Fenil and Bollywood

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By Nikhil Ramsubramaniam, December 24, 2009 – 18:27 IST

Chetan Bhagat Very few authors have managed to reach out to such a wide audience as Chetan Bhagat. The writer of international bestsellers like ‘5 Point Someone’, ‘One Night @ Call Centre’, ‘3 Mistakes of My Life’ and ‘2 States’ have been widely read and now he is all set to see yet another of his book being made into a film. On the eve of 3 Idiots release, Chetan Bhagat speaks to Bollywood Hungama and talks about why 3 Idiots is a special film, his next big project and lots more.

After ‘One Night @ the Call Centre’, yet another book of yours ‘5 Point Someone’ is all set to be seen in its celluloid version (3 Idiots). How does it feel?
It feels great. This time it’s a far bigger film, the buzz about 3 Idiots is enormous. We have done the right thing by putting the film ahead of us. It’s an incredible feeling to be able to reach out to so many people through the medium of cinema.

Initially I did sit down with Raju and Abhijat while they were deciding to make a film based on ‘5 Point Someone‘. I even went to IIT with Abhijat a couple of times.

The screenplay has been written by Raju Hirani and Abhijat Joshi…Would you have liked to be a part of the screenplay writing process?
Initially I did sit down with Raju and Abhijat while they were deciding to make a film based on ‘5 Point Someone’. I even went to IIT with Abhijat a couple of times. But it was just not possible for me to be involved at every stage of the screenplay writing process since I was in Hong Kong at that time, working full time and busy writing other books. Moreover, Abhijat is based in USA, Raju was in the US for quite a while working on the screenplay but it was not practical for me to do that.

3 Idiots is different from the book but at the same time it does borrow many things from the book. The core theme and message of the film is coming from the book itself.

The question on everyone’s mind is how similar the film is to the book? Raju Hirani says that the film is just 10% of the book….your comments.
I don’t think Raju must have said something like that. In fact I just met him a few days ago and we spoke at length about the film etc. See…’5 Point Someone’ has over the years achieved cult status and has its own loyal fans. I am sure they would like to see each and every moment of the book on the big screen but that is not how the process works. Adapting a book and making it into a film is a relatively new thing in India. The film retains the soul of the book. 3 Idiots is different from the book but at the same time it does borrow many things from the book. The core theme and message of the film is coming from the book itself. And that’s why the makers have officially credited the film as ‘Based on a novel by Chetan Bhagat’

You are but obviously not directly involved with the film and its promotional strategies…does it upset you?
Not at all…at the end of the day I want the film to be a good film and I am happy that a film whose base is generated from my book has generated so much response and is the talk of the town.

Aamir recently was on an innovative promotional spree travelling the length and breadth of the country…what do you think about this marketing strategy?
Chetan Bhagat When you have Aamir Khan, I don’t think anybody else needs to be involved in marketing of the film. Aamir is known for his innovative style of marketing. He will never directly say, ‘Please come and watch my film’ but he will do something that will grab your attention and make you go and watch the film. I am really inspired by his marketing. In fact there is a lesson for a lot of Indian marketing companies on the way Aamir does the marketing of his films.

Moving on from 3 Idiots, how is work coming along on the film based on your book ‘3 Mistakes of My Life’ being made by Excel Entertainment?

I am really inspired by Aamir’s marketing. In fact there is a lesson for a lot of Indian marketing companies on the way Aamir does the marketing of his films.

Abhishek Kapoor (the director) is very conscious of the comparisons that will come between the book and the film and hence we (Abhijit, Pubali Chaudhari and I) are taking great care in writing the screenplay of the film. In fact even today as we speak, I am working on the screenplay of the film based on ‘3 Mistakes Of My life’. We are aware that after Rock On and 3 Idiots, there will be a lot of expectations from people and hence we are working very hard on getting the screenplay right. I think we should be able to finalise it soon and begin casting in a month or so.

Your most recent novel ‘2 States’ was launched a couple of months ago…how has been the response so far?
‘2 States’ has had a fantastic response… easily the best of all the 4 books, that’s because it’s a very universal love story with a good dose of humour. It’s a very good book for a lot of people to relate and enjoy. It also carries a nice message. Especially in the South, the book has done extraordinarily well. I think I have been able to meet my fans expectations which is the ultimate dream for any writer.

2 States‘ has had a fantastic response… easily the best of all the 4 books, that’s because it’s a very universal love story with a good dose of humour.

That book would make for an interesting Bollywood potboiler…any plans to adapt that book into a film too?
There have been many offers but I know that my fans would like me to be involved with only A-grade Bollywood. I don’t want to sell the rights to any filmmaker just for the heck of it. It should go into the right hands so that it emerges as one of the best films of the year

What else are you busy with these days apart from tweeting….the buzz is that you are scripting a film?
Twitter is a great way to stay connected with my fans. Yes…I do want to script a romantic comedy. Abhishek Kapoor has taught me a lot about screenplay writing. The best part about working with Abhishek is that he has shown me how the screenplay language works and also how to use restraint. Rock On was such a film that expressed so much more in spite of being subtle. My books tend to be quite filmy sometimes (laughs). It’s ironical that a filmmaker is telling me to be less filmy but I am forever indebted to Abhishek for teaching me these things about screenplay writing. Now I am hoping that I can do a better job.

BOLLYWOOD HUNGAMA.COM

Kannada matinee idol Vishnuvardhan, passed away of cardiac arrest yesterday

By S Shyam Prasad \ Subhash K Jha (MUMBAI MIRROR; December 31, 2009)


At the age of 22, H N Sampath Kumar was rechristened Vishnuvardhan by legendary director Puttanna Kanagala and he had fame and popularity literally seeking him out overnight. The Mysore-born actor would often call his entry into films as dynamic and expressed a desire to have a graceful exit. It turned out to be an unexpected exit in the early hours of December 30; and not just from films.

At 59, none of his fans, friends or family expected him to perish. The late actor was suffering from diabetes and had developed cardiac problems during his last days. He is survived by his wife, Bharati and two adopted daughters.

Vishnuvardhan made his film debut with a small role in Vamshavriksha directed by Girish Karnad in 1972. In the same year, he appeared in Puttanna Kanagala’s magnum opus Naagarahaavu, where he played the protagonist Ramachari, which remains a much-liked character to date.

A polyglot who could speak six languages, his life changed when films beckoned him. As Vishnuvardhan would recall later in life, he had neither enthusiasm nor love for films. “I was not a hard worker, but a sincere worker,” he summed up his film career. When his first photograph appeared in Chitradeepa magazine after his film debut, what the young Vishnuvardhan aspired was to be recognised by girls as he walked around Gandhi Bazaar.

At the time Vishnuvardhan married actress Bharati, she was a bigger star than him. Their marriage lasted for a lifetime but the couple was childless. They adopted two girls. But the actor never spoke about this aspect of life.

Vishnuvardhan Akshay Kumar

In the last few years, Vishnuvardhan had become a disciple of Bannanje Govindacharya and taken up vows of silence from time to time. He would avoid public platforms that would necessitate him to make tough statements or take stands. However, he held on to his beliefs and would never waver from his somewhat radical views.

Akshay Kumar, who is holidaying with his wife and son in Goa, expressed his shock about the superstar’s death. Akshay says, “I worked with him in Ashaant (1993) and I think, that is the only Hindi film that Vishnuji did. We shot it in his home town Bangalore, and he was so popular! Men, women and children came to him to be touched by him. He was like God. Newly-born babies were named after him.”

Akshay remembers the good times that they had while shooting the film. “Vishnuji was disciplined, focused and hard working. I have learnt a lot from him. We did a Hindi and a Kannada version of Ashaant. The Kannada version was a super hit. The Hindi version was a flop. I guess he was a much bigger star than I could ever be. As I speak about him now all the memories of shooting during that film flash through my mind. I met him in Bangalore much later. He was warm and very friendly. Was he just 60? That’s no age to go.”

Although My Name Is Khan will premiere at the 60th Berlin Film Festival, distributor Fox Star Studios, has prevented it from competing with other films in the Competition section

By Subhash K Jha (MUMBAI MIRROR; December 25, 2009)


With the good news comes the bad news as well. The good news is that Fox Star Studios, international partners on My Name Is Khan, has decided to premiere the film at the 60th Berlin Film Festival in February 2010, in the most prestigious Competition section. However, the bad news is that they have not allowed the film to compete with other films in the section. The reason for the same is unknown.

Karan doesn’t deny the news but pooh-poohs the belief that the global corporates are trying to bully him into submission. He says, “Yes, the decision to place our film in the Competition section without competing was taken entirely by Fox Star. Shah Rukh and I are completely one with it. We are just happy to be in the same section as the new films by Martin Scorsese and Roman Polanski. Fox Star has been on the same page as me from the start. Shah Rukh, Kajol and I are getting ready for Berlin. It will be the first full-fledged screening of our film. We are anxious to see how the global audience at Berlin reacts to it.”

According to sources, Fox Star has grown progressively wary of the 9/11 angle in cinema and has asked Karan to tone it down as far as possible. Apparently, the filmmaker was asked to change the trailer for the premiere of My Name Is Khan (unveiled last week) so that overt references to terrorism are done away with. Karan was also asked to stress on the fact that the film is not about 9/11 and terrorism. Karan dismisses the news. He says, “Fox Star knew exactly what My Name Is Khan is about. It’s a fact that the film is not about terrorism. Yes, 9/11 does form a background to the tale, but the film is a love story and a story of humanism under pressure.”

(L): My Name Is Khan, (R) :Karan Johar

Apparently, there is also a fear that Shah Rukh Khan’s smaller-than-life role as an autistic Muslim, fighting injustice in the US may not go down well with his fans. Karan laughs at the rumours. He says, “That is such an erroneous interpretation of Shah Rukh’s character. He plays a man with a disability who can see the world around him far more clearly than the so-called normal people. He is a superman with a soul pure enough to fly. No, I don’t think his fans would be disappointed just because he isn’t larger-than-life in Khan. Shah Rukh’s fans all over the world want to see him in roles that connect the reality of cinema with the reality of the world outside the theatre.”

Vijay Singh, CEO, Star Fox Studios, also insists that the film is not about terrorism. He says, “My Name Is Khan is a love story and Shah Rukh Khan’s character’s journey to win back his love. It has nothing to do with terrorism.”

Two women land an unexpected chance to be ushered inside Amitabh Bachchan’s house, as their health deteriorates outside his bungalow

By Kunal M Shah (MUMBAI MIRROR; November 16, 2009)


What happens when Amitabh Bachchan decides to step out of his bungalow and reach out to his fans? Chaos, traffic jams, a near stampede-like situation and of course, a crowd of crazy but satisfied fans.

That’s precisely what happened yesterday evening. However this time, a couple of women also got breathless. Apparently, Amitabh took control of the situation, instructed his security to take them inside Jalsa and ensured that nothing adverse happened to them.

As per his Sunday routine, Amitabh stepped out of Jalsa and met his fans. According to our source, he was giving television interviews for Paa when he decided to take a small break. He knew his fans were waiting outside. This time around though, he had planned a special surprise for them.

 

Amitabh Bachchan outside Jalsa

A witness to the situation outside Jalsa said, “When Amitabh stepped out and started distributing autographed pictures, people crowded to grab the pictures and to just touch the living legend. The word that Amitabh was out, spread like wild fire and the crowd soon increased manifold, causing a jam on the roads. Caught in the mini mêlée, a couple of elderly women started feeling breathless. It immediately caught Amitabh’s attention and he asked his security guards to rush them inside the house and give them some water. He then got his personal staff to distribute the remaining pictures to the people he could not personally reach out to.”

Appreciating the love shown by his fans, Amitabh said, “From the day I was discharged from Breach Candy hospital in 1982, every single day, crowds throng my gate. That’s 27 years without a break. I have never been able to explain this incredible outpour of emotions. I am indebted for life by my fans’ gestures and step out every Sunday to greet them. I give them autographs and pose for photographs as and when the frenzy permits. I felt like giving them autographed Paa photographs, so I sat up till late signing them.”

Katrina hobnobbed all night with Shah Rukh, Shilpa Shetty couldn’t stop showing off her engagement ring and Gauri Khan danced enthusiastically till the cops came in and repeatedly asked host Hrithik to stop the loud music late on Sunday night

By Vickey Lalwani (MUMBAI MIRROR; October 27, 2009)

Shah Rukh Khan Gauri Khan
Nandita Mahtani and Dino Morea Raj Kundra and Shilpa Shetty

A near stampede resulted outside Hrithik Roshan’s building Palazzio, Juhu late on Sunday night when Hrithik threw a party to celebrate his wife Sussanne’s birthday. The who’s who of Bollywood attended the do and a throng of fans stood outside the gate to catch a glimpse of their favourite stars.

Guests at the party included Shah Rukh-Gauri Khan, Saif-Kareena, Katrina Kaif, Karan Johar, Parmeshwar Godrej, Tusshar Kapoor, Arjun Rampal-Mehr Jesia, Chunky-Bhavna Pandey, Shilpa Shetty-Raj Kundra, Zayed Khan, Kajal Anand, Neelam, Kunal Kapoor, Vicky-Gayatri Oberoi, Sonali-Goldie Behl and Farah Ali Khan,amongst others.

Ritesh Deshmukh and Genelia D’Souza came in together, as did Dino Morea and his now on-now off girlfriend, designer Nandita Mahtani. While Gauri Khan was having a great time dancing, Shah Rukh, who came in an hour after her, was in a rather sober mood. Parmeshwar Godrej was in high spirits and was one of the last guests to leave the party.

Hrithik looked dapper, as usual, in a black shirt and blue jeans, while Sussanne complemented his attire with an elegant black dress.

Incidentally, Hrithik’s favourite co-star Aishwarya Rai Bachchan did not attend the party. A source close to the Roshans said, “Abhishek was busy shooting, hence Aishwarya decided not to come.”

Hrithik’s good friend Priyanka Chopra was also absent. The actress’s official spokesperson said, “Priyanka could not attend Hrithik’s party because she wasn’t feeling too well due to food poisoning.”

Unlike most parties where Ameesha is usually accompanied by her boyfriend Kanav Puri, this time she came alone and looked quite lost.

A rather plump looking Katrina Kaif managed to raise quite a few eyebrows by hobnobbing with boyfriend Salman Khan’s arch rival Shah Rukh Khan. A close friend of Salman said, “Never before have we seen Katrina get along so well with Shah Rukh. Has she broken up with Salman?”

When we asked why Hrithik’s sister Sunaina did not attend the party, the source said, “Sunaina is a loner.”

Since Shilpa got engaged to Raj on Saturday night, everybody wanted to have a look at her huge ring. “Shilpa proudly showed it to almost everybody who was around. She was the centre of attraction all evening,” added the source.

The revelry ended on an unpleasant note when an irate neighbour complained about the loud music reverberating from the building’s 10th floor where the party was on in full swing. A few cops reached the venue but failed to take stock of the situation. They had to call senior police inspector Sawant who asked Hrithik to mellow down.

Hrithik and Sussanne Roshan & Katrina Kaif

 

Salman Khan fulfills his promise to his fans of having a live show in Kolkata on October 23 as the first one on September 26 had to be cancelled at the last minute

By Sonal Chawla (MUMBAI MIRROR; October 20, 2009)

Salman Khan

Salman Khan clearly believes in practicing what he preaches. True to his ‘Ek baar jo maine commitment kar di, phir main apne aap ki bhi nahi sunta’ dialogue in his recent release Wanted, Salman is going out of his way to live up to his commitment in real life by visiting Kolkata on October 23 for a live performance.

A source says, “Salman had gone to Kolkata on September 26 for a live show but was unable to perform as the venue was over crowded with his innumerable fans and there was a mad rush which resulted in a stampede. The event was held at the Mohammedan Sporting Club which could accommodate 20,000 people but over 40,000 fans turned up there. “

“Consequently, the organisers had no choice but to cancel the show. That’s when Salman promised his fans to rework the show schedule and come back with a bang. The actor will now go to Kolkata on October 23 and will be performing at the Salt Lake Stadium which has the capacity to accommodate around 1,25,000 people,” adds the source.

One of the event organisers says, “Unfortunately the show had to be cancelled the last time as the ground exceeded its capacity. Salman had given his word to his fans to be back.”

Salman Khan says, “I am very happy to go back to Kolkata because I had committed to my fans and once I make a commitment I stick to it no matter what happens. And that is why I am going back to celebrate the success of my recent release Wanted and the launch of my forthcoming film London Dreams.”



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