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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 gives a big scare

The entire nation suffered a collective heart attack on November 28. Reason: Amitabh Bachchan had been admitted to the Escorts Centre in New Delhi after he complained of abdominal pain. When he was airdashed to the Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai the same night, the condition of his fans worsened. The nation breathed easy only on November 30 after it became known that the national icon was recovering after undergoing a three-hour surgery for perforation in the small intestine. That’s the Big B Effect for you! The incident took one’s mind back to 1982 when Bachchan had a near-fatal accident on the sets of Coolie. Then too the country had gone into panic and prayed fervently for the well-being of its much loved superstar. Bachchan has been advised rest and could be out of action for a month. Understandably so, for the 63-year-old actor has been working at a frenetic pace. There’s only one thing that Big B’s friends and colleagues would like to tell him: Take it easy, Sarkar!

Shah Rukh says: Happy New Year!
Shah Rukh Khan was presented with a unique gift by close friend Farah Khan on his 40th birthday in November last --- the script of her second film as director. Titled Happy New Year, it has Shah Rukh (who else!) in the lead role and of course, it goes without saying, SRK is the producer too. Farah’s husband Shirish Kunder is writing the screenplay. Meanwhile, Shah Rukh has been busy shooting in New York for buddy Karan Johar’s new film titled Kabhi Alvidaa Naa Kehna (Never Say Goodbye). Well, that’s something his fans would want to convey to their idol all right! Other friends giving SRK company in this multi-starrer are Amitabh Bachchan, Preity Zinta, Rani Mukherjee and Abhishek Bachchan. Now, you couldn’t get more star-studded than that!

Incidentally, Shirish has managed to rope in Akshay Kumar, Salman Khan and Preity Zinta for his directorial debut titled Jaaneman.

Sushmita to sparkle in Nakshatra
Aishwarya Rai may have wowed Hollywood but for Los-Angeles-based Indian filmmaker Saajid Warrier there’s no one quite like Sushmita Sen. So the director has approached Sush for a movie titled Nakshatra whose producer and scriptwriter ironically, is none other than Aishwarya’s business manager Hari Singh! Though Sushmita has not given any commitment, Warrier is not giving up. The film is based on the life of a bar dancer. So how has Aishwarya reacted? "She's a thorough professional and is more like family to me. I have already narrated another subject to her,” says Hari. So while Ash may have bedazzled her fans in the Nakshatra diamond commercial, Sush will probably sparkle in the movie Nakshatra. 

While on Ash, there is a buzz that she is tipped to act in the new Asterix and Obelix film, Asterix and Obelix at the Olympic Games which has also in the cast martial arts star Jean Claude van Damme. The film’s release is slated to coincide with the Beijing Olympics.

Salman’s girl to romance Govinda
Now this is one film Katrina Kaif should have no problems in doing as she will have no dialogues to mouth. Salman’s girl who has been at the receiving end of brickbats for her atrocious Hindi has been cast in the role immortalized by Jaya Bachchan in Ram Gopal Varma Ka Sholay. Meanwhile, director David Dhawan has reportedly signed on Katrina for his next film titled Partner (Salman’s home production) but no, she hasn’t been cast opposite Sallu. It’s Govinda who gets to romance her on screen while Salman will have the former Miss Universe Lara Dutta as his love interest. What’s more, it is Salman who is believed to have suggested to David that he attempt this interesting equation! Chi Chi on his part is looking forward to pairing up with Katrina. But it’s all buddy-buddy here. “Salman’s a very close friend,” says he.

Incidentally, Ajay Devgan has replaced Saif Ali Khan as Veeru, the part played by Dharmendra, in RGV’s remake of Sholay. The chote nawab apparently had date problems and Varma was more than happy to sign up his old favourite Ajay. Remember Company and Bhoot?

And news has just come in that Aamir Khan is set to ring in the New Year by marrying his girlfriend Kiran Rao on January 1 in Panchgani, a picturesque hill station near Mumbai.

Newcomer Kangana Ranaut will essay the character of Parveen Babi in a film being made by Mahesh Bhatt on the actress who passed away in her Mumbai home in January last year. Says the director: “Looking at Parveen’s life through a film may give her a more graceful end which she did not get. The movie titled Awaarapan will be the exact replay of her life.”

After the success of No Entry and Garam Masala, it’s comedies and more comedies. Subhash Ghai is producing two comedies Shaadi Se Pehle and Money Money Money directed by Satish Kaushik and Sangeeth Sivan respectively. The newly annointed king of comedy Akshay Kumar will be acting in another laugh riot titled Welcome.

Celina Jaitley is set to play modern Anarkali in Kaash Tumse Mohabbat Na Hoti which is said to be a modern version of the classic Mughal-e-Azam. The film is based on the life of bar dancers, a hot topic in Mumbai today.

Ram Gopal Varma plans to remake his own production James which released barely a couple of months ago. The remake will star the original cast Mohit Ahlawat and Nisha Kothari.

Govinda has signed Nikhil Advani’s magnum opus Salaam-e-Ishq alongside Salman Khan, Anil Kapoor and John Abraham. 

Kumar Gaurav has just finished work on a US-produced film titled Guiana 1838, directed by Rohit Jagessar, an Indian American of Caribbean dscent. The film slated for release early next year, tells about the first Indian settlers who set sail for Guyana as plantation workers. Gaurav was last seen in Sanjay Gupta’s Kaante.

Apaharan (Kidnapping)
Starring: Ajay Devgan, Bipasha Basu, Nana Patekar, Yashpal Sharma
Director: Prakash Jha
Music Director: Wayne Sharpe

Like all Prakash Jha films, this one too has his stamp all over it. The film is an incisive as well as entertaining look at the flourishing kidnapping industry in the Indian State of Bihar where the rich and the famous are abducted in broad daylight for what they call a high firouti (ransom). The story is about an educated, jobless youth who is caught in a conflict between the demands of a corrupt system and the Gandhian principles of his father. It’s about how a weak moment drives him to the world of crime and violence ultimately leading him to his nemesis. 

The colourful lingo unique to Bihar is in good measure here. Like did you know, reaching a hostage to a location unscathed was termed as ‘Maal li delivery, baghair defect’ ? The film exposes the police-politician-mafia nexus and combined with the interesting terminology used by the goons, it makes for engrossing viewing.

It’s a powerful film with riveting performances by Ajay Devgan, Nana Patekar and Yashpal Sharma, all Jha’s favourites. Nana’s portrayal of Tabrez Alam, an MLA who thinks he is chosen by Allah to set everything right, his haughty demeanour, and above all, his immaculate delivery of Bihar’s dialect are stuff that lingers in your mind long after you’ve left the theatre. Oh yes, a deglamourised Bipasha Basu is there and does her two-bit job with sincerity. Just one jarring note: the length. Apaharan could have done with some editing.

Apaharan is an inspiring tale for the youth of today that is an eye-opener and effectively drives home some home truths. Can’t we have more of such topical, sensible cinema? 

Current Top 10 Songs
1. Garam Masala (Garam Masala)
2. Neil ‘n’ Nikki (Neil ‘n’ Nikki)
3. Sabse Bada Rupaiya (Bluffmaster)
4. Jiya Dhadak Dhadak (Kalyug)
5. Aashiq Banaya Aapne (Aashiq Banaya Aapne)
6. Kajrare Naina (Bunty aur Babli)
7. Teri Yaad Yaad (Vaah! Life Ho To Aisi!)
8. Dil Keh Raha Hai (Kyon Ki)
9. Dus Bahane (Dus)
10. Ek Ajnabee (Ek Ajnabee

Current Top 10 Movies
1. Garam Masala
2. Apaharan
3. Deewane Huye Paagal
4. Home Delivery
5. Mr Ya Miss
6. No Entry
7. Salaam Namaste
8. Aashiq Banaya Aapne
9. Kyon Ki
10. Shaadi No 1

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