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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

Meera’s ‘Kiss’a!
Popular Pakistani actress Meera is used to being the cynosure of all eyes in her  country but with Nazar, she is now in the ‘eye’ of a storm. The beautiful star’s  kissing scene with co-star Ashmit Patel in Nazar, her debut film in Bollywood,  has caused a furore in her country with people claiming to represent religious  groups in Pakistan, making death threats to her. The problem started when some stills of Meera and Ashmit were circulated during the Kara film festival last year. There were reports that the Pakistan government had imposed a fine on Meera and was considering banning Pakistani artistes from working in India. The Pak government though has categorically denied the reports dismissing it as propaganda by vested interests. Said an angry Mahesh Bhatt, one of the producers of this Indo-Pak joint venture being directed by his wife Soni Razdan: “The kiss in the film is the culmination of a romantic scene. And nowhere does Nazar cross the threshold of Jism or Murder.” 

But the last word on this must go to Meera: " If I have kissed Ashmit, it's like  Pakistan kissing India. If I have hugged him, it's as if every Pakistani has hugged every Indian.” Touche!

Preity’s ‘date’ with history
Whenever the media linked the perky Preity Zinta to Abhishek Bachchan and Saif Ali Khan, she retorted by saying that she only shared a “warm rapport” with them. It turns out that the lady was right after all for Ms Zinta’s current boyfriend is neither Aby’s baby nor the chote nawab, but Ness Wadia. And who might he be! Well, the suave guy is the scion of the Bombay Dyeing family and great grandson of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. Never known to keep her lovers under wraps, Preity is open about Ness too. 

While on Preity, she and Saif will be saying salaam namaste soon to their fans. What we mean is that the two are coming together again in a new romantic comedy titled Salaam Namaste. The film, which also has Arshad Warsi, explores the casual attitude of youngsters these days. So is it an extension of Hum Tum? "No way. Hum Tum was a little more mature but this one is an effervescent, romantic story," says debutant director Siddharth Anand, who happens to be Tinnu Anand's nephew. 

Sister act !
After the great onscreen bonding between Kareena Kapoor and Sushmita Sen in Bewafaa, it’s the turn of two more ladies to shower each other with sisterly affection. Evergreen diva Rekha and sexy siren Mallika Sherawat will be seen as siblings in Govind Menon’s Bachke Rehna Re Baba due for release on April 22. 
Presented by Boney Kapoor, the film has Rekha in the role of a glamorous con- woman who tricks rich men off their money. Mallika plays her sister and  accomplice. But while Bebo and Sush have become the best of friends off-screen, no such thing has happened with Rekha and Mallika. On the contrary, the senior actress reportedly keeps her co-star at an arm’s length, refusing to even be seen in her company at film functions. Really, Mallika does manage to rub her colleagues the wrong way! Remember Ashmit Patel and Emran Hashmi?

Brosnan ‘bonds’ with Bollywood
Talking about Mallika, we hear that Pierce Brosnan made her day at a do in Mumbai hosted in his honour. The Bond guy, who was in Mumbai recently as Omega’s brand ambassador to launch the brand’s new line of watches, gave the Murder lady a really long and warm handshake. The Hollywood icon also popular as Remington Steele, had his share of Bollywood at the glittering party where he met film personalities like Yash Chopra, Amitabh Bachchan, Madhur Bhandarkar, Arshad  Warsi and of course Mallika. Brosnan also revealed that he planned to shoot his next film in India. 

Incidentally, after Brande Rodericks, Antonia Bernath and Tata Young, it’s now  the turn of Tania Zaetta to be bitten by the Bollywood bug. There is a strong buzz that the Baywatch babe, who has also acted in popular television shows like Who Dares Wins, has been roped in to do an item number in Shaad Ali’s Bunty Aur Babli which stars Big B, Junior B and the current Bollywood queen Rani Mukherjee.

…And news has just come in that Madhuri Dixit and her husband Dr Nene were  blessed with another baby boy on March 8 at a private hospital in Denver.  Congratulations to the proud parents!

Among the most awaited releases of April is Kaal, Karan Johar and Shah Rukh  Khan’s first joint venture. This thriller that’s directed by debutant Soham  Shah, stars Ajay Devgan, Vivek Oberoi, John Abraham, Esha Deol and Lara Dutta. 

Meanwhile, Abhishek Bachchan has after all, been signed for Karan’s third directorial venture. In the yet-to-be-titled film, Abhishek has one of the lead roles, with the other going to of course Shah Rukh Khan. 

The other biggies due for release in April are Boney Kapoor’s No Entry, Govind Menon’s Bachke Rehna Re Baba, Ram Gopal Varma’s D, which is a prequel to his super hit Company and Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Parineeta, a new celluloid version of the Bengali literary classic Parineeta starring Sanjay Dutt, Saif Ali Kan and Raima Sen. This is the third time Bollywood will bring the poignant story of Parineeta on screen, the two earlier versions having starred actors like Meena Kumari, Ashok Kumar, Jeetendra and Sulakshana Pandit. Another movie, the long-in-the-making Mere Jeevan Saathi, starring Akshay Kumar, Karisma Kapoor and Amisha Patel will finally see the light of day on April 15.

After months of speculation, Marigold, Salman Khan’s first step towards Hollywood, is finally set to take off. Ali Larter plays Salman’s leading lady in the film. The Hollywood project to be directed by Willard Carroll, will be shot in Mumbai, Goa and Rajasthan.

Undeterred by the lukewarm response to Swades, Ashutosh Gowariker is charged up about his next film which is going to be a huge historical epic about the romance between Mughal king Akbar and his Rajput wife Jodhabai titled Jodha-Akbar. It'll be a romantic musical. It would show them in the prime of their togetherness and probably end where Mughal-e-Azam begins. Gowariker plans to start shooting in December 2005 and complete it at a stretch by April 2006. 

After being acclaimed at film festivals in Pusan, London and Goa, American Daylight, directed by Academy Award winner Roger Christian, is set to hit the screens. Koel Purie, Vijay Raaz and Gulshan Grover tie up with Hollywood actors Nick Moran and Jennifer Siebel.

The younger brother of national award-winning cameraman Santhosh Sivan is to direct Amitabh Bachchan in a Hindi film titled TheStranger which is slated for release next year. The movie will be a remake of Sivan’s Malayalam film  Aparichithan starring Mammootty that was released last year.

Starring: Anil Kapoor, Akshay Kumar, Kareena Kapoor, Sushmita Sen
Director: Dharmesh Darshan
Music Directors: Nadeem-Shravan

Bewafaa had everything going for it — a great star cast, a lavish budget, an potentially dramatic storyline (never mind if it is inspired by BR Chopra’s bold 1960s’drama Gumrah) but director Dharmesh Darshan just throws it all away. For those not familiar with the Sunil Dutt, Mala Sinha-starrer, the film is about the dilemma of a woman who must marry her widowed brother-in-law for the sake of the children even though she loves another man. The saving grace of the film is Sushmita didi Sen but alas, she is there for too short a time. Yes yes, Bewafaa has shades of Hum Aapke Hain Kaun too!

The film opens in Canada where Anjali (Kareena) lives with her foreigner mother and Indian father. Pregnant sister (Aarti) Sushmita comes home, meets Anjali’s secret lover Raja (Akshay Kumar), a struggling musician, and advises the couple to wait before telling mom and dad. Then she dies during the delivery leaving twins behind. Anjali just vanishes without telling her boyfriend anything, marries her brother-in-law Aditya (Anil Kapoor) and shifts to New Delhi. Things hot up when Raja comes to the Capital for a show. He’s a struggler no more, but a singing star. And Anjali plunges headlong into an affair, yet remains torn and morose throughout. The climax almost promises a twist as Raja gets defiant but sorry, that lasts for only a couple of moments. 

The basic problem with Bewafaa lis in the script and the leading lady’s shallow characterisation. Anjali doesn’t love Aditya, but won't leave him. She loves Raja, but doesn't really care how he feels, or what he goes through. In the end, to justify her position, she sobs out a 'mother can't leave her kids' finale. 

Kareena looks listless and speaks in undertones. Bebo, we don’t want to see you in roles beyond your age, at least not yet. Akshay is good enough. Manoj Bajpai as Aditya’s friend goes completely over the top. He hams to the hilt! Shamita Shetty's role has negative shades and she carries it off well. 

Music by Nadeem-Shravan is pleasant enough, the title track being its high  point. Old fashioned lore, Bewafaa is a bore!

Current Top 10 Songs

1. Ek Bawafa Hai (Bewafaa)

2. Sun Zara (Lucky)

3. Main Yahan Hoon (Veer-Zaara)

4. Khoya Khoya (Shabd)

5. Tauba Tauba (Kaal)

6. Dhoom Macha Le (Dhoom)

7. Chak De (Hum Tum)

8. Bheege Honth (Murder)

9. Tera Hi Karam (Karam)

10. Yuhin Chala Chal (Swades)

Current Top 10 Movies

1. Bewafaa

2. Black

3. Karam

4. Socha Na Tha

5. Page 3

6. Fun Can Be Dangerous Sometimes

7. Jurm

8. Shabd

9. Chaahat

10. Sheesha


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