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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

Big B plays Gabbar in Sholay remixed!
Who can forget Amjad Khan as the inimitable Gabbar Singh in Ramesh Sippy’s all-time classic Sholay. Well, after all these years, Gabbar is coming back to stalk us and it’s none other than Amjad’s one time buddy and colleague Amitabh Bachchan, who will play the legendary character in Ram Gopal Varma’s remixed version of Sholay. “The ultimate hero will play the ultimate villain,” exults Ramu. And guess who will enact the role of Veeru, played by Dharmendra in the original — Aby’s baby! Yes, the current darling of the box office Abhishek Bachchan will step into Garam Dharam’s shoes and take on daddy cool. As for Jai, played by Big B in the original, it’s newcomer Mohit Ahlawat, Ramu’s discovery who will do the honours. According to the star-maker, Mohit has a brooding intensity which is reminiscent of the senior Bachchan. Mohit of course, can’t believe his luck. “ What a role to bag so early in my career”, he gushes. So now we’ll have Abhishek and Mohit crooning yeh dosti…

Ash to rub shoulders with Jackie Chan
Mallika Sherawat will not like to hear this but Aishwarya Rai will share the dais with Jackie Chan in November. The two, along with Former US secretary of state Colin Powell, are expected to address issues related to ethnicity at the 'Next Step For The Next Europe Conference'. The occasion will certainly be special for Aishwarya as the British government will confer the Next Step World Diversity Champion Award on her. The award has been instituted to honor individuals who have encouraged pride in being a member of the ethnic minority community as well as a stronger sense of personal fulfilment. Says the actress: " I hope this silences my critics….I hope people stop labelling me giggly and frivolous.” Ash, by the way, is a great admirer of Angelina Jolie: She’s “so gorgeous... and so real.”

While on Ash, she has inspired a new range of the fabled Barbie dolls. The dolls, due to hit the British market soon, have been modelled on the looks and costumes of the hazel-eyed beauty and have been imported to the U.K. from India by Mir Media — a noted designer house in Britain. 

Bobby pair in love all over again
Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia may not be the teen heartthrobs that they were, any longer but the charming couple continue to be in love! Only, there is a twist in their love story. Surprised? Well, actually, the two are set to recreate their legendary Bobby romance in a new film titled Pyar Mein Twist that sees them as a couple deciding to get married in the autumn of their lives. What’s more, they decide to take the bold step at a time when their respective children are about to tie the knot themselves. Soha Ali Khan plays Dimple’s daughter while Sammir Dattani plays Soha's progressive boyfriend who is openly supportive of his fiancée's mother's decision. After Bobby, Rishi and Dimple set the screen afire in Ramesh Sippy’s Sagar in 1985. Pyar Mein Twist sees them teaming up again after a hiatus of 20 years. Rishi’s take on this: “Well, Dimple has mellowed down like fine wine and it’s lovely working with her again.” We couldn’t agree with him more.

The End is the beginning here
Have you ever wondered what would have happened if classic movies Casablanca and our very own Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam had not ended the way they did? Would Ajay Devgan have lost Aishwarya to Salman Khan in the end? Well, actor and director Manan Katohora has wondered about this to the extent that he’s made a semi-autobiographical film titled The End. This psychological romance explores the relationship between two filmmakers Aman and Sonya and their analyses of the ending of these two films. Interestingly, Manan who hit the headlines with his directorial debut Arya, penned The End’s script a month after he called off his own wedding. Manan who has acted in Indian Fish in American Waters and Arya has a prominent role in The End also. 

Aishwarya Rai and Hollywood superstar Brad Pitt are likely to get important roles in Shekhar Kapur's Buddha. Richard Gere, a devout follower of the Dalai Lama, is also slated to star in the proposed film. The Dalai Lama has, it is said, given his blessings for the project. Ash has also been signed up for Ashutosh Gowariker’s Jodha-e-Akbar opposite Hrithik Roshan. Besides, she is also set to star in Madhur Bhandarkar's next film titled Corporate. It will be a scathing hard-hitting no-holds-barred look at the world of entrepreneurship. Corporate is the second part of Bhandarkar’s proposed trilogy, the first being Page 3. The third part will be called Signal. 

Amitabh Bachchan is about to be seen in his first full fledged English film - Versus, a 90-minute rendition of his Viruddh which is not dubbed or subtitled but a "separate interpretation" of the same plot. Versus will be released internationally shortly. His co-stars in the movie are Sharmila Tagore and John Abraham.

Meera has turned co-producer with Mahesh Bhatt as her partner. Their film to be shot entirely in Dubai, is tentatively titled The Killer starring Irfan Khan, Emraan Hashmi and Meera herself. Incidentally, it’s now the turn of Meera’s London-based sister Aksa to set foot in Bollywood courtesy Mahesh Bhatt, of course. She has been signed up for his Gangster.

Shekhar Kapur is in talks with Oscar winning actress Cate Blanchett to do a film on the real life story of Australian Mary Evans who became one of Bollywood’s biggest stars in the 1930s. The film Fearless Nadia is one of the projects by a leading Australian talent management company which has opened an office in Singapore.

Hollywood actress Neve Campbell will be in India in September to shoot for an international project. She is playing the role of a Pakistani protagonist in the movie set against the backdrop of India’s Partition. Campbell will shoot in Chandigarh, New Delhi and Patiala. A quick trip to Mumbai may also be on her itinerary. 

After Aitraaz, Subhash Ghai and directors Abbas-Mustan team up again in 36, China Town starring Akshaye Khanna, Kareena Kapoor and Shahid Kapur. The crew was in Bangkok recently for the shooting. Shahid and Kareena will also be seen in Satish Kaushik’s Milenge Milenge.

Purva Parag is the new Sonia Gandhi. This NSD actor is playing the character of Sonia Gandhi in TD Kumar’s latest bilingual film Sonia Sonia. The movie is complete and slated for release soon.

Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Kay Kay Menon
Producer: Ram Gopal Varma
Director: Ram Gopal Varma

Sarkar, as is well known now, is inspired by Francis Ford Copolla’s classic The Godfather with Big B doing a Marlon Brando as Don Corleone and Junior stepping into Al Pacino’s shoes as Michael Corleone. The outcome? A taut, happening and yet controlled film that is compelling, yes. Historic, no.

Ramu’s stamp is all over Sarkar, though in this one there’s a hint of softening. Emotions get as much weightage as the crescendo music used to highlight tension. And violence in this one, unlike Satya, remains an electrically charged undercurrent that imparts a chill to the proceedings. It never really explodes. Sarkar is also different to Ramu’s other films in that he gives very few dialogues to his characters, letting eye and body language do most of the talking. It works perfectly for the cast right from Big B and the chhota B down to the prop cast. So we get Amitabh in extreme close-up. The actor uses his eyes, his facial muscles and his gnarled hands too, to express a gamut of emotions — anger, anguish, affection and gratitude. 

As for Abhishek, it is undoubtedly his most restrained, intense and mature performance. Having said that, it is also true that in a film touting the young Bachchan as the best thing to happen to acting, his character is too thinly etched to allow him any real scope for histrionics. His character, Shankar, toes dad's line with fierce loyalty. That’s it. A special mention here for Kay Kay Menon as Sarkar’s elder son Vishnu. The guy with his villainous grimace, has a terrific screen presence. The women, of course, have very little to do.

Amit Roy’s sepia-tinged cinematography is brilliant, so is the background score by Amar Mohile.

Sarkar abounds in brilliantly executed individual moments of drama and technical gloss. Don’t miss them. But don’t expect anything special just because of the celebrated father-son combo.

Current Top 10 Songs
1. Kajrare Naina (Bunty aur Babli)
2. Dus Bahane (Dus)
3. Baras Ja (Fareb)
4. Kaisi Paheli (Parineeta)
5. Kaal Kaal Mein (Kaal)
6. Just Chill (Maine Pyar Kyun Kiya)
7. Just Love Me (No Entry)
8. Woh Lamhe (Zeher)
9. Main Vari Vari (Mangal Pandey).
10. Halka Kalka Sa (Chocolate)

Current Top 10 Movies
1. Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya
2. Viruddh
3. Dus
4. Bunty aur Babli
5. Parineeta
6. Yahaan
7. Sarkar
8. Fareb
9. 71/2 Phere
10. Sehar


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