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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
Melody loses its maestro
Hindi film music suffered an irreparable loss when legendary music director Naushad Ali breathed his last on May 5 at the Nanavati hospital in Mumbai. He was 86. Naushad who leaves behind a legacy of 67 films, was among the doyens who laid a lot of stress on classical Hindustani and folk music. His famous bhajan Man Tarpat Hari Darshan for Baiju Bawra is regarded as one of his greatest compositions. His other evergreen melodies include gems from films like Mother India, Mughal-e-Azam, Andaaz, Ganga Jamuna and Dil Diya Dard Liya. His last work was for Akbar Khan's Taj Mahal --- An Eternal Love Story released this year. The unforgettable trio of Naushad, Dilip Kumar and Mohammad Rafi regaled music lovers in as many as 14 films. Naushad was honoured with many awards, including the Dada Saheb Phalke Award, but he remained a modest man of old values who never forgot his roots in Lucknow. Lata Mangeshkar, one of Naushad's favourite singers, paying the composer a tearful tribute, described him as a colossus. 

Mallika joins the Army!
The army is never going to be the same again. You see, Mallika Sherawat is joining it! The sex siren is reportedly stepping into Goldie Hawn's shoes in a movie titled Fauj Mein Mauj, inspired by the 1980 Hollywood comedy Private Benjamin. It's the story of what happens when a sexy young woman on a whim decides to join the army when her husband dies on their wedding night. "We needed a woman who had some spunk and spice," says Priyadarshan's assistant who is directing the movie. Shooting is due to begin in the first week of June.

By the way, after Satish Kaushik and Rahul Bose, the latest to join the Mallika fan club is Anil Kapoor, her Darna Zaroori Hai co-star. "I like her guts and her honesty. Besides, she's focussed and fun to work with," he gushes. The veteran actor is now looking forward to his second movie with her, a thriller to be directed by Abbas-Mastan. 

Mads might play Hamlet's mom 
Both Madhuri Dixit and Sridevi might be out of sight, but they're certainly not out of anyone's mind! Director Onir who is making a movie based on Shakespeare's Hamlet is determined to have either of the two former divas of the silver screen to play the role of the Queen --- Hamlet's mother, in his adaptation. He says he will soon approach them for the complex role. "Both of them are extremely talented and will reflect perfectly the internal turmoil of the character," says Onir. Mads incidentally said in a recent interview that a great role could coax her to return to the spotlight.

Meanwhile, Vishal Bharadwaj's Omkara (tentative title) based on Shakespeare's Othello promises to be a treat with Kareena, Saif and Viveik all gushing about their respective roles in it.

Jason Connery to romance Katrina
Remember Manoj Kumar's patriotic saga, Purab Aur Paschim? Well, if you don't, Vipul Shah is there to refresh your memory. The filmmaker's latest project is Namaste London which is said to be a remake of Purab Aur Paschim. And playing the second lead in the film is reportedly none other than Jason Connery, son of legendary Hollywood actor Sean Connery. Jason will get to romance Salman's girl Katrina Kaif. The movie also stars Akshay Kumar and five British actors. The shooting of the film is likely to begin in June in London.

Incidentally, Akki and Katrina's pairing has turned out to be quite a hit with the audience. Their Humko Deewana Kar Gaye has made everyone deewana. And Akshay is the new hottie in the overseas circuit after Shah Rukh Khan. Good going, Akki!

One of the biggest films of the year --- Krrish, the sequel to the blockbuster Koi Mil Gaya and starring Hrithik Roshan and Priyanka Chopra, releases in June. Another June release is Priyadarshan's Chup Chupke starring Kareena Kapoor and her beau Shahid Kapur.

Indian filmmaker Dev Benegal will collaborate with UK star author and director Stephen Fry on a biopic. The film is about the mathematical geniuses Ramanujan and his British contemporary Godfrey Harold Harvey.

After a hiatus of several years, Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi will be seen together in Rituparno Ghosh's London Summer. To be shot entirely in London from August, the film is produced by Arindam Choudhuri. It is about the cultural differences that an Indian family settled in London, faces.

Gurinder Chadha is all set to direct John Travolta and Jennifer Lopez in the big screen adaptation of the successful American series Dallas.

Ram Gopal Varma is geared up to make the third multiple-plot horror film after Darna Zaroori Hai and Darna Mana Hai. Titled Darna Mangta Hai, the movie will be totally different from the previous two, claims Ramu. In fact, he intends to keep the Darna series going for a long time.

Archana Puran Singh recently added another feather to her cap when her latest film The Gold Bracelet bagged the Audience Award for the Best Feature Film at the Cinequest International Film Festival at California.

36 China Town
Starring: Kareena Kapoor, Shahid Kapur, Akshaye Khanna, Upen Patel
Directors: Abbas-Mastan
Music Director: Himesh Reshammiya

This is Shahid-Kareena's first movie as a pair after the dud Fida. The chemistry may not exactly crackle but you do see some sparks and the good thing is that both get to play their age this time.

Raj (Shahid), a struggling actor and Priya (Kareena), a runaway bride, find the missing son of Sonia (Isha Koppikar), the owner of a casino in Goa. They decide to split the reward money. But when they reach the lady's bungalow late at night, they find her dead. And so begin their travails with the police hot on their trail. 

36 China Town could have been an extremely engrossing thriller had the makers stuck to the murder mystery track. But too many sub-plots (included to provide wholesome entertainment) only end up murdering the mystery! Which in any case is a big let-down after all that build-up. The best thing actually about this whodunit is the class act by Akshaye Khanna. He excels in underplay as always. As the Inspector called upon to unravel the mystery surrounding the murder of Sonia, Akshaye is terrific --- mischief in the eyes, designer hats et al, he's charm personified.

Model-turned actor Upen Patel (better known as Amrita Arora's ex-boyfriend), as Rocky, the playboy suits his role, though he's more hyped than hot. Johny Lever and Paresh Rawal as inveterate gamblers add fun to the proceedings though the humour is pretty inane. Kareena is fine for her role though one wishes it were meatier while Shahid displays a fine sense of comedy in some scenes. But when will this lad with the cute smile metamorphose into a man?

The ubiquitous Himesh Reshammiya is at his nasal best. But thank God, he's spared us of his hungry dog-like howls of Aashiq Banaya Aapne! Aah Aah Aashiqui is a good dance ditty. 

To sum up, if you have nothing much to do, go watch 36 China Town. It'll be good timepass!

Current Top 10 Songs
1. Tu Hi Meri (Gangster) 
2. Chand Sifarish (Fanaa)
3. Roobaroo (Rang De Basanti)
4. Jhalak Dikhlaja (Aksar)
5. Aashiqui Mein Teri (36 China Town)
6. Fanaa (Humko Deewana Kar Gaye)
7. Meter Down (Taxi No.9.2.11)
8. Jiya Dhadak Dhadak (Kalyug) 
9. Ankhiyon Se (Shaadi Se Pehle)
10. Aao Sunaoon (Krrish)

Current Top 10 Movies
1. Gangster
2. Humko Deewana Kar Gaye
3. 36 China Town
4. Being Cyrus 
5. Rang De Basanti
6. Malaamal Weekly
7. Shaadi Se Pehle
8. Taxi No. 9.2.11
9. Pyare Mohan
10. Aksar

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