Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Ram Gopal Varma's next titled 'Rifle'...based on 'Woman as a Sexual Being'

exclusive by Devansh Patel

For Ram Gopal Varma, weapons of mass destruction can also be termed as weapons of mass distraction. Read further - Life is a sexually transmitted disease. But seduction isn't making someone do what they don't want to do. Seduction is enticing someone into doing what they secretly want to do already. For RGV though, life and seduction goes hand in hand. Now do not jump off your seat when we break to you the news that in the near future Ramu is planning on making a film based on the concept of 'Woman as a sexual being'. In fact, he has already decided to name his film 'RIFLE' which is going to be a tribute to the very sexy construction labourer he fantasised during his engineering days in Vijaywada. Read that? But why the name 'Rifle'? Because RGV and many of his college mates used to call the woman 'Rifle'. Don't know why but they just did. Well, if the gang named her 'Bomb Shell' it certainly would've aroused more volcanic emotions in the hearts and minds of a thousand guys on the campus. What say?

For RGV, Rifle was the ultimate epitome of what God really intended a woman to be like, before the cosmetic industry, the costume designers, the make-up people and the jewellery merchants came in and started back lighting that wonderful species called women because he strongly feels that sexuality works more when it is ultra real rather than when it is enhanced by cosmetics. RGV considers Rifle as the most sexiest woman he has ever seen in his life.
Ram Gopal Varma quotes in his blog, “If ever in my life I respected God, it was for creating Rifle. When I was studying in Siddhartha Engineering College Vijayawada, there used to be lot of construction activity going on there and she was one of the construction labourers. Me and many of my classmates used to watch her through our classroom window while a boring soil mechanics lecture droned on. It didn’t make a difference to us that her thighs were caked with cement dust and her hair was uncombed, she used to walk bare feet with her chest thrust out and used to look straight in our eye. She had more sex in her little finger than most women in their whole bodies. To us she was just sex personified. Our imagination of how she would look naked under her clothes drove us insane. Agreed that our ages were such that even a telephone pole wrapped in a saree would look sexual, but there really was something truly amazingly electrifying sexual about Rifle.”

RGV further adds, “I always felt there is a fundamental difference between beauty and sexuality. Beauty pleases your senses whereas sexuality controls your senses, or even more correctly makes your senses go berserk. Your rational thinking gets lost and the animal instinct takes over. Rifle used to draw out the animal in all of us. She in her non-caring demeanour and in the way she used to clothe and behave epitomized the word ‘sex’. We all used to sit in the nights with textbooks on our laps and have endless discussions on the shapes and sizes of Rifles various attributes. It took us the tremendous strength of our combined will of all our upbringing, education, social programming, morality, religious strictures and fear of law which just about managed to control us from pouncing upon her.”

Rifle surely has done some kind of a 'Stri Charitra' on Ramu. She may be all 'Agyaat' to us but has most definitely intensified 'RGV Ki Aag' to such an extent that in the months to come you may just hear some 'Rifle shots' coming out of Ram Gopal Varma's Oshiwara office. Beauty is a cruel mistress, is it not Ramu?

Seeta Aur Geeta - world exclusive review of the serial on NDTV Imagine

World exclusive review of Seeta Aur Geeta by Devansh Patel

My first ever television review in my exhaustive career as a Bollywood columnist. How about that?But it's the challenge I take up more than the comments of what people may come up with – What the hell is Devansh Patel up to? Well, if Anjori Alagh can venture out into television, why can't I as a writer huh? Anyway, let me start...

It's good to know that the fame and popularity of Seeta and Geeta played by Hema Malini endure, when most of the comic acts of their time (and, indeed, later) are now forgotten. Seeta aur Geeta as a film was the perfect double act, master of technique, but with a quite extraordinary rapport and a quality of innocent good humour that lifted the Ramesh Sippy directed film to the level of the comedy immortals. Today's comedy double acts are very different beasts, with no trace of the music hall or silent film tradition behind them and certainly no innocence. The nearest thing we now have to innocent comedy that is also funny is, I suppose, Rakhi Sawant - no double act she, but very much a one-off with her on-your-face talks and muffat style (quoted by Anjori Alagh). Meanwhile, as further proof of the immortality of Seeta aur Geeta, just look at the frequent use in recent newspaper headlines. It's the phrase 'Another fine mess' which I've conceived as it aptly fits the bill. Oh yes, some very fine messes they've got us into lately...Who? What? Well, to cut the long story short, here's the Who and the What:

Abhinav Kashyap and the Bohra Brothers along with NDTV Imagine launched yesterday their first ever television series titled Seeta aur Geeta based on the yesteryear classic film with the same name. If it was the effervescent Hema Malini who played the lead in the film, here we have the Bollywood actress, the infectious Anjori Alagh. Infectious because she's got a smile one can get infected with. Anyway, so here was this entire cast and crew present for the launch at Andheri's Country Club waiting for the grand unveiling of the 260 episode Seeta aur Geeta. The twenty minute serial with ten minute commercials being blasted out to fool the public as if they're watching a thirty minute one couldn't stop the 'fine mess' from going into bits and pieces of laughter, a grin here and there and some yawning moments.

The serial kick starts with a sequence where the evil aunt, Seeta's Chachi (Sushmita Mukherjee) tries and acts all goody-goody and sweet talks with the lawyer of the family (played by the Gujarati actor Naresh Kanodia) when he pays a visit to their rich big bungalow. Seeta has lot her parents and is now being forced to live a life of a slave in her own house, courtesy her Chachi, who is awaiting Seeta's twenty first birthday. Because that's the day and time the bitchy Chachi can get her hands over the entire wealth of Seeta in a will made by her parents. Back to the scenes, once the lawyer is out of the frame, Chachi tight slaps Seeta and pushed her into the pool. Come serials first flaw when you can't decide whether to feel sorry for Seeta or burst out laughing at her. And that's exactly when a nice piece of advice coming from the director of the serial Maqbool Khan comes in handy. “Seeta aur Geeta may look like a rip off but we are trying to make the setting of the film very filmy and very early eighties. Some of the scenes may look dumb but they are more deliberate than dumb.” As the scene and the serial progresses, we are witnessed to some of Seeta's emotional and quiet scenes with her grandmother and her kid brother. Yes, I did think there was something wrong with the setting but Maqbool's quote always brought a fresh perspective into my viewing. After the first commercial break comes the introduction of Geeta (Anjori Alagh). Seeta (Anjori Alagh again) takes a back seat and here comes in a true Amitabh Bachchan style a woman who won't take a 'No' for an answer. She kicks and fights with the baddies and then mends the hearts of the needy. A true 'Robin Hood'. And guess what? A song breaks out after the fight introducing Geeta's dancing abilities. The junior artisits – Beware! Stand at an arms length for you never know getting a bad kick down the middle by Geeta.

Seeta aur Geeta is an out and out Anjori Alagh who needs to brush up on her emotional quotients in her first television offering. Cry out loud in front of the mirror Seeta coz you never know what Alagh you can come up with. Seeta was a sadist while Geeta the go-getter was a true delight. Sushmita Mukherjee with her weird faces makes you laugh out loud. Miss Kitty is a perfect fit in the bunch of so many misfits in Seeta aur Geeta. Misfits = all the junior artists with bored expressions all over their faces. They look forced in all the scenes with Geeta and that for me, is the biggest flaw for any kind of entertainment telecast. Maqbool Khan, you need good, smart, witty and professional junior artists to compliment Geeta's role as she is always seen in the basti domain. Do not let 'fake' take over the 'fate' in Seeta aur Geeta.

After it's first episode (and I write first episode because it's not a film that can be reviewed after watching it. As and when the serial advances further, it's true ripeness will take the viewers by a pleasant surprise) Seeta aur Geeta is as clever as it is silly, more warm-hearted than sentimental and just as irreverent as it is nostalgic.

The serial makes great physical use of its primary cast and breaks comic convention at several turns. But if you're going into the serial cold like in any film, you'll have the pleasure of being surprised by some perfectly set up moments and gags that hinge on Seeta's and Geeta's jittery alliance of straight woman/funny woman routines.
Rating – Applicable after the entire 260 episodes.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

"Scriptwalla is not a workshop. It's a movement" - Ben Rekhi

By Devansh Patel
We all have thoughts floating in our head. Feelings, sentiments, emotions, theories, observations.... all of them floating in our mind. Some obvious to the mind's eye. Others not so obvious. Because some of them are abstract, unsaid, and exist more as an essence than as solid thoughts. A great writer is able to summon all these thoughts, coax and pry them out of the hidden and uncharted recesses of his mind, cajole them into taking a tangible shape, and then express them on paper in the form of words. Express them as words so lucidly and soulfully, that their essence is not lost even when what he writes is translated. Kamlesh Pandey from Bollywood and Ben Rekhi from Hollywood are two such great writers. Both together have started a ten week workshop called Scriptwalla.com to be held at Whistling Woods International from June 2, and by the end of the workshop, fifteen writers will come out with a hundred and twenty page bound script which they'll be able to sell to producers. How about that? A platform for all budding screen writers to showcase their hidden talent. Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent and UK's Harrow Observer columnist gets to know both the talented personalities as they get talking about their mission, movement and mad passion for writing.

How did the thought of Scriptwalla came about?
Kamlesh: I get phone calls everyday from aspiring writers who want to either assist me or want to know about the art of script writing. While I'm working I don't have time to teach people. In Hollywood there are screen writing workshops taking place everywhere. We call ourselves the biggest film industry in the world and yet do not have a single screen writing workshop. So I always wanted to share my experience and expertise with new writers because the advantage I couldn't get, I wanted them to achieve that. I have been a visiting faculty in Whistling Woods International and did meet Ben Rekhi last year on a project we are doing together. He is from Hollywood and has been writing various scripts in Mumbai since eight months. We both sat and had a lot of talking to do about the kind of scripts being written here. Our thoughts matched, East met the West and Scriptwalla started.

Ben: In my time out here while I was working, I realised that there is not a lot of organisation and discipline for screen writing. I met Kamlesh Pandey last year in December as we both were working on a graphic novel that we are turning into a film and through our conversation we realised that we had the same mission or a goal in mind. Scriptwalla came out of that.

Are you then dissapointed with our script writers?
Kamlesh: Yes. I have been evaluating scripts for some production houses and have been so disappointed. It's not even one percent. You'll be lucky if you can get one script worth looking at for production. Simply because the whole art of story telling is missing somewhere. Many writers are so self indulgent that they forget that the film is ultimately for its audience. It is not a short story or a poetry. It's a business and a whole lot of money is riding on it.

How will Scriptwalla benefit the writers?
Kamlesh: Fifteen students will be selected who will come up with a one line idea and over two and a half months of the workshop, they'll leave with a one hundred and twenty page screenplay which they can show around as work sample or sell it to a producer. We have also planned a screenplay contest where we are going to get someone from Hollywood who will be here in a months time to announce it. The winners of that competition will have a chance to go into film production.

What's the fee structure?
Kamlesh: The fee structure for the entire ten week workshop is going to be Rs 50,000 and we are looking at a complete houseful. The good thing is that it's not a one off attempt. Every ten weeks there will be a new batch coming in and will keep on continuing like that. We are going to invite established writers once in a while to address the students so they get motivated.

Any scripts in the last two to three years worth mentioning?
Kamlesh: In the last two to three years I've loved the script of both the Munnabhai series. Honestly speaking, I am not really impressed with the remake scripts being written. It doesn't show that you are a good writer but a good thief. Having said that, Mr India 2 is not a remake but a sequel and it takes off from where the first one ends. I have to be a bit biased here but I do like Rang De Basanti. Ghajini was not bad as a script even though it belonged to some old fashioned seventies cinema writing.

People of India don't know who Ben Rekhi is. Please introduce yourself.
Ben: I was born and raised in California. I've done a few feature films in the U.S and right now I'm based in Mumbai since eight months working on various projects here. I've directed a film for Bobby Bedi , did a hit music video for an American artist out here and did some re-writing on a major Bollywood film along with dialogues. In Hollywood he has worked with George Clooney, Julia Roberts, the producers of Collateral and Godzilla and a lot of other well known names.

What do you personally want to achieve through Scriptwalla?
Ben: My main interest is to tap into the Indian market and come out with some interesting scripts. Since last couple of years, I've learnt that the film scripts are falling flat and it needs some good quality homework. At the same time, I also want to bring some of Hollywood sensibilities to Bollywood. Through this workshop we are trying to achieve the same. The whole idea is to write a great script because only after you write well, you'll be able to make a great film. Scriptwalla for me is a movement and not a workshop where people organise themselves, present themselves professionally and write great stories.

What's your definition of a great script?
Ben: A great script is something that moves you in one way or the other. Stories are as old as our civilisation. There are certain structures to screen writing and once you know the rules you can break the rules too. But a great script is in our DNA.

Any Bollywood films and writers you've been impressed with?
Ben: I love the seventies style of Bollywood. Coolie is a brilliant film well written. But in the recent times I like the work of Anurag Kashyap. I loved Dev D style of writing. Dibakar Banerji is another Francis Ford Coppola in the making. He has got the sense of cinema that elevates to international audiences. Mani Ratnam comes next in my list and then RGV who tries to break new grounds as well.

Any message for the budding, aspiring writers who'd want to join Scriptwalla?
Kamlesh: Anybody who thinks they can write, here is a chance of a lifetime. Here in ten weeks, you will be able to learn the basic art of screen writing. Thanks to Whistling Woods International who've offered us their own classroom to conduct this workshop. Some of their students too may join the workshop. What makes Scriptwalla different from others is that unlike other courses which concentrate on editing, cinematography, writing, sound, etc, Scriptwalla will only focus on writing.

Ben: Writing is a passion. If you feel it, if you have a story to tell, you have to discipline yourself to sit down and do it. Writing is not about thinking of ideas, it is about sitting in your chair and just write, write and write. Even if you don't fit in our workshop and competition, please feel free to contact us as we want to bridge the gap between writers and production companies

Writers Notedpad Part 3 - Kunal Deshmukh on Tum Mile

By Devansh Patel

One thing is true of all stories. They all have a beginning, middle and end. Film scripts typically run from 100 to 120 pages with each page representing about a minute of screen time. Within these script pages there will be five vital events – The inciting incident, plot point one, midpoint, plot point two and the climax. But for Kunal Deshmukh, the director of the forthcoming film Tum Mile, there is only one vital event taking place in his film – Floods, which goes from bad to worse to worst. Staring Emraan Hashmi and Soha Ali Khan, this Vishesh Bhatt film is the most costliest ever Bhatt camp project with story boarding, sprinklers, four feet tall swimming pool, laminated scripts and a whole lot of back pain coming along with it. In this Bollywood Hungama exclusive Writers Notepad part three, Kunal Deshmukh takes you through the journey of Tum Mile – it's birth, the stars who said 'no' to the film, writer Ankur Tiwari's entry, re-writing the script, the marketing strategy, the challenges while filming and his dream come true which he believes is India's first ever disaster genre flick based on the true story of 26th July floods in Mumbai

26th July 2005 – The birth of Tum Mile.
Tum Mile was a film I wanted to make before Jannat. This was the film that I first scripted. I wanted to debut with Tum Mile. But I'm glad that I did not do that because the kind of film Tum Mile is, I couldn't have pulled it off as my first film. I would've fallen flat on my face. The scale of Tum Mile is unimaginable. Disaster genre in Hollywood is pretty big. You've got your Day After Tomorrow, Twister, Volcano, Dante's Peak, etc. As a person who has grown up on such big scale disaster flicks, I wanted to bring that kind of cinema into Bollywood. When I was an assistant director to Mohit Suri, that's when the Mumbai floods on 26th July 2005 happened. I was stuck in Worli and it took me about six hours to get home. The sight and sounds of that night were bizarre. The city that never slept had come to a grinding halt. 26th July changed me as a person. For a second you have this near death like experience when you see nature come down upon you. That's the day I thought I wanted to script

Stars say 'no' to Tum Mile.
Mr Mahesh Bhatt told me that they were looking at me as a director and wanted me to write a story. That's when I started scripting the flood based film I had thought of based on 26th July 2005. But what I couldn't pull off was the scale of it, knowing that it was my first film and I'll get only a certain budget to make it. I kept trying to write it in a particular way that suits the Vishesh Films banner. I got to a point where they believed in the script and told me to go ahead with it and pitch it to some actors. I met a bunch of actors from Imran Khan to Kunal Kapoor to Kangana Ranaut. They thought it was a great film but did not agree to do it. At one point even Emraan Hashmi said not to it as they all believed I will not be able to pull it off as my first film. So the end result was that I had to give up my dream project.

The dream come true.
I was scripting for five to six months and then three months went into just meeting the actors. I could also see the next film in Vishesh Films taking off and nothing was happening on my script. That's when Jannat happened. Jannat got done and they were behind me to start my second film. The only script I had was this one and I had to hard sell it to them. I even told them that I can go back and re-write it. They said 'yes'. Luckily for me, the actor from my first film, Emraan Hashmi, was now keen to work with me in my second film after I directed him in Janaat. The same guy who said 'no' now says 'yes'. When I started re-scripting Tum Mile, I didn't know how it would shape up. Immediately I met Soha Ali Khan and she too agreed to be a part. The film started off.

Writer Ankur Tiwari's entry
When you say the word 'floods', no one knows how one will create them on celluloid. VFX with water can only be done with wide shots. We had to shoot water live. So the next question was – Do we need to drown the actors in water? We went through a good few months of research and development of how the set is going to look, how we were going to shoot, how would we create the floods and various such questions. At this very time I decided not to write Tum Mile because technically I needed to be really sound. The premise was there, the story was there but the way the story had shaped up was not so good. After one hit down, you get closer to the audience. So after Jannat, I knew what would work with the audience with Tum Mile. Keeping that in mind, I re-looked at my script. So at this point, I needed someone who was better and who could re-do the job for me. Enter Ankur Tiwari, a friend of mine who hasn't worked with the Bhatt camp before. I roped him in to re-write the script.

The marketing of Tum Mile
We've seen water gushing through the lanes and cars being swept across in films like The Day After Tomorrow but how do we do this in Tum Mile was a big question. It's not that we had deep pockets and could've kept on shooting the VFX shot. How do we claim that Tum Mile was going to be the first disaster film? That's going to be the marketing key. At the same time, we do not want to cheat the audience too. We want them to see disaster. Yes, Tum Mile is a love story but it's not about a couple who meets in the floods and them stranded in one room. We've got the sight and sounds of Mumbai, the villain of the film – floods, etc. Putting all this down on paper was difficult but Ankur is an extremely sensible guy who did justice to the script. Now because 26th July was a true story about floods, you can only fictionalise it to a certain extent. Once you say Tum Mile is a story on the 26th July 2005, everything becomes real.

The making of Tum Mile
There are two different time lines happening in Tum Mile. So we are doing a flashback story in a different screenplay format which will be running parallel. So you keep cutting to a happy colourful past and the grim present. That's something new. We've slowly gradually built up the flood. First it looks bad, then it gets worse and worst. We shot half the film in Cape Town and half of it on Mumbai. We had created a huge factory like premise with four feet tall swimming pool. We constructed a water proof set. It was twelve hours of being in the water for thirty days straight. And whatever you do, the water gets dirty. The bunch of things which can go wrong while playing with water cannot be described. Like my back is gone. You're walking with three times the pressure through four feet of water and once you come out, you've got neck to toe problems. Same with the actors. We had to clear the water and show the same street clean and then fill the same street with water and show the mayhem. That's tough. Without water, I can stretch at fifteen to twenty shots a day but when you're in water, you can hardly take about five to ten shots. We had sprinklers which would sprinkle water but where to place them was a task. We had to be very precise and for that we did story boarding. We got miniatures built too and a complete set up. We played with that and then went on the sets. For the Bhatts, this was a never before done experience. What was interesting is the fact that we had laminated scripts and story boards because of the water. It was so damn perfect. Tum Mile is ambitious for any production house. But only someone like the Bhatts could've pulled it off. Even the love story in the film is new. The graph is new and the songs are new. Tum Mile does not work on a financial module of Vishesh Films. They like to make films on a certain budget but this film crosses all norms.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

“I am still getting used to all this because in my hearts, I am still Jackky and not Jackky Bhagnani a star” - Jackky

By Devansh Patel

Kal Kissne Dekha in Ahmedabad

With a week to go for the mega release of Vashu Bhagnani's Kal Kisne Dekha, the hype surrounding the film is gaining significance every hour now. That's what I got to know when I was sitting at my residence in Ahmedabad. I call Jackky Bhagnani for an interview to be fixed this Sunday in Mumbai. He then tells me to call Rohan, the PR of Puja Films to arrange for one. All goes well. My next call to the delectable and the agreeable Vaishali Desai. No answer. After almost half an hour I see 'Vaishali Desai calling' on my I-Phone. She too agrees for an exclusive interview. But just before we disconnect Vaishali says, “I'm in Ahmedabad for the Kal Kissne Dekha concert.” I answer, “Me too. I've come to visit my parents.” She answers, “Why don't you come down this evening to Karnavati Club. I'll arrange for your backstage pass.” And there I was thinking that this was one of those things I had to do for some time.

No I did not grow up watching live concerts but along the line I became a huge fan watching it on the television. So last particular night, I was able to fulfil one of my dreams watching Jackky Bhagnani, Vaishali Desai and the evenings show stopper Kareena Kapoor set Ahmedabad temperatures soaring at the Karnavati Club. Ahmedabad witnessed its hottest day ever seeing Bebo, Jackky, Vaishali, Sunidhi and Sajid from Sajid Wajid fame perform on stage to promote Kal Kissne Dekha directed by Vivek Sharma. After their first super successful tour in Indore, the KKD team landed in Ahmedabad for their second leg of promotions with Kareena Kapoor as its surprise package. Indore saw Lara Dutta shake her leg with same energy and their third and final city Delhi will also witness yet another surprise starlet just before the release of the film.

An over packed house of more than 2,000 people graced the occasion only to see Kareena Kapoor but little did they know that both Jackky and Vaishali were going to surprise them all with their dance moves and how. The ever smiling Sophie Choudhary, the host for the evening dressed up in a green outfit looked mesmerising as she introduced before the crowd some of Puja Films greatest hits on the big screens. Next up saw Sajid Wajid's band perform on stage before the actual show kick-started. Sajid comes up on stage and sings 'Aaja Soniye' from Mujhse Shaadi Karogi, plays the dhol and then sings the title track of the film Partner. Sajid also sang KKD's 'Tere Bina Raazi Nahi' in front of packed audiences. So far so good but the crowd was waiting for something much bigger and better.

Jackky Bhagnani

Sophie introduces the birth of a super star in the making, the newest kid in Bollywood to take the industry by storm in his debut film and launched by his own father, the gifted producer Vashu Bhagnani. Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for Jackky Bhagnani as he arrives in true style with a red hooded top and a black vest. But before he took centre stage, I met the budding talent pumping iron in his cabin warming up and flexing his muscles minutes before he faces his soon to be fans. I start with his Indore experience. “It was rocking. There were seven thousand people, something which we didn't anticipate. I was really not expecting people to cheer for me honestly, but in the beginning it was all ok and when the show progressed, you have no idea the way the crowd screamed. There was a time when I was performing solo and I thought, is the cheer for me or for someone else. It was a nice experience”, informed Jackky. On his fans following so far he said, “There were these fifteen to eighteen year old girls who were screaming out in the front row seats telling me that they will watch Kal Kissne Dekha as many times as possible only because they like my dance. That was a great compliment and my first fan following. I was touched. I am still getting used to all this because in my hearts, I am still Jackky and not Jackky Bhagnani a star.” When I asked Jackky on what he thinks about his pumped up biceps which everyone backstage were talking about, he said, “It's great when people praise you for your hard work. Nothing better than that. There's this video of mine which I've uploaded on my blog. The theme is before and after. So when people saw the video their respect for me doubled up because of the progress I've made in the last two years. It's a nice feeling.” With three minutes remaining to go on to the stage, I ask Jaccky three questions, first on his comments about facing different crowd each time he performs. “A crowd is a crowd, Indore, Mumbai, Delhi or Ahmedabad. I want the whole country to like me and I have to adjust according to their taste.” And how much of Nihal Singh, his reel name in Kal Kissne Dekha, do we expect to see on stage, “Thirty percent because I will not be seen in my Nihal look as the stage shows are too glamorous. Actually this is just to show them that Nihal can look glamorous too.” And my last question before he does his filmy entry. The srtike may work in favour of you, don't you think so? He quotes, “I wouldn't say that the strike is good for us. In fact, it is not good for anyone. But if I can feed in the hunger, I'll be lucky and happy. Luckily, the whole association is supporting us from all the biggest directors, actors and producers. They are really treating me as a film industry's child more than Vashu Bhagnani's.”

Vaishali Desai
Now before my chat with Jackky, I first landed up meeting the lady who looked so elegant even in her western outfits. I see her walk graciously on the green grass waiting for her arrival. It almost looked as if it was all laid up for her. I quietly observer her talk to few people backstage. Then our eyes meet and like she did the first time we met in Film City last year, she professionally invited me in her set up room. The perfect first lady symptoms I should say! Vaishali's mother was a good company too as I ask her something which I couldn't resist. “Have you got the masala puri's for me today? I still remember the last time I had them on the sets in Film City.” “I'm sorry. But not today”, she informed me sweetly like all mom's do. Time for some quick Q's to Vaishali before she too makes her entry with her co-star. “How was your Indore experience?”, I ask her. Miss Desai answered, “People responded very well. It was my first time on stage. My dancing abilities isn't visible in the promos of the film. So here I was going full on with it. Thank God I remembered all my steps (laughs).” She talks of her Lara Dutta experience in Indore where the actress came in as a surprise performer. “Lara and I didn't interact too much backstage but people did fill up to watch her too. She was suppose to be here in Ahmedabad but the dates didn't work out. We performed together with Jackky in the last sequence of Kal Kissne Dekha's title song. I did meet Lara during my Miss India pageant but that's about it.” For some reason I wanted Vaishali to agree to what I was thinking. “You've got a bit of Kareena Kapoor in you. I mean you resemble her in the way she looks”, I tell her. “Vivek sir told me that I look a bit like Madhuri Dixit and Kareena Kapoor. One of my friend told me that I even resemble the yesteryear beauty Sadhana in one of the scenes from the film. So there is a lot to talk about here (laughs)”, she answers. With so many lookalikes added to her name, we wish she already has fans queueing up for autographs. “Yes, there was this sixty year old man who was standing since morning in the reception area of the hotel waiting for my autograph. That was sweet”, she claims. Vaishali then recalls her last Ahmedabad visit. “I came here for excursions as a kid and have visited Akshardham. I've done a lot of student ramp shows here during my early modelling career. I love drinking 'chaas' here. I am not too fond of Gujarati food though even though I am a Gujarati. In fact, this morning when I was invited to a Radio Station, they served me some 'sandwich dhoklas'. But I should say this, I love the Gujarati 'Khaman dhoklas'.

Kareena Kapoor

Her limo came in style and so did she. Dressed from top to toe in gold, Bebo looked at her glittery best. Kareena Kapoor arrived on time and surprisingly she did not enter her pre-prepared air conditioned room but instead sat outside her cabin in front of the big screen and watched Sunidhi Chauhan perform on 'Race Saason Ki' from Race. No wonder Bebo was tapping her feet. Though no one was allowed to come close to her or interview her, I was standing at an arms length from her quietly observing and listening to all what Bebo had to say. Jackky hurriedly comes out from his cabin to go and perform on his second act. He sees Kareena sitting in front of her. They greet each other with a warm hug and as Jackky was about to leave to go on to the stage, Kareena uttered those three golden words, “All the best”. That was much needed I tell you for this youngster. A sweet gesture from a sweetheart. The act gets over and I see Kareena get a bit emotional. She tries desperately to hide her tears but it didn't listen to anyone. It was no time for emotions now as it was Jackky Bhagnani versus Kareena Kapoor on stage. They both had to perform together for the first time ever. Bebo gets off her chair and tells Jackky to have one small rehearsal. Now check this one out. This was an all time exclusive for all backstage audience watching Kareena rehearsing her steps with Jackky along with the head dancers. The final call and off she goes. First she performs on the title track of Golmaal Returns and then one of her favourites 'It's Rocking' to be followed by her best 'Mauja Hi Mauja', and that's when Jackky enters with his black sports bike and both set the stage on fire in the hot and blistering summer of Gujarat. The Gujarati's sitting out there loved every bit of Golden Nites concert. I managed to ask a Gujarati couple, Anish and Fenam Bodawala on what they thought of the show. “Everything was good about it. Jackky we think was brilliant in his moves. Vaishali looks beautiful and is a good dnacer too. But the show stopper and the stealer was Kareena Kapoor. She was the fuel in the fire. No wonder we were sweating.” Fireworks display ended the starry night and the people of Ahmedabad wished all in their grand style a big 'Aavjo'
Some people are destined for greatness in all kinds of different areas. Vashu Bhagnani deserved and got a standing ovation for a Summer of '09. And now when I look back at the night gone by, I recall the lyrics – 'Oh when I look back now...that summer seemed to last forever...and if I had the choice...ya, I'd always wanna be there...those were the best days of my life'

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

"IIFA has given me a broader understanding of my fans" - Amitabh Bachchan

by Devansh Patel

It was love at first sight. The year - 2007, the city - London, the place - House of Commons. It was about 2pm and my first step into the UK parliament. I was more than excited to be one of the few media personalities invited to attend the conference where IIFA Brand Ambassador Mr Amitabh Bachchan was to give a welcome speech and announce the IIFA Yorkshire 2007 and meet the then Prime Minister of the UK, Mr Tony Blair. The beautifully constructed high ceiling, the grandeur of the House of Commons, the extraordinary sculptures you pass by on your way to the grand hall. Everything looked perfect. I enter the hall. Cameras, cameras and more cameras. Channel Four, BBC, GM TV, all the top broadcast channels from the UK ready to pan the mighty Big B as he strides in along with the Minister of Culture Tessa Jowell, Minister for Foreign and Commonwealth Office Keith Vaz, Lord Swaraj Paul, NRI Industrialist and British Ambassador for Overseas Business, Indian High Commissioner Kamlesh Sharma, and scores of members of both houses of Parliament. What followed were some memorable speeches made by the dignitaries, a photo call, handling of the Big B with Big Ben picture and the famous Tony Blair speech. What strike me most was the following which the Brand Ambassador had to say: “About fifty sixty years ago acting in films was not considered an honourable profession and many families in fact disapproved of their children taking to acting. But today it is a matter of pride that I am being showered with love and affection in this August House, mainly because of the eminence and appreciation the Indian films have earned in the overseas.” The conference got over and I was told to travel to Yorkshire in the same train in which Mr Bachchan was travelling to announce the IIFA awards up north. Cut to the next day morning and I am seen sitting opposite Big B in my first ever one on one interview for the IIFAs. A great moment. The torch bearer Bachchan was busy then and is doubly busy now as the IIFA gets set to take Macau by storm in what's said to be the golden decade for the IIFAs. His speeches, his humorous remarks, his dazzling performances on stage, him honouring the Lifetime achievers and many more such instances makes IIFA worth it's wait, and no matter what people say about the IIFAs, for me, it's about this one man Amitabh Bachchan, who has lifted the IIFA torch with utmost pride, passion and conviction since a decade. The last time I met him was a good couple of weeks back when he was seen announcing the IIFA Macau in Mumbai's Grand Hyatt. The eyes were blue like a cloudless sky, a day full of sun. There was like endless love and comprehension in those eyes, it’s what I remember the most, the expression of his eyes. He didn't look like the man on the screen but a man who was a simple human being and whose charm was a sort of childish innocence that has transformed him into a symbol of what India is for the rest of the world. Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent and UK's Harrow Observer columnist Devansh Patel manages to speak to this immaculate personality regarding the 10th IIFA Awards. A man who is admired, loved and worshipped the world over for his undeniable support towards the Indian Film Industry - the larger than life Amitabh Bachchan.

Let's go back right to the start of the IIFA's. What would it have taken to satisfy you that this was the right choice in life you made by being an ambassador to an event which no one had even heard of?
I always work on my instinct and today I am proud be associated with IIFA. There was a time when no one knew actors outside India but today people around the world recognize us immediately. They know the names of characters I have played in my films. They are interested and excited about what our kind of cinema offers in terms of wholesome entertainment. This was all possible because of IIFA. I knew right from the very beginning that the IIFA would become bigger and better over the years to come.

The Golden Decade for the IIFA. Honestly, how much have you grown in these ten years along with the IIFA?
This year is truly exciting for us as we celebrate a decade of the IIFA magic. The Videocon IIFA Weekend in Macau promises to be a one- of-a-kind experience. IIFA has brought Indian cinema on the global platform so as the brand ambassador I wish IIFA many more years of success. IIFA is like a family and every individual wants his family to flourish so I am no different. All I can say is IIFA has taught me a lot and given Indian cinema a great global exposure.

What appealed to you besides the fact that the IIFA is the only Indian award function taking place out of Indian shores?
There is no single reason for me to be associated with IIFA, there are plenty. IIFA is very special to me and I am committed to enhancing the IIFA phenomenon every year. Besides taking the Indian cinema to international shores IIFA develops and promotes direct relationships between industries and organisations around the world. It is an interactive platform enhancing business and bi-lateral trade opportunities. IIFA has grown from one amazing night to the IIFA Weekend, working effectively as a movement dedicated to promoting Indian Cinema beyond India and placing it on an international platform by fostering exchange and interaction to enhance business opportunities.

Come to think of it, you're involved in a world of film-making that people think of as extremely consuming, high-powered, even cut-throat. Does the same imply to award functions too?
I will not be able to comment on other awards function but I know for the fact that the IIFA awards are very fair and IIFA’s nomination process itself is different. The entire film industry is involved in it. We follow a standard and transparent procedure monitored and audited by PriceWaterCoopers. We take the integrity and honesty of this process very seriously.

Out of all the 9 IIFA's you've been a part of, which one in particular has made a profound impact on you and why?
This is indeed a very difficult question because all the IIFA’s that I have attended were different. Every IIFA proves to be better than the last one that’s how we have accomplished a distinct ten year journey. It is very heartening to see IIFA grow to this scale and prominence over the years. IIFA entering its 10th year is a testament to its endurance and importance in the industry.

Have you ever visited Macau? And anything in particular you're looking forward to in what's termed as the Las Vegas of Asia, The Venetian?
This was my first time in Macau. The Venetian® Macao-Resort-Hotel is a renaissance Venetian themed luxury hotel and casino, modelled on its sister casino in Las Vegas. It is the largest single structure hotel building in Asia considered to be the continent’s most exciting destination. I was thrilled to explore the venue on my very first trip. I look forward to visiting the place again.

So who's the naughty one of the three Wiz Kids? More aggressive in his approach, more like a go-getter, etc?
All three have their own distinct personalities which compliment each other.

Different city, different fans, different food, different weather but similar passion for cinema everywhere. Aren't you fascinated with our Indian fans abroad, to see them come and back an event like IIFA?
IIFA has given me a broader understanding of my fans. It is an ideal platform to know and connect with them internationally. The love and adulation that Indian cinema receives is beyond imagination. It is a very humbling experience.

How was your Macau trip and how did the Press interactions go? I mean, Macau isn't a city where Indian films are prominently showcased, right?
The press interactions were fine. I went on a Gondola ride after 30 years!! This was my first visit to Macau and there is no doubt that the experience was phenomenal I am looking forward to going there again for the Videocon IIFA Weekend 2009 which will be celebrated on June 11 – 13, 2009

The 10th year celebrations this year at the IIFA will be packed with surprises. Anything from your end we should look forward to?
Wait and watch!

John Terry and Frank Lampard to attend the IIFA Awards 2009 in Macau

by Devansh Patel

There seems to be some sort of a Kismat Konnection between IIFA and UK. The first ever IIFA - London's Millenium Dome, IIFA Yorkshire brought the IIFA for the second time to the UK and now renowned footballers from the UK are to grace the grand event in Macau. So if IIFA Yorkshire was a cricketing extravaganza, Macau may well turn into one football frenzy city as the best of the best in football heroes are going to make their presence felt at the green carpet event. Every year IIFA sees a host of Indian celebrities as well as international film personalities attending the IIFA Weekend. Abhishek Bachchan, we're sure will be looking forward to meet his favourite Chelsea footballers. Internationally renowned John Terry and Frank Lampard have confirmed their attendance to the IIFA Macau. This year also it will be no different; the presence of the Bachchans along with superstar Hrithik Roshan, Shahid Kapoor, Neil Nitin Mukesh, pretty Kangana Ranaut, ravishing Priyanka Chopra and sexy Lara Dutta, renowned director Subash Ghai amongst others will make the Videocon IIFA Weekend 2009 special and a wonderful experience for one and all. Keeping the last year’s trend alive this year too Ritiesh Deshmukh and Boman Irani are all set to take the main stage as hosts to the Idea IIFA Awards and tickle the funny bones with their antics that was loved by the industry and the audience as well. The 10th Idea IIFA Awards promises some electrifying on stage performances by Sonam Kapoor making her debut and Kareena Kapoor’s mesmerizing performance. The Videocon IIFA Weekend will be viewed by 600 million people globally and is expected to pull in thousands of visitors across the world during this 3 day prestigious event. The Videocon IIFA Weekend will start on June 11th 2009 and the prestigious Idea IIFA Awards will be given to the best in the Indian Cinema at a star-studded extravaganza on 13th June 2009.

“The sheer impossibility of odds against which Veerappan survived strikes you hard as a writer” - Prashant Pandey

by Devansh Patel

Films that chronicles the life of someone famous are often award contenders and crowd pleasers. However, biopic scripts can be difficult to write. However, one of the more difficult challenges inherent to the biopic film making is the task of creating dramatic tension when everyone knows how the story will end anyway. Prashant Pandey, the writer who has previously written films like Contract and Sarkar Raj has now finished writing a gripping biopic on India's dreaded bandit of the South – Veerappan. He is currently writing his second biopic on Paritala Ravi, one of the most dreaded political leaders of South India who was assassinated in 2005. Veerappan ain't a cradle-to-the-grave traditional portrait of the consecutive events in a bandits life but it's more of a collage and, in many ways, it will feel like an album itself. It's a collection of various moments and impressions in the life of Veerappan and together Prashant and Ram Gopal Varma believe that it'll be one of the best biopics our Indian Film Industry will ever see on the big screen. In many biopics already made, you were a witness to the precious life of an individual. Well, now get prepared to witness an extraordinary one in this Bollywood Hungama exclusive as we bring you the second edition of the Writers Note Pad – Prashant Pandey on Veerappan.

How Veerappan was born:
I badly wanted to become a screenplay dialogue writer but I wasn't getting any major substantial break. So I kept going back to television to make ends meet. Three years back, I used to work as a creative head for Zee TV’s Sa Re Ga Ma Pa but then to get back into films I took a writing break for three to four months. I didn’t know what I was writing but I just wrote endlessly. During that period I met Ram Gopal Varma. He gave me an idea of a Mafia film. I don’t know whether he was testing me but he had this remarkable ability to switch from idea to idea to tell and engage people to work with immediate effect on a diametrically opposite ideas. Within fifteen days of writing the first draft of that yet-to-be-made Mafia film, I found myself in a hotel room in Chennai, preparing anxiously to enter the heart of darkness, the forests, where once lived and operated, the worlds’ most vicious villain- Veerappan.

The research on Veerappan:
RGV’s idea was that I meet individuals affected by Veerappans' reign and write a screen play based on those accounts. So I met a tribal who had supplied food to Veerappan, his distant relatives and people of his gang who've now ventured out into different professions. Someone is running a hotel, somebody has a shop. Then I met many cops who ran some successful and many unsuccessful operations on Veerappan and finally met and spent days with the officers who played a key role in in killing the bandit. The sheer opinions on Veerappan that came out were confusing but insightful, you can say some sort of rashomon effect started playing out on my mind ; you get a completely different version from two different people narrating you essentially the same story. Despite easy availability and recall of Veerappan, his life is wrapped in a pall of mist. No one really knows his truth. So finally, I wrote a rudimentary sort of a screenplay and came to Mumbai after two months. RGV was impressed by the work but then as Sarkar Raj had started gaining steam, he told me to write Sarkar Raj and hold on to Veerappan.

RGV's Veerappan:
In Sarkar Raj, there is a dialogue which goes, 'Mujhe Tumhare Vishwas pe Vishwas hain'. That's how RGV works. RGV breathes and lives larger than life characters and people. Veerappan happens to be just one of them. When he told me to work on the film, 'Veerappan' was just a name and a largely a huge mystery, but the script and work we have put in will surely make this one of the greatest biopics to come out of Indian cinema. If people think that Veerappan is shelved, then they don't know Ram Gopal Varma. For him, nothing is shelved but on hold and ever-evolving. The script has become even better than before. We are even better prepared with various aspects of making the film. The film starts with the making of the legend called Veerappan, what went into the making of such a bandit. The middle portion of the film focuses on the catching of Veerappan and post the interval, it's all about his downfall and killing if the dreaded bandit. The film is chaptered like a simple story book.

The casting of Veerappan:
I have a huge fascination like RGV for characters more than just well known faces. Veerappan is the hero of the film and not the actor. That is the design we are looking forward to. Actors and non-actors with tremendous potential coupled with a striking on-screen resemblance to Veerappan have been found and we are working with them.

Tough Task:
The whole physical aspect of it was tough. The violence just gets to you. I remember a prominent cop in Bangalore, who narrated to me over many hot cups of tea in great detail how a fatal bullet from Veerappan blew his food pipe and lungs. What was striking that this cop had tremendous respect for the intelligence and instincts of Veerappan, a man who had him nearly killed. The mock ups on real locations, as in with the help of cops tried to understand how certain ambushes happened. “ He was here! Right here with his gun!”, old constables would tell pointing at a rock or a bush. Cops will show bullet rattled doors of police stations that he blew up and bullet wounds on their own bodies. I have had it all…Conspiracy theories, emotional outbursts, threats and whole thing of whether to believe someone or not. Everybody including the waiters in the hotel had their Veerappan story to tell. The sheer impossibility of odds against which Veerappan survived strikes you hard as a writer. They test your mettle, challenge and inspire you.

Veerappan's acceptance:
No one can tell how the audience shall respond to a film like Veerappan once released. Given the richness of the subject and Ram Gopal’s Varma’s skill in pitching a film to audiences, I am sure it’s a great project to watch out for everyone.

Today if Raj Kapoor saab was alive, seeing Bebo act, he would've felt that the show is still going on” - Satish Kaushik

by Devansh Patel

“It's not an easy task being a serious man behind the camera after you've worked as a mad man in front of it”, says Satish Kaushik when I meet him in his cosy little office cabin where he is seated with his mini Vaio. For a big man like Satish, everything he used looked miniature. I asked him, “Don't you think the laptop you're using is too small for you?”. He answered, “I agree. My fingers are too big for these tiny buttons of my laptop. Let my two big films release and I'll buy myself a bigger one.” The humour does not stop here. Kaushik has this unrivalled gift for insightful comedy and a highly distinctive Indian sense of humour. I haven't met Satish Kaushik before, but have never seen him with such an assured outlook on life, till you realise that he is on the verge of releasing his most ambitious project Teree Sang dealing with teenage pregnancy and his long lost film Milenge Milenge dealing with two estranged lovers who yearn to meet. Better known amongst his fans and media as Pappu Pager and Calendar, his screen names have given him more popularity than his directorial films. Having said that, his Salman Khan starer Tere Naam stood out as a musical classic. “I leave everything to destiny. It is destiny which is going to decide the fate of my films”, he comments, after asking him how his Shahid and Kareena starer will be received by the audiences. As talk of Milenge Milenge ends, the topic of Satish's involvement with a long-in-development film about Teree Sang comes up. "I'm now one of the producers. I did a lot of research on it, and thought about directing it.” In this Bollywood Hungama exclusive, our London correspondent and UK's Harrow Observer columnist Devansh Patel met the versatile actor director at his Andheri office where he talks at length on his kidult story Teree Sang, Milenge Milenge which re-unites the ex-lovers, the issues dealing with teenage pregnancy, his fascination for Rajat Kapoor and his love to work in Mr India 2.

You've got a funny little byline to your film Teree Sang – a kidult love story.
Today's kids are adults. That age group knows much more things about life and everything than we used to know when we were their age. India and its kids are growing fast. But the word 'kidult' is actually a word invented by the same person who invented 'adolescent'. I'm very happy that you noticed the byline first because at one time I wanted to title the film Kidult with a K rating.

Kya Kehna, a film almost similar to yours didn't work with the audiences. Do you think that the society will accept a film like this dealing with teenage pregnancy?
Why not? They will. This is my first film where I've researched a lot and the debate created in the film is mind blowing. I wrote Teree Sang in London while I was shooting Brick Lane. Long time ago I had seen some Telugu film which dealt with teenage pregnancy. The same thing is very much evident in the UK and the US. Then I saw one website called 'standupgirl.com'. If you visit the site, they've got so many different angles and stories which deals with such issues and many others. That's where I got my story from.

Which means that Teree Sang will be tackling issues?
Teree Sang is an issue based film. If there is a film with any issue and then you make a love story with it, it'll always work. Be it Ram Teri Ganga Meli, Bobby, Ek Duje Ke Liye, etc. Teree Sang is a modern day Bobby you can say but done on a very real scale. For the first time ever a child will come to know that there is a law which prohibits them to have sex at such an adolescent age. And even the parents will come to know the same. The film is not preachy. I've made it from the viewpoints of kids and parents both.

And how did you manage to find your apt kidult girl?
That was a tough ask. To find a fifteen year old girl wasn't easy. I have gone real with the age. I finalised Sheena the kidult in fifteen days. One day she just walked into my office and I decided I had found the face I was looking for. She could fit the role of a girl with a small face carrying a baby.

You mentioned about the research bit. How was it then?
By research I mean that I took a path of academic interest. Teree Sang is more an academic film because I was feeling the characters so much that I brought my own values and atmosphere in Teree Sang. Just like Brick Lane was a learning process, Teree Sang is. I even took the same cameraman with whom I worked in Tere Naam, I took my old friends like Neena Gupta and Sushmita Mukherjee. Even Anupam Kher who is the co-producer of the film did a guest appearance. I landed up with a good researched team in the end.

You are all praise for Rajat Kapoor I heard.
You heard it right. He is a brilliant actor. My schedule started off with Rajat's scenes. The day I started shooting with him, I realised that he is such an intense actor. I was surprised how he did Bheja Fry. So I suggested all my other actors and co-actors that the whole look of Teree Sang should be like the look on Rajat's face. He is so real that you cannot make out whether Rajat is acting or isn't he.

After Tere Naam, is Teree Sang your most ambitious project?
Yes. I have a lot of expectations from the film because as said earlier that this is a film I've made from my heart and mind. It is a commercial cinema well researched and yet is a social film. Teree Sang is the most realistic film I've shot from all my previous films. The film is entirely shot in Delhi and Dalhousie. It is one of my best films because it caters to the youth from the age group of fourteen to twenty.

So how's Sheena in the film?
She has seen the film and because I come from NSD, I can confidently say that Sheena is going to go far. She is a very good actress. Her funda in life is – I want to become an actress and I will become one. That's the thing I liked about her. She has a lot of attitude and aggression and yet look innocent and cute. She is going to carry the film all the way on her shoulders.

Milenge Milenge is coming at a point when Shahid and Kareena have called it quits.
Well, blame it on destiny. But as I tell my producer Boney Kapoor, this film is based on destiny and destiny is going to take care of Milenge Milenge. Not many people know that Milenge Milenge is the first film that Shahid and Kareena signed together. Actually I was the first director to convince Kareena to work with Shahid. I called Kareena while she was filming for Bewafaa with Akshay Kumar.

Have you shot some of the scenes again with Shahid and Kareena?
No, I haven't. There was no need to. People keep on changing their look in each scene now instead of each film. Yes, both Shahid and Kareena are looking young in Milenge Milenge but you will not make out in the film when you see them. Whatever we've shot is final. After their successful Jab We Met, they are ready to meet again.

There isn't anything unusual about the film. I mean, its just another romantic comedy.
Not really. Milenge Milenge has a very powerful story line. It's about lovers yearning for each other. Even if they have parted ways and are busy with their own individual lives, they both want to meet somehow. That's unusual, isn't it? The performances from both Shahid and Kareena are so powerful that the people who've seen the film are raving about it. Milenge Milenge is an emotional film in all aspects.

Is the word chart buster written all over the music of Milenge Milenge?
It certainly doesn't have a 'Mauja Hi Mauja'. I believe in emotional tunes a lot. For me, like in my previous film 'Tere Naam' I had 'Tumse Milna Baate Karna Bada Accha Lagta Hai' or the title track were great emotional songs. There are couple of soft numbers in Milenge Milenge which are very aggressive too. The songs are very captivating and will touch your heart.

Do you think Shahid and Kareena will promote the film together now that they're no more together?
Well, that's a call which the producer Boney Kapoor has to take. I am sure that in all good faith they both will come together to promote the film if needed. At the moment I've got Tere Sang to take care of as that's going to release first in the theatres after the strike.

You've worked with Kareena at the start of her career in Mujhe Kuch Kehna Hai with Tusshar which you directed. What's Kareena like now?
We all know that Kareena has taken a leap now. A big one. She is a brilliant actress. Sometimes, you relate to an actor on emotional grounds. That's my relationship with her. Somehow I and Kareena have stuck to that emotional connect. I was very touched by one of the recent interviews which Kareena gave to the print where she stated, “Whatever the reason, I have done Milenge Milenge for two favourite people of mine, Boney Kapoor and Satish Kaushik, who've stood by me from the beginning of my career. I totally stand by Milenge Milenge”. I should say this that Kareena apne profession ki bhakti karti hain. She is the only Kapoor girl who has so much passion that today if Raj Kapoor saab was alive, he would've felt that the show is still going on. Kareena is completely a directors girl.

Your inputs on Shahid Kapoor please.
Shahid is touted to be the next super duper hero of Bollywood. He is into his own world of acting just like his father Pankaj Kapur. He is not a kind of person who will speak out like Kareena about how the film is. But he knows in his heart of heart tat he has done a good film. Milenge Milenge will work out for Shahid.

Have you been approached by Shekhar Kapur for Mr India 2?
I have no idea about the casting of Mr India 2. So far, I'm not in. But I know for the fact that there is Calendar in the film because Shekhar told a few months back.

Would you love to enact the role of Calendar again?
Why not? Mr India is a cult film. Not many people know this but I suggested the name Calendar to Javed Akhar in the first one because my fathers old friend used to say Calendar as a takiakalam. He used to say, “Aree panditji kya hua. Chaar peti bheji calendar, lekin usme teen toh kharab nikli. Agar aise hi maal bhejte rahoge calendar toh phir kaise chalega?”. Mr India is my ancestral property and I'd love to be a part of it. After Pappu Pager, I am known by all as Calendar.

The lyricist of 'Jana Gana Mana Rann' song talks on the unnecessary controversy

by Devansh Patel

It's the RGV controversy season yet again as this director loves to be hated. With much said and done about the controversial song depicting the Indian National Anthem in his recently launched song promo of Rann, the lyrics Jana Gana Mana Rann have now come in the eyes of the censors. Now in a do or die situation, RGV fights his own battle in the Rann. Will one man, lyricist of Jana Gana Mana Rann, Sarim Momin come to the rescue of RGV and his Rann? Without losing focus on the media and politics, Ramu nails the adrenaline rush of breaking news and emphasizes the power of a medium being used to its potential. The director's strongest promo show the calm before the storm, signifying the start of what will be a historic broadcast, or will it? Censors may apply their own politics to it, but they're missing the point. This is an incendiary attack on complacency but the Rann promo occupies a chapter of history when words spoken via television captured a national audience. It should raise the pulse and bubble the red blood of any audience members proud enough to call themselves Indians. As RGV has used the line - Truth is Terrible. Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent and UK's Harrow Observer columnist Devansh Patel brings you Sarim's take on the controversy and a song that is dear to his heart which he thinks should be dear to all the citizens of India

Sarim Momin:
When I was writing this song, I wanted to capture the emotions of a situation in the film where the citizens of India are asked to wake up; To wake up and realize that we are not being fair to the country by letting anti-national powers flourish for their personal gains, that we are surrendering the very freedom that we fought for, that we are dividing the country when we should actually stand up united for it’s progress.

Now, if we had used lines like “Jaag jao… Bhaarat ko bachaao’ or ‘Humari jaan Hindustaan’, maximum reaction would have been a yawn or a raise of an eyebrow. Or both, if somebody really liked it and were generous.

It would NOT have made people sit up and think about the current state.

Diverting from the song for a moment, the Election Commission started many campaigns this year to urge Indians to come out and vote yet the turnout was only around 50%. It’s not like we don’t care. It’s just that we don’t care enough to make an effort to even elect the best men to decide the future and fate of our country. We are comfortably numb and almost sleepy to what is happening to us.

And how do we wake up a person who is asleep? Do we sing lullaby to him? Or do we shrug him and shake him out of sleep?

As the script demanded it, with this song the characters want to shrug and shake people out of their slumber; make them realize that India is wounded. It needs us, the citizens to come forward and help it.
By now, we were clear that we wanted the song to be intense and hard-hitting; an eye-opener!! Any ‘Jaag jao… Bhaarat ko bachaao’ wouldn’t have served the purpose.

Since the film RANN is not about a battle fought on the borders of India but it is about the battle that all of us fight within ourselves, the words were meant to express “There is a battle in the minds of all people” and literally they translated into ‘Jana Gann Mana Rann hai’. This was the birth of this song.

Yes, there is a reference to the respected National Anthem of our country but this song is NOT our National Anthem nor is it demeaning or insulting it in any way. While the National Anthem speaks about India and Victory, this song talks about the ‘need’ to achieve that victory by keeping India united today. Infact it reaffirms all the goodness that the National Anthem stands for. But at the end of the day, it is just a song by itself pertaining to the script and the scenes of the film.
How can you call it National Anthem when there are 100 different words used in it? (Yes I counted, 100 words!!)

Kindly go through the lyrics once and decide for yourself if there is any insult to India…
Kindly understand the intent before blindly judging the content…
Kindly ask yourself if you don’t really want India to be free from all corruption, bloodshed and destruction…
Kindly be honest…

This song reinforces and urges citizens to respect India, its greatness and it’s National Anthem.
If anyone thinks that it is a crime to ask Indians to stand up and help India be the glorious Country that it was, then I have only one thing to say…

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

On a special date with Sonal Chauhan at the JW Marriott, Mumbai

by Devansh Patel

This is my speciality, so pay close attention all you filmifarmoola surfers! If ever you get a chance to date the heavenly Sonal Chauhan, this is how you go about. Firstly, be wildly attractive. Make yourself stand out by 'not' saying things like "I loved you in Jannat". This will not distinguish you from the crowd. Instead, try things like "I think you could've done better in Jannat”. This will double your chances of a second date with her or instead will treble your chances of being kicked surely but badly. So what's the lesson you learn today? Leave it up to the master to do the rest...and that's me. Apart from crushes everyone has at some point in their life dreamt to date a celeb but the concept of dating a celebrity is a foreign one. Even more if you visit India from a foreign land after eight long years. But being a journalist helps. Helps you get your sixth date in six months. One each month and that's good by any standard. When it comes to dating, it's true that celebrities usually stick to their own kind. But you only have to flick through a few tabloid kiss and tell stories to see that's not always the case. Admittedly, there's usually nothing more to report than a booze-fuelled night of passion, but sometimes a bona fide star ends up genuinely dating an ordinary non-famous person (like me?) and occasionally they even marry them. Unfortunately, me and Sonal didn't booze nor did both of us propose each other for marriage but we did have a passionate date.

So whether you're dreaming of a super-size sparkler or a passionate fling - or if you'd settle for a snog – we found out that meeting in the day can ease the pressure a little, you can chat in a quiet cafĂ© and then potter around a gallery, museum or the park for that matter. You could even go for a picnic, weather permitting. Imagine this, on a crisp winter night, both wrap up warm and walk hand in hand in the moonlight, admiring the burnt out cars, sewage, and general detritus we stroll by. Is something wrong with this picture? YES! Location, location, location. If you know what you like, why change? Personally speaking, I haven't and that's the reason I met Miss Chauhan at the same venue where my first date with the gorgeous Mugdha Godse happened. What's more, things went a bit spooky in the middle of the date when I receive a text message from Miss Godse. And this is the first lesson I learn from my celebrity date – Never talk about your first date with your other dates. Lucky for me, I didn't get a bad and a painful kick in the middle...middle of the interview baba!. Already in my sixth date , my challenge was how to make it different and delicious. Different? Don't know but delicious? Oh yes!. Through Sonal's personal P.R, I find out out that she loves chocolates and perfumes. I didn't go for the perfume. I mean, we've all read that she goes busy shopping in Dubai every now and then, don't we? I finally see a cake shop. Ordered for half a kilo of Dutch truffle. Then suddenly I recall while I'm on my way to the Marriott that my friend used to ask his mother, 'How can I find the right woman for me?' and she would answer, 'Don't worry about finding the right woman- concentrate on becoming the right man”. I reach an hour early just to make sure that Sonal's cake gets a proper security clearance. It does, and as I get seated on the soft cushioned sofa at the Reflections Bar of the Marriott, in approximately fifteen to twenty minutes a sublimely slim figure walks towards me. I ask Sonal, “How did you find your surprise date gift?”. “No one has ever gifted me a cake on my date, unless it was my birthday”, Sonal answers. She adds, “You're spoiling me now so you better get me another one on my birthday”..... Time to spoil you guys now!

Dev - Which is your last date you can recall?
Sonal - Honestly, I don't really go out on dates. I sometimes wonder what a 'date' really means. This is my first date ever with a journalist and if a date means to go out with a guy and dine, my last one was just two days back.

S - You are an expert, considering you've gone out on dates with so many actresses (laughs).
D - Yeah Ok but can't you recall one for me?
S - Ok fine. There is this one date that I really remember. It was with my ex-boyfriend. We had gone to Olives in Bandra which is one of my favourite restaurants. It was just a regular dinner we were suppose to go for but it turned out to be so special. The food, the music and...
D - ...and the man, of course. What if our date was in Olives and not at the Marriott?
S - There is an advice for all guys. You should never date two different men at the same place (laughs)

D - You're doing this film with M.F.Hussain's son, Owais Hussain. You don't mind me asking you questions on films, do you?
S - I always want to be with a man who can talk about my work also. So that's nice of you. I was shooting in Bangalore when I got a call from my manager saying there is a film which is being directed by Owais Hussain. It interested me because I've watched Hussain saabs films with Owais being a co-director in all of them and also because Santosh Sivan was the DOP. I came to Mumbai and met them and I was on.
D - What's the film all about? Is it to do with paintings?
S - The film has nothing to do with paintings. Owais himself is a painter and his sensibilities are that of a painter. So every frame was beautiful. When he narrated me the script, it felt like he was painting on a canvas.
D - What's the movie to do with?
S - I cannot tell you that.
D - Now that's untrue. Spit it out girl.
S - I am serious. It's too early to talk about the film which is still untitled. It's a romantic film and very interestingly romantic.

D - Have you been on a date with Emraan Hashmi?
S - No never. In the movie, yes. It was Jannat, I tell you (laughs).
D - What's your type of a man?
S - This is one question I've never been able to answer. I don't know myself what is my kind of a guy. For me, it's more important about that one moment where you click with a person and you know that he is the right choice.
D - So it hardly takes you a few seconds to decide your Mr Perfect.
S - Not seconds but at least ten minutes. I still haven't found my type of a guy.

D - After Shilpa Shetty, it's you Sonal who has a great body.
S - Thank you so much. You're right. Shilpa has a great body too.
D - So what's in you that makes people go ga-ga?
S - I see women coming up to me with their husbands and they are so comfortable with their hubbys clicking pictures with me. So thanks to the Bhatts who gave me my first film. It's because of Jannat that people have noticed my body.
D - What's your health regime like?
S - I'm not a very healthy eater. You have to trust me on this. I do not touch green vegetables at all. Green tea is ok (laughs). I eat a lot of chicken and all sorts of junk food.
D - ..And you still have this sexy figure. By the way, what if I cook a lovely butter chicken for you one day. You see, I'm a good cook.
S - Then I'll fall in love with you if it's nice (laughs). Men always make better cooks. My brother cooks good food too. I'm living in Mumbai since three years and still don't know how to cook.
D - And what should women do?
S - Women should just work, enjoy and get pampered. Pampering is more about loving someone, taking care of them and making them feel they are special.

D - What's the most beautiful gift you've ever received which you still cherish?
S - I won't be able to explain what it was but one day I had a big fight with my friend. Normally people gift soft toys or flowers to make you feel special after a fight but he gave me a lovely letter saying 'I'm sorry and I know that you're smiling right now'. It was something very sweet. When I read that line, I started smiling.
D - What's that bad quality in you which you fear the most?
S - I think sometimes I become this emotional fool and people take me for a ride. I am stubborn and that's not good. I am too possessive and that's bad too.
D - Yeah. Seems you are too possessive about your blackberry.
S - Yes, I am too possessive about my phones (laughs). I've got this phone recently while I was in Punjab shooting for Owais's film. It's like this latest trend of Blackberry. So I am going according to the season (laughs).
D - Sonal, this date is special for more reasons than just one. This is the first time I'm recording our conversation.
S - Wow! You've got a memory chip huh? But why are you recording it this time?
D - Because you're someone special. You're the only celeb I've got a date gift for. I'm sure all my previous five dates must be cursing me right now.
S - You are so good (laughs).
D - We know you love being clicked
S - Yes. I love photo shoots because I started my career as a model. I love pictures. I like photography too. You will always find a camera in my bag wherever I go.I've got one with me today too to take back home my date pictures (laughs)
D - Are you a Facebook addict?
S - Oh Yes! I am. Most of the people on my Facebook are from my old school and few good friends from the industry. But I check my Facebook almost every ten minutes because I have access to internet from my Blackberry. I love Facebook.

D - What's the funniest Facebook status you've had?
S - There was this weird quote which said - When a child was a child, it didn't know it was a child. It's a quote from a very old German movie.
D - You often see world cinema?
S - Yes. Last night I saw this violent Mexican movie and I slept while watching it. Plus it was late in the night too. Yawn time.
D - Are you a late night person?
S - Not really. But I love sleeping. I can sleep for hours and hours.
D - You love chocolates, you sleep, you eat junk food and then you've got a figure like that.
S - (laughs) It's true. Only once in my life I had become very chubby and I didn't realise it then.
D - What were you fascinated about in your school days?
S - I was in Delhi Public School and back then I loved watching movies. I used to live in this filmy world where I thought my Raj would also come (laughs). I can still watch DDLJ everyday. I love that film. I am so filmy that I can sing any old Hindi film song but please don't test me on this today.
D - Which actress did you look up to while you were in school?
S - Kajol. I think she creates magic when she comes in front of the camera. I loved her in Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha.

S - Now let me ask you some questions as it's a date and not an interview. It's very important for us to be friends.
D - Please shoot
S - Which one has been your most interesting date and why?
D - The most interesting date was my first date with Mugdha Godse at the Marriott. I'm a Marriott man (laughs). Because I only went to meet her for dinner. That time I didn't even know I'd be doing this 'On a Date With' stories. It's only after I went back home that I realised that I still remember my entire tete-a-tete with Mughs. I wrote a long dialogue piece and Bollywood Hungama published it the next day. It worked with the readers and that's how the whole process started.
S - What is your kind of a woman?
D - I really don't like going to bed with an argument. I love fights and arguments and that's when I get to know the real partner I am with. All bad things in life can be sorted out on a coffee table. My kind of woman should be argumentative.
S - Do you then believe that the beauty of this emotion called love also lies in arguments?
D - When you feel the pain, the impact of love is stronger. Relationship is worship for me. Do you agree with me?
S - Yes, totally. I feel that one shouldn't get into relationships for the heck of it. And if you do then you should realise your responsibilities.

S - Do you think eyes are the windows to someone's soul?
D - Yeah. But sometimes those eyes turn bitchy. You don't know what's being cooked behind the eye. If one eye is telling you something the other is saying something else.
S - Actually, I've never been able to read anything in peoples eyes.
D - Are you philosophical in nature?
S - For that, you'll have to take me out on another date (laughs)

D - Where would you like to go out on your second date with me?
S - I like a place called Aurus in Juhu. We can go there. But may be I should take you out on our second date. It's a perfect night spot.
D - For me, our second date idea is more delicious than this cake lying here. I'd get hold of your house keys and by the time you arrive home at night, a grand feast is ready waiting for you.
S - Oh wow! That'll be great.
D - Ok. let's try this. I'll take you out on your longest date ever. We both fly together from Mumbai to London. I take you to Bond Street and Regents Street and you can shop there.
S - You are so romantic. How amazing would that be.
D - ...and how would you dress me up for our second date?
S - I won't undress you for sure (laughs). I would love to have you wearing a white linen shirt with denims. How would you dress me?
D - Same first half of your answer Sonal (laughs). I'd love to see you in a white tight capri along with a nice loose top.

D - It's been an hour long date Sonal. Good?
S - Excellent.
D - So any dating tips for the men lurking to go out with you?
S - My man should smell good. He should not try hard to impress and be casual. I hate it when people say - "You're too sweet Sonal"
D - On that note, thank you for this special and a memorable date. You were too sweet (laughs)