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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

Rani reigns supreme in Pakistan
It was a dinner befitting the queen herself. After a hat-trick of hits — Hum Tum, Veer-Zaara and Black, Rani Mukherjee has added another feather to her cap: The petite actress was the only privileged one from the film industry to be invited for the exclusive dinner that the Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh recently hosted in honour of Pakistan President General Musharraf in New Delhi’s Ashoka Hotel. Says Rani: “I really felt honoured to represent Hindi cinema at such an important occasion. The Pakistani dignitaries said they'd love to have me in their country any time I want. And I'd love to go! They all said that I’m very popular in their country.”

Incidentally, Rani is a hit with the Bachchans too. Both father and son say that they love working with the “warm and loving girl that Rani is”. No wonder then that Rani has “Amit uncle” for company in four movies at the moment. And she sure shares a great screen chemistry with Bachchan Junior.

Aishwarya Provoked!
Talking of exclusive dinners, how can Rani’s one time friend Aishwarya Rai be left behind! The gorgeous actress who was rated as one of 100 most influential people in Time magazine’s list, had the honour of attending a star-studded dinner in New York recently. Ash dined with the likes of Melissa Etheridge, John Galliano and Eliot Spitzer. Meanwhile, plum projects continue to fall in Ash’s pretty lap and this time she has been truly Provoked to act! Well, Provoked is 
the title of Ash’s latest project which came her way while she was shooting for Mistress of Spices in the UK. Based on a true story, the film has Aishwarya playing a Punjabi woman Kiranjit Ahluwalia who leaves India to marry a London-based guy, only to be badly abused. She ends up in prison for murdering her husband. It's a case that forced the law about crimes of passion to be amended in the UK.

The director of Provoked Jagmohan Mundhra, calls it his trilogy of tributes to Indian womanhood. He had earlier directed Kamala and Bawandar. "What I find specially interesting is that eventually the woman finds justice within her horrific circumstances," Ash said. Provoked will also feature Naveen Andrews and Nandita Das.

Amitabh is UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador
Amitabh Bachchan is in august company. With UNICEF naming him its International Goodwill Ambassador to create awareness in the fields of polio eradication and AIDS prevention and treatment, Big B has joined the select group of celebrities which includes the legendary Audrey Hepburn, Sir Roger Moore and Harry Belafonte. 

Interestingly, after Rani, Amitabh’s world would now be black, on screen of course. The much feted actor will be seen in the role of a blind lawyer in Zamaanat, a film which took seven years in the making. The movie also stars new mom and Amitabh’s once bahu-to-be, Karisma Kapoor. And yes, Amitabh also has a project with…hold your breath… Mallika Sherawat in the pipeline! Of course, his Sholay buddy Garam Dharam has already had the privilege of working with the siren.

Munnabhai in his Hollywood avatar
It’s a role reversal of sorts. After churning out innumerable rip-offs of Hollywood flicks, Bollywood has this one time proved to be an inspiration for a Hollywood movie. 20th Century Fox will reportedly remake the blockbuster Munnabhai MBBS after Vidhu Vinod Chopra sold its rights to the US film studio. The English version will be titled Gangster MD. It's the first time a Hollywood studio has bought the rights to an Indian film. Munnabhai MBBS fetched rave reviews and was a huge success among South Asians living abroad. The film also had the honour of being reviewed in the British Medical Journal, one of the most reputed medical journals in the world, where it was called a “riot”. This was the first time that a Hindi movie, and that too of the ‘bole tu’ genre of Mombaiyya, made it to the prestigious publication. 

Years after Damini, director Raj Kumar Santoshi is planning another social film titled Saamna with Ajay Devgan, Akshay Kumar, Aishwarya Rai and Nana Patekar. With contemporary politics as the backdrop, the film deals with how people are exploited in the name of caste and religion. Shooting for Saamna will start once Santoshi finishes with Family starring Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar. Meanwhile, Santoshi’s Prithviraj-Sanjukta film with Ajay and Aishwarya is on hold for lack of finances.

Expatriate Gujarati filmmaker Kruti Majmudar's first feature film The Memsahib has East-meets-West as its theme. The New York-based filmmaker was in her native state recently shooting for the movie which she hopes to release worldwide in October this year. The lead pair is played by Parveen Dabas of Monsoon Wedding fame and the Britain-based actor Emily Hamilton. 

Come June-end and a unique movie titled Yaad Rakhenge Aap (You will remember) will be released. The film aims at boosting the memory of viewers and will render a better understanding of the memory and its principles, according to Biswaroop Roy Chowdhury, an engineer by profession whose brainchild it is. Chowdhury claims that Yaad Rakhenge Aap "will help the audience to enhance their learning skills of vocabulary, memorising lists including shopping list, remembering the calendar of 2005, 2006 and 2007 and memorising GK!” The film which has Chowdhury himself as the lead actor, stars Sonali Goswami and the long forgotten Ayesha Jhulka.

The Sushmita Sen-Mithun-Anuj Sawney starrer Chingari is slated for a June-July release.

Indian cinema’s maverick filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, is now going to be the subject of a mainstream movie being made by producer-director Vinta Nanda of White Noise  fame. She says her film will not be a docudrama, but a commercial movie with songs and dances. The search is on for an "actor of substance" to play the role 
of Mahesh Bhatt. 

Sukh, produced by Govinda and directed by his brother Kirti Ahuja, is complete and ready for release. It stars Govinda, Chunky Pandey, Preeti Jhangiani and Aarti Chhabria. Govinda and Chunky Pandey hope to revive their Aankhen magic through this family drama with a message. Meanwhile, the much delayed Govinda-Preity Zinta starrer Khullam Khulla Pyaar Karen finally saw the light of day in April.

Juhi Chawla will soon be seen in a comedy 71/2 Phere. In the film, Juhi plays Asmi Ganatra, an intelligent, but confused girl, aspiring to become a director. Produced by Nimit Modawal, the film, co-starring Irrfan Khan, is written and directed by Isshaan Trivedi.

Waqt: The Race Against Time
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Priyanka Chopra Director: Vipul Shah
Music Director: Anu Malik

Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar sure are becoming the most popular father-son screen jodi. After Ek Rishta, they come together again in this Vipul Shah’s adaptation of a Gujarati stage play and don’t let down their fans. The film is full of heart-warming episodes between a rich father Ishwar (Amitabh Bachchan) and his spoilt son Aditya (Akshay Kumar), who learns to be a responsible man the 
hard way.

The first half is racy and entertaining. The comic verbal duels between Amitabh and Boman Irani (Priyanka’s dad) make you laugh and chuckle, while the second half wrenches the heart with melodrama handled with care. The script is the hero here. Well crafted scenes and sensitively penned dialogues (Aatish Kapadia) help the cast reach great histrionic heights. 

Bachchan is not as innovative as a Black allowed him to be but one more time he more than delivers the goods. A wrinkled, weary and aging Akshay Kumar may not exactly convince as a wannabe film star taking part in talent hunts but he emotes well enough to move the viewer. Priyanka Chopra could do well with more such roles that don’t bank entirely on her oomph and let her display other talents. The director’s wife Shefali Shah is one underrated, unnoticed actress 
who makes a mark. Rajpal Yadav as the exasperatingly daft domestic servant is terrific. Boman Irani of course has become the king of comic brilliance in Hindi films.

If there is anyone who disappoints, it is Anu Malik who comes up with a musical score that’s not half as stirring as the film. And yes, how you wish the director had avoided those never-ending duets and festive songs that make Waqt look like a blend of Kabhie Khushi Kabhi Gham and Baghban. 

Nevertheless, while you have waqt, do go and see the film.

Current Top 10 Songs
1. Kaal Kaal Mein (Kaal)
2. Sun Zara (Lucky)
3. Dhadak Dhadak (Bunty Aur Babli)
4. Kya Kool Hai Hum (Kya Kool Hai Hum)
5. Dil Ki Jo (Parineeta)
6. Main Yahan Hoon (Veer-Zaara)
7. Dhoom Macha Le (Dhoom)
8. Ek Bewafa Hai (Bewafaa)
9. Woh Lamhe (Zeher)
10. Let’s Play Holi (Waqt)

Current Top 10 Movies
1. Kaal
2. Waqt — The Race Against Time
3. Lucky — No Time For Love
4. Black
5. Kya Kool Hai Hum
6. Main Aisa Hi Hoon
7. Zeher
9. Khullam Khulla Pyaar Karen
10. Mumbai Express


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