Tuesday, 24 February 2009

"Before coming, I was excited and terrified", A R Rahman at the OSCAR 2009


Saturday February 21- before the D-day- It's to some extent challenging doing a story on the OSCAR NIGHT 2009 and yet feels special. Why? Well, you have to keep up at 6.30am India time and get glued in front of your television to watch your favourite Hollywood celebrities grace the glamorous red carpet and walk the world famous aisle to get seated inside the esteemed Kodak Theatre where the fortunate few will be bestowed with the golden statuette. What makes it special though is the fact that for the first time in the history of the Oscars, more Indians than ever before will be walking the much talked about walkway with their heads held high, cheering, supporting and leading their Slumdog Millionaire team to victory, and believe us, Bollywood and Bollywood Hungama is buzzing with excitement and anxiously waiting for A.R.Rahman and Resul Pookutty to win their first ever Academy Award. Back in the West, Hollywood was busy with preparations for the big night where hundreds of people have been working for all week to lay the red carpet, assemble the tents and decorate the pathway that'll be filled with photographers, journalists and celebrities on the high-status Hollywood Boulevard.


The Knight called Oscar- So before the coveted golden figure is given away to the deserving few, let us brief you a bit about this Oscar statuette, officially called - The Academy Award of Merit. The most recognized trophy in the world, the Oscar statuette has stood on the mantels of the greatest filmmakers in history since 1929. Shortly after the formation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1927, the fledgling organization held a dinner in the Crystal Ballroom of the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles to set out its goals. Among the topics discussed that night was how best to honor outstanding moviemaking achievements and thereby encourage excellence in all facets of motion picture production. Agreeing to institute an annual award, the group turned its attention to creating a suitably majestic trophy. MGM art director Cedric Gibbons designed a statuette of a knight standing on a reel of film gripping a crusader's sword. The Academy tapped Los Angeles sculptor George Stanley to realize the design in three dimensions - and the world-renowned statuette was born. Since the initial awards banquet on May 16, 1929, in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel's Blossom Room, 2,701 statuettes have been presented. Oscar stands 13½ inches tall and weighs in at a robust 8½ pounds. The film reel features five spokes, signifying the five original branches of the Academy: actors, directors, producers, technicians and writers

The Glitz, the Glamour and the Golden show - The Night we've all been waiting for ended in flamboyant fashion. India wakes up today to celebrate the super success of the two Indians who've made us swollen with pride. It's time to rejoice the achievements of the entire Slumdog Millionaire team....especially A.R. Rahman who is the first Indian to win two Oscars and Resul Pookutty to have won one. Wow! And all the other great filmmakers who've shown us some of the best films which the 2008 brought to the big screen. Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent and Harrow Observer columnist Devansh Patel does the honours on an early Monday morning over a cup of hot masala chai and with battery running low but all in good time when the handsome Hugh Jackman came up on the Swarovski crystal highlighted stage. The stage was so close to the flawless audiences that all the nominees could actually get their hands on the golden statuette. The who's who of Tinsel town graced the red carpet just like they did at the BAFTA's. Nothing special, apart from Angelina Jolie bending the rules and wearing black, and hey... here come grinning Dev Patel and demure Freida Pinto, who appears to have shown up without her "secret husband", which is a shame. Notebooks out: Pinto confesses that her dress is by John Galliano. Anil Kapoor in his Armani black, A.R Rahman and Resul Pookutty in their Indian black and all the small, petite and cute actors who played the young Jamal and Salim graced the red draped in black.

Inside the Kodak Theatre, Slumdog Millionaire was the undisputed winner with 8 Oscar trophies....and boy they gave their acceptance speeches with pure gusto, emotion and joy. Resul Pookutty came up on the star studded stage where he was bestowed with his first Oscar Award for Sound Mixing when he said, "This is unbelievable. We can't believe this. Ladies and gentlemen... sorry... I share the stage with two magicians, you know, who created the very ordinary sounds of Bombay, the cacophony of Bombay, into a soul-stirring, artful resonance called SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE.I come from a country and a civilization that given the universal word. That word is preceded by silence, followed by more silence. That word is "Om." So I dedicate this award to my country. Thank you, Academy, this is not just a sound award, this is history being handed over to me. My sincere and deepest gratitude to my teachers, Danny Boyle, Christian Colson, Paul Ritchie, Pravesh... and everybody who has contributed to this film, Glenn Freemantle and all the sound mixers. I dedicate this to you guys. Thank you, Academy. Thank you very much."

The next one followed when A.R. Rahman came up on the stage but not before he performed in front of the live Oscar audience on his songs, 'O Saya' and 'Jai Ho' receiving a standing ovation from the front benchers like Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Mickey Rourke and Angelina Jolie. His name was announced, walked up on to the stage, accepted his first Oscar for the Best Original Score and said, "Before coming, I was excited and terrified. The last time I felt like that was during my marriage. There's a dialogue from a Hindi film called "Mere paas ma hai," which means "I have nothing but I have a mother," so mother's here, her blessings are there with me. I am grateful for her to have come all the way. And I want to thank the Academy for being so kind, all the jury members. I want to thank Sam Schwartz, I/D PR, all the crew of Slumdog, Mr. Gulzar, Raqueeb Alam, Blaaze, my musicians in Chennai and Mumbai. And I want to tell something in Tamil, which says, which I normally say after every award which is... "God is great." Thank you".

The music maestro walked up on stage again for his second Oscar for The Best Original Song 'Jai Ho' which he received and made him the only celebrity at the 81st Academy Awards to win two Oscars. In his acceptance speech, the shy musician said, "I just want to thank again the whole crew of SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, especially Danny Boyle for giving such a great opportunity. And the whole, all the people from Mumbai. The essence of the film which is about optimism and the power of hope in the lives, and all my life I had a choice of hate and love. I chose love and I'm here. God bless". And then what.....Danny Boyle came up on stage bouncing and jumping with gratitude accepting his award as The Best Director for Slumdog Millionaire where he personally thanked the choreographer of Slumdog Millionaire, "There's one guy I should mention, we've mentioned a lot of people. I forgot a guy. The guy who choreographed the dance at the end of the film. He's called Longiness. And I forgot him off the credits. And I only found out about it two weeks ago. I'm an idiot and I apologize from the bottom of my heart, Longiness. Thank you so much. Finally, just to say to Mumbai, "Unending, inseparable, unborn." All of you who've helped us make the film and all of you of those of you who didn't thank you so much. You dwarf even this guy (gesturing to the statuette). Thank you very much indeed" and producer Christian Colson accepting the last award of the grand night for The Best Picture. But the picture perfect moment was captured by one and all when the entire team of Slumdog came up on the Oscar podium, smiled, laughed and enjoyed the super success of their super film - Slumdog Millionaire

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Harrow Observer, UK exclusive DELHI 6 movie REVIEW

exclusive by Devansh Patel

It is always difficult for me to write reviews of films which leave behind a long lasting impression. Next up, I need a good hot cup of masala chai to write even better. That is precisely what I did. I catch a cab outside the Famous Studios after watching the special screening of Delhi 6, tell the cabbie to take me to Bandra Cafe, an Irani cafe where I can sit and sip down my favourite cuppa. I have three cups with two buttered buns and two omelette sandwich. What then? I ponder over the film and try to hold my emotions. I couldn't. I text Abhishek Bachchan and called the writer Kamlesh Pandey to inform them how I liked the film. They both amiably replied back. And then I took off on a journey in search of nirvana. 'A journey within' as the director of Delhi 6 aptly puts it, while the inmates of Delhi 6 venture out on a journey to find the anonymous Kala Bandar.

Filmmaker like Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra does a wonderful job in capturing the colour, commotion and cacophony of the Old Delhi (dearly known as Delhi 6 by their natives) which seem to put more emphasis on razzle-dazzle than religion itself and how! Delhi 6 opens up with a man attacked by a Kala Bandar (a monkey man, known to create havoc in the city of Delhi). Cut to a Ramlila (a dramatic folk re-enactment of the ten day battle between Lord Rama and Ravana) sequence written and sung by Raghubir Yadav. The film then takes you to a scene in New York where the doctors advise Dadi (Waheeda Rahman) for a complete rest in her remaining few months which she's got to live. In order to fulfil her wish to go to Delhi 6 where she was born and brought up, her grandson Roshan (Abhishek Bachchan) agrees to take on the responsibility and they both land in the old city. Family and friends welcome Dadi who now waits for her purana (old) ghar (house) to open up. This task is given to Roshan and you are a witness to a dry Tulsiji (a holy plant) and a black and white frame of Dada who is no more (Dadi's husband – Amitabh Bachchan).

The neighbourhood is populated with swamis (Akhilendra Mishra), fakirs (Rajat Dholakia), a jalebi vendor (Deepak Dobriyal), a local garbage collector (Divya Dutta), an innocent soul, Gobar (Atul Kulkarni), a lalaji (Prem Chopra), a loyal friend Ali Baig (Rishi Kapoor), a local police inspector (Vijay Raaz), a desi photographer (Cyrus Sahukar) and the near and dear neighbours (Supriya Pathak, Om Puri, Pawan Malhotra, Aditi Rao and Sheeba Chadha)...all who offer opaque words of wisdom designed to help steer the faithful to a more serene life and afterlife. Yet the muhalla (area) often seemed more like a circus. From the entire above if there is one person who doesn't give and take bull**** is Bittu (Sonam Kapoor), the aspiring Indian Idol contestant who wants to break free from her black and white world of Delhi 6 and jump into the colourful world of Mumbai.

Back to the story; Roshan slaps the police inspector, gets in the jail for showing his honesty and gets out of it, thanks to Ali who bribes the dishonest policewala. The Ramlila still continues but is hampered by the Kala Bandar again. Roshan tries to adjust and understand his surroundings by breaking into an early morning walk with Delhi 6 title track playing in his ear phones. In the next half an hour, they sing and dance to Genda Phool and Kala Bandar followed by Bittu on her terrace dancing to Masakali. With everyone happy at one end, Madan Gopal and Jai Gopal household have their own indifferences to settle. Both play a game of one-upmanship. Photographer Suresh fools around and sleeps around with Lalaji's wife, garbage collector Jalebi gets no respect but has respect for Gobar, Dadiji gets unwell but gets well after seeing the holy cow giving birth to her calf, Gobar talks sense but for all, he is just a mere non-sense. The going on's go on till you realise it's intermission time. But what follows in the penultimate one hour takes you by a complete shocker and that my friends, I leave it for you to go and witness.

Delhi 6 the film is a handsomely photographed, beautifully edited, and constantly absorbing glimpse into a unique corner of the human experience. Rakeysh has vividly conveyed all the vitality, joyful abandon, and tumult of voices in this old city with the infusion of both the Hindu and Muslim conflict shown in a very light hearted and humorous manner. The film combines traditional acts of faith, philosophical discussions and an almost carnival-like atmosphere. Some Indian and Western audiences may not understand everything they see in this film, but the film nonetheless makes for absorbing viewing and is highly recommended for anyone in search for different answers to universal questions of faith and hope, for which credit goes to the producer, director, writer, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra along with his co-writers, Kamlesh Pandey and Prasoon Joshi.

All the tracks in the film compliment the scenes. A.R. Rahman deserves yet another Golden Globe, BAFTA and Oscar nomination. Mr Mehra, I highly recommend you to make this film in English the next time around.

I've always believed that if the casting of any film is perfect, half the battle is won. Rakeysh deserves full marks or if there was a casting director, I don't know. Abhishek Bachchan with not-so-heavy-accent gives a ten on ten in performances. Last week when I met Abhishek at the RK Studios, he said that it's not how much he has grown as an actor which counts, but how much are the directors willing to push him, is what matters. Rakeysh succeeds in pushing Abhishek off the cliff. Abhi's body language makes him a true NRI boy, and by the way, for all you Bandar chaap's, you don't need to have your hair spiked, wear Armani and Versace, be a cool dude and have burgers to portray an NRI image. Sonam Kapoor is going to go a long way with her masakali smile and dance routine, I tell you. She acted her part with perfection and looked a sheer beauty in her Indian outfits. I surely wouldn't advocate Bittu to take Rat Poison. The rest of the cast fitted the jig saw puzzle very well. Vijay Raaz, Om Puri, Rishi Kapoor, Waheeda Rahman, Atul Kulkarni and Pawan Malhotra looked like real life characters put in to the reel life. What makes Delhi 6 a larger than life film is its protagonists.

The film is not a tagged in to a comic, action, thriller or a romantic genre. Delhi 6is an epic film and that's its genre; which was almost banished from Bollywood. For many critics, scholars and, most importantly, film producers, it was a thing of the past, something that could have attracted crowds only in the era of black-and-white television. There came the man who decided to use of all his energy and talents of actors and director in order to revitalise that particular genre – UTV and Ronnie Screwvala. In the end, whether the audience is patient enough to discover hidden meanings or simply wants to enjoy an entertaining film, Delhi 6 is more than adequate choice for all fans of this recently resurrected genre. The film does not preach, it does not advocate, it does not lecture or urge, but it searches the answers to the many questions which in today's time are either ignored or untouched.

How do you find mysticism in today's films? How can you make watching a film into a divine experience? Many spiritual seekers and Hollywood filmmakers today are fascinated by the real India which lies in the small towns, villages and cities like the Old Delhi. Those who do not have the time or the daring to travel to this exotic land can journey there via this questing film which leaves you with those answers which books alone cannot find.

Rating - ****

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

"Haath na lageeyo, Delhi 6 ka launda hoon. That's how the name Delhi 6 was born", Kamlesh Pandey talks about Delhi 6 and much more

exclusive by Devansh Patel

A pen is mighter than a sword. This saying stands true when it comes to writer Kamlesh Pandey after you read his answers to the interview below, and if you asked him why he chose a career in writing, he'd answer that it was much more a case of the career choosing him. Writing runs in his blood.
Let's face it, today most of the movies we see are just plain bad. Except for a few, there hasn't been a lot to get excited about lately (the last ten years or so.) It may be that the majority of professional storywriters and scriptwriters out there are not producing quality material, they're just simply collecting paychecks. We don't blame them, but wish we could collect six-figures for some of the trash that is being written. Anyway, welcome Pandey, a mixture of old school and new school types who wants to believe that his grey hair hasn't stopped him from penning new age films like Rang De Basanti and Delhi 6. After months and months of carefully plotting story, creating vivid characters and structuring a hundred and twenty pages in such a way for maximum dramatic impact, Pandey has become an orator of sorts. We found that out when the acclaimed writer invited us at his Juhu Link Road residence to talk about his writing and experiences in Delhi 6. A die hard patriot and a real lover of real India, he gets most of his inspiration from small town and villages and says, "That's where the real stories are found, not in Mumbai". A die hard fan of Raj Kapoor films, he believes that Delhi 6 is a modern interpretation of Raj saabs Jaagte Raho and questions, "If Raj Kapoor was alive today, how would he have made Jaagte Raho?". One of the most passionate writers we have today, Kamlesh believes, "We are no less than Vyas who wrote Mahabharata, Tulsidas who wrote Ram Charitra Manas or Valmiki who wrote Ramayana. We are their children". Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent and UK's Harrow Observer columnist grills Kamlesh Pandey over two hours in what went down as one of the most memorable interviews ever done by Devansh Patel in the past decade. So as the final word of the below interview was written, we got a bit saddened and recalled what the genius writer said, " The best reward for a writer is that he is the first audience of his work. Once it goes out of your hands, it belongs to the whole world. You lose it and just relish the moments of its creation".

How did the idea of making Delhi 6 cultivate?
The idea came from Rakeysh. He is from Ballimaran which is a part of Delhi 6 Chandni Chowk area. This was while I was writing Rang De Basanti. He once mentioned his memories of Delhi 6 and the kind of people, issues and behaviour, etc. Infact, I lived with Rakeysh in Delhi while doing the research for the film. I loved the place, its people, the culture and the attitude. People of Delhi 6 still call the soft drink which they serve in restaurants and dhabas, 'Campa Cola'. The guy will then bring a Pepsi or a Coke. That's what Delhi is about. The city is still trapped in a certain time zone. Rakeysh and I sketched bits and pieces of the city without knowing the fact that we will come out with beautiful film titled Delhi 6.

So what was the basic idea of Delhi 6 you wanted to come out with?
The basic idea of Delhi 6 was that of an NRI boy who comes to India with his grandmother, and like many other NRI's, he too finds the basic infrastructure not present; there is poverty, filth, superstition, etc. Eventually he hates India but by the end of the film he falls in love with it. Plus there was a love story weaved into the film too. But we thought that the basic idea wasn't enough. We needed something else.

And what was that 'something else'?
If you've seen my film Tezaab, it was Awara of 1988. How I started was with the thought that if Raj Kapoor was alive during that period, what Awara would be like. Tezaab had many tributes to Awara too. The introduction of the villain of Awara, K.N.Singh, in Awara is exactly the introduction of the hero of Tezaab, Anil Kapoor. Coming to Delhi 6, I remembered Raj saab's Jaagte Raho. It was a very simple film with Raj Kapoor looking for water. It was a man's search of water. But through that one simple incident, Raj Kapoor exposes the hypocrisy of the entire society; the biases, the hates, the loves, the double faces and so on. So I thought, let's make a modern interpretation of Jaagte Raho. Raj saab is my university. Not only me, but for many. Thus Delhi 6 also exposes the two-facedness of our society.

There is a very big statement in Delhi 6 about Americans too, right?
Yes there is. It's about George Bush but we haven't named him. There is this whole big sequence shot in New York about Indians and the Americans which you'll see in the film.

I'm sure the audience will accept Delhi 6 because of Rang De Basanti's success.
We don't know that. But what we know is that if Rang De would've flopped, Delhi 6 would not have existed. Rakeysh's Aks was a little ahead of its time. It was a very significant film where we tried to say something very important. But I think we missed the audience or the audience missed us. I'd like to say that the audience failed us because we let them get away with murder. For the success of every bad film, audience is equally responsible and not only the maker of that film. We have appeared for our exam and our exams are over. Now the audience will give their exam. This proves what they want – good cinema or bad cinema.

A man like you having grey hair can write about what's prevalent in today's time. You sure are a mix of old and new school types.
Rakeysh jokes a lot with me on that front (laughs). I was in the same flight which banged into the helicopter and I narrowly missed meeting our president mid air (laughs). I then called Rakeysh and said that my journey is still not over and he replied saying that I am still young to write for about a hundred films. I am not old to die. I like to keep in touch with what is happening to our present India. I don't only meet the people to find what's doing the rounds but I am a regular subscriber to the magazines or the work of fiction written in Hindi by many of our youngsters today. Mumbai is not the real India. The stories are not in Mumbai, the stories are out there in small villages and towns. I get the vicarious experience through the writing of what India is thinking and what our young India wants.

Have you scripted any character in Delhi 6 from the real India?
Yes I have. There are couple of people in Delhi 6 who are real life inspiration from my village in Allahabad. There is a person called 'Gobar' in Delhi 6 played by Atul Kulkarni who is a real person. I was a kid in my village Balia in Eastern U.P. when I knew him. He is so fascinating as a person that I want to write a whole film on him. His real name was different though. People often ask me that I should pursue direction but I tell them that I am not that greedy. Once you become a director, only one film is there for you in your mind, but as a writer, I am doing almost half a dozen films, animation too. I have a far richer life, not in terms of money, but in terms of telling stories which no director can claim to have.

How many changes did you make in the script of Delhi 6?
I have lost the count of the drafts. It's strange but true that the final draft of the script wasn't ready and we started the shoot of Delhi 6. I think, scripting is a very alive process. Sometimes, things happen suddenly and unexpected. That's why you have to be always open for changes all the time. A script isn't just a mere piece of paper. The best reward for a writer is that he is the first audience of his work. Once it goes out of your hands, it belongs to the whole world. You lose it. You relish the moments of its creation.

Relish some moments from Delhi 6 like how the name of the film was born?
There is an interesting story behind this. Me and Rakeysh were walking in the night in old Delhi where he was introducing me to the different areas. I was an alien there. While walking, we noticed that there was a fight going on in one of the corners of the street. During that time, the name of the film wasn't finalised. In fact, the name that we had in mind was revealing the whole story. Anyway, then one of the boys was getting beaten up by other three and that's when he said, "Haath na lageeyo, Delhi 6 ka launda hoon". I happened to hear that and told Rakeysh that we found the name of the film. What an attitute that boy had. Delhi 6 isn't just the postal code, it is the identity of the people living in old Delhi and it's culture.

But we also hear that the old Delhi was a set, right?
Yes, it was. I went for the shoot to Sambhar in Rajasthan where the re-created the old Delhi. Every sign board in that town was painted with Delhi 6 including the posters of the local Delhi politicians, the banners, etc. What a great job Sameer Chanda has done. I couldn't recognise that the set was old Delhi. It felt as if we were in Delhi 6.

With writers like you so clear about what they want, don't you think that writers should actually narrate the scripts to the actors along with the director?
I leave that part for Rakeysh to handle. Yes, we both are in sync with the script. The director knows as much as the actors know. Not that I avoid the actors but I am neither close to them nor far from them. Writers are more comfortable with the directors and not the actors and the same goes to the actors. They are more comfortable with the directors than writers. It's better that the director does the narration because finally, it's his vision. Rakeysh is very good with people and I am not. Sometimes you have to be a bit political, manipulative, smart, you have to see how people are reacting, etc. Rakeysh has these expertise and I don't. But when I am needed, I am always available.

We personally think that writers are the engine of the car. Without which the car cannot move ahead.
You're right. We writers have a very responsible role to play. We are story tellers of this nation. We are no less than Vyas who wrote Mahabharata, Tulsidas who wrote Ram Charitra Manas or Valmiki who wrote Ramayana. They were the story tellers of their time about our country and country men. We are their children. Whatever story I write, there is something of me going into it. D.J, Aamir Khan's name in Rang De Basanti, was me. When I left college, I was very much in demand because I was a writer. Many of my friends used my services to write love letters to their girl friends. Once I was out of the college, I was nobody. I was zero. That's why I kept going to my college to reclaim my old glory which was not there any more. DJ was me. In Tezaab too, a lot of Munna, Anil's character, was me. That anger and the angst is what I possessed while writing Anil Kapoor's role. I still am like that because you have to keep your anger alive in order to bleed your stories out of your system.

Did the same angst make you write Rang De Basanti?
Yes it did. Rang De Basanti started almost fifty years ago. As kids, we once heard Chacha Nehru say, "Anybody who is found corrupt in this country will be hanged by the nearest telephone pole". So next morning, we kids were going to school and saw all the telephone poles empty. We were so innocent that we believed in Nehru because we loved him beyond our limits. Forty years later, the telephone poles are still empty. Not a single politician nor a bureaucrat has been hanged from the nearest telephone pole. That was the angst which made me write Rang De Basanti.

A true Bharat you are.
Thank you. Well, each of your question has an interesting story. This one also. Our country isn't called 'Bharat' because of the great king Bharat. 'Bha' means light and 'Rat' means in search of. Imagine the great people who put the whole meaning of this country into the name. Bharat is a country which is in search of enlightenment and not in search of global domination, fame or economic growth. Our country has always been in search of light, even today, and that is the real glory of India.

Why should one go and watch Delhi 6?
Because Rakeysh and I have made one of the most unusual films which is so unique and fresh and so Indian. There hasn't been a film lately which is so Indian.

Tell us a bit about the pigeon in the film. Why so prominent on all the posters and hoardings?
(laughs) The pigeon is there because of Om Puri, who plays Sonam Kapoor's father. What to give him in terms of his role. Also we wanted to cover the roof tops of old Delhi. There are no sky scrappers in old Delhi and the roof tops make the most fascinating visuals in the mornings and the evenings. So how do you use the roof tops was the question. Then again, the pigeon is also a metaphor for Sonam Kapoor who wants to escape that environment. Om Puri's role in the film is to take care of the pigeons and feed them. It's a tradition which is still exists in India.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Tea, Mosquitoes and Rakeysh Mehra - Delhi 6 exclusive

exclusive by Devansh Patel

"Delhi 6 has been a sort of uniquely joyous experience from beginning to end. It was hard work, but it was just sort of blessed right down the line. I almost like to think that it's the karma of Rang De Basanti", said the busy Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra who was juggling time for his interviews in between his tea breaks, then going in the mixing studio, then heading back to the garden for a fag, then ordering his tea again, then giving an interview and then back to where it all began. If you allow him to do so, Rakeysh can cut an imposing figure. Towering somewhere above 6 feet, sporting a neatly trimmed grey beard, dark blue shirt and jeans, he looks like the type of person who won't put up with a whole lot of bull****. Hell, we've long heard rumours that he's nothing short of a taskmaster when on the set. But get Mehra talking about his work (filmmaking) and one of his major passions (filmmaking again) and you quickly learn that he's downright mellow and what's more, that all of those rumours are probably nothing but a bunch of lies. We could run through Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's credits, but you don't need that. His career has been an exercise in the advancement of the motion picture standard. His first film Aks was made way ahead of its time for it to have worked well theatrically. And just after that, his second film, Rang De Basanti, went on to get nominated at the BAFTAs. How about that? His meticulous attention to the detailing and designing the story fetched him an international recognition. And with Delhi 6 he says, "I have now reached the first standard after passing out from nursery and senior kg". Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent and UK's Harrow Observer columnist met the BAFTA nominee film, Rang De Basanti's director at Anand Studios in Pali Hill at ten in the night, where he takes us out for a stroll in the garden at half eleven and just seconds before we start the interview he said, "If the mosquitoes start biting just run inside". Over his 'god-knows-how-many' cups of tea he had during our two hour trip at the studio, he still recalled the last time we met him in 2007 at the Grosvenor Hotel in London's Hyde Park just hours before he put his feet on the BAFTA red carpet. Unaware of the fact that the clock struck twelve and yet another day nears the big release, under the beautiful moonlight, Rakeysh once again relights talking about Delhi 6, A.R. Rahman, his love for films, the doves and of course...some mosquitoes.

Does Delhi 6 capture the real essence of India?
Delhi 6 is a journey to discover this country. When I started this film, I didn't know why I was making it, but through this journey, I found out the reason for doing this. You can say that Delhi 6 is about the people of our country, the place, the beliefs, the disbeliefs, their contrast in religion, how they live in harmony, how they live in conflict, the whole Hindu – Muslim thing, the caste system in our country, the marriages, the dowry, etc and yet Delhi 6 works. Bureaucracy prevails but yet there is something great about it.

Why do you think such things are still prevalent?
This change has triggered with the turn of the century and I always wanted to know why such things are happening. It's a funny place, this country is. Schools will have no books, if there are books, there are no teachers, if there are teachers, there are no exams, no results, if you pass out from your college, you won't get a job, you get married, find a house where there is tap but no water. You are back where it all started from. How the hell does the country work. Along the line we discovered that it's the people. I didn't touch up on the writing process but as we were closing towards the final draft, we realised that there are too many problems which a common man himself brings up.

It sounds like the film works on various levels?
You're bang on. The film works on various levels. Delhi 6 is not a plot oriented film. It's like a fabric you're trying to weave. Each thread is like a person with different colours added to them. Somebody is as close as cotton or as smooth as silk and they all come in various sizes and shapes and yet they form a fabric and that's the society we live in. We see these things from the second generation Indian played by Abhishek Bachchan.

Was making Delhi 6 a tougher challenge than Rang De Basanti?
No questions about that. Yes, I was very nervous attempting Delhi 6. Cinematically, if Rang De was kinder garden then I am in first standard now. I can feel the growth. I hope when I come out of this film (after a pause) and I don't know when I'll come out. Maybe couple of years down the line when I look at it again, it will all fall in place for me. As of now, there is no objectivity in making Delhi 6.

Will Delhi 6 weave the magic like what RDB did?
I don't know. There are no expectations. We haven't structured the film in a way that it'll walk the red carpet across the world. Though it'll be wonderful to get an international recognition and at the same time, our Indian recognition. More importantly, if it can strike a chord with the audience, that'll be great. I have departed totally from Rang De. There is not a single thought process that'll echo. Somewhere subconsciously, I'll be trying to tell the same story in a different way, even if try not to. Something or the other will seep into it. The story of Delhi 6 permitted me not to repeat myself.

Why is there a mirror on the audio c.d. cover of Delhi 6? Is that giving away an important message?
It does. The film tells us to look at yourself and so the mirror. The pre-climax gets triggered with the mirror. It's not just look at yourself alone though. We look for so many things. We look for God in our own way. Some look for Ram, some for Allah, some for Jesus, some for Krishna, etc. Somewhere it's got that kind of a 'sufiana' flavour to it.

Abhishek has an accent in the film. How was the preparation process?
It was Abhishek's process. He worked on the body language and the American accent. Everybody worked on their individual accents. For Abhi, it came very naturally. Infact, he barely speaks through the film. He hardly has ten lines in the film. It's his voiceover which takes us through the film.

We've seen Rakeysh Mehra have a strong penchant for music. Is it Rahman, Prasoon or all you three together?
What an album, isn't it? Of course it is A.R. Rahman and Prasoon Joshi. I don't have lip sync songs in Delhi 6. If you've noticed, in Rang De also, I didn't have anyone singing songs. For me, the sound of the film, whether it's the background or the songs, is the fourth dimension. It's never upfront. It's like a soul in the film which you cannot see but can only feel it. You can also see the energy of the soul. The songs interpret the film and take it forward in their own way. Me, Rahman and Prasoon jam a lot. Three years ago, while I was making Rang De Basanti, I was already speaking Delhi 6 with them. We keep talking, meeting and discussing as to what's happening with the world, chat about music, watch a movie and in the process, something starts happening. I keep telling them a story and every time I tell them, it's a different story. I try very hard to confuse them and they think I make some sense.

Aren't there more mosquitoes interested in our talk today?
I'm sure they are. They must've been snubbed by the pigeon which I have shown on the posters of Delhi 6 (laughs)

The same time zone of Rang De before release and Delhi 6 before release. Can you tell the difference?
During Rang De, I was blank. Now I am blanker (laughs). If Rang De was a political drama, Delhi 6 is a social drama. In terms of expectations, Rang De was a tough act to follow and sometime, your success becomes your biggest enemy. Everywhere I go, people recognise me and talk about Rang De. Now we did some test screenings of Delhi 6 and I found out that this is the first time I've sketched romance. That's a major difference.

Isn't A.R. Rahman making your job tough by not being there in the crucial and a critical stage of the films release?
Rahman called me half an hour after he received the award at the BAFTAs and said, "I am feeling so guilty by not being there. Anything you feel irritated about the background score, just change that". He just returned last night from the U.S. He landed in Chennai, was talking to his engineers and was so worried about the music of Delhi 6. Infact, the background score is much better than the songs in Delhi 6. Background is the film. What we tried for the background was that we didn't score for the shot. We just sat and spent the whole month of December and not a single sound came out. Everybody was getting worried. Then Rahman won the Golden Globe, came back and he again sat and bits and bits happened. At one point, I and Rahman were discussing to postpone the release date of Delhi 6. We still couldn't crack the background. So we decided to crack theme on the subject of the film. Not on some particular scene. Rahman went into a different world all together after that. He played all the instruments that were available to him and just went for it. He came up with ten themes and at one point we were confused of what to use. He is a true magician. When we put the theme with the scenes it would start and end perfectly. Can you believe it?

Do you think you are losing your creativity by making one film every three years? I mean, if you made three films in three years, it could've been a much creative process.
I am happy to make one film in a lifetime. Film making is neither a race nor a number game. Though one thing (film) is stretching too much (laughs). I write, I direct, I produce. If I had sealed and bound scripts and good scripts, that will not quench my thirst. It has to be something cool which we can experiment with. Visually, the director is the writer. Then I have to produce because the kind of films I want to make, it's impossible to find a producer. Rang De Basanti took three to four years to find a producer till we roped in Aamir and in turn Aamir roped in Rahman.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Valentines Day special - When Dev Patel met Abhi Bachchan

exclusive by Devansh Patel

So often actors who are "on the edge" tend to forget how quickly the mountain of their talent can turn into the molehill of their image. But Abhishek Bachchan has developed such a talent for going so far over the edge so many times in his career that it's as if, by establishing his own perspective, he's redefined the boundaries. As one of modern cinema's most luminous points of light, binding together such disparate, and often desperate, is a sense of honour that seems to come from Abhi's implicit understanding of how far over the edge fate can lead us. But the buck doesn't stop there. Getting the chance to talk to the uber- talented Bachchan last weekend was, well, icing on the cake. It's no wonder that he has found so much success in his work for cult roles like in Yuva, Guru, Sarkar and Sarkar Raj – he is an intense but laid back man drawn to his passion while also seeming quite grounded. Our talk was brief, but what followed was a look into the process of making this genius. We won our battle to make Abhishek smile. But he made us smile too, which is maybe more important anyway. The principally serious-minded actor who loves joking around off and on the sets was closing in on the end of a long day on Valentine's Day as a special guest at the Indian Idol show taking place at the R.K. Studios in Chembur. He walks on to the sets along with his co-star Sonam Kapoor, shakes a leg to his favourite 'Kala Bander' and 'Masakali' to which the audiences scream 'once more'. He really got in the groove with his rapper style dance. Next, his bouncers in grey coloured safari suits come close to the sets signalling that it's time for Abhi to exit...and exit quick because he had to catch a flight to New York in the next five hours. Out walks the soaring Bachchan in his black suede suit with shiny black boots. By then, we had given up hope. He opens the door of his vanity van. Gets in and shuts it. Within seconds his bouncers open the door again, and then the extraordinary happens. Abhishek Bachchan invites us in his vanity van for the only interview he wanted to do on the V-Day. We knew it is hard work to talk to a journo after a four hour long shoot on the reality show but also knew that he's happy to do what he can to support Delhi 6. Five minutes into the interview, we hear "A.B, you in?" to which he replied, "Yeah Bhabhs". Now this is what a true gentleman does. He introduced us to Sonali Bendre, one of the Indian Idol judges for the season. "Meet my bhabhi Sonali", he says with utmost respect. His sweet bhabhi requests us, "How much time will you take to finish the interview?" We say, "Give us five minutes please". We were punctual and concluded on time. Ten minutes is what Abhishek took from us. But what we took back on that special day from Abhi was – his affability, his liberality, his gravity and his sincerity towards his family, his work, his fellow colleagues and journalists like us. Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent and UK's Harrow Observer columnist Devansh Patel met the towering personality called Abhishek Bachchan, on perhaps one of his most busiest days, where they discuss success, failure, overseas audience, Rishi Kapoor, Waheeda Rahman, Genda Phool and of course, Delhi 6, all in ten minutes. Didn't we say he had to catch a flight?

How far are we going to see an actor like you stretch? It feels as if you're already on the apex of your acting career.
Thank you. It's very kind of you to say that. But it's not about how far I'm going to stretch. It's about how far the directors are willing to push. It's always been about the director and I've always maintained that. We actors, unfortunately, end up walking away with all the credit but it has to go to the directors. I'm very fortunate that somebody like Rakeysh picked me to play Roshan in Delhi 6. We have tried something new. I think Rakeysh is somebody who you've grown to expect to change and to introduce a new narrative and a new language to cinema. I do hope that people appreciate the effort we've put into Delhi 6.

When we met Rakeysh Mehra and one of the writers, Kamlesh Pandey, they told us that Delhi 6 is a modern interpretation of Raj Kapoor's Jaagte Raho.
Let's put it this way. You see the film through Roshan's eyes and he leads you through the entire film. He is almost the conduit. He speaks to the audiences throughout the film through his voiceover, through his actions. This is something I've never done before and I hope I manage to take my audience through the film because if I manage to do that it means the audience have managed to allow themselves to be gripped by the story and the screenplay.

People always ask you – What have you learnt from your failure. Let's flip the question. What have you learnt from your success?
Not to take it seriously (smiles). That's the one thing everybody who've been successful will tell you. The day you start taking success seriously, it'll take it back from you the next day. Your success is an acknowledgment of your hard work and hopefully good work. But in order to maintain it, you have to continue to work hard if not harder. If you don't, as fast as you caught it, it's going to go away.

You will be the first Indian actor to put on an accent throughout the film. Was it then necessary to put on an enunciation to justify your character?
There is an interesting story behind this. We worked out an accent. I had an accent coach because Roshan was born and brought up in New York. So we felt that Roshan should have a strong New York accent. We did a few readings and worked on it for a month. I was then ready with the lingo. Once I was ready, we did another reading with Rakeysh and recorded it, and when I heard it again I said, "You know what I feel is going to happen is that this film is so rooted to India and Indian culture and it's so meant for the Indian audience that it can alienate them to some extent because they might have trouble understanding what I was saying". The NRI's wouldn't have a problem accepting it but back home in India things might go wrong. I had this thought because I was watching an English movie channel in India where this movie had English subtitles. I enquired why an English film should have an English subtitle to which they explained that a lot of times our Indian audience cannot understand the accent. So they want to read and know exactly what the person speaks. That made a lot of sense to me.

So what did you and Rakeysh finally decide?
I suggested Rakeysh to have a twang but not a very heavy accent because we could've confused our Indian audience. He thought about it for a very long time and still wanted to go with the accent. He convinced me to do another reading and by the end of it he finally agreed with me. We went for a faint hint of the accent. So in spite of training for a month we eventually did not go for it while we were on the sets. You will notice it once you see the film.

After Sarkar Raj making it to the 'Top Ten' films at the U.K box office last year, do you think the overseas audience are now accepting a change in cinema by not being tempted by just candy floss films?
I've always believed that a good film works and a bad film doesn't. Movies like Black, Sarkar and Sarkar Raj which are songless films have proved that they can collect huge amounts of money at the box office and do extremely well. All these films have gone down as one of the highest grossing films of that particular year. Having said that, I do believe that there is a bit of a glass ceiling. We as Indians want to see certain elements in our films. We love our song, our dance, our emotion, and if you see the trend, it's not only about candy floss films. It's about a film which has poetic justice. Song, dance and emotions are the three strong pillars of Indian films which I think are required and that's when your audience opens up. So although I think Sarkar Raj did break the shackles last year, it will still take more time until the overseas completely accepts a songless film.

So is it right to say that Delhi 6 has all the three pillars?
You're right. Delhi 6 is a very commercial film. It's got its song, dance and emotions but it's also got a new narrative. I think Delhi 6 will appeal to both Indian and the overseas audiences because of its strong narrative.

Please share with us your unforgettable experience working with Waheeda-ji and Rishi-ji.
(smiles) They are two of my favourites. I've worked with Waheeda aunty before in Om Jai Jagdish. It was a sheer honour to work with her again. She is the most dignified and beautiful lady on Earth. She's such a wonderful person to be on the sets with. She has this aura about her which lights up everyone's life and I can't be more privileged that I have already done two films with her. Actors go through their entire career not having an opportunity to work with her because she doesn't do lot of work. I was very excited that she had agreed to do Delhi 6. I was equally, if not slightly, more excited about Chintu uncle because he was my childhood hero. If there was anybody after dad for me, it was Chintu uncle. So there I was, with one of my childhood idols. Guess what; he didn't let me down at all in terms of whatever I expected of him in the screen space I share with him in the film. He is sheer brilliance. He is so effortless yet stylish and just the class with which he pulls off his performances is commendable and makes you very envious.

It's been ages that we Indians have played that one song in every marriage taking place in India. The last one I remember was 'Didi Tera Dewar Deewana' from Hum Aapke Hain Kaun. I guess 'Genda Phool' has arrived with a bang.
(smiles) What's wonderful about Genda Phool as oppose to the rest of the album is that it's a fantastic fusion between a folk song and a modern orchestration and production. What's heartening about Genda Phool is that it makes you feel that India still has its heart in its roots. You give them (audience) something which is embedded in Indian culture; they're going to go for it. I'm so happy about that. It's an old folk song which Rahman and his team reproduced with the infusion of modern beats. The song epitomises the India of today.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

by Devansh Patel

It's always hard for youngsters to escape the shadow of a famous parent and find individual success. Harder still in Bollywood where entry to the A-List is so brutally restricted. So what price would have been put on Sonam Kapoor to make it, given that she had three big names in her family? Born to the award winning actor Anil Kapoor, she was also raised by Anil's elder and younger brothers Boney Kapoor and Sanjay Kapoor. The chances of matching any one of these were slim, yet Sonam rose to the challenge, being nominated and winning the Best New Comer Female at various award functions for her debut film Saawariya, testing herself by working with the likes of India's leading film makers – Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, pushing herself to the limit by working with talents like Ranbir Kapoor and Abhishek Bachchan, and becoming a headline star and a front cover girl for many magazines till date. With her ever smiling and vibrant facial expressions, charming persona, flowing locks and pretty dresses, she is an icon of innocence, a role model for pre-pubescent girls in the struggling world of Indian films. For Sonam, this was both a blessing and a bane. Surely, her Saawariya had made her famous and relatively wealthy, but there was no guarantee that the public would accept her in more serious ventures. Aggressively seeking a new audience with her first film, the effortless actress now shows that she would not be judged by her films but by the characters she portrays in them. In the five minutes we got to spend with her amidst the twenty other journalists spreading their wings like pigeons in Trafalgar Square and her cute little pet 'Bacardi', a white pom-pom, guarding her safe from the lot, Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent and UK's Harrow Observer columnist Devansh Patel met the smart, stylish, poised, polished and the ever so effervescent Sonam Kapoor at her Juhu residence where the juvenile actress spoke about her second film, the much anticipated Delhi 6, where she plays a bubbly and bouncy 'Bittu', her skepticism with the word 'de-glam', her favourite 'gajar ka halwa and gol gappas' she enjoyed having in Delhi, her new task master Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, her 'chaddi-buddy' yaar Ranbir Kapoor, her 'thirty five film old' co-star Abhishek Bachchan who couldn't stop reminding her of the number of films he has done till date, a remake of a film she'd love to be a part of and a special message for the entire cast and crew of Slumdog Millionaire just before going to the Oscars.

With the way an actor dresses, it makes easier for the audiences to identify with the character one portrays. In Saawariya and in Delhi 6 we have seen you at your natural. What say?
First of all, in Saawariya I was so dressed up, wearing full make up and jewellery and clothes which were worth its value in gold. Just because you wear Indian clothes doesn't mean that you are de-glam. I think that's wrong notion. If glamorous means wearing short skirts and shiny tops with sequence on it then that's a wrong impression of being glamorous. I play what the character demands me to play. If my character demands me to wear jeans or skirts or western outfits, I'll be up for it but can also look de-glam by putting on such outfits if I don't carry them well with my character. At the end of the day, it's all about looking nice and right now I am not looking that bad yaar, come on! (laughs). I am not wearing Indian outfits in Delhi 6. Both the characters I've played, in Saawariya where I play a muslim girl and in Delhi 6 where I play a Hindu girl are two completely opposite roles in terms of the body language and dress. I like to play characters which have different layers to it.

In the two films you've completed so far, you've worked with co-stars whom you've known since your childhood – Ranbir and Abhishek. Does the equation on screen then become much easier?
I don't think knowing someone since your childhood really matters. It's acting at the end of the day. I get along with people in seconds. I am not a reserved person. We are sitting, chatting and eating food from the same plate in a day. It's obviously easier to be working with them from the first scene on the sets as I've known Abhishek for years now. I also know him better because we've met socially at many events and are born in the same vicinity that is Juhu. Ranbir is my 'chaddi buddy'. My comfort level with him is like what two best friends have which was pretty evident in Saawariya. Abhishek helps me out a lot which he did during Delhi 6 and kept on reminding me of his experience with the thirty five films he has done so far compared to mine who is only two films old (laughs).

Delhi 6 title track has become the current rage across the country, especially in the capital. How has the Delhi 6 musical journey by the Golden Globe and the BAFTA winner been?
Oscars now to follow, and as I say, we all live in hope. Music is a very inherent part of Indian cinema. I think most songs in Delhi 6 just lifts the film up. Delhi 6 isn't a musical journey but music is there in the film to enhance the visuals of the film. With Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra directing it, the film was already a brilliant film in terms of its story telling. And with A.R. Rahman on board as a music director, the film has become simply outstanding.

Was Rakeysh Mehra instrumental in bringing out the real masakali-matakali 'bittu' in you?
(laughs) He truly did. But as far as the song is concerned, it was Vaibhavi Merchant who gets credited for that. She is so gracious and the song has turned out to be like her too. But the song is what I am in real life. Coming back to my director, Rakeysh works a lot on the script. He needs the script to be very perfect before we hit the sets and so there are hardly any changes while we are shooting. Cinema is a very human thing for me and I do improvise on the sets. I'm sure everyone else does the same too but with such a tight script with minimal changes. Rakeysh knows what he wants and lets you be who you are in real life which according to me is a very organic process while working. Rakeysh has spent most of his childhood in Delhi and he wanted to make 'Delhi' as the protagonist of the film showing its culture, belief, people, food, and love and warmth the capital has which makes you look within to find the answers in todays difficult time.

How did Delhi treat a Mumbaiker like you?
With open arms (laughs). I love Delhi. I like the people of Delhi and its fashion, the way they talk and walk, the way they dress up and the way all Delhi public is so hooked on about food. They are eat-a-holics. Me too (laughs) and that works for me. There was this D.J. which used to come and play old songs from our Hindi films dated in 70's and 80's and we all used to dance to the tracks till late in the night. I also went out of control by having my favourite 'gajar ka halwa' and 'gol-gappas'. Actually, there is an interesting story behind this that not many know. When we reached Delhi and wanted to eat pani-puri, people couldn't understand what the word stood for till we found out that in Delhi, nobody uses the word 'pani-puri', it's only 'gol-gappas' which is their way of describing the mouth watering dish. I didn't even spare that, can you believe it? I'd also like to mention that the lingo of Delhi-ites is poles apart to that of Mumbaikers. Nothing personal but that's what I noticed when we shot in the capital. We also came to know that the Chandni Chowk area post code is Delhi 6. So if one wanted to go to Chandni Chowk, you needed to say, "Delhi 6 le chalo", and the rickshaw driver would immediately understand where you want to go.

Is Delhi 6 going to spark a debate due to its sensitive story dealing with a Hindu-Muslim subject?
No it's not going to and I hope not. It's a beautiful story with Delhi as the backdrop, the love story between me and Abhishek and how Rakeysh has brought to life the old walled city in todays contemporary time is what Delhi 6 is all about. I cannot give away much as of now.

It's a time of re-makes our industry is going through. Any one in particular you'd wish to work for?
I'd love to portray the timeless classic role of Rosy from the film Guide which Waheeda Rahman played with such ease. She was so vibrant and full of energy, like what I am off screen. I am sure I'll be able to pull it off well.

Any big premiere plans?
Yes. The premiere is going to be in Delhi and don't ask me why because I am sure you must've figured it out. We are also going to take out a rath-yatra to promote the film which will be flagged off in a few days and will then be doing rounds of publicity in the overseas in Los Angeles, etc. We are also going all out to promote Delhi 6 in the North of India. We hope the film will touch the hearts and minds of the people across the globe. Delhi 6 is a very special film for all of us but it means a lot more to one man than all of us – Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra.

Your father, along with the rest of the cast and crew of Slumdog Millionaire are now heading to the Kodak Theatre in ten days to attend the Oscars. Any special message for them and A.R. Rahman who might be the second Indian in a few days to win an Oscar?
I am very proud of the fact that a film like Slumdog Millionaire which talks about India and Indians has reached this platform where it has become a part of world cinema. We've got technicians and film makers and actors who've now shown that talent isn't restricted only to the West. The East is the new West. I wish the entire team of Slumdog Millionaire the very best at the Oscars. And for Rahman, I am sure he is going to get his hat-trick.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

"BAFTA was a phenomenal experience", Anil Kapoor talks to Devansh Patel post the BAFTAs

exclusive by Devansh Patel

There is a great chinese expression - You never own anything unless you can swallow it. When Anil Kapoor signed on the dotted line to work with Danny Boyle in Slumdog Millionaire, little did he realise that a small but an important role of a game show host would pay him big dividends in the months to come. Since three decades, Anil has slogged and sweated through the hot days only for his best and the biggest red carpet events to arrive come 2009 - The Golden Globes, the BAFTAs and The Academy Awards (Oscars) to follow. Though the weather played a spoilt sport at the BAFTAs red carpet this year, it couldn't drench the spirit of this authoritative acting export who was suited in a black Armani from top to toe. Who once was one of the most accessible actors available for interviews is now difficult to get hold of post the scintillating worldwide success of Slumdog Millionaire. But for us, it couldn't have got any more exclusive than this. The biggest event in the British film calendar, The Orange British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs) just got over two days ago, and Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent and UK's Harrow Observer columnist has just about recovered from the excitement, till another one awaits its arrival. In this post BAFTA world exclusive interview which lasted not more than ten minutes, the euphoric Anil Kapoor talks to Devansh Patel about his best awards night experience ever, his interactions with the who's who of Hollywood, what was it like to be holding his own umbrella on the red carpet, his dinner time spent with the legendary Clint Eastwood and why he thinks that Slumdog Millionaire is nothing short of a Bollywood film.

The whole of India wants to know, what was it like walking that red carpet at the BAFTAs?
It was phenomenal and an absolutely fantastic experience. It was raining heavily, the weather was damn cold but the entire team of Slumdog Millionaire was feeling warm (laughs).

We also hear that you met and chatted quite a lot with Hollywood's great Clint Eastwood. Brief us a bit about that experience.
Yes, that's true. We had dinner together and were discussing films till we finished our meal. Clint Eastwood is the most respected man in Hollywood today. He is a combination of everybody put together. What I liked about his work is that he does things on his own terms. All the actors in Hollywood want to work with him. We both shared with each other our experiences on how we started our career in films and so on. He is a great listener too. I spent a lot of time with him on the dinner table which will always remain special.

Any comments from Clint on your film or on your performance in Slumdog Millionaire?
He loved the film and the performances. But what he did mention to me was that a film like Slumdog Millionaire has split wide opened the doors for the actors in the East to come join the West. There was a time during his peak when they had to rely heavily on the actors only from Hollywood but he feels that even Bollywood has now made it's big leap with such a film, thanks to Danny Boyle. He knows that Indian actors can act and win awards at the worlds biggest award functions. He also predicted that Slumdog Millionaire might do $300 million worth of collection at the box office.

Do you think that Slumdog Millionaire is a Bollywood film then?
It is completely a Bollywood film. The story is very Indian and so are all the actors. hen I was offered to do Slumdog Millionaire, I didn't know who Danny Boyle was. For me, he was just a film maker who made films. People go to see people in films. So you tell me who were the people in this film? They were Indians. Some like me were professional actors, others were new comers, some were completely raw in their performances. But all had one thing in common - They were somehow connected to the Indian roots. Indian cinema should be very proud of Slumdog Millionaire.

While all the guests and nominees were escorted under the huge umbrella, you went for the role reversal by holding your own umbrella on the wet red carpet. Why?
(laughs) I had an escort with an umbrella but the way he was holding the umbrella was getting me wet. I got hold of the umbrella myslef so atleast I could protect my suit and my hair (laughs).

Oscar night is almost ten days away. Any designers who are trying to dress you up for your biggest awards night ever?
There are loads but I'll be sticking to ready made suits. Like the one I was wearing at the BAFTAs was a creation by Armani. I will again go with the best in the business, Armani, for the Oscars.

Did you get emotional when A.R. Rahman and Resul Pookutty walked on the stage to collect their BAFTAs?
We were all sitting together with all of us feeling excited, thrilled and at the same time, a bit emotional. I met both of them during dinner where I showered my emotions on them by hugging them tight. It was a proud moment for all three of us who represent the Indian Film Industry popularly known as Bollywood. Resul had earlier worked on my film Gandhi My Father for which, I think, he should've won an Oscar for the kind of work he had done in the film. But sometimes there is something better and bigger installed for you. You have to be aligned doing consistently good work and that's what Rahman and Resul have done. So when you're consistent about your work, not thinking what the result is going to be, and you keep on doing good work, someday you will be awarded.

Will Slumdog Millionaire's success change the fate of Bollywood and Hollywood for good?
A hopeful change, I must say. Everybody has to take a broad minded and a positive attitude towards what has happened with Slumdog and embrace its success. If people, and by that I mean, everyone connected to film making try to put the film down or condemn it, then they will miss this golden oppurtunity.

Any Hollywood celebrity you met and mingled with inside the famous Royal Opera House in Convent Garden?
Now this has been one of my big moments in life. I met most of the Hollywood stars like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Mickey Rourke and Kate Winslet. I also congratulated Penelope Cruz. It was just a quick introduction to them. But what I found was so touching about all the names I've just mentioned is, the bigger and richer you get as an actor, the more humble and down to earth you are. Everybody connected with films all over the world knows everybody connected with Slumdog Millionaire. But I'd like to mention that the one person who was dearly missed at last nights BAFTAs was the Late Heath Ledger. I would've loved to meet him.

Slumdog Millionaire lead the BAFTAs with seven awards followed by three awards for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Are you guys ready to sweep the Oscars too?
We are not thinking too much about the Oscars. At the moment, we are only going to celebrate our BAFTA success. Come February 22, things will again get serious (laughs).

Sunday, 8 February 2009

World exclusive BAFTA 2009 - Slumdog Millionaire sweeps the awards night!

exclusive by Devansh Patel

Click...click...click....click....That's how the 2000 people including the distinguished guests, members of the Academy and the award nominees of the BAFTA Awards 2009 were greeted on the lavish red carpet laid down at the Royal Opera House, Convent Garden in London last night to find out who got their hands on the world famous BAFTA masks. We are talking about the creme de la creme of the Hollywood, British and the Indian Film Industry who walked the red carpet last night all under one roof. Best Supporting Actress nominee Penelope Cruz caught the eye in Vicky Cristina Barcelona was in her flowing balck creation Alaia, Angelina Jolie, the Best Actress nominee for Changeling hit the red carpet like an Armani Prive lightening flash alongside partner and Best Actor contender Brad Pitt who was sporting a moustache, Marisa Tomei, in the Best Supporting Actress category for The Wrestler brought a dash of subtle colour to proceedings in her sari style gown, Sharon Stone, presenter of the BAFTA for Outstanding British Film, was radiant in red Galliano, Mumbai's very own Frieda Pinto, a Best Supporting Actress nominee for Slumdog Millionaire was Oscar De La Renta's vision in Pink. The ever smiling Dev Patel in his black suit looked perfectly relaxed despite being the youngest nominee in the Best Actor category for Slumdog Millionaire and Danny Boyle with his charming personality pleased one and all.

The winners of the Orange British Academy Film Awards in 2009 were announced at a grand ceremony hosted by British actor and comedian Jonathan Ross.

The party continued inside for the cast and crew of Slumdog Millionaire as it won five of the first nine awards. "It's been a quiet night for us tonight," deadpanned cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle, one of several technicians to be recognised for his work on Boyle's film. "I know it seems as if one ought to get used to it," said Simon Beaufoy, whose Slumdog script landed the best adapted screenplay award.
Slumdog Millionaire was named Best Film at yesterday's Orange British Academy Film Awards, held at London's Royal Opera House. The film also won six other awards: Director for Danny Boyle, Adapted Screenplay for Simon Beaufoy, Music for A.R.Rahman, Cinematography for Anthony Dod Mantle, Editing for Chris Dickens and Sound for Glenn Freemantle, Resul Pookutty, Richard Pryke, Tom Sayers, Ian Tapp.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button won three BAFTAs; for Production Design, Make Up & Hair and Special Visual Effects. Kate Winslet was awarded the BAFTA for Leading Actress for The Reader. The Supporting Actress BAFTA went to Penélope Cruz for her role in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Mickey Rourke won the Leading Actor award for The Wrestler and the Supporting Actor award was presented posthumously to Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight. In a very good night for British film, In Bruges won the BAFTA for Original Screenplay and The Duchess won the BAFTA for Costume Design. Director/writer Steve McQueen received The Carl Foreman Award for Special Achievement by a British Director, Writer or Producer for their First Feature Film for Hunger.

The BAFTA for Outstanding British Film went to the documentary Man on Wire. I've Loved You So Long took away the Film Not in the English Language BAFTA and the award for Animated Film went to Wall•E. Wallace & Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death won the Short Animation award and the Short Film award was presented to September. Two awards were announced earlier this week: the Academy Fellowship was awarded to Terry Gilliam and the award for Outstanding Contribution to British Cinema was presented to Pinewood and Shepperton Studios.

The Orange Rising Star Award was presented to Noel Clarke, director and star of Adulthood. This award recognises an international actor or actress who has demonstrated exceptional talent and has begun to be recognised as a film star in the making. This award, now in its fourth year, was created in honour of Mary Selway, the highly respected casting director, who died in 2004.

With Slumdog Millionaire sweeping the awards at this years BAFTA's, we'll have to wait and watch if this award winning film hits the maximum at OSCARS 2009.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

DEV P reviews DEV D. Harrow Observer, U.K exclusive!

DEV P reviews DEV D...anurag eshtyle! – Harrow Observer, U.K exclusive!

18+ A review.
by Devansh Patel

First off, let’s set out the criteria: a bad Bollywood movie title does the opposite of its intention, which is to arouse your interests and convince you to buy the tickets from the box office. Nope, these titles work against them — they disgust, confuse or just plain turn you off. I’ve divided them up into 4 categories: 1) Gross, 2) Groan, 3) Stupid, and 4) What The Hell. Let’s put it this way, Dev D is an attempt to make a porno classic from a cult classic without showing it.

I sort of hesitate to make this claim, because of all the porn in the world, I've really only seen a fraction of it. And honestly, I wouldn't want to see anymore, I don’t know if my ego could withstand the blow of that much porn with the cheesy ‘oooh’s and ouch’s’, that too in a Hindi style. Could you believe it?
But I did, when I saw Dev D at the Brass Band premiere at Chandan talkies in Mumbai.

The film kick starts with young Dev and Paro in their school going days struggle to argue over a dabba filled with paratha. Cut to a completely grown pervert Paro talking to a fully grown desperate Dev in London with the London Eye spying in the backdrop. With all his teenage life spent in London, Dev wants to see his bachpan ka love completely nude on his jhakaas laptop. What more? Off go the clothes, off goes Paro for developing her ‘personal asset’ picture and then trying to scan it herself and send it across to Dev in no time. Dev sees the picture of Paro and says, “Main Aa Raha Hoon”.

Next up were some B grade scenes with Dev smooching a girl inside the poultry farm. Dev trying to do ‘woh’ with Paro in her room, in her backyard and in the middle of a field where ‘Paro ne pura intezaam kar ke rakha tha’. Both start making love till the film’s most distort lines are uttered by Paro, “Tumhe kitne baal hain”. Apna Dev doesn’t allow Paro to come near him and calls her a slut with no sense of dressing. But before that happens, Dev gets upset over allegations made by Paro’s original lover that he has slept with her and that she is too hot to handle. But our Dev cannot handle it and his emotional atyachaar begins with the brass band song.
Now the introduction of Leeny, a young school student. She turns Chanda, a high profile hooker in no time after being ‘ghar se be dakhal’ by her mother. Guess what! Leeny’s father commits suicide because he sees his daughter making love ‘chori chori chupke chupke’. Cut to Chanda’s first customer.....Anurag Kashyap himself in a special cameo. By that time, things were getting too hot inside Chandan. I had already gulped about two bottles of Coke without Vodka.

As a common man, I turned to watch Dev D for two reasons – one, to see some hot erotic scenes and two, to see how many people were actually going to chuck their condoms in the bin after watching Dev D. To my surprise, I was disappointed with the results. No erotic scene and no condom being chucked. I mean, why should they? It is better to be safe than sound. I also figure there may be people out there who've seen worse (and I'm sure I'll be getting your emails).

Usually when it comes to porn, you have to throw all logic out the window anyway. The "storylines" (and I use that term as loosely as possible) are so far-fetched, it's ridiculous! Not like we're not here to see fuc***g, why even bother? I guess this is the director's attempt to somehow establish himself as a valid artist, and not just the guy who says "Okay, now put it in her b***." Why not just show us what we want to see and cut the crap? I don't need to know why they're doing it, that sh** is unnecessary information. Now, theoretically, the story should stop here. Anurag has just accomplished his mission of showing his first ever B grade flick.

My favorite part about this whole film was the ‘Emotional Atyachaar’ song and the way Sinbad Phugra and his ‘Twilight Players’ danced. But anyway, I digress. More than whatever disturbing fetishes and sexual deviances a film like Dev D can come up with, it's the actual storyline that leave me fuc**d up and crying for my mortal soul, which leads me to what I feel is the worst film ever. RGV, you can now stand up and pat your back for making RGV ki Aag.’ UTV Spot Boys should on the spot decide whether to show this kind of ‘atyachaar’ to their audiences or not. Anurag should learn from Madhur Bhandarkar – Stick to emotions baba....It would rather make sense for Kashyap to make a film on the Porn industry. Madhur, please don’t get inspired now!

Okay, back to the crap. Abhay Deol acts well, Mahi is ‘nahiiiiiiiiiiiii ab bas bhi karo’ and Kalki should be a good girl and join school again.

While there's nothing overtly shocking or disgusting (aside from all the scenes in the film), it just continually and gradually eats away at your soul until you are nothing left but a lifeless husk, a shell of what you used to be. Much like Japanese horror films, the aim isn't for a cheap "Oh shit!" shock value, but for something that will emotionally scar you for years to come. And boy oh boy did this film succeed. So I have dubbed it the ‘Worst Porn Ever’.

RATING – Not applicable

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

World exclusive - 'Aa Dekhe Zara' promo watch starring Neil Nitin Mukesh and Bipasha Basu

by Devansh Patel

Now this one's an exclusive! Bollywood Hungama is all set to get you the exclusive look of the much awaited Neil Nitin Mukesh and Bipasha Basu film Aa Dekhe Zara. By the way, it's not the poster of the film, it's the teaser trailer...and must say..it looks first rate.

So without giving away much, Neil plays a role of a photographer in the film who seems to be obsessed by clicking pictures of anything and everything including himself wherever he travels. Bipasha Basu plays a D.J. in the film who is in love with Neil. The teaser starts off with Neil and Bips introduction to their individual characters, breaks into a song, and then everything gets serious till Neil meets his date with fate. The film looks like a thriller in a dark setting. Having said that, last year, we also brought to attention that 'Freeze' was the original working title of the film, and going by the look of the teaser it may just be that the film is an inspiration from the 2004 Lee Evans starrer 'Freeze Frame' where the protagonist, after being accused of a hideous murder becomes paranoid and starts filming himself along twenty-four hours a day to have an alibi if necessary.

Needless to say, that Johnny Gaddar will continue his winning ways by capturing audiences with his thrillers to come this year - New York and Aa Dekhe Zara. Till then, let's wait and watch Kisme Kitna Hai Dum!

Monday, 2 February 2009

World exclusive - Pierce Brosnan, Jon Harris and the Hinduja Brothers roped in the Big B starrer Teen Patti

exclusive by Devansh Patel

You had your eyes wide open when you saw Denise Richards romancing our Bollywood action hero Akshay Kumar in Kambakht Ishq; you had your jaw drop when you saw Sylvester Stallone having a laugh with our size zero girl Kareena Kapoor on the sets of the same film. Just a few days ago Bollywood Hungama also broke the news that producer director Vidhu Vinod Chopra has signed in Hollywood actor Mickey Rourke for his next big project. It's the West meets the East season. But wait...there's something more which is going to get you blackjacked!

Leena Yadav Bajaj's film Teen Patti, rings a bell? The high-stake gambling film with a cause which is headed by Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay Devgan, R Madhavan, Raima Sen and many others is due to release this year. The film is said to have been inspired from a true story of MIT students who mastered the art of card counting and took Las Vegas casinos for millions in winnings. In fact, Hollywood made its own version of the film last year, the Kevin Spacey starrer 21.

Now seeing our Bollywood directors getting inspired by the western neighbours is one thing, but seeing these big Hollywood stars getting inspired by our Bollywood cinema is another. And to join the ongoing list of biggies is an Irish born Hollywood actor who swept the entire world by his suave acting skills. Following a stage acting career he rose to popularity in the television series Remington Steele after which there was no looking back and what followed were blockbuster films like Mrs. Doubtfire, Golden Eye, Die Another Day, Tomorrow Never Dies, Laws of Attraction, The Thomas Crown Affair, The Tailor of Panama and Mama Mia to name a few. He had the biggest and the maddest female following in the U.K during his 'Bond' days and of course, he was popularly known around the world as 'Bond...James Bond'. Ladies and gentlemen...the newest name to join the elite list of Hollywood actors in a Bollywood film is Pierce Brosnan in Teen Patti.

We've known from our sources that Mr. Brosnan's scenes were entirely shot in Oxford, U.K. and the film kick starts with him in a sitting cameo. Whether or not he will be sharing screen space with Big B or Ajay Devgan will only come to light when the film releases. That's not all. We've also come to know that Jon Harris who edited Guy Ritchie film Snatch has also been roped in to edit Teen Patti. Looks like it's all going to be a clean cut for director Leena Yadav Bajaj who is all set to win hands down by roping in Pierce Brosnan and Jon Harris. The question remains - Are they worth the gamble?

We heard it through the grapevine that the Hinduja Brothers have also got a big stake in Teen Patti. So is it their U.K connection which worked to get Brosnan and Harris? Well, it just might be.

"Phirr is going to be one of the best thrillers of 2009", Rajniesh Duggall

exclusive by Devansh Patel

Now it could've been quite unfair on my part not to be meeting Rajniesh Duggall (yes..name change for namesake) after I introduced the two Phirr ladies a few weeks back on our website. A chanced meeting was fixed, thanks to Roshni Chopra, who happened to be our co-ordinator. I was called by the model turned actor to his Andheri residence to join him for a cuppa coffee. The good thing was, he gave me the second option of an Ice cream too. But had to go for my black without sugar caffine intake. The door opens and I see Rajniesh and his wife, Pallavi, greet me. So sweet...even sweeter..their cosy little house which completely took me by surprise. I was zapped. Seen the way both have designed their house inspired me. It always has. What's more...everything kept on the wall, shelf or desk had it's own significance. Like when I sat on the sofa, to my left was a lovely vintage clock which displayed time on both sides. When asked Rajniesh, he replied, "One side is for my guy who can see the time and the other side is for me and my wife who can check on him whether he has come on time for work". All in good humour. Next to the clock was a huge frame of 1920 glued on the wall which Duggall wanted to shift it somewhere else so that he could put up some of his personal pictures from his collection. Fair enough, as long he doesn't chuck it away. I'm sure he won't. It's his first film. Then he shows me some of his toy cars and small elephant show pieces which he has hand painted himself. Quite an art I should say! He takes me in his room where he had also painted one side of his wall green, a very different green with different strokes of orange and yellow and many other colours added in one. Had a Lamborgini poster stuck on the wall too. Infact, Pallavi had also contributed to the wall by painting some beautiful butterflies. Wall of Fame huh? But there was one thing which I was really impressed with - the way Rajniesh described the importance of five square frames. The middle frame had an Al Pacino screaming from Scarface, the bottom right had a Sylvester Stallone working out his punches from Rocky, the bottom left had another Stallone picture from Rocky III where he comes face to face with his challenger Mr T. The top left had the ever so gorgeous Marlyn Monroe's million dollar smile and the last top right frame had the Simpsons. No matter how good an actor Rajniesh will turn out to be, one thing is certain, he believes in the agression of Pacino which all of us should have, he believes in never giving up, he believes in facing his fear and never run away from it, he is a true romantic person and a husband and feels that life sometime has to be funny too. In this Bollywood Hungama exclusive, a man with many visions, Rajniesh talks about his second offering Phirr, his first love - 1920 and Pallavi, his wife, his new co-star Roshni Chopra, his time spent in the U.K and how he thought Slumdog Millionaire wasn't up to the mark. Over to the completel man!

It's quite a shock to many that you weren't nominated at the Star Screen Awards under the best debutanbt male. Were you unhappy?
You're right, I wasn't nominated. I've always been a sportsman and I have always won my races. That's how I play the game. Yes, I do feel that nomination toh banata tha. Somewhere the jury must've thought that some other people were better or they must've missed my name out (laughs). But yes, I should've been nominated.

After 1920 comes Phirr which is shot in the U.K. You should be the Indian ambassador for the U.K. What say?
(laughs) Why not, both 1920 and Phirr are shot in the U.K. My second film Phirr is 50% shot in Newcastle.

How different was the U.K experience this time around?
In 1920, we were just shooting around the castle. Phirr wasn't a really chilled out shoot because we had to shoot a lot of out doors in different locations. The weather wasn't the best to shoot in as the temperature went to -3 degrees. I had a lot of chase and fight sequences to do in the severe cold which becomes quite tough compared to how you shoot them in the normal temperatures. Newcastle was a beautiful place where we could walk everywhere. The best part about U.K is that you can walk everywhere. You can take a tube and be on your own. There were some lovely bridges to see with some delicious Italian and chinese food accompanied by a great night life. We even found one lebanese joint where sheesha was available but we were not allowed the sheesha as laws of smoking have changed for better in that part of the west. Ofcourse, I injured my finger there during one of the chase sequences coming down some hundred stairs. Nothing serious but had a few stitches.

It's bizaare but 1920 and Phirr has no scene from London, the commercial capital of the U.K. Did you miss shooting in London?
This time I didn't shop from London as time did not allow me. I have a lot of friends there. Pallavi, my wife, has studied in London. So she has a lot of friends there who are bankers. Poor them, they are just ready to be kicked out due to recession (laughs). Some have luckily ventured out into new businesses. I just had a day off from Newcastle but did not visit London.

How was your working experience with the director of Phirr, Girish Dhamija different from Vikram Bhatt in 1920?
From one Bhatt to the other. He has moved on. He used to write screenplays for the Mahesh Bhatt camp and is now doing it for Vikram Bhatt. Story wise, Girish is very sound and technically, Vikram Bhatt is very sound. Girish, along with the director of photography and the producer would sit and discuss the entire scene out and only then go on the sets to shoot it. That was like doing your homework before going on the sets. I was quite impressed. I'd also like to state that Girishji's chief assistant director, Gurdeepji, could not come to the U.K because he was denied visas. That was a big blow for us. if your right hand is missing, you're handicapped. But Dhiraj Ratan, who had written 1920, came to the rescue. He offered to be the chief A.D. He tried to handle as much as he could and touchwood, did it very well.

From a horror genre to a thriller. What chills, thrills and frills are you going to offer this time around besides chanting the Hanuman Chalisa?
(laughs) For a change, I am not going to chant Hanuman Chalisa this time. There is no religious aspect in the film. Phirr has a lot of emotion, drama and action. It's got speed to it. It will require a lot of editing because it's like going forward and coming back kind of a story. Once the film is totally edited, it'll turn into one of the best thrillers you'll see this year. The film releases around June - July.

How did you get along with your debutant actress of Phirr, Roshni Chopra?
Roshni has a lot of experience as she comes from the television medium. She has done a few tele soaps. So she knows how to face the camera. It is always a pleasure working with a debutant because they bring in a lot of new inputs into the film. Their suggestions are also taken seriously on the sets.

What's your role in Phirr?
I am playing a doctor who is based in Newcastle. He is a surgeon. Me and Roshni are in love but somewhere down the line I lose her and how after that his graph goes up and down forms the part of the story. It's a whole struggle to find his love back. There is this cop in the film and Adah's character who help me find my love back.

There is this SRK, Salman and Hrithik brigade lead by Aamir Khan and then there is Rajniesh, Hurman, Sameer Dattani, all new comers lead by Farhan Akhtar. Are you guys at all going to match up to the standards of the earlier names I've just mentioned?
It's a whole new breed of actors coming together. There is a lot of work in the industry, believe me. When Hrithik started, SRK was on the top. When Amitabh started, Rajesh Khanna was on the top. When Aamir, Salman and SRK started, Govinda was on the top. Everyone has to start somewhere. And as you just mentioned that Farhan is our leader. So if we are lead by a good leader, I'm sure we'll be fine and our team is very strong. Competition is always good and healthy. If you have talent, if your head stays on your shoulders and you stay grounded, I'm sure there is no stopping you.

What phirr after Phirr?
After Phirr, I've signed a couple of films. One with the big banner which I can't announce and the other is a whole new banner with a whole new director. This new film of the new banner will be shot in one go in March end. The shoot takes place in Kashmir. And by the end of this year, I'll be having two to three releases starting with Phirr.

Tomorrow you might do a Yash Chopra film or a Karan Johar film, will 1920 still remain special for you?
Ofcourse yes. 1920 will always remain special to me. I've always had this fascination of Hanuman Chalisa and that's what attracted to me to do the film. When Vikram narrated me the Hanuman Chalisa in the film, I somehow knew that I wanted to do this. What's surprising is that me, Vikram and our producer Mr Sharma recite the Hanuman Chalisa everyday. We've been doing it since so many years. All this makes 1920 very special.

How good is the music of Phirr going to be?
We will be missing the likes of Adnan Sami, Pandit Jasraj, Shubha Mudgal and many more great singers who were a part of 1920's melodious classical music. Phirr has a 2009 feel of music. It's young, peppy and vibrant. Phirr has jazz, funk, club house number, love song and a sad number. It's varied. Raghav Sacchar is the music director of Phirr who has previously composed for films like Kabul Express and One Two Three. I haven't heard all the songs from Phirr but so far we've shot four songs and all have come out very well on screen. I am a classical music guy. I like the sufi kind of feel. Jagjit Singh,, Kailash Kher, etc top my list.

Phirr is a thriller we all know now. You have to give away something now. Be a spoil sport. Who's the baddie in Phirr?
There is a cop who is doing an important role as I mentioned earlier. His name is Parag Tyagi. Then there is me. One of us is a bad guy (laughs).

Are you fooling around with me?
(laughs) I'm not fooling around. Ok, if you say so...you've met the baddie. That's for sure. It can be me, it can be anyone.

How would you sum Phirr in one sentence?
What you sow is what you reap, jaisi karni waisi bharni or what goes around comes around. These three lines could actually sum it up.

How important is your wife Pallavi's contribution towards your career and success?
A lot. She is my biggest critic. She is very active as far as our work goes. She is very involved in what I do. Both of us love watching films. We both had our own assumptions regarding 1920, be it my performance or the film as a whole. No one is flawless. No matter which film you see, even if it's Slumdog Millionaire, you will find flaws. And that's how I've learnt and will keep on learning. She was with me in the U.K when we shot Phirr. I'm glad that I have two passions in my life. one is work and the other is Pallavi.

If I was to open your wardrobe now, what designer wear am I going to get my hands on?
You will find Zara shirts, Armani shirts and ofcourse, suits from Raymonds. I can't miss that (laughs). Actually I've just ended my contract with them and are trying to negotiate something else. You will find jackets from Indian designers, jeans from anywhere and lots of hand and neck accessories.

Didn't you like Slumdog Millionaire?
I was shocked to know that a chaiwala who works in a call centre had an accent. If he is from the slums of Mumbai who has grown up in the slums, how can he have an accent. It's a very small observation. But that's how a critic should be, right? At the same time, I'm not taking anything away from the film too. It has been nominated at the Oscars and the Bafta is a great thing. I'm proud.

I'm sure A.R. Rahman has done you and the entire India proud?
No doubt about it. He is the best music composer in the world for me. He was long overdue anyway. I wish him all the best.