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Rajnish Sharma is an India-based journalist who has worked for leading Indian dailies like The Times of India and Hindustan Times. A familiar name with the overseas NRI and PIO readers, he has been writing columns and articles for a host of magazines and portals in the US, Hong Kong, Mauritius and Australia. Over the years, he has covered virtually every aspect of journalism with his wide ranging interests ranging from culture & cuisine to finance & technology and from politics & Indian diaspora to environment & Bollywood. He can be contacted at  click here

SRK’s ghost is coming to haunt us!
Shah Rukh Khan and Amol Palekar — strange bedfellows, you’d say! But the ‘arty’ director and the hardcore commercial superstar have got together for a project.  Apparently, Amol narrated a script to SRK which he found “very sweet”. Result: Shah Rukh is producing the yet-untitled film which Amol is directing and which stars Rani Mukherjee. But what’s not known is that this sweet story is actually a ghost story! SRK plays a double role in it. One sees him as Rani’s husband and the other, as a ghost. The closest Shah Rukh has come to playing a ghost was in Chamatkar where Naseeruddin Shah was a spirit while SRK played a simpleton who comes in contact with him. And of course he romanced Ash’s ghost in Mohabbatein!

Meanwhile, Shah Rukh is producing another film for his good friend Farah Khan.  The Main Hoon Na director is already seriously looking at her next project — a  comedy, which will naturally star SRK himself.

Kareena carves her own ‘space’
Kareena Kapoor is on cloud nine after the success of Aitraaz and Hulchul. But  she’s going even beyond that now — into space! Noted film-maker MS Sathyu whose Garam Hawa pioneered a new genre of movies on India's partition, has zeroed in on Bebo to play the lead role in his new project, a celluloid adaptation of a true story set in the Indian Space Research Organisation, the country's premier space research centre. The director who is critical of many Bollywood stars, however, has only words of praise for Kareena: “She is one of the very few good actresses today.” Sathyu promises that the new film would be "shockingly  refreshing" and would examine technological advancement against a matching lack of socio-cultural progress among scientists. 

While on Kareena, wanna know how she got her name? Well, it’s apparently inspired by Leo Tolstoy’s famous novel Anna Karenina! 

Brides Wanted’ for Waheeda’s grandson
Veteran actress of yesteryears Waheeda Rehman has resurfaced after a long hiatus to search for a perfect match for her grandson. Of course, not in real life (Waheeda’s children are not married yet) but in Girish Acharya’s Brides Wanted.  Waheeda and Girish Karnad who play an NRI couple in this comedy, realize that times have changed and that the Indian woman's values and lifestyle are not the same any more. Waheeda, who looks gorgeous even now, is cast in the role of a metrosexual, funky grandmother trying to keep up with the times. Girish Karnad admits he has been in love with “Waheedaji since I was19”. Model turned actor Anuj Sawhney, who holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the US, plays their grandson. Girish Acharya, the 29-year-old director of the film, is a New York Film Academy graduate and a computer engineer. "It's not as if arranged marriages don't work. But how are you expected to take the most important decision of your life in 15-20 minutes?" asks Girish. He’s right, don’t you think!

Sush, Ash united against media
Sushmita Sen and Aishwarya Rai may not be the best of friends, but of late, they have been busy doing the same thing, which is: quashing rumours of being involved with industrialist and MP Anil Ambani, husband of former actress Tina Munim. Sush admits matrimony isn’t far from her mind but she says she has absolutely no idea how her name got linked to Mr Ambani. “It’s completely absurd. I’ve met Anil and his wife Tina several times but that’s about it.”

Aishwarya too is appalled at rumours linking her with the suave Anil Ambani. “For God’s sake, I’ve met him socially along with his wife, only a couple of times.” Ash’s beau, Vivek Oberoi, has meanwhile, adopted a tsunami-hit village in Tamil Nadu. Benevolent, that’s Ash’s guy!

bids adieu

An era in character acting ended on January 12 when Bollywood’s most revered character-actor Amrish Puri passed away at the age of 72 in Mumbai. He could not recover from a brain haemorrhage. "What a gentleman... and such a nice man to know," said writer-lyricist Javed Akhtar, summing up the dismay in the film industry. The audiences and critics first sat up and took notice of Puri in Shyam Benegal's Nishant in 1975 although his debut film was Sunil Dutt's Reshma Aur Shera in 1971 which was also Amitabh Bachchan’s first film. But it was Mr India which made Puri a household name, where he played the infamous cartoon-like villain Mogambo. Every time Puri uttered the line "Mogambo khush hua", the masses went delirious. Puri's career was injected with new life when he did Phool Aur Kaante and Muskurahat in 1992. The two films cast him in non-villainous pivotal roles that catapulted him to the top as Bollywood's most in-demand character-actor. Whether as the homesick NRI in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, the benevolent feudal landlord in Viraasat or Amisha Patel's anti-India father in Gadar: Ek Prem Katha, Puri created a gallery of characters that count among the most memorable in the history of mainstream Hindi cinema. One of the highpoints of his career was his one-film association with Steven Spielberg. He played the tantrik priest Mola Ram in Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom. Following the worldwide success of The Temple of Doom, Puri was flooded with international films, but he chose not to fall into the trap of playing a stereotyped Indian in a Hollywood film ever again.

Aishwarya Rai, according to reports, is set to star in a Hollywood blockbuster  called Taj Mahal. A group of US-based Indian technology tycoons will fund the 10-million-dollar IMax film to be released in January 2006. Rumours are also rife that the actress has been signed by Shyam Benegal for his next film, which will go on the floors after the filmmaker completes his film with Vivek Oberoi and Kareena Kapoor. Benegal was not available for comment but a source from his office revealed that they had indeed had discussions with the screen diva for the major project. Right now the Bollywood queen is prioritizing her three  international projects, including Gurinder Chadha's next, for which she has  decided to set aside major dates.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s much awaited Amitabh-Rani-starrer Black has been rescheduled for a February 4 release. Unlike other Bhansali movies, this one is songless. Rani essays the most challenging role of her career in Black — she plays a deaf, mute and blind girl.

Kalpana Lajmi has begun shooting for her next film Chingari starring Sushmita Sen. She plans to release it in July this year. However, Lajmi's ambitious Sinhasan with Aishwarya Rai will have to wait awhile. According to the director, the film will take off only when she gets a confirmation on Ash’s dates since she is committed to several projects.

Supriya Pathak returns to the big screen after 12 years and has landed two projects --- Ram Gopal Varma's Sarkaar and Saurabh Tewari's Khajoor. Sarkaar will see Supriya as Amitabh Bachchan’s wife and Kay Kay's and Abhishek's mother. 

Harry Baweja has the John-Priyanka starrer Tera Yeh Karm, a romantic thriller, lined up for release. The big one from his banner, however, is the film that will be his son Harman's launching pad, Love Story-2005-2050. Baweja will be shortly confirming an international team of technicians from Hollywood for the sci-fi futuristic film.

The British Film Institute (BFI) is compiling a list of top 100 Hindi films since the days of the first Indian movie. The list, expected to be released next year, will be contained in a book titled 100 Hindi Films being written by acclaimed British film scholar Rachel Dwyer, who has authored several books on Bollywood.

Swades: We, The People
Starring: Shah Rukh Khan, Gayatri Joshi, Makarand Deshpande
Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
Music Director: AR Rahman
The story stirs and strikes a chord all right but the sheer length of the movie mars much of the effect. The motive behind director Gowariker’s film is noble: He tells his countrymen to ask not what the government has done for them., but get down to doing things for themselves. Like for instance, building a dam in their neighbourhood. But sadly, Gowariker’s depiction of an unprosperous India is banal and clichéd. Dialogues by poet-satirist KP Saxena, however, give that much needed dash of humour to an otherwise serious tale of an American Indian returning to take back with him his foster mother, but bringing by default an electrifying revolution in a sleepy hamlet, ridden by gender and caste biases.

All the sylvan splendour of the countryside captured so artfully and the simplistic vignettes of rural life still don’t convince how a high-flying Indian employed by NASA would consider quitting his job. But well…

Shah Rukh Khan as NASA engineer Mohan Bhargava comes up with one of his finest performances. The best part is, he does not ham even once. The air of educated refinement about him makes you look up to him with respect. Can’t think of any other of his breed who could have convinced you in the role of a space scientist the way he does. Newcomer Gayatri Joshi is strongly reminiscent of the late Smita Patil, not just because of her facial resemblance, but also for the gracious charm she exudes. 

Javed Akhtar and AR Rahman have combined their skills to create a mellifluous 
musical score.Great message, good music, but Swades unlike Lagaan, is devoid of drama and thrills. It should have had more moments.

Current Top 10 Songs
1. Main Yahan Hoon (Veer-Zaara) 
2. Yuhin Chala Chal (Swades)
3. O Makhana (Dil Maange More)
4. Hum Hain Is Pal (Kisna)
5. Mera Dil Jispe (Bewaffa)
6. Tu Hai Khushboo (Aitraaz)
7. Shikdum Shikdum (Dhoom)
8. Chak De (Hum Tum)
9. Bheege Honth (Murder)
10. Khoya Khoya (Shabd)

Current Top 10 Movies
1. Raincoat
2. Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Saathiyo
3. Dil Maange More
4. Vaada 
5. Veer-Zaara 
6. Swades
7. Aitraaz
8. Hulchul
9. Dhoom
10. Rog


February  2005 Article
January  2005 Article
November  2004 Article 
October 2004 Article 
September 2004 Article 

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