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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
Hubby Ajay to direct Kajol
Ajay Devgan recently admitted that he hadn’t seen his wife’s comeback movie Fanaa yet. Well, it seems that he has finally seen it and is convinced that she hasn’t lost any of her charisma after marriage and motherhood. The buzz is that Ajay is going to direct a movie and has decided to take one of the best actresses of our times, wifey Kajol as the leading lady. Apparently, Ajay has cast none other than himself as her love interest in it. Search is on for another leading actress for the film which promises to be a triangular love story. 

Incidentally, grapevine has it that Ajay and Kajol will play Ram and Sita in Rajkumar Santoshi’s new project The Ramayana. Well, they are quite the ideal couple even off the screen, that’s for sure.

Happy B’day for John, Ash!
Though John Abraham and Aishwarya Rai are not fellow Scorpions, here’s wishing both the good lookers Happy Birthday! Well, actually, Gaurang Doshi has roped in John and Ash for his mystical romantic musical titled Happy Birthday. Says the excited director: If you want to see Adonis and Venus together, here’s your chance!" To be directed by Sriram Raghavan, who earlier did Ram Gopal Varma's Ek Hasina Thi, the shooting of Happy Birthday starts in January next year.

Incidentally, John seems to be making a habit of getting fantastic leading ladies for himself. While in Water, he's paired with Lisa Ray, in Baabul he has Rani Mukherji and the Parineeta girl Vidya Balan in Salaam-e-Ishq.

Sridevi’s second coming 
After playing the perfect wife and mother to the hilt, Sridevi is apparently thinking of returning to her original role, one that won her thousands of fans. Yes, that’s the latest buzz in tinseltown. And her comeback film? Well, if rumours are anything to go by, it’s none other than Mr India 2, a sequel to the blockbuster Mr India, being directed by Nikhil Advani of Kal Ho Naa Ho fame. Lending credence to all this talk is the fact that the former diva and mother of two has lost oodles of weight and is looking svelte and stunning like never before.

Meanwhile, Sridevi’s contemporary Madhuri Dixit Nene is also said to be mulling over some offers but has yet to make up her mind. As she says, she has to feel it is worth it. 

Salman’s gift to Angelina
It goes without saying that Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie has many fans and one of these is our very own superbrat Salman Khan. The buzz doing the rounds is that Sallu has gifted Angelina his prized Hayabusa bike. Apparently, the actor came to know through a friend whom he met at a party, that Angelina wanted to ride a sports bike. So the magnanimous guy that he is, Salman lost no time in ensuring that the bike reached his favourite actress the very next day. The red bike was spotted in Pune where Angelina is stationed for the shooting of The Mighty Heart.

Good news for cricket buffs. Brian Lara will make an appearance in a Bollywood movie. Vivek Vaswani has roped in the legendary cricketer to for a cameo in his forthcoming film Dulha Mil Gaya, to be shot in Trinidad. Lara will play himself in the movie.

Sushmita Sen has replaced Katrina Kaif in RGV’s Sholay for the role of the widow Radha, immortalised by Jaya Bachchan in the original Sholay. Sush will be called Devi and not Radha.

After Zinda, Sanjay Gupta is set to direct a semi-autographical film Alibaug which he says focuses on a "critical phase in his life" and has no big-screen stars, but the crčme de la crčme of actors from television. Gupta’s friend and business partner Sanjay Dutt will make an appearance in the movie.

Deepa Mehta’s next project titled The Exclusion, focuses on a 1914 incident involving Indian men who were denied entry to Canada. John Abraham and Seema Biswas are to star in the movie. Big B might also give his nod. Mehta's next work after that will be a Hollywood film, The Julia Project, about an American woman who marries into the Korean royal family.

Ameesha Patel will star opposite Akshay Kumar in Chandramukhi, to be directed by Priyadarshan. Shiney Ahuja and Vidya Balan also have important roles in it. 

Umrao Jaan
Starring: Aishwarya Rai, Abhishek Bachchan, Shabana Azmi
Director: JP Dutta
Music Director: Anu Malik

First things first. You’ve got to salute JP Dutta for having the guts to remake a period romance like Umrao Jaan which still lingers on in one’s collective consciousness. But the biggest letdown in his resplendent version is its painfully tedious length and the music, which is disappointing to say the least. 

You come out of the hall without humming a single song and there are plenty of them. It’s a pity that lyricist Javed Akhtar and composer Anu Malik who created sheer magic for the director earlier in Border and Refugee fall flat this time. Also, there’s an artificial feel to the milieu despite the film being peppered with classical Urdu words all the way. 

And Aishwarya as the courtesan Umrao? Well, she looks beautiful, dances well and is riveting in parts. The actress has certainly worked hard at recreating a lost world of grandeur and you do admire her for taking up the challenge to play a role immortalised by the evergreen diva Rekha. But it is Aishwarya’s co-star Abhishek Bachchan who actually impresses with his polished acting and his impeccable dialogue delivery. He lends a certain grace and depth to the role of the wimpish nawab played by Farooq Shaikh in the original. Their chemistry too has an underlying passion.

Yes, the heroine looks ethereal, the costumes and sets are exquisite and the dialogues are powerful --- yet all this, including a class act by Shabana Azmi, fail to infuse that vital ingredient, soul, into JP Dutta’s Umrao Jaan. Something which was there aplenty in Muzaffar Ali’s Umrao Jaan.

And last but not the least, to hear Suniel Shetty speak Urdu is the ultimate ear-sore. The man can barely manage Hindi!

Current Top 10 Songs
1. Aaj Ki Raat (Don )
2. Tere Bin (Bas Ek Pal)
3. Kya Mujhe (Woh Lamhe)
4. Let’s Go Party (Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna)
5. Tu Hi Meri (Gangster)
6. Crazy Kiya Re (Dhoom 2)
7. Ajnabi Sheher (Jaanemann)
8. Beedi Jalayle (Omkara)
9. Mujhe Haq Hai (Vivah)
10. Salaam (Umrao Jaan)

Current Top 10 Movies
1. Don
2. Umrao Jaan
3. Jaanemann
4. Lage Raho Munna Bhai
5. Omkara
6. Woh Lamhe
7. Dor
8. Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna
9. Pyaar Ke Side Effects
10. Zindaggi Rocks

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