Saturday, 31 January 2009

10 Oscar Nominations for Slumdog Millionaire

exclusive by Devansh Patel

"Hello everybody, Good morning, my name is Sid Ganis, the president of the Academy Awards, and before we announce our nominees of films highest honours, I am very pleased to welcome a producer, director and Oscar winning actor Forrest Whitaker". These were the exact words coming out at 5.30am by the president of the Oscars at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. And accompanying him was the talented Forrest Whitaker in a black suit with light blue shirt looking dapper as always. Together in front of the hundreds of media representatives from around the world gathered at the theatre, both announced the nominations for the 81st Academy Awards. The biggest movie event of the year hosted by the smart, sexy and handsome Hugh Jackman is exactly a month away and come February 22, Sunday, along with all the tuxedos, long flowing gowns and black suits, we will witness our very traditional outfits from India too. You don't have to ask us why. But we'll tell you anyway. Ladies and gentlemen..please put your hands together for Slumdog Millionaire for getting nominated under ten nominations at yesterdays official Academy nominations 2009. What's more interesting and exciting is the fact that our very own team of Bollywood will grace the red carpet at the awards. Anil Kapoor, Irrfan Khan and Freida Pinto. But the man who will lead our national flag is going to be A.R.Rahman. The musical genius has won himself three nominations from the ten listed. Rahman has been nominated for the original score for Slumdog Millionaire with one nomination and for original song with two nominations (Jai Ho and O Saya). The following are the alphabetical categories under which Slumdog Millionaire is nominated at the 2009 Academy Awards:

Achievement in Cinematography
Achievement in Directing
Achievement in Film Editing
Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score)
Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song - Jai Ho)
Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song - O Saya)
Achievement in Best Motion Picture of the Year
Achievement in Sound Editing
Achievement in Sound Mixing
Achievement in Adapted Screenplay

What's more, Slumdog Millionaire becomes the second film after the Bradd Pitt starrer, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, with ten or more than ten nominations at the 2009 Oscars. Wow! Now that's what I call an achievement. The director of Slumdog Millionaire is a British, the lead actor Dev Patel is a British but the story is Indian, the backdrop is Mumbai, the music is Indian, the other lead actors and supporting cast are Indians. That itself makes Slumdog an India film, isn't it? Not really but that's what we Indians would want to believe. Even though India has been the leading player in international cinema making almost the maximum number of movies annually, her track record in the Oscar Awards ball game has been disappointing. But at the same time, it is a matter of pride and pleasure that an Indian filmmaker - the only one till today - was chosen to be awarded an Honorary Oscar for Life Achievement. That was Satyajit Ray, the only Indian film maker who is internationally known and respected for his movies of Indian life and Mother Earth like Pather Panchali (1955). This Award was presented to him in 1991 at Kolkata because he was too ill and bed-ridden and could not go to Los Angeles. The other Indian to win an Oscar is Bhanu Athaiya, well-known costume designer of Bombay. She was a part of the team of designers who won the Oscar for 'Best Costume' award. She was jointly named for 'Best Costume' designing for the box-office bonanza and critically acclaimed and multiple Oscar winner, Richard Attenborough's Gandhi (1982). Another Indian who received an Oscar nomination and created a stir is Shekhar Kapoor for his Elizabeth (1998). But he did not get the Oscar. Aamir Khan and Ashutosh Gowariker walked the red carpet too for Lagaan for 'Best Film - Foreign Language' but in vain. But all that is history and as we know, history can be re-written.

On 22nd February 2009 the day will dawn when A.R.Rahman, Anil Kapoor, Irrfan Khan and Freida Pinto will march all the way to Los Angeles for justifiably competing for the Oscar Awards and returning home with the much coveted golden statuette. Bollywood Hungama wishes the entire team of Slumdog Millionaire Jai Ho at the Oscars 2009!

Slumdog Millionaire Press conference at the JW Marriott in Mumbai

exclusive by Devansh Patel

"We've released the film in America, it got released in the U.K last week and now the holy trinity is completed this week by releasing the film in India because it is probably no where more important that it should be released than in Mumbai, this extraordinary city", said Danny Boyle when called on to the podium by his producer, Mr Christian Colson. The media gave a thunderous applaud to the award winning director on hearing the word 'Mumbai'. It was Danny's job that evening to remember every actors name as he called them individually by giving an interesting brief about each one. The first guy the director called was the screen writer who adapted Vikas Swaroop's novel Q and A and transformed it into this magnificient film, Mr Simon Beaufoy. Then he calls his three musketeers, the three guys who handles the entire production of the film. Next up on the stage was the casting director, Miss Loveleen Tandon who helped an outsider like Dannny rope in the best talent available in India. A.R.Rahman was in Cheenai and was unable to attend, but Danny confirmed his attendance at the Thursday's red carpet premiere. Next, the director got down to some serious business by introducing the actors of Slumdog Millionaire. The only actor Boyle knew very well before he came down to Mumbai was Irrfan Khan through the work of Mira Nair's Salaam Bombay and Namesake. He also mentioned Irrfan's pairing with Tabu was the talk of the town in the U.S for the level of performance both had given. Strangely, Danny Boyle, in the very same hotel where the press conference was held, J.W.Marriot, met one of the legends of Bollywood cinema, Anil Kapoor. Danny had previously seen Kapoor's work in Mr India and Taal by which he was impressed. But also humorously added that Anil was so helpful to the extras sitting in the audience of the game show that he turned as a part time director. The last two people, the two most important people on whom the film revolves then came up on the stage - Fredia Pinto and Dev Patel. Danny saw her first on the auditioned tapes sent by Loveleen. The director said, "She has dealt with the attention that's been caught on to the film with a grace that equals her beauty". Finally it was the turn of the reel Millionaire soon to be the real one with the way the film's performing worldwide - Dev Patel. Danny Boyle briefs us an interesting story on how this young talent is turning into a recognisable figure all over the world. "Yesterday, me, Christian and Dev turned up at the Heathrow Airport. We were flying by British Airways and the airlines had upgraded us to the first class. They did this because of Dev who has now become the public face of the film", said the over joyed Danny Boyle. But before we bring you the excerpts, in the middle of the conference, an announcement was made. A surprise was waiting for all of us. Some speculated it could well have been A.R.Rahman but the 3 cute boys and 1 cute girl who play the little Jamal's and little Freida were welcomed with a standing ovation. As Danny said way before he started his speech, "The real heores are always the ones forgotten. Today we remember them in the form of six special boys and girls from Mumbai who've contributed to Slumdog Millionaire immensely".

Can I just ask you how are you feeling about the prospect of an Oscar nomination on Thursday, 22 January?
Danny Boyle
- The most important thing for us is to be here right now in Mumbai. We are also very happy about our Golden Globe Awards achievments. You can't really expect anything. Tomorrow you may get knocked down by a bus which is not a very healthy feeling (laughs) because it can all end like that. But we have been really fortunate to be where we are and to be in front of the Mumbai media is an achievment. We have travelled a full circle and it ends where it all began.

There has been a little bit of criticism here by India's number one movie star, Mr Amitabh Bachchan. Could you please clear the air on that?
Danny Boyle
- Ironically, we have benefited from the great stature of Amitabh Bachchan. Americans have loved the scene where the little Jamal somehow manages to get through anything to get the autograph of his great hero Amitabh Bachchan. We've tried to include as much of the city of Mumbai in the film as possible. The thing I wanted my audience to take away from the film was this breathtaking resilience of people and the joy of people despite their circumstances. We've had the priviledge of making the film and presenting it to the world and everyone has the same priviledge of saying what they want about it. That's one of the things you learn as a filmmaker to accept criticism.

Don't you think the film tried too hard to concentrate on the poverty in India?
Danny Boyle
- We tried to cram in as much of the city as we could as we found it really, both in terms of some factual stuff and imaginitive leaps because it is a movie and not a documentary. Any picture of this city will be imperfect because it's much beyond the city, nobody can capture it. The city was the same but it was always changing and it's impossible to define Mumbai but land up benefiting from it.

Do you think the movie has created so much hype in India only for the reason that it has worked in the U.S and the U.K?
Danny Boyle
- The truth is that the world is changing very fast. It is quite clear and I don't want to sound too pompous, but this world has clearly become Asia centric just like the way the last century belonged to the Americans. We work in Hollywood and in the U.K film industry and now in Bollywood. It's an achievment. In no time you will be seeing more and more of these actors and their peer groups in both industries. Additionally, Slumdog Millionaire is a universal story. The reason it works is because the film signifies the relevance of one coming from nowhere with a dream and how he eventually gets there somehow.

Would you again come to Mumbai to make a film?
Danny Boyle
- I'd love to do another film here. I'd love to do a thriller here, seriously. All the time I've spent in Mumbai makes me think what a city this is. A perfect place to make a thriller story. It's got so many ingredients. Mumbai isn't a twenty four hour city and you can see the hustle bustle going around. I'd love to come back sometime and I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

There were talks three months ago that the film would directly release on the dvd. We are here three months later with awards, applauds, commercial success and more. Brief us how the journey has been.
Danny Boyle
- You are right. At one point we lost our North American distributor because they closed their company Warner Independent down, and we thought then that we could end up on a dvd. We actually got picked up by Fox Searchlight which is an extraordinary company. They are the reason we are in the awards season because they recognise the value of the film and they forced it to come out very quickly so we could take it to the Toronto Film Festival. Although the film includes the idea of destiny, in the West, and for us, it's kind of a charming idea but being here in India you learn to appreciate something that you cannot rationally define and understand which clearly applies, and it has applied to our film - the fate of our film.

How has the film fared in the U.S and the U.K? Have you got any figures?
Christian Colson
- The film has opened at number 2 in the U.K last weekend and the latest reports since yesterday have shown that we have gone up to number 1 now in the U.K. That is a very rare occurance for a Danny Boyle film. It has grossed as of now GBP 4 million in the U.K and around $40 million in the U.S in terms of ticket sales.

What's the release plan in India?
The film has an over-whelming response. We are going to be releasing the film in Hindi titled Slumdog Crorepati because we believe that the fundamental story is something that will appeal to all Bollywood lovers. We are going to release the film in all the metros and smaller towns, say around 85 cities with 400 prints.

Is it true that a special fund was set up for the slum children in Mumbai?
Christian Colson
- Yes we did. The distributors and the financers are very generous in making some money available for the slum children for their long term welfare after we packed up and finished our shoot for the film.

What made you zero in on A.R.Rahman and how did his music carried the film forward?
Danny Boyle
- I had the priviledge of working with that man A.R.Rahman. I've been travelling the U.S and the U.K and telling people how famous this man is. He has a tiny little studio in Tuffnel Park in London. We go out in lunch time to get a break from the music. We are walking along the road and somebody would spot him, ignore the trafffic, come near him and tell him - "Is that you? Are you A.R.Rahman?". The joy of people here in music is something I love more than anything. I used to have a driver named Harish who didn't speak much english but used to play all the hindi songs in my car. It was him who introduced me to all the Bollywood songs. Slumdog Millionaire is a very small film but because of A.R.Rahman, Anil Kapoor and Irrfan Khan, the film boasts of a biggie. A.R created this fusion of hip-hop, disco, RnB and the world music which was phenomenal. One of the biggest buzzes for me was that last week, his album went to number 1 in the i-tunes album chart. That's not the soundtrack chart, its an album chart. Normally, you'd find Beyonce and Rihana to be there. A.R.Rahman was up there, could you believe it? I'd also like to thank Shekhar Kapoor for his contribution towards the film.

People really have this strong vision and belief in a field that is so collaborative that you don't always have a control on. Did you at some point lose that vision and control?
Danny Boyle
- I think I learnt as a director how much you can let the film go and benefit from letting it go, certainly in terms of the streets and the way we filmed on the streets. I had to pay tribute to my first assistant director who taught me how to work here technically and he would often frustrate the western crew because they expected him to behave in the way the first assistant director normally behaves. He knew much more importantly that the film was going to be as I wanted it to be and he had to work on the streets like he knew it inside out, which I'm sure he did. You lose things like continuity, repetition and minute control but what you get instead is this pulsating energy that runs through the Mumbai city. I also learnt from Loveleen the ability to listen to people who knew more than you about casting and culture. I also benefited a lot from Resul Pookutty, the sound guy. I gained by giving all these people some vision and control.

What was the most difficult thing about filming such a film?
Danny Boyle
- We shouldn't think that the film is a challenge. We should think that the film is an oppurtunity. The most terrifying bit was the kids, the seven year olds running besides the railway tracks with the trains. If they fall, you start thinking - What the hell am I doing here? But the tribute here has to go to our stunt master, Shyam. He made sure that no danger came to them at all. Their faith in him was absolute complete and that was the most terrifying thing for me as a parent.

Do you feel lucky that Bollywood has welcomed you with open arms?
Danny Boyle
- I have always been hugely welcomed by the industry here. We wrote to Amitabh Bachchan to take his permission to use his name in the film. We were sure that we would only be able to glimpse him ever so slightly and I always thought that he would be the wrong host for the game show in the film. We were also invited to see the recording of the show with SRK. He was very gracious and we had lunch with him too. But the actors in India are so busy that it's impossible to tie them down. At one point it became impossible to do the film without them. Then one day, Loveleen told me that Anil Kapoor was available and I should meet him, and it was this very hotel, JW Mariott in Juhu, where I met him in the lobby. I am proud of these actors here in Bollywood who've welcomed me.

What do you have to say about the quote from Mr Bachchan who thinks that the film is highlighting too much poverty?
Anil Kapoor
- I just want to say that I don't agree with Mr Bachchan and what he thinks. I respect the right to ones individual opinion because that's what democracy is.
Irrfan Khan - It's a story about human spirit. Poverty is just a backdrop. Even the book has the same backdrop of slums. But I sometimes don't understand why do we think that India is not poor. Why don't we accept the fact that there is a bit of poverty in our country. Let's not hide away from it. If we incorporate it into our story, then what's the big fuss anyway?

Is Bollywood knocking on your door and how did you manage to keep up to dancing in the film?
Dev Patel - We in the West, all think, that Bollywood is just about pretty faces but I understood that there is much more to it than just being pretty. They are so talented. If I was given to do a film here in Mumbai, I'd do it. By the way, I am a very bad dancer (laughs)

UTV backs RGV's Agyaat and RGV's Rann to be shot in Mumbai and Delhi

by Devansh Patel

Ever since RGV is back from Sri Lanka he is back in the news for more reasons than just one. The first bit of rumours doing the rounds is that Madhu Mantena is producing Rann after A.B.Corp backed off. It's all in the family as they say. But let's hope Madhu hasn't developed a fifteen minute memory loss or else Rann will look deserted without a producer. The latest bit of information we've just received from our little birdie is exclusive. A few days back we carried a slideshow of RGV's stills from Agyaat and left it for you to guess which corporate giant has backed and bagged Agyaat. Well, it seems that the mystery has come to an end there won't be any guessing games played because the corporate house who has got the worldwide rights of the film Agyaat is none other than UTV Motion Pictures. Our close sources have confirmed to us that the concept of making the first full length feature film on an alien or an unknown creature was already there on RGV's blog which was spotted by someone from UTV. What next? UTV wanted to know more about the project Agyaat and after a few phone calls and meetings, UTV was on board. But the corporate giant made it clear that it was the story they were most fascinated with, followed by the director, Ram Gopal Varma and ofcourse, the approximate budget of the film, 6 to 7 crores. The last time UTV backed any RGV project was Randeep Hooda starrer produced by RGV titled 'D'. This is also the first film of 2009 that UTV has signed bearing in mind the recession. So, instead of a three film or a two film contract which any corporate big wig would sign, UTV has only managed to tie up a one film deal, as of now, with RGV. Agyaat is due to release in May 2009 followed by RGV's next titled Rann - A News Story in June 2009.

It's not only Agyaat which is the talk of the town. RGV's next biggie Rann - A News Story is to begin as soon as the director finishes his few days of song and dance shoot being currently shot in the Film City. The sources have confirmed that Rann being a media story revolving around politics, will be shot 80% in Delhi and 20% in Mumbai. And if the rumours are to be believed, the film is also being roped in to premiere at the IIFA 2009 in June. Looks like there is no stopping this passionate director for he believes - Power cannot be given, it has to be taken.

On a date with Roshni Chopra and Adah Sharma - The Phirr ladies

exclusive by Devansh Patel

There are many who consider actresses to be canny, manipulative and, eventually, undeniable. I too think so, as they come across as bold, mature and very confident. I'm saying this because I met not one, but two actresses at the same time at the same place under one roof last Saturday. The roof - Indigo Cafe in Andheri. The first actress - Adah Sharma. The second actress - Now that's a surprise till you go on to the next page and figure out who she is and how she looks and talks. In fact, her passage to Bollywood is as similar to that of Prachi Desai. She looks a bit of Sonam Kapoor and is as chirpy as her. It's another thing that her husband calls her a Leonardo Di Caprio look alike. What? Come again! From the small screen to the big screen, she is making her debut in Bollywood. Her big break on to the television has been fabulously fortunate. And, being as she began her education and career in media back in the University of Leeds, U.K, it's actually taken me by surprise. She has done mass communications and media studies and then you see her act. Anyway, now this was really funny. Adah Sharma was adamant to click the above picture. It was her idea to cover the face of this debutant with the camera, though the newest entrant wasn't up for it, but we both managed to convince the tele queen.

Ok, ladies and gentlemen...put your hands together for the newest face being launched by producer Vikram Bhatt in his next film Phhir - Roshni Chopra.

A cup of cappucino, fresh malta juice and some freshly pressed apple juice was all it took to get us three talking in the woddy ambience of the cafe, and when you're in the cafe, coffee comes first. But before we ordered for our drinks, the sweet Roshni orders for some even sweeter cheese cake. Then suddenly she asks Adah and me whether we would like to eat some dessert. 'No thank you' changed her mind and she orders for the cheese cake to be packed. Suddenly Adah shows her likeness for peas. Yes, our green peas. Where did they come from? A complete 'No No' for me and Roshni. But more than the food talk show, I was more interested to know how was Roshni signed in for Phhir where she plays the better half of Rajneesh Duggal. The charming actress informed me that it took just one text message from Vikram Bhatt to do the trick. He met her, narrated her the story and there goes the role in Roshni's lap. Now not many know that both Adah and Roshni are co-stars in Phhir. Yes, and both had a freezing time in UK's Newcastle while filming. While Miss Sharma kept eating hot jacket potatoes to keep herself warm, Miss Chopra loved her chow mein. By the way, chinese is Roshni's favourite dish and believe it or not, she can keep on eating chinese seven days a week. And then both take out their list of complaints. Adah couldn't bear the heaters while Roshni couldn't bear the cold. Adah loves doing yoga in the mornings while Roshni doesn't agree. How very diverse in their thinking. It's true. One loves the snakes and the other hates it. Who loves me and who doesn't was the last thing I wanted to listen to, till I hear something from Roshni which goes - "I am married and my husband thinks I look like Leonardo Di Caprio". What?

I still couldn't digest the fact that Roshni's husband thinks her wifey resembles Di Caprio. She couldn't either and bursts out laughing.The topic thankfully moved on to the latest award function, The Star Screen Awards 2009, where Adah Sharma was nominated as the Best Debutant Female. She didn't win is a different thing but she enjoyed it was another. Taking her best friend to accompany her, she was clicked in her long flowing white dress on the red carpet. By the way, Adah hates this 'bling bling' kind of outfits. She likes it plain and simple and not many know but she can get ready in fifteen minutes before going on the sets or any event. That's how quick Adah is. Mrs Roshni had an interesting story to share with us about what happened in Newcastle. Early morning at the hotel's breakfast table, Adah was seen missing. So when all the other cast and crew who had got up hours before the 9am shoot were all munching on their healthy food, Adah's mother was seen picking the best of the fruits for her daughter who was still getting ready in her room. Why? Because she could change into her shooting outfit, eat her breakfast and still be on time to join the rest of the gang. Didnt I say she was quick? We go back to talking about films, animated films. Now that's one genre I don't talk of much. So I let the girls do the talking. Though I still feel that animation in India isn't up to the mark, both the beauties sitting opposite me disagree and try to recollect the name of one Hollywood film where the real life collides with animation. One minute on and they couldn't crack it. I was trying to test their knowledge on the genre which they love seeing on the big screen. Finally Adah gives up but Roshni doesn't. Wow! Did she remember the name of the film? Naaa.....she calls her husband...gets the name...and hangs up on him. Truly, an enchanting experience. By the way, the film was called Enchanted.

Now if there was one person who was dearly missed in our chit chat over the coffee table was Rajneesh Duggal. Never mind, there is always a 'phhir kabhi'. I've always thought that a good story with an even better photograph to compliment it makes the best write-up. I still regret for not having a single pic for the Mugdha Godse story I did. I had to do it this time for there wasn't one but two pretty faces I had to face. That was my target. The problem was, I didn't have a digital camera with me. But Adah and Roshni's 5 mega pixel camera phone did the trick. Personally speaking, I am a good photograher. Don't the pictures tell you the story? I request both to buddy bond, make faces (which they didn't), be casual and love the lense. My wish was their command and the twosome were awesome with their cheerleader like smile. Adah had her black curly curls going on while Roshni had the brunette 'do. Give them a couple of guns, some tight jeans and hot hunks, they'll be ready for what I think can be the best ever photshoot to take place. Dabboo, Subi, Rakesh, Mr Rajadhyaksh, are you guys listening? The time to say 'alvida' had come. Roshni had to shoot off into town for some work, Adah had to meet her friend on her way home and I had to rush back to draft this sweet lovely story where Adah and Roshni were able to create their own brand of tough, cute and shy girls....uninterrupted.

World exclusive - Rishi Kapoor speaks about Delhi 6

exclusive by Devansh Patel

"I'm really happy that after a long time I'm getting to play character roles which have not only touched me but make sense. I'm very happy" Those were the words coming out of the elated Rishi Kapoor when I recently met him in Bandra. I remember our last interaction was in London during last years Zee Cine Awards where Chintu uncle was in a foul mood after having a row with the hotel staff at the after party of Zee Awards. But that's past. The present tells you that he is all geared up for his role in Luck By Chance and the future has Rakyesh Om Prakash Mehra's Delhi 6. What I was interested at that particular moment in time was about his future...about Delhi 6. Chintuji totally covered in black from top to bottom orders for some water, sips it and in a very Kapoor laid back style talks about all the things he is very close with - Abhishek Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor, Rakyesh Om Prakash Mehra and Delhi 6.

"It was lovely to work with Rakyesh Mehra. He is a man of very few words. A very polite and a deep man. One of the most decent and a shy person I've worked with. Delhi 6 is a film of an ensemble cast. It has several actors who are actually the resident of Delhi 6 that is Chandni Chowk. The film deals with the ever going Hindu-Muslim problems and has a lovely love story which is infused in it", says the cute Kapoor. In the same breath, he desribes his role too. "I've got a sweet role in the film. I play a wealthy muslim, a nawab type of a character who too lives in the Chowk. Now this is interesting. In the film, I was once upon a time in love with Abhishek Bachchan's mother but lost out to his father who also happens to be my best friend. Inspite of that, I treat Abhishek as my own son and how he helps Abhishek in his problems is what I portray in Delhi 6". So is the role any different from his previous performances? Chintuji answers, "It's a role which I've done a little differently from what I did in Hum Tum because in Hum Tum too, the couple go through a similar problem". From Bandra we then move to Rajasthan where Delhi 6 was shot. "I am happy to belong to this picture because it was great working in that ambience they created in Rajasthan's Sambhar town. In Sambhar we created the whole Chandni Chowk. Most of the Delhi was set up there". Rishi ji was over the moon when describing some of the acting talents in Delhi 6. He told us, "There are some brilliant actors waiting to get their due share of stardom. I was very impressed by the technical crew of Rakyesh. His ability to execute the film, his sound, his editing, all were there on board.

At this time last year we were stationed in Jaipur for three months working on Delhi 6 under freezing temperatures." Describing the two kids who he has seen growing up in his house got him even more excited. "It was a pleasure working with Abhishek Bachchan and Sonam Kapoor. These were the two kids I've seen growing up in my household. Sonam started her career with my son Ranbir. She is naturally a gifted actor like her father. Absolutely charming and adorable. She is a darling. I've worked with Amitji all through my life. So I've seen Abhishek grow in all stages. Then suddenly he moved away to Switzerland and when he comes back he is a grown up adult. A very smart and a handsome six foot two inches, taller than his father. Abhi is a very well spoken, educated and a cultured boy. A very fine actor." I ask him to elaborate on the words - a very fine actor. Without delay, he describes his most important scene in the film with Abhishek. Infact, Chintu ji was so impressed with the scene, he sent Abhi a special text message to congratulate him. "There is one very important scene I have in the film. It's important for the film and me and Abhi where I am speaking most of the lines. I am trying to tell him that don't lose out on your girl whom you love, that's Sonam, otherwise you'll turn up like me, like what my character in the film is. Now here's the twist. Abhishek doesn't say anything. He is just looking at me speechless. And the way he has done the scene, hats off to him. I haven't seen the film yet but he was brilliant in that scene. But the way he has underplayed that scene is worth a standing ovation. My sincere kudos to him and thus I couldn;t stop myself from sending him the text message congratulating him". And what about Sonam, Mr Kapoor? Did she impress you? "I don't interact much with Sonam in Delhi 6 except the climax. I've seen her work in Saawariya and I'm sure she has surpassed her previous best." Rishi ji finally takes out the rabbit from the hat when he talks about his beloved co-star, Waheeda Rahman ji. "One cannot forget Waheeda Rahman ji. She was an institution by herself. I've done Kabhi Kabhi, Coolie and Chandni with the great Waheeda ji. All three films were super-duper hits. I keep telling Rakyesh that I hope we keep up this record and do our fourth super hit with you in Delhi 6. There are some other marvellous performances from Om Puri, Prem Chopra, Atul Kulkarni, Vijay Raaz, Akhilendra Mishra and Pawan Malhotra who've got relevant and vital parts to play in the film." Like we always say, you heard it first only on Bollywood Hungama. It can't get more exclusive than this.

Rishi Kapoor talks tough on Luck By Chance

by Devansh Patel

To watch Rishi Kapoor being interviewed is a fascinating experience. His face speaks volumes about his life and career. Ordinarily, he's hugely affable, beaming and joking, delivering a succession of super-cool one-liners, giving the people what they want. His smile, his openness and generosity reveal a man who is exactly where he wants to be, a film star who appreciates his status and privileges. Then sometimes, when the questions get too tawdry or silly, you'll see a flash of fire in those eyes, a sudden rage that tells of a long road hard-travelled. Because our cute Chintu ji of all Bollywood's biggest stars, has probably endured the toughest route getting there. Getting a personal invite from Excel Entertainment to meet Rishi Kapoor at their Bandra office for the promotion of Zoya Akhtar's Luck By Chance proved to be lucky in more ways than just one. UK's Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent met the ever so jovial and ever so energetic Rishi Kapoor and spoke in depth about luck, his happy-go-lucky role, his lucky film Bobby and how everytime he has been at the right place at the right time to do the right film. Like I said to myself after the interview got over, I wasn't lucky to get this...I deserved it.

We hear you play an old school type of a naughty ziddi producer in Luck By Chance.
It's a take on a producer. When I was narrated this part of a producer by Zoya which was written by Javed saab, it came to me as an interesting role. In my 35 years of working in the Indian Film Industry, I've worked with several film producers. Some of them have been happy, some decent, some eccentric, some were weirdo's as far as their dressing, speaking and their way of thinking was concerned. So what I did was, I amalgamated all those characters to paint one character called Romi Rolly, which is my name in the film.

So what does the weirdo Romi do?
(laughs) He believes in astrology, numerology and all the logy's you can think of, more than his ability. Romi is running on luck just like all the films are running. Romi's films work on luck and if his stars are correct. The way he functions as a producer is by bullying a new comer because he does not want to pay him as much of money. I am also a weirdo who is passionate about films and food.

And what about your attire. I'm sure that was inspired by someone.
You're right but he wasn't a producer. I wouldn't name anyone but he was my co-actor. In one of the publicity pictures, I'm seen wearing a kaftaan. But that scene from the film is cut off. It'll be there in the dvd. But imagine someone wearing a kaftaan. That in itself speaks volumes (laughs). My fellow colleague used to wear that while coming for work. Can you believe it? I was inspired from him. Even Juhi Chawla has taken inspiration from some lady producers wife in our industry and she is palying that role. But having said that, it's a good take on each of them because they are sincere people.

How was your interactions with a first female director you've worked with.
Good research. This is my first film where I have worked with a female lead director. Zoya Akhtar is a very focused girl. A girl who is absolutely living on her film. I was told that she wanted to make Luck By Chance since the last two years. She stuck on to it and never gave up. She has been sincerely involved in making this feature and with the able support of Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani, she has excelled with Excel. I am very happy to work with her because she knew clearly what she wanted to extract from me and others. Though I should say, she has been painfully demanding which is why I am always fighting with her. She won't leave me till the time she is not absolutely satisfied. She does allow you to be spontaneous and gives you that space but she is very much there while you want her. What she wants, she gets. That's Zoya for you.

Is LBC a serious take on the Hindi Film Industry or a laugh riot which is going to pull everyone's leg?
It's an interpretation. It can be funny at times and also serious. It's about a struggler trying to make it. In any field or sphere, luck plays a vital role. To be there at the right time at the right place is essential. In films too, it is very important how and where things happen. It's happened with everybody. If Raj Kumar had said 'yes' to Prakash Mehra for Zanjeer, how would have Amitabh Bachchan risen from the same film? If Danny and Premnath would have said 'yes' to Gabbar's role, how did Amjad Khan come in? So that element of luck played a very important factor.

What about you? Were you lucky at the right time at the right place?
I may be. May be all the time or may be none of the time. I refused Yash Chopra's Darr. The film was a turning point in SRK's career. When Yashji came to me with Darr I told him that my earlier film Khoj where I played a negative character didn't do that well. So I told him that he should not take me in Darr. Before that, I had worked in Chandni which worked very well and I wasn't going to play a second role in Darr. I wasn't happy doing that. It had to be in SRK's favour. That is Luck By Chance.

But Bobby proved lucky for you, isn't it?
Absolutely right. If Mera Naam Joker would've been a super hit, my father would've made part two of it which was supposed to be made. But Mera Naam Joker flopped and my father was in problems. So inspired by the first love story of Mera Naam Joker, he made a teenage love story called Bobby. That was my luck. I was just twenty years of age. I was made a star by luck. Raj Kapoor didn't make Bobby to launch me as an actor, he made it for himself. He proved to the world that he didn't need a star face to make a hit. Bobby had Dimple and me who were nobody's. Wasn't I lucky then?

Your part as a producer must've made you interact with all your co-stars. How was the experience?
Yes, I did. But I must say this. In the whole film I don't have a single shot with Konkana Sen Sharma. I have never even met that girl who is working with Ranbir my own son in his next film. There is no common platform in the film with her. My interactions were more with Hrithik Roshan and Farhan Akhtar.

Tell us honestly. Is Luck By Chance your best film in the last decade or so because we haven't seen you in such a mood before.
In my long career I was only singing songs and doing romance. Perhaps, from Namastey London time and now Luck By Chance, it has given me a chance to showcase my actual talent. Not that I wasn't talented. I became a hero in three ruppees fifty paise, my son became a hero in two hundred ruppees. People who can afford to buy two hundred ruppees ticket are not of the same sensibilities as that of the auto rickshaw drivers. So one is making a film keeping in mind those sensibilities. It's 2009 and we are not making redundant films like we used to make in the 70's and 80's. The socio-economic structure has changed of India and so has our audience.

So you're employed again?
Ofcourse. People like me who are fifty plus are getting employed again because such kind of subjects are being made. There are different stories coming out. Father is no longer a father. He has become a friend now. Predominently, Hindi films are youth oriented. By the time the hero gets forty plus and fifty plus, he retires. Whereas in the West, you peak only after fifty. Here unfortunately we have to retire. By the time I have honed my acting skills, I have to reire in this industry. But no more.

What do you have to say about Farhan Akhtar?
Farhan is a multi tasker. He started off as a producer and a director, then an actor and a singer. I haven't worked with him under his direction. But I have worked with him as a co-star. He is easy on the eye and doesn't try to project himself as an actor. He is a kind of guy who comes from the same thinking school as I do, like being spontaneous, being casual about acting. He puts in that extra effort in his acting to make his performance look effortless.

But it's not only luck Rishi ji. What about talent?
Ofcourse that's important. SRK and Akshay Kumar had no Godfather. They've come up on their talent first. There must be some kind of a projection in you too. By saying 'LUCK', I also mean that you get thr right film. That film that works for you.

Do you call yourself a struggler?
I am always a struggler and a beginner. Today when I'm giving you this interview, I'm giving it with passion. You're interviewing me and I am learning. Everyday teaches me. What has gone has been forgotten. Now I am waiting for what's ahead of me. I am waiting for my reactions to Luck By Chance, Delhi 6 and a small film titled Chintuji.

What is Chintuji all about?
The film is directed by Annu Kapoor's elder brother, Ranjit Kapoor. He is a theatre personality. The film is about me, about Rishi Kapoor. It's a film which is part illusion, part reality. The film has a great message. People from all over the different corners of India come to Mumbai city to make money. The idea is, if you make your town or city or village that much self sufficient or capable, they'll never come to Mumbai. It's about how I was born in a place and I come to Mumbai. I was a star and retired and now want to become a politician. And how my home town calls me to contest elections from there and how I change the system there forms the story of Chintuji.

You're also doing a film with your beloved wife Neetu Kapoor titled Do Duni Chaar. Brief us please.
The film is about a teacher and a family of four. I play the teacher in the film. I have my own Vespa and can only dream of having a car. My daughter is shy to go to the school on my scooter, my son does what all youngsters do to make a fast buck. The mother is always in the kitchen from day to night. The film is about how a teacher should get paid sufficient money so that they do not take bribe to pass the students. If you do wrong to give wrong marks to students, you are spoiling the future of your country - your students. The ones who make the future of our country get underpaid. That's ridiculous.

Any message for your fans?
Do not let success go to your head and do not let failure go to your heart. That is what I tell my son Ranbir too. I thank my audiences for where I am today. I've chased girls all my life, I leave that to Ranbir now to do. Let him chase the chicks (laughs).

Big B honoured at Salon Du Cinema in Paris

exclusive by Devansh Patel

You saw Anil Kapoor and A.R.Rahman at the Golden Globe Awards and you couldn't stop cheering them on. You also put your hands together for SRK and K-Jo while they walked the red carpet at the Golden Globes. Now please give a standing ovation for Big B, the Big Daddy of Indian cinema, Mr Amitabh Bachchan. Why? Read on.
Le Salon du Cinema (Cinema Fair) in Paris is paying tribute to Indian Cinema for their new edition today, 15th January 2009, and with Mr Amitabh Bachchan being the guest of honour with the presence of his wife Jaya Bachchan, son Abhishek Bachchan and daughter in law Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, are organizing a White Night of his films. What's interesting is that apart from films like Ramesh Sippy's Sholay and Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Black being screened, Salon du Cinema discussed the choices with Mr Bachchan and he personally wished to present Sarkar and Sarkar Raj to the French audience too. The films will be screened at the Fair, in Paris for about 400 viewers (professionals, distributors and local audience) on a first-come-first basis.

Bollywood Hungama also learnt that the Salon du Cinema could have chosen Indian films already distributed in France but Sarkar and Sarkar Raj for them form a part of Mr Bachchan's best work in the recent past and believe that the films can easily reach the European audiences. 15th evening will see a lavish opening ceremony celebrating Amitabh Bachchan's work. On the 16th January, prominent speakers such as Pan Nalin and Shubho Sekar talk about Indian Cinema today and coproduction between India and France, and on the same day at about 8.15pm Paris time, Sarkar Raj will be presented to the world audience with Mr Amitabh Bachchan gracing the occassion followed by a dinner with the organizers team.

We tried to get in touch with the director of Sarkar and Sarkar Raj, Mr Ram Gopal Varma but he was unavailable for comment. What we did get our hands on was a note from Ramu on Sarkar which reads:

The God Father is a film which has influenced me a lot. I have lived with that story for 25 years ever since I've read the book. The film struck a strong resonance across the worldwide audience because people like Sarkar exist in every country on the map. They could be political leaders, underworld dons, dictators or kings...all of them have the same story. The Sarkar movies are about framing and showcasing the aura of power. Each and every aspect of filmmaking be it music or screenplay or cinematography were employed for one and only purpose that is to capture the intensity in the actor's eyes, through which we see a world of high drama be it politics, treachery, revenge, passion, courage, love or relationships.

It would've been good to see all the three top directors, Mr Ram Gopal Varma, Mr Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Mr Ramesh Sippy along side the Bachchan's at the Salon du Cinema celebrating what is and will be considered to be Big B's top three performances of his acting career.

RGV is back from Sri Lanka

exclusive by Devansh Patel

Bollywood Hungama broke the news about RGV going to Sri Lanka in December 2008 for the shoot of his next film titled Agyaat. Guess what? He is back in Mumbai. Arrived last week, the busy director is running up and down his Oshiwara office trying to get the shoot of his another film Rann in place. The sources close to RGV said that he begins filming Rann on January 20. Good for him. But let's go back in the last year with Ramu. Let's go back visit Sri Lanka, what say?

Now we all are aware that Agyaat is a film about a film crew that gets lost in the jungles of Sri Lanka and how the cast and the crew face some unknown creature or an alien or a predator. Hope that's the story, but when you know RGV is directing it, just about anything is possible. What's possible for us though is to bring you an interesting story on the line producer of the film which apna Ramu roped in for Agyaat. Steven Speilberg calls him his most valued man of the South East Asia, he is the man who brought Bo Derek, Harrison Ford and Gulshan Grover to Sri Lanka for films such as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and The Jungle Book. He has also worked with the likes of David Lynne and Alfred Hitchcock and of that wasn't enough, he has also directed a few Sri Lankan films and has been a producer for several others. Meet Chandran Rutnam (seen in the picture below with RGV during the shoot of Agyaat, the first and the only Bollywood film shot from start to finish in Sri Lanka).

We also learn that Ram Gopal Varma has wrapped up the entire film and had also kept a media conference in Colombo for the same. But before the wrap up, there was an elephant and a baby comodo dragon to be dealt with. The source told us that RGV had to shoot a scene with a mad elephant. As far as the comodo dragon was concerned, it was just a mere small guest on the sets. The film was shot in the Sigiria Black Forest in Sri Lanka with some breath taking visuals. Though we have managed to bring you a visual of a weird looking tree which I'm sure is a part of the film and an outhouse in the middle of a jungle which the director would've used in the film, we could not bring you the stills of the principal cast of the film due to secrecy but did manage to bring in RGV's best find to date - Ravi Kale, who plays a stunt director in the film (seen in the picture below with his favourite director RGV).

Coming back to Mumbai now, the latest report doing rounds surrounding the film Agyaat is that a big corporate giant has brought the rights of the film, and the name is going to shock one and all. For a while, we leave it for you guys to decide who that Agyaat is.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Chandni Chowk to China has me in my element", Akki on CC2C, khana, marna and much more

exclusive by Devansh Patel

Akshay Kumar may be treated like a God in Chandni Chowk and is arguably one of the biggest movie stars in India, but just a couple of years ago Akki, as I call him, couldn't even pitch an idea in China or for that matter, Hollywood. However, all that changed for Kumar when he signed Nikhil Advani's Chandni Chowk To China. It must have taken more than just convincing our Chinese neighbours to do a cross over film with Akshay in the lead. But our Khiladi Kumar weaved his magic. It worked. The deal was signed. India's first ever Kung-Fu comedy with Bollywood and Chinese stars was to be made and have a world wide premiere in L.A, Toronto, New York and London. It's a dream come true for the martial arts maestro, not only can he finally high kick his way around the Great Wall of China after years in the mainstream movie wilderness, but more importantly it means he's at last achieved his life-long ambition to play the real Akshay Kumar before he entered films - a cook. Harrow Observer's UK columnist and Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent got hold of the busiest actor in India, somehow, phew!...where apna Akki adds a bit of tadka to make this world exclusive Chandni Chowk to China interview as hot and spicy you could ever have.

CC2C is a film based on your real life story. How true were you then to the film?
As true as I am with any character I have to play, I happened to love this character immensely. It enabled me to be the man I have wanted to be on screen for a long time now, a funny action hero, what more could I want, it's totally my kind of film... However the only similarity between my life and this film is the fact that I was born in Chandni Chowk, like my character is also born there, and has to cook just like I had to learn to cook when I was working as a chef in Bangkok. I am playing a halwai in the film. If there's anything anyone likes about me at all I recommend this movie to the whole family, it is me in my element and I would love to share it with you.

This is the first Kung Fu comedy to hit Bollywood since its inception. Are you happy that cross country talents are merging to give us even more entertainment?
Yes definitely. I have always believed that Bollywood has been evolving. With people being more accepting and culturally aware there has been a great demand for global Indian cinema. Cultures have been merging. There has been a great influence on the western culture in India and the Indian culture in the west. People are coming together so why not cinema? After all people are spending their hard earned money to watch a good film and if we can provide this through the merging of cultural talent then why not?

You are considered to be Bollywood's box office mascot. both welcome and singh is king grossed over a million pounds in the UK. Will CC2C complete the hat trick?
Hat trick or bad trick... at the end of the day it's all about hard work. I am grateful to all my fans for providing me with all the love and support as they always have and I am glad they have enjoyed my films in the past year. Whether or not Chandni Chowk To China will be a success is something that I cannot predict. All I know is that the whole team and of course I, have worked extremely hard and all I can do is leave the rest to you all.

How did Deepika adapt to such an action packed film where you will steal most of the show?
Oh I haven't stolen the show, trust me. Deepika has quite a few stunts that she has done as well in the film. Apparently I have heard that she calls herself the female version of Akshay Kumar. So I guess I'm the one that should be worried (laughs)

We know you are a master when it comes to action. How difficult was this action compared to all your other action films you've done?
It was a lot more painful, and a lot more advanced than any martial arts I've performed in my previous movies. The stunt team were incredible, I'm so happy to have relived my black belt days, it's a movie I wish I could do over and over again, if only it didn't hurt so much. I loved the style no one has seen in Bollywood before. Lets hope it was all worth it at the end of the day.

Did you have to learn Chinese as a language
No not at all, that was the whole point. I'm a true Chandni Chowk boy through and through and that's half my adventure. The fact is that I'm so innocent that I'm not aware of whats going on around me. Though I couldn't resist to learn a few words, just for jokes on the sets really... not to be repeated on paper though sorry guys!

Nikhil Advani's Salaam E Ishq was a complete disaster. What made you work with Nikhil then? Was it Nikhil's Kal Ho Na Ho or Rohan Sippy productions?
That's a bit harsh, it wasn't a disaster. Anyway, how can I judge Nikhil Saab for his flops when I have way more flops to my name then he'll ever have. Nikhil is by far one of the best commercial directors I have ever come across, to the point where I can't wait to work with him again, as well as Rohan Sippy. It's not about reputation with me, if you hadn't noticed I work with many new directors, it's not about the name with me, it never has been, it's about the passion. Show me your passion for your work and I'm anybody's. And right now no one has shown me as much passion as Nikhil Advani Saab.

We know you are a good cook. Please tell us what's the yummiest food you can cook for us?
Honestly, if you want to live I wouldn't recommend you eat any of my food (laughs). Ok, I'm not that bad, but I've been pampered too much now that I've forgotten my secrets. Give me a day in the kitchen and I'll russel you up some delicious Punjabi food.

How was it to work with Bollywood's one of the finest talent Ranvir Shorey?
Do you know what, I truly think he is one of the finest actors I have ever come across and ofcourse, we got on like a house on fire. Such a funny guy and damn good at what he does, I love sharing the screen with him.

Which is your favourite track from the film and why?
Ouch... Sorry too hard a question. I love Sidhu coz it's just me through out in the film, I love the romantic song purely coz it's just beautiful. Soundtrack is addictive, the training song hits home a lot, it just helped me get through the hard parts during the shooting and the video song means so much to me for it's my life story written by an admirer and good friend. So yeah hard to say really.

Brief us about your experience of shooting at the Great Wall of China.
Ah! Words cant describe how amazing it was to shoot there, one of the best experiences of my life and what an honour. Even Mission Impossible didn't get permission to shoot there. One of my best shots of my whole career was on that wall. It was unforgettable. What more can I say? Come see me in my element. You'll see so much of the real me on that wall in the movie.

So far in your career you've given escapist performances. Any idea when are we going to see you in some serious roles?
Well to be honest, I would not completely agree with you. I think I had a very serious and interesting character to play in the film 'Sangharsh'. I have Nagesh Kukunoor's 'Eight by Ten' coming up this year which is a supernatural thriller. So there's no room there for escapist cinema. I will also be playing a true life character in the film 'Komagata Maru' which is an epic film based on a true story surrounding the voyage of the ship 'Komagata Maru' from India to Vancouver in the early part of the last century with 376 passengers on board seeking a new life in the promised land. It is a film of high level government intrigue, duplicity, racism, spying, military engagements, court battles, sedition, and assassination. Is that serious enough for you?

Did you ever wish Jackie Chan was in CC2C?
That thought never crossed my mind actually. I was so overwhelmed with the cast and crew that we did have that additions didn't enter my mind. I probably would have crapped myself if he was in it anyway, Gordon Lui was enough for me in one movie. These guys are legends. I was honoured by the people involved in this film that's all I want to say really.

How's the touring going on Akki?
Absolutely marvellous, I'm touring right now as we speak. L.A, New York, Toronto and London... Have to say, I am over-whelmed with the reaction, all we have left to do now is release it and then it's all up to you guys I'm afraid, you do know I love you all don't you (winks).