Fenil and Bollywood

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Badly Burnt In Year Gone By, Industry Looks To Strong Content

Bharati Dubey | TNN (THE TIMES OF INDIA; January 3, 2010)


Pursue excellence and success will pursue you,’’ was what Aamir Khan’s character philosophised in 3 Idiots. But when the lights dimmed and audiences sat down after the National Anthem, what greeted them on screens for most part of the year was average, even poor fare, making 2009 the annus horribilis of the first decade of the 21st century. More than 200 films, with Rs 1500 crore at stake, released last year but almost Rs 1000 crore sank in the sea of mediocrity without a bubble, the sharks-andsexy bikini Blue leading the pack.
Added to it was the multiplex strike which cost around Rs 350 crore, upset release dates forcing films to share Fridays and dent each others’ collections. A multiplex source said, “Cannibalisation caused by big films’ release dates clashing could have been avoided.’’


The year began with Chandni Chowk To China that lost 50% of its Rs 65-crore budget. And marketing blitzkreigs couldn’t save a Blue and Kambakkht Ishq and the audience clearly showed content was king with surprise hits like DevD, New York, WaKe Up Sid and Ajab Prem ki Gajab Kahani. DevD made Rs 6 crore, collected Rs 25 crore at the box office while its ancillary rights made another Rs 5 crore and there are still more satellite runs to be sold. Trade experts also put films like Love Aaj Kal, Ajab Prem ki Gajab Kahani, Wanted among the certified hits, followed by profitable films like Paa, All The Best, De Dana Dan and Raaz 2.


But Bollywood’s loss was Hollywood’s gain, with films like 2012 and Avatar (that collected a whopping Rs 50 crore so far) filling the void for good entertainment.


It was left to And Aamir Khan to play Santa Claus third year in a row, with 3 Idiots the biggest hit of the year. It grossed a phenomenal Rs 100 crore in India in the first four days, and Rs 175 crore worldwide till December 31, even denting into collections of Avatar. Trade analyst Amod Mehra said, “What Ghajini collected in a week, this film has done in three days.


Corporates didn’t really have a great year in 2009 and after the bloodbath in the first half of the year, most of them avoided buying films outright, with even 3 Idiots being released on commission.


Thus 2010 dawns to vastly altered realities — purse strings have tightened by cautious corporates; big banners are no guarantee for success and may dish out big turkeys instead; marketing and stars don’t sell, a good story does; and the days of astronomical fees are over.


“Audiences are very smart, the content ultimately will guide their choices and approval. Marketing and hype will only work if content supports that hype. We may not have a Blue this year but projects like Veer and Prince are costly and prima facie look difficult in terms of recoveries,’’ says a trade expert.


So when Akshay Kumar, blamed for soaring star prices, announced towards the end of 2009 that he would not charge any fee for Farah Khan’s Tees Maar Khaan, it was a lifeline for the industry that had almost gone into the ICU.


Says Amod Mehra, “It is not that people did not come to watch Akshay Kumar films in 2009, it is just that the budgets of the films were so high and his remuneration was almost 40% of those budgets, so recoveries were not possible despite a good opening. But now that the actors are looking at sharing profit with the producer after the cost of the film has been recovered like in the case of Aamir Khan’s 3 Idiots then it will be fair enough. Cutting down of star prices will definitely reduce the budget of films and they will become viable and that is definitely going to be the trend in 2010.”


The year thankfully doesnt have a Rs 100-crore Blue in its line-up. Last year most production houses scrapped films as star prices were not viable. In fact, it is learnt Saif Ali Khan is reworking the budget of his next film Agent Vinod starring Kareena and himself. In fact, 2010 is short on mega projects as budget constraints ensured very few got on the floors in 2009.


The first biggie of 2010 will be Veer,
followed by Rann, My Name is Khan, Action Replay, Kites and House Full in the first half of the year. The second half of the year would have Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Guzarish and Patiala House.


The action in 2010 seems definitely more in mid-size and multiplex projects that would have strong and clutterbreaking content. “There are a lot of films this year that may not topline the Khans or Hrithik Roshan but still have a decent line-up of names and would be thematically different. Tight budgets and good content seem to be the mantra in the decision making corridors of Bollywood. Each company is carefully evaluating its options and are not getting carried away,’’ says Priti Shahni of Indian Films. Corporates, for instance, have decided to take films only on commission, and not buy them outright.


Shahid Kapoor’s Chance Pe Dance, Striker starring Rang De Basanti’s Siddharth, Aamir Khan Productions’ Peepli Live, Vishal Bharadwaj’s Ishqiya would release in the first half of 2010.


Generation-next too would be making its presence felt with Ranbir Kapoor in Anjana Anjani and Rajneeti, Imran Khan in I Hate Love Stories, Sonam Kapoor in Ayesha, and Deepika Padukone in House Full.


As the record breaking run of 3 Idiots that has spilled over to 2010 has shown, great content along with great pre-release buzz make the perfect mix.


2010: Coming Soon
RAJNEETI (Naseeruddin Shah, Nana Patekar, Ajay Devgn, Katrina Kaif and Ranbir Kapoor) BUDGET: 50 cr


DHOBI GHAT (Aamir Khan, Prateik Babbar) BUDGET: 15 cr


RAAVANA (Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) BUDGET: 50 cr


TEEN PATTI (Amitabh Bachchan, Sir Ben Kingsley) BUDGET: 35 cr


VEER (Salman Khan, Zarine Khan) BUDGET: 50 cr


RANN (Amitabh Bachchan) BUDGET: 25 cr


ISHQIYA (Vidya Balan, Naseeruddin Shah, Arshad Warsi) BUDGET: 20 cr


MY NAME IS KHAN (Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol) BUDGET: 50 cr


KITES (Hrithik Roshan, Barbara Mori) BUDGET: 50 cr


ACTION REPLAY (Akshay Kumar, Aishwarya Rai) | BUDGET: 35 cr


GUZAARISH (Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) BUDGET: 50 cr


ANJAANA ANJAANI (Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra) BUDGET: 40 cr


AGENT VINOD (Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor) BUDGET: 40 cr

Figures are an approximate estimation

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By Subhash K. Jha, November 27, 2009 – 11:34 IST

Aamir Khan It looks like it will be another year at least after 3 Idiots and his own home productions Dhobi Ghat and Delhi Belly before Aamir Khan will sign another new film.

Since the release of Ghajini in December 2008, Aamir has not signed on the dotted line for any project. In fact Aamir had decided to take one full year off after Ghajini to rejuvenate himself. After the tough physical and emotional preparation for Ghajini, Aamir just wanted to relax and spend time with his wife and children.

That’s precisely what he has done for the last one year. But now Aamir would be taking one more year off. This next one year would be devoted to putting his three home productions in order.

Says a source, “Aamir had earlier decided to take one year off. But now he has decided to extend his sabbatical by one more year. Filmmakers who have approached him with projects have been told that Aamir intends to take approximately one more year to supervise the post-production and final look of the three films that he has produced in 2009, namely Abhinay Deo’s Delhi Belly, Anushka Rizvi’s The Falling and Aamir’s wife Kiran Rao’s Dhobi Ghat.”

Aamir feels, all three projects need serious fine-tuning and have been delayed because he has been busy finishing and promoting 3 Idiots.

Says the source, “The only way Aamir feels his three productions can be completed and released in 2010 is if he sets aside all his own acting assignments to look into them. So he isn’t signing any films in 2010 either.”

Says the source, “It requires guts to say no to the best roles going around in Bollywood, and at a reported fee of approximately Rs 30 crores per film. But Aamir suffers no security pangs about not signing films. He told a friend he will work at his own pace, no matter what the temptation or provocation to take on extra work may be.”

BOLLYWOOD HUNGAMA.COM

RARING TO GO: Pratik

Smita Patil’s son Pratik, who turns 23 today, opens his heart to BT

MEENA IYER Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; November 28, 2009)

Pratik who shot to fame with Aamir Khan’s Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na last year, has been signed by filmmakers Sanjay Leela Bhansali for a comedy and Rohan Sippy for a thriller respectively. Clearly Raj Babbar and Smita Patil’s son is now in the A-league. For the boy who is described “as a natural born actor” by Rohan, there was a sense of deja vu when he signed on the Sippys’s film. “It was only after I met Ramesh Sippy (Rohan’s dad) did I know that he had directed my mother and Amitabh Bachchan in Shakti. I just watched Shakti and I must say, not only was it a brilliant film, the chemistry between Mom and Mr Bachchan was amazing.” While Rohan adds that his coming together with Pratik is a small moment in film history because as Gen-Now both he and Pratik have the responsibility of a legacy to carry forward.
Pratik says, “My filmmakers be it Sanjay Leela or Rohan will do all the talking about their films. I’m under a contract and unable to say much.”

The star son, however, clears the air about a controversy that said he kept Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan waiting on the sets of Kiran Rao’s Dhobi Ghat because he was holidaying in Goa. “I haven’t been to Goa in five years,” says Pratik. “I may be young, restless and even stupid but I would never keep a senior actor like Aamir waiting.” Brickbats be damned, then. It will rain bouquets in Pratik’s backyard on his birthday, today!
Aamir Khan reprimanded newbie actor Pratik for making him wait endlessly on the sets of Dhobi Ghat recently

By Vickey Lalwani (MUMBAI MIRROR; November 23, 2009)


Has anybody in Bollywood made Aamir Khan, who is a stickler for perfection, wait on the sets? Well, Raj Babbar and Smita Patil’s son Pratik, who incidentally is just one-film-old, did just that recently. Not only did Pratik make the senior actor wait endlessly on the sets of his wife Kiran Rao’s directorial debut, Dhobi Ghat but also did not report to the sets that day. Consequently, Aamir had to go back home as the day’s shoot had to be called off due to Pratik’s no-show.

The particular scene was supposed to be shot at Masjid Bunder.

A source says, “Frantic efforts to trace Pratik were made, but to no avail. Officials from Aamir Khan Productions made repeated calls to Pratik’s mobile, but nobody could trace him that day.”

After some time, the production guys learnt that Pratik had gone away to Goa. “It was very strange of Pratik to go to Goa. He is often spaced-out,” adds the source. They couldn’t shoot for the next two days because of Pratik’s absence.

Aamir, of course, gave Pratik a piece of his mind when he returned. He told Pratik, “Aise kaam nahin chalega. Please try and understand.’ After that, Pratik did not play truant.

Pratik remained unavailable for comment.

Pratik Aamir Khan
Pratik Babbar washed clothes at a dhobi ghat for five hours everyday for a week to prepare for Dhobi Ghat
By Subhash K Jha (MUMBAI MIRROR; September 02, 2009)
Looks like Aamir Khan has taken a fancy to Pratik Babbar, who plays the central character in his wife Kiran’s Rao’s debut film, Dhobi Ghat. The diligent actor seems to have taken him under his wings and is making him go through the grind for the role. The actor had to go to a real dhobi ghat every morning to learn to wash clothes. Commenting on his training process, Pratik says, “I play the dhobi who washes clothes for all these characters, including Aamir Khan. He’s my saab. I went to real dhobi ghats and washed clothes for five hours everyday for a week. It was quite a unique experience. Now I’ve become an expert at the job. I can’t say I enjoy doing it, but if I’ve no one to do my washing, I won’t sit and cry.”

Aamir Khan

Pratik Babbar

The actor has insights into the dhobi lifestyle as well. Pratik says, “Do you know these guys wake up at 3am? And the first thing they do is swig alcohol. They are drunk the whole time while they wash. That’s all they do. Wash clothes and drink.”

But Aamir Khan did take special care of Pratik Babbar during the shoot, and not just because he is the film’s producer. It has more to do with the fact that Pratik is Smita Patil’s son and everyone including Aamir Khan feels protective towards the boy. Talking about how Aamir helped Pratik with his performance, Pratik says, “He helped me with my scenes. But most importantly he made me do voice exercises. He made me clench my teeth and read out the whole script to myself. And he made me yell at the top of my voice. All this helped me with the pronunciation and rolling of the tongue.”

Pratik says he chose Dhobi Ghat as his crucial post-debut film solely because of Aamir Khan. He explains, “I’ve to admit it was because of Aamir. When I went to the audition they told me AK would be playing a role as well. That did it. I was on. No questions asked. I was itching to tell everyone about him. But I was warned not to open my mouth. Honestly, Aamir is of a different calibre.”

Smita Patil’s son Prateik Babbar may have refused Saawariya, but now he’s on board Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s next production, My Friend Pinto
By Subhash K Jha (MUMBAI MIRROR; August 30, 2009)

Prateik Babbar

One of Sanjay Bhansali’s desires, of working on a film with Smita Patil, was never fulfilled, but the director has signed her son Prateik Babbar to do a film with him. Prateik will be featuring in a film produced by Sanjay later this year.

Titled My Friend Pinto, the film will be directed by Raghav Dar who assisted Mani Ratnam on Guru and also worked as the associate assistant to Abbas Tyrewala on Jaane Tu Ya… Jaane Na.

And it was during the filming of JTYJN that the Prateik and Raghav decided to work together.

My Friend Pinto will be Prateik’s first lead role. He had an appreciated cameo in JTYJN and Aamir Khan plays the lead in his next, Kiran Rao’s Dhobi Ghat. Prateik’s aunt Manya Patil is only too happy for Prateik.

A thrilled Manya said, “Do you know Prateik was offered Saawariya at the very initial stage of the film when Sanjay was undecided about who to cast as the lead? But back then, Prateik was not interested in acting. He was at a stage in life where he was not sure which way to go next.

Then Abbas offered him JTYJN. It seemed too small a role to me, but Abbas asked me to trust him with the role, he said was tailor-made for Prateik. And just like he had assured me, the role was good and Prateik’s career is shaping up well.”

Prateik said, “I’m happy to work with Mr Bhansali.”

Manya Patil

Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Aamir Khan plays the lead role in wife Kiran Rao’s Dhobi Ghat; news that he has a cameo is a marketing gimmick
By Kunal M Shah (MUMBAI MIRROR; July 18, 2009)

Kiran Rao with Aamir Khan

Remember Aamir Khan’s marketing strategy to have ushers sport the Ghajini look during the screening of Shah Rukh Khan’s Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi? Here’s another brilliant plan that Aamir has come up with. Everyone knows that Aamir has a cameo role in wife Kiran Rao’s directorial debut film, Dhobi Ghat. But what is, or rather was, a closely guarded secret is that Aamir has a full-fledged role in the film and can be well called the lead actor of Dhobi Ghat. This makes it two lead actors for the film, the other being Pratiek Babbar, who is currently being touted as the only male lead by the filmmakers.

A source says, “It is a very clever marketing gimmick to say that Aamir only has a guest appearance in the film. It ensures that the audience will go to watch the film with minimum expectations from an actor of Aamir’s calibre. What the filmmakers want is for the audience to be glad to see Aamir throughout the film after expecting him to play a brief role in it. Consequently, viewers will feel that they have got more than their money’s worth and that will work in the film’s favour. Which is why, it has been intentionally announced that Aamir only has a cameo in the film. Actually, Aamir plays the central character along with Pratiek. Even the publicity around Aamir will be low-key. It’s a marketing strategy.”

Telling us about Aamir’s character in Dhobi Ghat, our source says, “Aamir plays a painter who lives and works from his tiny studio-apartment in a noisy and congested Mumbai neighbourhood. In our normal day-to-day life we meet so many people on a daily basis… say a watchman, a servant or a dhobi. Pratiek plays a dhobi and the film is about how one day such people become very significant in your life. That’s the story of Dhobi Ghat. Kiran never wanted to cast Aamir in the film but Aamir insisted and even screen tested for the role.”

“The film is complete and Aamir has shot for over 30 days. The editing process is currently on and the final release plans are being worked out. Monica Dogra of Shaa’ir + Func plays the female lead in the film,” adds the source.

Abhinay Deo clears the misconceptions about Delhi Belly
By Subhash K Jha (MUMBAI MIRROR; July 17, 2009)

Abhinay Deo

Delhi Belly has been quite a hush-hush project ever since it was announced. As a result, the film’s surreptitious status has generated several misconceptions. So we spoke to the film’s director, Abhinay Deo, who clears several rumours, tells us why he prefers calling it as a social comedy rather than a sexual comedy, and discusses his future plans.

Abhinay said, “Delhi Belly is not a film about Imran Khan. He is only one of the several protagonists. There are others whose characters as just as important. There is Kunaal Roy Kapoor, Vir Das and Poorna Jagannathan, an Indian actress from LA.”

Abhinay, who is busy working on post-production, added, “Although it has been labelled as a sex comedy in certain sections of the press, I would call it a social comedy. Yes, some portions of the dialogue and some situations are risqué, but I would think twice before calling Delhi Belly the desi American Pie.” So much so that, when the film was first offered to Ranbir Kapoor, he told Abhinay that he would be embarrassed to watch himself in Delhi Belly with his parents. “I understand what he means,” is all that Abhinay said.

Only recently, there were rumours about Delhi Belly being delayed for producer Aamir Khan’s wife, Kiran Rao’s Dhobi Ghat. “Delhi Belly is not in the same zone as Kiran’s film,” said Abhinay, “Kiran’s is a Mumbai film. Mine, though located in Delhi, is not really a Delhi-centric film. It can be situated in any large metropolitan city.” But as the rumour stated, are certain portions of the film being reshot? “It’s not reshooting, it’s patchwork. The additional three-day shoot is for continuity. It’s a standard procedure.”

Explaining why the film is being made in English, Abhinay added, “We’re aiming at an international release. It will be released for non-NRI audience in the West. We hope to target the same audience that enjoyed Gurinder Chadha’s Bend It Like Beckham.”

What is he working on after Delhi Belly? “I am moving on to a film produced by Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar,” said Abhinay. “It is tentatively titled Crooked and stars Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan.”

Kudos to the current superstars, who are happy to occasionally play second fiddle to their wives and girlfriends
By Meena Iyer (MUMBAI MIRROR; June 22, 2009)

Once, filmmaker Kamal Amrohi stormed out of a film function when his actress-wife Meena Kumari asked him to hold her handbag, while she went up on stage to receive her trophy. Commenting on the event, a yesteryear actor says, “Kamal saab didn’t like the idea of being referred to as Mr Meena Kumari, even for a brief second. His ego would never permit it.”

Ditto for naval lieutenant commander Rajneesh Behl, who was not at all happy if the focus was more on him being award-winning actress Nutan’s husband. He always wished to be in command.

And, if you’re wondering why we’re digging up past skeletons, it is only to tell you that there’s a brand new breed of cool superstars, who are perfectly happy to occasionally bask in their wives’ or girlfriends’ glory. They love the fact that they have beautiful, smart and talented women as partners.

For instance, Abhishek Bachchan is ecstatic that wife Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is such a huge international star. He says, “I’m proud to be married to someone as beautiful as Aishwarya. I’m fully aware that a lot of people envy me because she is my wife.”

Abhishek has gone one step ahead and is happy to accompany Aishwarya to the Cannes film festival or the The Pink Panther-2 premiere, where the flashbulbs seek Aishwarya out more than him.

Ajay Devgan too confesses that he has no problem “minding the baby”, while wife Kajol pursues her film career. While Kajol is currently shooting in San Francisco for Karan Johar’s My Name is Khan with Shah Rukh Khan, Ajay says, “What is the big deal if Kajol shoots 60-75 days in a year?  For the rest of the year, she is a hands-on mother and wife. I see no reason why she shouldn’t pursue her acting career when she is so much in demand.  In fact, I’m proud of her being an actress and my wife.”

Twinkle Khanna has no desire to step in front of the camera. She laughs if you even suggest it. However, husband Akshay Kumar is completely turned on with Twinkle’s role as an international interior designer. “When Tina accompanies me to London or New York for shootings, she hardly ever comes to the sets,” says Akshay.

Akshay says there are days when Twinkle is out making work-related buys, while he looks after son Aarav. “Tina is very good at her job and very much in demand,” says the actor, who takes pride in his wife’s career and he’s happy to cheer when she receives a trophy.

Aamir Khan loves the fact that wife Kiran Rao is an independent filmmaker. He has given her carte blanche to make her film Dhobi Ghat just the way she wants to.

Then there is filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani, who is absolutely happy to let his wife pursue a career in flying (yes, Mrs Hirani flies planes).  And, if a unit hand is to be believed, Saif Ali Khan is so proud of girlfriend Kareena Kapoor that he didn’t hesitate to press her feet in full view of the Golmaal Returns unit in Goa because her feet were sore from wearing stilettos.

Yeah, Bollywood’s changing and it is liberated men who are showing the way.


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