours I see on the left of your chin?
A: I just put it before you came in (laughs). Actually you're right, I do need to get it insured.

D: Why can't girls take guys out on a date?
A: Yes. I think so too. I want to change this old tradition by taking you out on a date the second time (laughs). Tell me where do you want to go? Kerela, Goa?

D: Wherever my date wishes to take me.
A: Ok. I'll let you know soon.

D: What do you know of mens colognes?
A: That you've put on a cheesy deodrant called Axe.

D: What do you mean?
A: Sorry, I didn't mean it. But it's cheesy coz of the advetorial.

D: So which is your favourite?
A: I love Cool Water by Davidoff. It's very masculine I guess.

D: So far, what have you found interesting in this date?
A: The fact that you sound like Farhan and you can play the Rock On song (laughs).

D: So you can see Farhan and not me in our date.
A: (laughs) Oh God! Look who's getting jealous.

D: I wish I had a bike. We could've gone for a long drive.
A: Yeah. What an idea.

D: Have you ever been taken out on a bike by somebody?
A: Shahid Kapur, my co-actor had invested in a red coloured sports bike. He got that bike on the sets and showed it to all the crew. His mother was also there. He suddenly said, “Let's go for a ride”. So we went for a late evening ride down Santacruz. I found it very hilarious that people were staring at us.

A: Who's been your most interesting date so far?
D: I'll come to our date later coz it's not over yet. My first date with Mugdha Godse will be the most memorable because I wasn't recording our conversation. I went back home and penned down every little conversation we had at the Mariott.

A: I'm so excited today that my excitement is transformed into the many times I have giggled and laughed today. By the way, that's a compliment for you.
D: Thank you so much. I think it's the perfect way to end this hilarious starry date...and I can now proudly say that this one comes in my top three dates.

"Right now, my focus is Short Kut" - Anil Kapoor

by Devansh Patel

Given his fame, Anil Kapoor has an unusually sensible attitude. “How are you and what have you been up to?” is what he asks me. “So tell me, are you shuffling between London and Mumbai?” is the next question. I'm sure it was meant to be the other way. Plus, it was an overseas call made from Mumbai to L.A. Nevertheless, he sounds super cool and a dapper dude on the other side. If anyone should know when a party's over, it's Anil Kapoor. In his prime he was a major movie star and pin-up. Today he grows stronger than ever before and the reason is just one lucky film he signed, Slumdog Millionaire. For many people, mostly journalists, the return of Anil Kapoor was simply a convenient excuse to rehash his amazing story. But the difference between then and now is that Anil really is back, and reconnected with his passion called films, not just as an actor, but as a committed producer too. His first film Gandhi My Father gathered rave reviews from the world wide Press. Kapoor is someone who tends to get involved. Not getting involved is never an option. The commitment that now fuels his activism has long underpinned his acting and, of late, his producing. He has left behind the jhakas image that lingered for years and is now back in business with some serious production work. UK's Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent gets an exclusive ten minutes with the ubercool Kapoor and finds out that he is having the time of his life now because everything that he did before was just a prologue.

After producing a serious film like Gandhi My Father, why back a film like Shortkut which is an out and out comic caper? Is it for commercial reasons?
I'm sure every film is made for a commercial reason. As an actor, I've performed in one of Indian cinema's biggest hits like Mashaal, Karma, Eeshwar, Beta, Lamhe, Kishan Kanhaiya, 1942 A Love Story and Rakhwala. All the films I've mentioned were different from each other. Some were commercial successes and the others were critically acclaimed and some did decent business. So as a producer too I want to be diverse. Shortkut came across to me as a fun film, it had great actors, there was scope for music, comedy, emotions, etc. In fact, there was scope in every department. As a child, I'd love to go and watch a film like this. So why not produce something that is loved by one and all.

Brief us about your good friend Akshaye Khanna. After his superlative performance in your debut production, he is seen in your second. Third, fourth, fifth too?
(laughs) He is a great actor. He is doing a comedy role in Shortkut with so much variety. It's a well rounded performance by him. The good thing about casting Akshaye Khanna is that he is very vulnerable. Shortkut isn't just a normal comic caper for Akshaye which he has done in his past films. You have to be too intense an actor to be funny.

What have you to say about Amrita Rao's makeover in Shortkut and how did you zero her down?
I had seen portions of her film Vivah. I needed a girl who looked like a star, who looked beautiful and had a kind of a personality that she does acting for the passion of it. But she equally gives importance to relationships also. Thus Amrita Rao was the only actor I found who would suit the role. She looks gorgeous in Shortkut and I promise it'll be her best role ever.

Is there any truth in the rumour that you were upset with Akshaye Khanna for not promoting the film?
As a producer of your film, you have all the rights to be upset with anybody. Sometimes you pamper your actors, someday you are upset with them, sometimes you want to see all the cast work together towards the success of your film and have a good release. I am not upset with him at all. If there is anything Akshaye is not happy about, I'll call him and find out.

How was it to work with Sanjay Dutt again after the last time you were seen with him in Musafir?
It's always fun to meet him. It's like a picnic when you are with Sanjay Dutt. In fact, I told him the very same words, “Let's have a picnic Sanju. Let's do a song together.” We had a great time dancing together proving the point that who is worst than the other and who can come up with the worst ever moves on the dance floor (laughs).

So who's a better dancer then?
You can quote me when I say, “Sanjay Dutt is a better dancer than I am.” He is unique and you will soon find out. He is chilled out, looks cool and can carry a music video all by himself. He has done it in the past in Musafir for a track called 'Saki'.

How's Los Angeles keeping you Anil?
Very good I should say. Most of the time I am here now because I am shooting for a tele series called 24 with Jack Bauer. It's an American action / drama serial produced by Fox television and Imagine Entertainment. I've already completed four episodes and currently waiting to get into the fifth one.

Neeraj Vora is known for his wacky sense of humour. Does he surpass himself in Shortkut?
I love Neeraj Vora's sense of humour. He is an extremely talented individual with a diverse calibre in writing and direction. He is India's rare talent who needs to be taken seriously, and that is not funny.

What about Arshad Warsi?
Both Arshad and Akshaye are going to surprise and shock you in Shortkut. He is known all over the world as Circuit. You put them into a serious situation and they will come out making you laugh. Arshad is also a good actor who needs to be taken seriously by our industry. I can surely say this that Arshad has surpassed his previous best role of Circuit.

Are you going to be in India during the release of your film Shortkut?
Currently I am in the United States of America. I will be there in India the day after Shortkut is released, that is the 11th of July. Then again I fly to South Africa on the 12th July to shoot for Anees Bazmee directed film No Problem which is my third Hindi film as a producer.

Any other Hollywood projects you are looking to be a part of now that you are based almost half of the year in the West?
Right now my focus is Shortkut. But yes, I am looking into few Hollywood films and television serials. Bollywood was always big down West but we have changed their perception of the cliché which they had for years and years; that our industry is just about 'song and dance'.

Tribute to the Late Mr Madan Mohan by Sanjeev Kohli

By Devansh Patel

Passionate, in fact, is the first word that comes into Sanjeev Kohli's head when he talks about his father, the legendary music composer of Indian cinema and an instinctive genius, Late Madan Mohan. And it's not just music; you can see that it's also his fellow colleagues, his spools, his LP records, his cupboard and his drink. It is impossible not to admire Madan Mohan's verve and energy in whatever he did. Be it coming home after work and cooking his own food, decorating the house on birthdays or even smashing the glass door of the recording studio only to finish the incomplete track he so desperately wants people to hear. UK's Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent Devansh Patel brings you a special journey of our national treasure: a man who was so used to succeeding, a maestro who believed that his music was incomplete without Lata Mangeshkar's voice, a deserving giant who never won an award in his living career, a junior who surpassed his seniors and a magician who cast his musical spell by believing that music is enough for a lifetime but a lifetime is not enough for music. BH takes this opportunity in commemorating and presenting you the life and work of Late Madan Mohan on his 85th birth anniversary today.

Musical maestro – Madan Mohan
My father, Late Mr Madan Mohan and his fraternity which comprised of music directors and singers were never a focus of visual attention. Back then, there were very few magazines and interviews. All the interviews taking place were largely to do with film stars and the same happens even today. Today's music directors are more media personalities, not because of their work, but because of reality shows, interviews, judges on television, the making of the music, etc. I call it default. A.R. Rahman is an exception. The accessibility to their creation and awareness was very rare in the past. The only time you could hear the songs in my fathers era was on the radio and that too if the record was released. But because I've worked for HMV, I know that a lot of records of films weren't released. At that time, they had very limited capacity. Then slowly Doordarshan came in and a music show called Chayageet started. In the 1950's and 1960's, the records of only hit films would release.

Madan Mohan's unsuccessful success:
My father suffered from one aspect. He didn't have too many successful films. He was a super successful song maker but the films didn't do too well. May be he didn't have any big banner films, he didn't have any big stars acting in his films too. But today, when you talk of great classic films, you talk of Dilip Kumar starer Mughal-E-Azam, Amitabh Bachchan starer Sholay, SRK starer DDLJ, Raj Kapoor film Sangam, etc. My father had heroes like Bharat Bhushan and Pradeep Kumar. He also had one or two Dev Anand starer films that flopped, one or two Raj Kapoor films that were complete disaster and had not a single Dilip Kumar film. It were only his songs which worked in films. You can call it destiny. There were so many of his songs people don't even know who they were picturised on. There was a song called 'Woh bhulee dastaan' from Sanjog which was a huge hit. In the same film there was a song sung by Mukesh titled 'Bhulee huyee yaadon' which went unnoticed. His best songs were picturised on Priya Rajvansh in Chetan Anand's films. Dharmendra starer and the first war film 'Haqeeqat' directed by Chetan Anand was a big hit with his song 'Kar chale fida jaan watan saathiyo' is still remembered. That's what a hit film does to you.

Madan Mohan – an inspiration:
Late Mr Madan Mohan started his career in the year 1950. He was the junior most among that magical generation of music directors which had seniors who started their career in 1948 like Naushad, Roshan, Shankar Jaikishen, etc. Then some of them passed away and he became the only survivors of that generation into the 1970's. S.D.Burman was the only one alive but was too ill to do any work. He too passed away in the same year as my father did, in 1975. R.D.Burman completed S.D.Burman's film Aradhana. The next generation was R.D.Burman, Laxmikant Pyarelal, Kalyanji Anandji who started the commercial music. Society had changed in the 1970's, our exposure to the West increased, the films were different too, and along with the films, the music changed too. There was no place for a classical song. A little bit of cabaret and rock and roll began too. My father tried to sail with the tide but his songs were out of place. I must say this, when my father died in 1975 he thought that he did not get enough success what his calibre deserved. Everybody in his fraternity spoke about Madan Mohan being superior to them. Naushadji came to Madan Mohan when his songs from the film Anpadh were released and said, “The score of these two songs in the film are equal to everything that I've done in the past.” When my father gave music for Heer Ranjha, S.D.Burman came up to him, hugged him and said, “You've surpassed everything that I've done.”

Madan Mohan's biggest successes:
It may sound very strange but it's the truth that my father did not win any award. At that time there was only one award, Filmfare Awards. He was nominated four times but didn't win. What I'm trying to say is that a person gets a little bitter, rightly or wrongly so. But he then took to drink, got a little frustrated and when he finally won the National Award for the film Dastak, he didn't want to go and get it. He had to be cajoled by Sanjeev Kumar who also won the National Award for the same film as an actor. I remember him coming to our house forcing dad to go with him. They both finally went and received the award. His biggest successes which he didn't live to see were after he died, 'Mausam' and Laila Majnu'. 'Koi patthar se na maare mere deewane ko' from Laila Majnu ran for eleven weeks. It was the first ever time that his song was on number one in the charts. He was always number two. I remember the song 'Jhumka gira re' was on number two for many weeks.

Madan Mohan's secret cupboard:
Even while I was in college, my friends used to know all the commercial composers. They were unaware as to who Madan Mohan was and what was his music like. I used to tell them that my father was a great composer too. I was still in college before he died. At his funeral, we had Amitabh Bachchan, Rajendra Kumar, Vinod Khanna, etc. Even the singers were present. But in The Times of India the next morning, in bold 'Madan Mohan is dead' story it had a picture of Amitabh Bachchan and Vinod Khanna carrying my father. So when I went to the college after ten days I was more popular than before. Only after his death, I managed to open his cupboard and found out a beautiful spool tape recorder. Those days everything used to be recorded on spools, there were no cassettes. They were imported and were not made available in India. Whenever he used to come home, he used to cook his own food, invite some friends over to hear the song and play it on the spool. That cupboard was something that I always wanted to open and get my hands on.

Madan Mohan's re-birth:
After I inherited the cupboard, I listened to some of the spools and found out a lot of songs which I had not heard before. They were sung by Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle, Kishore Kumar, Mohammed Rafi, Talat Mehmood, etc. I could hear the announcement of the film but not the name of the film they were from because those times they only had working titles. But for some reasons, those songs never saw the light as the film was shelved for reasons nobody knew. I thought those were a rare treasure which needs to be heard. The second spool I found was of my father singing to himself. One of two haunted me all the time. I was eighteen years old and thought if only he had an Amitabh Bachchan film and a Yash Chopra banner, his lost songs could've been born again. Couple of months after his death, it was at the Mausam film premiere that I over heard Yashji say, “Madanji ka music kamaal hain”. Mausam was dedicated to my father. But I felt that day if only he could've given music for a Yash Chopra film. The dream came true thirty years after his death when Veer Zaara released. It was his re-birth and I was also working for Yash Raj Films.

Madan Mohan's only award:
Lata Mangeshkar was Madan Mohan's muse. Without her the circle was incomplete. People and critics also questioned Lataji's existence in his songs. She had sung every song of his. A lot of the industry people and my seniors were not happy on me reviving my father's music in Veer Zaara because they thought that I was pushing them down. The proudest moment for me was when he won the IIFA Award for Veer Zaara and I went to receive it in Amsterdam.

Tere Bagair:
I also found some of the songs already recorded by my father and I had made an album out of those ten songs titled 'The Treasure Revealed'. These ten songs were edited for an LP record at that time. Now the same songs are in its full form and I've put an extra five more to make a total of fifteen for an album titled 'Tere Bagair'. I've added a little music because it had to sound fresh. I mean, some of them are recorded in 1964 and the tabla will not be nicely heard as it should be today. I don't think that this album is only for a Madan Mohan fan because it has seven songs of Mohammed Rafi and a Rafi fan would get his hands on to the album. Then here is one song of Kishore Kumar which no one has heard before and a Kishore fan would go and purchase that album. There are three Lata Mageshkar and three Asha Bhonsle songs too. Through Tere Bagair, I'm keeping Madan Mohan alive.

"I don't know how to make headlines" - Priyanka Kothari

by Devansh Patel

"I don't know how to make headlines", is what the petite actress tells us when we ask her of her staying in a recluse. So we decided to bring her out one more time. She was Ram Gopal Varma's new find in Sarkar. But it was James that made her Ramu's hottest commodity. Priyanka Kothari has her fingers in her long black hair, and as she tosses her head this way and that, she runs her hands slowly down her face and onto her neck. She greets me with a sigh of relief. “Finally we meet, after a long one year wait”, she said. As star-is-born moments go, Priyanka's was a doozy. Audiences might have walked in to see yet another Ramu classic but the folks walked out talking about her and how. Off screen, she's graced numerous newspaper and magazine pages in come-hither poses, unleashing the kinds of provocative quotes that give publicists cardiac infarctions. Not that that's shutting her up. When UK's Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent met with the femme fatale at her Andheri residence last week, she said, “I love posing on the rocks with a sexy attire. That has always been my fascination and will remain.” Surprisingly, dressed from top to bottom in her dark blue denims and white shirt with a black sleeveless jacket, she looked completely incomplete. Now that shut us up!

RGV and his actresses:
Ramu will not cast his actors for any reason. He is the reason himself that actors work with him. Having said that, he also allows you to be free in order to bring out the true you. Sometimes, you won't even come to know about your true potential till you see Ramu capture it all on screen. According to me, if you show Ram Gopal Varma the passion to work, your interest and your commitment, he will definitely cast you in his films. But that need not apply only to his actresses. The media always talks about Urmila Matondkar, Antra Mali and me but they won't talk about Amitabh Bachchan, Rajpal Yadav, his camera man Amit Roy or his music composer Amar Mohile. They too have stuck around with him for a long time now. Why are we actresses linked more with Ram Gopal Varma, I don't know.

Sarkar, James, Agyaat and RGV Ki Aag:
For me, Sarkar will always be special because it was my first Bollywood release. I hardly had anything to do in the film but for the first time I was cast opposite big actors and big director like Amitabh Bachchan and Ram Gopal Varma. I would rate James as my next best film because RGV cast me first in James before he signed me for Sarkar. But the latter was my first release. I always wanted to dance around tress and on the rocks. Before I joined films, I somehow loved the idea of actresses changing costumes five times in a song and James gave me that opportunity. I did everything that I fantasized before becoming a Bollywood actress in James. Then comes Agyaat. So many injuries, accidents and horrifying experiences made the unknown known for some reason. RGV Ki Aag ends my list and though it is the biggest disaster in Bollywood, I loved working in it, for the reason that my character was too loud and diverse.

Agyaat is all about imagination and believe me when I say this, I am a kind of person who gets sh** scared very easily. In real life, I am petrified of every little thing. Agyaat is a very realistic film. RGV gave me a script and a few scenes to enact before we went to Sri Lanka. But the moment we reached the jungles of Sri Lanka, there was no script because he wanted to capture the real characters. Agyaat isn't just a horror genre. It's an emotional film too with the psyche of behaviour. I remember him recalling, “Once you enter the jungles, there will be no make up, no nice hair style, no film star and only one dress.”

RGV's new find – Nitin:
Nitin is in the film for his raw appeal and being real. He is full of energy and filled with energy. You will see that not only in his acting but in the two song which I've done with him titled 'Khoobsurat' and 'Kiss Mix'. He has done many Telegu films down South and is a damn good dancer. He taught me some good dance steps and some diet tips on what to eat and what not to during the filming of our songs.

Jungles of Sri Lanka:
We were not staying in any five star hotel while filming Agyaat in Sri Lanka. We were put up just near the outskirts of the jungle in a small hotel. Monkeys would snatch food from our hand, six to seven lizards were common in my room, frogs and snakes would enter. They were not Agyaat to us. I used to scream on top of voice but it was more of a rehearsal in terms of preparing for my role for Agyaat. It couldn't have got real than this.

"Americans still haven't understood that consumerism will eat up democracy" - Irrfan Khan

by Devansh Patel

Irrfan is a mellow, soft-spoken presence and, true to past interrogations, not prone to self-examination about this whole acting lark. “I keep it simple. Just learn the lines and show up,” is his modest assessment of his talent. His audience, well wishers and the media often refers him as a junkie. Why? We don't know. But he is one when it comes to his work. His performances packs in charm, determination, eccentricity and humour. His drooping eyes tell you that he isn't in deep slumber, but a submersive chameleon whose own subtle, taciturn personality allows him to vanish under the skin of the person he’s playing. Meeting the actor in flesh is a rare privilege these days: he hardly ever does interviews and is known for his aversion to the Indian press, sometimes. That's what we hear from those who've been waiting for their turn since more than two hours at the J.W. Mariott. They say there are no second takes, but maybe when you’re born in India you can bend the rules. Hell, maybe when you’re Irrfan Khan, the rules don’t even exist. So when UK's Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent met Khan, there were bound to be plenty of journalists left scratching their heads, but Irrfan is staunchly against explanations; he’ll go just far enough to tell you he is late but he is there, so get started!

9/11: Yun Hota Toh Kya Hota and New York
I won't claim that I know more about the 9/11 incident just because I am the only actor who has been a part of two of its franchise. New York isn't about 9/11. What was America's attitude before that black day and their attitude post 9/11. I play a Muslim FBI Officer who is a part of the American system which gets things more complicated.

Demeaning America and the Americans:
Kabir Khan can say that New York is not about demeaning America because he has to sell his film, he has to also bring in the audience which is American and may be he is in a process of pleasing them as well. But when you make a film on certain issues, you have to take a stand. If you don't take a stand, it's a failure.

American system:
The film is based on how America propagated and accelerated the psyche of hate because when the centre of the society is money and the system is based on selling things, then there is no morality and concern, whether it's fear or threat. And in doing that you create your threat and enemies. Americans still haven't understood that consumerism will eat up democracy and I hope Obama throws some light on it.

If the story and your role does not give you any scope, you don't need to do research on it. I'm not saying that New York wasn't worth for a research. Kabir Khan had already got things into place. But a film like Pan Singh Tomar gives me a lot of scope for research as it is a true life story. New York is based on a true life incident. There is a lot of difference when it comes to both the films in terms of research.
Kabir Khan:

Making so many documentaries has given him a lot of experience. He is a person who wanted to make a film like New York for Yash Raj and that's pretty strange, if you see the track record of YRF. Kabir has handled so many subjects as a documentary film maker that he is now technically sound. To make a documentary is a challenge because you have to shoot in all sorts of conditions and thus the shoot of New York for Kabir was like making yet another documentary or a feature film.

FBI officer:
I play an FBI officer who is trying to deal with the problem post 9/11 and not try and solve it. He is also giving a sense of hope for future. He doesn't want to dwell into what America has done. He thinks that Americans should be sorry for what they've done but at the same time questions – What is the American future? Do you want to keep killing each other? Another interesting thing about the role I play is that he can objectively see the system he is working for and the Muslim community from where he comes from. He can view both these aspects objectively and may be that gives him that little more edge in trying to deal with a much bigger problem.

Peoples psyche:
Yes, Slumdog Millionaire is a hit around the world. But if you say that New York will work because I was a part of the Oscar winning film and it will attract the West, I don't think so. Actors cannot make it a hit, and if they did, then Benjamin Button would've been a bigger hit than Slumdog Millionaire. Benjamin Button is seen because there is Brad Pitt in it. Milk is seen because it has Sean Penn. I wouldn't have seen it if it was for any other actor. Slumdog Millionaire was seen because it was directed by Danny Boyle who was already a big name in the West. The tough part for the actors is to be a part of peoples psyche and once they become a part of it, the audience buys the ticket. South Indian films don't work in Mumbai but Hollywood does. Now you know why.

Irrfan Khan – the detainee
I didn't face any problem being a Muslim actor for New York but I was detained when I went for my Independent Spirit Award for Namesake. It demoralises you. You are not told anything. They ask you to come into the room, you are not allowed to talk on the phone and they don't even tell you how much time the interrogation procedure would take. Back then, I told the officer not to waste my time and his just because I am a Muslim actor. He even went on to say, 'Are you threatening me?'. Mira Nair, the director of Namesake told me not to get into that but I was angry and reacted to it. It is the truth that the Western officers get paranoid by seeing a Muslim name.

Pan Singh Tomar:
My intention is not to look like Pan Singh Tomar because it's a real life story. That doesn't interest me. The idea was that he was a talented person and how the system misused that talent grips me more to do a film like Pan Singh Tomar. So when you know that this is the person who lived on this planet and he went through these circumstances, it really does something to you. When we did research on Pan Singh Tomar, we got hundreds of stories. We could've made a good commercial film out of it if we used all of them but we cannot do that because then we are not doing justice to him as a person. I remember we were shooting in some house which the director chose to be Pan Singh Tomar's house. But then we were told that Pan Singh did stay in the same house we were shooting. That struck us like lightning and you get even more inspired by this personality.

Such stories have been dealt in the past but the way Jennifer Lynch has given the treatment to Hisss is worth watching. I haven't told my P.R to let Jennifer know that I've worked in The Mighty Heart or Namesake. It's my work which is doing the talking more than my personal P.R. I am here in this field to please my ego. Jennifer was touched by Namesake and I am thrilled and happy that she did. Hisss is mysterious, dangerous, sensuous and for the young American audience who is looking for blood, gore and violence will love Hisss. Luckily, Jennifer did not allow Mallika to bite me. For Sherawat, it's her lifetime role because she has to look sexy, dangerous and still not speak anything in the film.

"All illegal detainees were stripped naked" - Kabir Khan on New York

by Devansh Patel

Kabir Khan quotes, “The world has changed since 9/11.” So instead of stories that reflect how 9/11 changed us, we have stories that help us flatter ourselves into believing that it did. Fahrenheit 9/11, World Trade Center and United 93 cherry-picked the few triumphant stories of 9/11. Bollywood's very own Yun Hota Toh Kya Hota too managed its own. They let us see it as a day when Americans tapped their strength, transformed and sacrificed - whether you and I, munching our cashew nuts in the audience, did or not. For the people of America and the entire world, a memorial can never replace what those of you mourning a loved one have lost. Freedom was no more free. So when truth met fiction, the world looked even more dangerous through the eyes of Kabir Khan, the director of Yash Raj Films 'New York' which has 9/11 as its backdrop and three friends whose beautiful lives are turned upside down by larger than life events beyond their control in a city that was termed as adolescent, a cacophonous and multicoloured place where work and play entwine; a hyperactive, aphrodisiac and a real-life marriage of heaven and hell. UK's Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent met Kabir Khan and figured out that New York wasn't just a place the world had seen in the movies, it acted out a film of its own.

9/11 - A new world
I'd answer your question in two parts. The largest film industry in the world has only managed to produce two films based on 9/11. Yun Hota Toh Kya Hota and New York. But more importantly, we can all say that 9/11 happened in America. But I disagree. I think 9/11 has changed the whole world and if we Indians think that it did not affect us, we are being a bit naïve and insular. We are still facing its consequences. History will always repeat itself if you forget it. The partition of India happened 61 years ago but we can't help and not talk about it. It has changed the psyche of Indians and Pakistanis forever. Today, everything to do with Pakistan is relevant because of the partition. When we play a cricket match with them, it's our partition which also comes into play. New York has 9/11 as its backdrop but the backdrop is not pushed as an issue in the film. The film begins in 2001 and goes on till 2008.

Balanced perspective
Not at all. The film does have a political backdrop and when you're shooting a film like this, you have to share the script with the authorities out there, which we did. New York is opening on a debate and prejudices don't only flow in one direction. Unfortunately after 9/11, all of us have prejudices against the other person. It's not that the Americans are not prejudice in their view about Muslims in the world. Now it's the other way round too. The film has managed to handle that and therefore got a balanced perspective. The American crew felt very strongly about our film.

Bush administration v/s Obama administration
9/11 is a self acknowledged dark chapter in America's contemporary history. They recognise that the Bush administration was their darkest phase and the first thing which Obama did was to try, stop and control some of the negative legacies of the Bush administration. The film thus becomes topical in nature too. The film tries and tell us that let's not forget 9/11 but let's move on now. Let's look at the future too. How long are we suppose to live in the shadows of 9/11. What's ironical is that our last day of the shoot coincides with the last day of George Bush presidency. We finished our shoot and the next day Obama was elected the president of the Untied States of America. Our wrap up party changed into the celebration of Obama's presidency. We along with the New Yorkers were out on the streets celebrating.

Music of New York
In keeping with the more dramatic and an emotional level of story telling that I've used in New York, I realised that the songs were a must in the film. The media often writes that because I'm a documentary film maker, I am against the use of any songs in the film. I love song and dance. I am a trained dancer and a choreographer in my college days. I feel very strongly about songs being a part of the narrative versus songs being placed for the fun of it. I've seen brilliant films destroyed by a misplaced song. Bearing in mind the realistic narrative, I cannot have any of my characters singing unless the role of the actor is that of a singer or a performer. So I've used all of New York's songs in the backdrop. The only misgiving I have about my short time for publicity is that I'm not being able to project the songs enough.

A good bit of research.
Because of my background as a documentary film maker, I will never touch a subject unless I've exhausted all research on it. It took me eleven months to put together the script of New York only because of the research. I've had a word with all nationalities. New York is a global story. Even if you remove the three Indian protagonists of the film and replace them by three Jordanians, it'll work. I've spoken to the people from the FBI, done a lot of reading in terms of books and articles published back then, etc. When it comes to our audience and if the film was set in a la-la land, they'll be very forgiving. They will let all loop holes pass by. But the moment you make a real film based on real events, the same audience becomes very discerning, which I think is very good because they bring in different kind of sensibilities. For my discerning audiences, I've tried to be bang on with my facts and figures.

More to New York than just the title
We went through many other titles. New York was the first title. In fact, the working title of the script was New York. One of the reasons the title was born because we were shooting in New York but more than that, New York doesn't lend itself to any language because New York is New York, whether its in Hindi, Swahili, Arabic, etc. As I've said before; you can enjoy the film at face value as a story of three friends and not go into the layers below. But there are many layers to New York than just a city that never sleeps. It is a symbol of what's happening in the world today. New York is where it all started from. When you mention Kargil, you don't think of it as a hilly terrain. You think of other things. That's the way I've used New York.

Visa problems
Tell me about it! I did not get a visa for two months because of my name. We're talking of prejudices about the Bush administration, here we have life imitating art. I've shot in the United States of America six times before I started shooting for New York. The FBI had listed twenty nine South Asian names and somewhere there was a mention of Kabir Khan. My name then went through the FBI check. My chief assistant director whose name happens to be Ali was stopped for three months too. In fact, there is another Yash Raj team flying to New York soon for their next film and not a single Muslim was stopped. Already we are seeing the transition from the Bush administration to the Obama administration, I guess.

John's nude scene and the real life trauma of the illegal detainees
John's nude scene was totally based on facts and from the actual personal account of people who went through that. George Bush had once said that the water boarding instrument cannot be termed as torture. But in the entire process of interrogation, the torture and trying to break them down was done with a very scientifically planned programme. People have also told me that there are certain scenes similar to that shown in Khuda Ke Liye. Yes, there was a chapter in that film which dealt with illegal detention but even the director of Khuda Ke Liye must've done his research well. All the illegal detainees were stripped naked and their entire body shaved only to humiliate them. So John's scene was as real as it can get.

Big names down West.
Yes. Let's hope the film works for more reasons than just one. Irrfan Khan is a huge name in the U.S and after the success of Slumdog Millionaire, he has become Bollywood's hottest property in Hollywood. Then you've got John who has Canada going ga-ga over him. He has the largest fan following in Canada and the U.K. With a strong story, good cast and an honest approach, let's hope New York transforms itself into a good film at the box office.

Imtiaz Ali on Love Aaj Kal, Deepika and Kareena

by Devansh Patel

When it comes to defining an original voice in films today, director Imtiaz Ali leaves a unique stamp on conventional genres, from Socha Na Tha to Jab We Met and his soon to be released Love Aaj Kal, his ambitious take on the classic romantic era of the 1960's and today's 2009. With it's old fashioned and grown up romance that is heart pounding, thrilling and cinematically exquisite, Love Aaj Kal seems like an unapologetic work of a visionary film-maker with his own unique style, who is clearly happy that the journey has ended. So when asked by a journalist what his take on love is, at the recently held press meet to promote Love Aaj Kal, Imtiaz said, "Love is something that I don't understand. It's an inappropriate word." UK's Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent met the 'Lost in Love' director to figure out what he thinks of the saying 'Love makes the world go round', the in-love Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor, the lovely Deepika Padukone and his take on love yesterday and today.

Jab We Met was such a big success. As a film maker do you think you've graduated with Love Aaj Kal?
Honestly, it's difficult to say because you become very subjective towards the film you do and you can't really be a critic as well. When I was making Jab We Met, I was trying my best to make the best. In Love Aaj Kal, I've done the same thing.

You obsessed with love?
Yes. Mere andar bahut pyaar hain. It gets reflected through my films, I guess.

Your films have got this earthy feel and innocence in them. Is it to do with your upbringing?
I have grown up in a middle class family in smaller cities of India. My father has been on a transferable job. When I finally reached Delhi and Mumbai, I saw the grandeur of big cities. So obviously, the movies that I make will be in some way a reflection of what I've seen in my life. The fibre that you're talking about comes from my upbringing.

Kareena has expressed a lot of sorrow as you didn't rope her in Love Aaj Kal in spite of her calling you her favourite director.
I'm very happy to hear that Kareena thinks so highly of me. I should also say that Kareena is my favourite actress. But just for the greed of working with your favourite actor, you cannot cast her wrong because you'll be doing injustice to everybody including the actor. My role as a director is to avoid such mistakes. I'd like Kareena to be in all my movies but the point is that I need to be fair to her and her talent.

So what was special in Deepika then?
When you see the film you'll know better. There is a sense of silence in Deepika and a sense of innocence. I cannot express that in words. There is a certain character or the nature of Meera, the role which Deepika plays in the film, which suited her. Deepika has impressed me completely because of her synergy with the character she plays, just like how Kareena impressed me while she played Geet.

Are you nervous of your film being pitted against Kambakkht Ishq?
You see, I don't get time to get nervous, luckily. As the release date is just around the corner, I feel happy that the film is finally going to be seen by the world. But I think that nervousness is a luxury that I don't think directors can really afford because we are always working.

In better words, what's going through your mind now?
I am not scared. The last thing I want to do is to make myself embarrassed in front of the audience. I like such films that don't embarrass me. That's going through my mind right now.

How about your new producer?
Saif was never a producer for me. He was only the actor for me. He was really happy only to be an actor too. He has come in with his intelligence, common sense and an extremely good creative idea for the publicity of the film. Only as an actor he could've done justice to Love Aaj Kal.

How was the title born?
Aaj Kal thoda boring ho raha tha. We wanted to go ahead with 'Aaj Kal' as the title of the film but because I'm such a lovely person making films that are based on love, the title changed to 'Love Aaj Kal'.

Are you judgemental about love yesterday and love today?
Love is something that I don't understand. It means different things for different people. It's a very confusing term. I believe in words like affection, intimate, togetherness, but love for me is always an inappropriate word. I am not judgemental about it. There is really no message that I'm trying to convey through this film. I cannot comment conclusively. I can only tell you that if you think there is no innocence and love now, and you only consider that there was love back then, you're wrong. That's not true. If people get a bit more physical in love now, it doesn't mean that the intensity of pure feeling between two people is less in this generation.

Are you in search of love through the films you make?
May be yes. People who write books about Gods don't know Gods. They are trying to look for him. May be I'm too.

Did the yesteryear couple Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Kapoor give you any insights on love back in their era?
Both Neetuji and Rishiji didn't give me any inputs. They gave me this positive romantic energy.

Has success ever pressurised you?
When I will get success I will answer that question. I am not being modest here. This is the truth and I know it.

You think Love makes the world go round?
Yes I do. That's why I've made this film. The whole idea of the story came from us talking about love back then and love in today's time. People say that today love is only about having sex. All the fifty plus say that love has lost its essence. Whereas in the current world, we think that yesteryear lovers were fools. They took their entire lifetime to convey the message of love. But the elders think that the 2009 love is like an equation. How one can solve it is pretty strange. Love is surely making the world go round.

Friday, 26 June 2009

NEW YORK film review - 5 stars. The film carries an emotional impact and seeds a bed of uplifting pride for the people of America

By Devansh Patel
Observer, London

New York review

It's plainly evident that all of the film makers of the world have approached the subject matter of 9/11 with appropriate honour and respect. So far so good. But when you sit for two and a half hours and come out of the screening rooms watching a film like New York, you tend to say – So good and so true.

I was worried walking into Kabir Khan's “New York”. Not that it was “too late” or “one more” for a 9/11 movie. I had other concerns. I was worried that Kabir would take this opportunity to get on his soapbox about some conspiracy or another. I was worried that can John Abraham surpass his Taxi 9211 performance for once. I was worried that will Neil be still remembered as Johnny Gaddar. I was worried whether Katrina Kaif could ever act in a film. And most of all, I was worried that a Bollywood film about 9/11 would be rife with swelling strings and easy answers. Well, for the entire film, my worries were unfounded.

The film revolves around three best friends from the New York State University and an FBI officer Roshan (Irrfan Khan) who are dragged into the aftermath of 9/11 with series of unwinding events making their lives a living hell. Omar (Neil Nitin Mukesh) plays a fresher from India who slowly but surely falls for Maya (Katrina Kaif) but is not able to confess his love to her. Enter Sam (John Abraham) who plays the cool dude American with panache. In a bizarre twist of fate and love, it is Maya who kneels down and proposes Sam. But during that one sweet moment which takes place post intermission, the film must've already taken you into hundreds of breathtaking moments pre interval. The plot may not be rocket science but the scenes, thrills and the suspense is, and for that my good friend, you need to buy the tickets to the most thought provoking movie Yash Raj Films has ever come up with (When was the last time you heard a Yash Raj Film was called 'thoughtful'?)

New York isn't about demeaning the Americans, oh no!. New York has no histrionics. It is simply a strong story telling without being preachy, involving us with the life of three friends and by default, the many whose lives were touched by this unforgettable tragedy. The script carefully walks the line between reverence and worship, emotion and manipulation. With only a blink of an eye exceptions, the material is handled with surprisingly delicacy.

New York is difficult to watch based solely on the 9/11 events it portrays, for which one may get offended but with its welcomed catharsis it's not likely to offend many. By the end of the movie I asked myself a question – What did Kabir Khan made me think about? The answer – In a nutshell, he made me remember that the United States of America was built on the hearts and resolve of its citizens.

Performances have to be witnessed than to be written about, but I'll still write them down. In order of no preference, I'd rate New York as a film completely based on four powerhouses of performers. Irrfan Khan, John Abraham, Neil Nitin Mukesh and to everyone's surprise...Katrina Kaif. Yes, you heard! What other directors since half a decade could not achieve, Kabir Khan managed to pull it off. Thus giving Kaif her most memorable role ever. I remember meeting John and telling him that it's going to be impossible to topple his Taxi 9211 performance. But he too proved me and his audiences wrong. John Abraham, please take a bow! Your performance don't deserve points but pat on your back...not butt! Neil Nitin Mukesh thankfully will no longer be remembered as 'Johnny Gaddar' now but as Omar. Neil is simply a crowd puller and it's time we Aa Dekhe Zara this boy from Bollywood. Cannot speak much about this man called Irrfan Khan because he is what he is and the best there ever is in our industry. There was no need to call him a 'museebat'. Jokes apart, in using his eyes to convey anguish, Irrfan delivers the gravitas of the circumstances with style and substance. Hats off!

Kabir Khan gives us an unshakable bird's eye view of the city of New York through the weary perspective of the individuals caught in the vicious circle of detainees while the rest of us remained stuck in shock on the sidelines.

Production values are excellent, from the editing to the interaction between the two friends, Sam and Omar to Omar and Roshan to Maya and Omar, the scenes are not trivialised as tension builds and the story reaches its dramatic crescendo. Dialogues and the Background scores are powerful. Cinematography is soothing to the eyes and the songs take you on an emotional high. New York is an absorbing and riveting film. It is in this context that Kabir Khan succeeds in delivering an insightful and powerful snapshot of one of the stories of courage, determination, love and hope from that fateful day in September. New York carries a gigantic emotional impact and seeds a bed of uplifting pride for the people of America.

New York serves as a catalyst for the manner in which we all shake our heads in disgust to imagine how we all have a tendency to forget the sanctity of humanity on any given day.

Rated as – 5 on 5 – Observer, London.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Review - Paying Guest: It's worth paying for Paying Guest once!

by Devansh Patel: Harrow Observer, UK

When was the last time you picked up a pop corn, your favourite cola, some cheesy nachos and sat in the red lounge of Cinemax with your extended family and laughed out loud on the hilarious one liners thrown by the weird, often crazy and witty characters from a cool comic caper? Make way for debutant director Paritosh Painter who paints the silver screen with his effervescent cast in a family entertainer film titled Paying Guest.

Paying Guest isn't about a plot, anyway. It's about characters, and about the twisted logic of screwball comedy, in which everybody acts the craziest just when they're trying to make the most sense.

Three friends living in Bangkok, Chef Shreyas Talpade, Car sales man Ashish Chowdhary and creative writer Javed Jaffery, are kicked out by their employers for messing things up in their respective jobs. They blow their job is how Javed describes it. Adding to their existing trouble is Vatsal Sheth who comes from India for a job interview. He gives hope to the hopeless three of an accommodation too but soon finds himself as helpless and a hopeless lot like his mates. All four have no option but to stay as paying guests now. But then problem number three is just waiting round the corner at the Bhalla residence owned by a darling couple, Sardarji Johnny Lever and Gujju babe Delnaz Paul. They have one important rule you have to follow in order to be their paying guest. You have to be married. What follows next is a fun ride with the cross dressers Karisma and Kareena played by Shreyas and Javed, Bhalla's four play as described by Mrs Bhalla, the lunatic Lonny (read Ronny) played by Chunky Pandey who happens to be the younger brother of Bhalla and four leggy beauties Riya Sen, Celina Jaitley, Neha Dhupia and Sayali Bhagat.

Since the comic material is familiar and highly inspired by films like Raffoo Chakkar, Golmaal and Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, what's a little amazing is how fresh it seems at times, in the hands of the our Bollywood heroes. Chunkey Pandey is the best surprise; in a role that seems written as a license for flamboyance, he's more restrained than in anything he's done since his last comic act. Vatsal Sheth and Ashish Chowdhary don't have quite the semi-hysterical sincerity and sometimes are a little too obvious, but they work well the rest of the time, especially in their more pensive passages. Though Vatsal and Ashish look fresh in all their frames. Most of the biggest laughs come from Shreyas Talpade and Javed Jaffery, as they play the mismatched wives who confront one another in a nerve-racking test of appearances. As can be expected, the comedy comes from their wicked exaggerated tics, and Vatsal and Ashish's despairing attempt to mask them. But Johnny Lever cannot be forgotten.His is an even effort that captures the humour and grace of the slapstick antics of the masters of the genre, like, Kishore Kumar, Keshto Mukherjee, Mehmood, Jagdeep, etc. He is back with the vengeance and proves that even an old horse can sometimes win the race. Celina and Neha look sexy as always. Riya and Sayali look beautiful. I'm sure you too will notice them with the same intentions. Hmmmm!

The biggest draw back of Paying Guest is its editing. It's the worse I've seen in my eight years as a Bollywood columnist, especially the cut from one frame to the other looks forced. There is no connect. With a little heart and brains, the editing could've been stitched. The film delves deeper into the realm of situational comedy, and every time it struggles to make its audience laugh, Shreyas, Johnny, Javed and Chunky make an added effort to make sure the audiences white teeth are seen. Many critics might have criticised Paritosh Painter to lift scenes straight up from the yesteryear classics but not many know that it could've been Painters deliberate attempt to rip off the films and recall them to you in a newly packaged product titled Paying Guest.

The film has all the pieces in place to be a good comedy if not a great comedy. While it doesn't quite live up to its potential, it's still a heck of a lot funnier than what usually passes for comedy in these days. Paying Guest is worth paying for once if not twice and contains enough belly-laughs and sly jokes to become one of the end of summer crowd pleasers.

Rating - 3 out of 5

Saturday, 13 June 2009

"It's time to get real. Even kids know what a kiss is now-a-days" - Deepika Padukone at the Love Aaj Kal press conference

by Devansh Patel

Deepika Padukone is four films old but too young when it comes to working with her male co-stars. All the actors with whom she has worked with, except Ranbir Kapoor, are almost fifteen years older to her, which takes us back to our first meeting with Miss Padukone in London during her red carpet arrival for the premiere of Om Shanti Om. She was wearing a sexy red dress and painted the Leicester Square red. Back to aaj, she has matured in love and how. We see her in a lovey-dovey pink to promote her upcoming film Love Aaj Kal in front of a packed Indian media. A suburban girl who shot to fame as a supermodel and then to super stardom as SRK's lover in Om Shanti Om, Deepika has now moved up the ladder in Bollywood playing lover girl in all her films. Love Aaj Kal being the fourth. Life's just kind of perfect at the moment. For someone whose name and visage have been used to sell everything from lingere, to jewellery to chewing gums, Deepika doesn't seem at all preoccupied with her image. Padukone seems totally comfortable with all her many roles. In some moments, she sounds like a typical plate-spinning working mom, concerned about getting healthy meals on the table for her kids, till you realise that she is still single. A woman who gives a firm 'no-no' to live in relationships is more than willing to settle down and look after her husband once she gets married. Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent and UK's Harrow Observer columnist meets the immortal figure who believes in having three guidelines when it comes to love: Be happy with what you have, keep things simple and go with the flow.

Four films old
The journey has been wonderful. Everyone's way of acting, everyone's style of acting, everyone's approach, etc has been wonderful. Two out of my four co-stars are also producers. Saif was very kind and polite. Somewhere the nawab in him came out because of his London education. He is a royal man and deserves everything royal.

Luck factor
I hope I bring the same luck to Saif Ali Khan as I did to Shah Rukh Khan in Om Shanti Om. Love Aaj Kal will go down as one of the most special films for me, irrespective of what the outcome is and what people are going to think.

Compliment from Saif
It's a huge compliment from Saif if he has compared me to Rani Mukherjee. Something like this is an honour coming from Saif. In fact, I have learnt a lot from him. The fact that he is so experienced and his style is so natural makes you want to work with him again. I really look up to that kind of a performance. I've been a big fan of his right from Dil Chahta Hai.

I don't feel any age difference. In fact I feel secure with my co-stars who are so experienced. It's great for someone like me who is so new and has absolutely no background from this industry. All my co-stars have been giving and supportive and that in turn has a tremendous role in the way I perform on screen.

On Imtiaz Ali
Imtiaz Ali is a genius. He is so sensitive to peoples performances and people in general. As an actor I think it's nice to have a director who understands my approach to a scene. Saif and me are so different from each other as actors. It's nice to have a director who can bring that together on screen and get that good performance out of us.

Kareena controversy
Whenever I was on the sets shooting, I didn't see Kareena anywhere near me. I don't know when she has come and when she has gone. She must've come when I had my days off, I hope. I'm sure she understands that it's not possible for a director to work with the same co-star again and again. It's great that you've had a hit film with a certain director. It's absolutely untrue that there is any sort of discomfort between the two of us or any form of negativity. She knows she is brilliant and she has done a great job in Jab We Met. I guess, Imtiaz was damn sure of who he wanted to cast in Love Aaj Kal.

Reel life to real life
I'm a perfect blend of Love Aaj and Love Kal. I'm practical in real life though. As an actor when you do a film, two things can happen. Either the role you're playing is very different from who you are in real life or it is very similar to the person you are off screen. It's spooky how similar Meera's character is to me in Love Aaj Kal. I think 90% of the film and the way I react in certain situations is the way I'd in real life.

Love yesterday and Love today
I believe that long distance love lasts. I think different people deal with relationships differently. Their definition may be different but at the end of the day, love exists. Different relationships go through different ups and downs. But when you sit together and have a chat about it, everyone will have the same thing to say. Earlier couples used to take hours writing letters and today it can happen in a few seconds by you sending an sms to your loved one. Times have changed but the love remains the same, the feeling remains the same. Meetings these days is a lot easier. You can still stay connected with your loved one via a web cam on your computer. Earlier you'd have to travel for miles to see each other.

Live in relationship or getting married
I am someone who completely believes in falling in love and settling down. I'm not for live in relationships. If I get married, my house and my husband is my number one priority. I tackle my relationship with Ranbir very well. It's not the easiest thing to do but it takes two secure people to deal with things like that. I've been able to do that.

Lip lock moment
Sometimes when you decide to do something, like a kissing scene in the film, you just do it because you feel it's right. I think the scene was necessary for the film and I believed in it. I do not have to take permission from anyone. I've been able to separate my personal life from my professional life and hope to keep it that way for a long time. It's time to get real. Everyone's aware of these kinds of things on screen. Even the kids know about it. So why make such a big fuss?