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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: Old is bold
The more Amitabh Bachchan gets on in age, the more young girls find him desirable. And well, vice versa too. At least, that’s what Big B’s screen portrayals would have us believe. Close on the heels of the controversial Nishabd, where the sultry 18-year-old Jiah Khan falls in love with the 60-year-old Bachchan and he with her, comes Cheeni Kam which features Big B and Tabu in an unusual love story between an older man and a young woman.

Incidentally, Bachchan’s first full-length English film, tentatively titled Curtain Call, is a tribute to veteran actor Utpal Dutt. Directed by Rituparno Ghosh, the film is based on Utpal Dutt’s play Aajkaer Shahjahan. The film also stars Preity Zinta, Divya Dutta, Shefali Shah and Arjun Rampal. 

No Rosa ending for Saif’s love story
Things certainly haven’t been Rosa --- sorry, rosy for Saif Ali Khan. First, he was hospitalized for a few days with a mild heart problem, that too right on the day of an awards function when he was to be felicitated for his role in Omkara. And once he was back home, he had to contend with another kind of heart ailment, a broken heart. You see, his girlfriend Rosa left him. According to the buzz, the lady has returned to her home in Switzerland but might return later to Mumbai to pursue a career completely independent of her association with Saif. Close friends say that the chote nawab is far more hurt by the break-up than he’s willing to admit. “But the split is for the best for both as things were getting sticky for them,” they say. 

And the role goes to Mallika Sherawat
Mallika Sherawat has done it again. After The Myth, the queen of erotica is all set to ‘unveil’ herself again in a Hollywood movie. Director Bill Bannerman has zeroed in on Mallika to play the leading lady in Unveiled. So move over, Penelope Cruz, Hilary Swank ---- they had apparently all shown an interest in the role --- Mallika is here! Earlier, there were rumours that Aishwarya Rai and Shilpa Shetty were being considered for the movie because of their global recognition. Bannerman reportedly wanted the actress to be a South Asian because “she’ll be able to understand the character better.” The film revolves around the life of a Muslim woman who has two husbands and a lover. Now, one just hopes that Mallika unveils not just her body but her talent too!

Pretty Priyanka protects Abhishek
One would think it’s the pretty Priyanka Chopra who would be in need of a bodyguard. But in an interesting reversal of gender roles in Hindi cinema, the former Miss World is playing Aby Baby’s bodyguard in Goldie Behl’s Drona and has even learnt a Sikh form of martial art, the Gatka, to polish up her act. 

While on Priyanka, the actress plays a double role for the first time in Harry Baweja’s futuristic Love Story 2050 . Loosely based on H.G. Wells' Time Machine, the film is a sci-fi love story that travels through time. Priyanka’s co-star in it is Harman Baweja who, by the way, is said to be her real life beau too. They are making too many public appearances together for anyone to take their denials seriously.

It’s the season of sequels. Sunny Deol is plunging headlong into production, and hopes a sequel to his 1992 mega-hit Ghayal will materialise soon. Meanwhile, Sunny’s next big release Apne stars his dad Dharmendra and brother Bobby Deol as well. Producer Gaurang Doshi is all set to return with two projects, including a sequel to his 2002 hit Aankhen. >From the original cast, Amitabh Bachchan and Paresh Rawal have already been sounded out. 

Amitabh Bachchan has given his nod for Deepa Mehta’s next project titled Exclusion. The film focuses on a 1914 incident involving Indian men who were denied entry to Canada. Big B plays a Sikh nationalist in it. Deepa’s favourites John Abraham and Seema Biswas are already part of the cast. 

In the Munnabhai series, now comes Munnabhai Chale America. The movie will be a comment on the East-West divide. Rajkumar Hirani plans to cast an American actress for the female lead. Of course, Sanjay Dutt and Arshad Warsi will be there.

Jackie Shroff is reportedly making his international debut with the Hollywood film First Fears in which he will essay five different characters.

Eklavya -- The Royal Guard
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan, Sanjay Dutt, Vidya Balan
Director: Vidhu Vinod Chopra

The film opens and concludes with the cheeky assertion: Eklavya was wrong. So you know Vidhu Vinod Chopra has taken a leaf out of Mahabharat and in a way belittled the sacrifice made by the devout disciple of Dronacharya who chopped off his right thumb to pay guru dakshina. But what makes Eklavya really special is that it cleverly fuses Mahabharat and Shakespeare, thereby bringing the flavour of a Shakespearean tragedy to the Indian screen without actually adapting a Shakespeare play.

The film is an intriguing tale of adultery in the name of tradition, revenge and of murder most foul. If only the storyline and narrative were as grand as the palaces of Rajasthan that provide the locales. The plot required a slicker screenplay and it is this flaw that keeps the movie from being as shocking or thrilling as it could have been. Superb cinematography, brilliant action sequences and performances notwithstanding, the overriding bleakness of the tenor works against it.

But in the end, Eklavya is definitely worth a dekko. Amitabh of course as the royal guard who lives in a time warp and is losing his eyesight, pitches in a great act as always, Saif is restrained and Boman Irani in a negative role (he plays an impotent) is excellent. The ladies are good too though their characterizations are sketchy, especially Raima Sen’s.

But do go watch the movie, even though it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. 

Current Top 10 Songs
1. Chanda Re (Eklavya)
2. Rozana (Nishabd)
3. Salaam-e-Ishq (Salaam-e-Ishq)
4. Crazy Kiya Re (Dhoom:2)
5. Tosey Naina Lagey (Anwar)
6. Barso Re (Guru) 
7. Albela Albela (Honemoon Travels Private Limited)
8. Dil Ne Ye Na Jaana (Red)
9. Shaka Laka Boom Boom (Shaka Laka Boom Boom)
10. Jhum Barabar Jhum

Current Top 10 Movies
1. Eklavya
2. Sarhad Paar
3. Nishabd
4. Nehlle Pe Dehlla
5. Traffic Signal
6. Salaam-e-Ishq
7. Dhoom:2
8. Guru
9. Vivah
10. Bhagam Bhag

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