Fenil and Bollywood

Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

LOOKING AHEAD: Neil Nitin Mukesh

BOMBAY TIMES (January 20, 2010)

There’s constant buzz that actor Neil Nitin Mukesh is set to tie the knot soon. This, after Neil recently admitted that he was no longer single. So is there a wedding date fixed? BT met up with the young, dashing actor to find out more…

How’s 2010 begun for you?
The new year has begun really well for me. I’ve started shooting for my film with Pradeep Sarkar. It’s been a tight schedule… I have been shooting for the past ten nights. My clock has gone slightly haywire, but I’m enjoying it!

So you are planning to tie the knot this year?
There’s been speculation. I don’t deny that I am dating Priyanka. I would definitely want to make it official at some point, but that we are tying the knot this year is slightly premature to say. Since I hadn’t spoken about her much, these questions have been coming up in people’s minds, I guess. Hence, there’s been a lot of speculation about marriage.

Why have you kept your relationship low-key?

It’s not something that I have done strategically. It’s just that I didn’t get a chance to speak about her. Now, it’s all out there and people want to know, so I talk as much as I can.

She is a fashion designer… is she connected with the film industry in any way?
Not at all.

On the work front, you were expecting a lot from Jail…
Definitely. As far as the film is concerned, I’m very happy with the way it shaped up. I am extremely proud to be a part of Jail. Box office is not in our hands and that’s something I can’t comment on. Sometimes very good films don’t do well at the box office, while some not-sogood films click. There’s no fixed funda of cracking the box office. Jail of course did reasonably well. I wish it had done even better. It deserved to.

Which are the other films lined up this year?
Apart from Pradeep Sarkar’s film, there is Abbas-Mustan’s Hindi remake of The Italian Job with Katrina Kaif and Abhishek Bachchan.

What do you personally prefer — solo hero films or ones with two heroes?
For me it doesn’t really matter. The script is important. My films are character-oriented. The character I’m playing matters more to me.

How’s your photography going?
Great! Shooting gives us a chance to be at different locations. Whatever interests my eye is captured by my lens. Later at night I spend time correcting my pictures on my laptop. That’s the best way to unwind.

Abhijat Joshi tells Lekha Menon why he would never lampoon institutions and how walking is the best inspiration to write good scripts

By Lekha Menon (MUMBAI MIRROR; January 17, 2010)

On a two-month break from teaching at the Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio, Abhijat Joshi, is basking in 3 Idiots’ success story. “We just wanted to make a good film; we never intended it to be a Titanic,” he chuckles, even as he moves on to his next script with Raju Hirani.

Abhijat talks passionately about ideas that fuel him – be it in the realm of cinema or education. And it isn’t difficult to see why. Hailing from a family of professors, he himself taught at an arts college in Ahmedabad before moving to the US for an MFA from the University of Texas, Austin. And as a teacher, he is thrilled to “take Premchand, Manto and Gandhi to students there.”

In many ways, he is an example of the ‘follow your heart, success will follow’ maxim. Abhijat was training to be an engineer but then switched to arts. No wonder the ace screenwriter is quick to defend the criticism that 3 Idiots negates the process of formal education.

Pic: Rana chakraborty

• Your partnership with Raju Hirani has delivered some of the most successful films in recent times. What explains your chemistry with him?

During Lage Raho Munnabhai, Raju especially wanted my assistance for the Gandhigiri scenes. Having been educated in the Gujarati medium I had access to Gandhi’s philosophies in the language. Later, we realised we had a lot in common – our vision of cinema, ideas and values.

As in cricket, a successful creative partnership also depends on the small nuances – knowing when to talk and when to keep silent, for instance. We just clicked.

We do a lot of our writing while walking. A few days back we took a walk in the Borivali National Park and didn’t stop until we completed a scene.

Walking gives us an adrenaline rush, it pumps our writing! In the US, we walk around all the parks of Westerville. We must have covered hundreds of miles by now!

• Does your growing-up years reflect in your scripts?

A lot. Memories of childhood pranks, youth and college years will always be reflected as they shape you. For instance, the ‘All is Well’ refrain is an inspiration from a chowkidaar who used to scream that every night.

Similarly, there used to be a joke in my science class – ‘Frogs legs fetch two marks’! There were so many body parts to remember, students would just mug up those that were necessary to get marks. I was inspired by these moments.

• What is your take on the argument that 3 Idiots dismisses the formal process of education? For all the flak that our system faces, they have thrown up some brilliant minds.

I agree. Institutions must be respected. Nowhere are we questioning formal education. But we need to see what is wrong with them and what can be done – it’s purely constructive criticism. Not a single scene says students mustn’t study or work hard.

But why should joy vanish from studies? I wouldn’t recommend students becoming slack towards education; only, they need to love what they learn.

• So is there a solution?

Maybe we need to question the way of studying. There should be a desire to learn. Unfortunately in our education system, there is no curiosity and education devoid of curiosity is dead.

• How different is the students’ response and approach in the US?

Studies there is aptitude oriented. But the enthusiasm of students is similar. I feel that if the teacher is good, students give a good response.

The bubby Genelia D’Souza spells out her dating rules, fashion fundas and why she prefers being sexy, as in ‘naughty’ rather than ‘sultry’

By Sonal Chawla (MUMBAI MIRROR; January 14, 2010)

• Would you prefer to be sexy rather than the girl-next-door?

Yes, of course. But right now I am very comfortable in my space. I love the work I get and I’m not in a hurry to grow up. Aditi in Jaane Tu… was aggressive; my character in Chance pe Dance (CPD) is milder, calmer and has a sweet, feminine side. Yet both characters are girls-next-door.

But wouldn’t you like to play a sex bomb?

I don’t know whether I can, it depends on the script. It is something I haven’t thought about. I’d rather be spunky than sexy. I like being schoolgirl sexy, like the ‘naughty’ sexy.

• Given a chance to hit on your co-star, who would it be – Shahid, Harman or John?

You can’t expect me to choose. And now that CPD  is releasing, it has to be Shahid. (laughs)

• Have you ever made the first move in a relationship?

No, never. I would never do that. I would probably smile, but I would never make the first move on a guy for sure.

• Has a girl ever made a pass at you?

No, never! (laughs)

• When did you start working? Your first salary?

I was 15, and I got it for my first ad. I earned around Rs 10, 000.

• And your first screen test?

It was an advertisement with Mr Bachchan. I tested for it at five in the evening and got selected at 10 the same night. And the next thing I knew, I was doing it. Yippie.

• Tell us some dance moves you like.

I like the signature move of the song Papapa (CPD), because I think it is something that everyone can do. I love what Shahid has done in Pump it up. I think he has really, really rocked. For me dancing is going mad, letting down your hair and having a blast.

• How about salsa and jive?

Oh, I would love to do salsa. I am Christian, so I have done a lot of jiving and I love the co-ordinated lifts, but you need a terrific partner to do it.

• Your last chance to admit whether you’re single or not

Ya, ya, ya! I am single

• And ready to mingle?

I find that extremely cheesy, but I am single.

• If you could date a Hollywood actor, who would it be?

My all-time favourite star is Tom Cruise, but I would choose Brad Pitt for a date.

• Do you update yourself about fashion and read about the latest trends?

I do. But for me it is more like a jeans and tee or shorts and tee. I love white shrits and denims. I love very simple normal stuff, but if I have to make an effort, definitely I would consult people and talk to them.

• Have you ever had a wardrobe malfunction?

No. I am quite particular. I like everything fixed up and proper.

Pic: Satish malavade

FROM BOOKS TO MOVIES: Salman Rushdie and (inset) Amitabh Bachchan

Salman Rushdie in an exclusive chat with BT on his visit to Mumbai, Bollywood, the Big B, etc…

SUBHASH K JHA Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; January 13, 2010)

Salman Rushdie, who visited Mumbai recently to meet Amitabh Bachchan, Irrfan Khan, Shahana Goswami and Shabana-Javed Akhtar for the film adaptation of his book Midnight’s Children, talked to BT about his trip here. The eminent novelist lives in New York, travels the world, but claims to have multiple roots also in London and still in Bombay. “I feel at home in all three cities,” he said.
Filmmaker Deepa Mehta, who accompanied Rushdie through his Bollywood yatra, said he enjoyed every minute of his stay in Mumbai. “As far as I could see, there’s no fear to his life. He travels in a relaxed atmosphere. I couldn’t see any security arrangements,” reported Deepa, who has collaborated with him on the screenplay of Midnight’s Children. Excerpts from the interview:
BT: Was your Bollywood yatra a fulfilling experience?
SR: Yes, Deepa and I have embarked on a long and exciting journey and meeting actors and fitting them to roles has been an exciting step on that journey.
BT: How do you cope with unwanted attention? Is security still a looming issue in your life?
SR: I’m pretty good at protecting my privacy and my family’s.
BT: You seem to be affiliated to Mumbai’s show world in many ways. Parts of one of your novels is even said to be inspired by Amitabh Bachchan’s life… SR: Well, I grew up in the city, so I have the movies in my blood, I suppose. The illness of my character Gibreel in The Satanic Verses was a sort of echo of an illness of Mr. Bachchan’s.
BT: Do you keep abreast of Indian cinema? Which are the recent Indian films, filmmakers and actors you’ve liked?
SR: I’m a fan of many actors and filmmakers. When we’ve finished casting the movie you’ll know who my favourites are!
BT: Among the novels in your oeuvre which do you consider your most accomplished work, and why?
SR: I don’t choose between my literary children.
BT: What do you seek in your association with India?
SR: I’m not seeking anything in particular, just continuing a lifetime connection that I value personally as well as creatively.
BT: Mumbai, during this visit, brought you in contact with various Bollywood actors including Mr. Bachchan. How was the experience of meeting him?
SR: I’ve met Mr. Bachchan before, in New York, and at both meetings, he was a charming, gracious presence.
BT: What prompted you to let Deepa film your most celebrated novel?
SR: Her passion for my work and my admiration of hers.
BT: Do you feel Midnight’s Children has a ‘filmable’ quality? As an art form do you regard cinema as inferior to literature?
SR: Now that we have a screenplay we like, I would say that, yes, Midnight’s Children is eminently filmable. I have been a film buff all my life and believe that the finest cinema is fully the equal of the best novels.
BT: Interestingly you are a midnight child yourself. Is your character in the book Saleem Sinai partly a self-portrait?
SR: I’m eight weeks older than Saleem! And I’m not as like him as you might imagine. For example, I remember my Bombay childhood as happy and uneventful, whereas his is pretty unhappy and eventful. But I was trying to make a portrait of my generation, the generation of Independence, and in that sense he’s very close to me.
BT: You spent many many years in exilic isolation. What was the biggest lesson that you learnt from the experience?
SR: Being unable to visit India in those years was very sad.
BT: What is your take on Islamic fundamentalism and the rise of global terrorism?
SR: I’m against it.

Second time mum Sushmita Sen says her daughters Renee and Alisah will be her bridesmaids when she finally finds Mr Right

By Vickey Lalwani (MUMBAI MIRROR; January 08, 2010)

// // //

How does it feel to be a mother all over again?

Alisah is another miracle in my life. She was very calm and quiet, but suddenly she’s become very feisty and found her voice. She doesn’t like to be static for long. She wants to be carried and pampered – she is a princess.

How has Renee reacted to Alisah?

Renee has been an absolute dream with Alisah. She wanted a sibling for a long time. They have an age difference of 10 years and Renee’s age will only add to her sense of responsibility. She is like a mother to Alisah. She’s trying to change her diapers, even give her a bath. However, I must tell you that she doesn’t do a very good job of changing diapers, but she certainly thinks she does (laughs).

Does Renee feel left out when you attend to Alisah?

No. Agar unme do-teen saal ka fark hota, to shayad aisa hota. God plans life beautifully.

How different is Alisah from Renee?

Every child is different. So, the feeling is different too. Alisah smiles differently. She yells differently. Unlike Renee who used to wake up in the middle of the night and wake me up, she sleeps rather peacefully. But I may be speaking too soon. Give me another month and Alisah too might start waking me up. When Renee came into my life, I was a novice. I was learning everything about motherhood from scratch. With Alisah, I am better trained as a mother.

It’s great that children of single mothers don’t need a father’s name to get admission in schools… your comment?

Oh yes, I love that. But, you know, my daughters have all the freedom to change their first name, which I have given them, if they don’t like it at any point in their life.

You have two kids now. Does marriage fit into your scheme of things?

Of course. Just because it hasn’t happened till now doesn’t mean that I don’t consider marriage important.

So we might see you getting married with your daughters standing beside you?

Of course. And they’ll both hold my wedding gown up. I got my bridesmaids before I got married (laughs). And you know what…


Finally, I have decided to do only big commercial films which will have a proper distribution network and release. I have done many films which were not marketed correctly.

But what’s happening in your personal life?

Presently, I am single. Even if I want to be in a relationship, I don’t have time for it, at least now.

Though you look svelte now, you had really put on weight.

They didn’t pile up overnight. Vashu Bhagnani and David Dhawan asked me to gain 7 kg for Do Knot Disturb.

How did you feel when you looked at yourself in the mirror those days?

(Laughs) If Do Knot Disturb had worked, it would’ve been fantastic. But it didn’t, and weight gain became the topic of discussion instead.

So how did you manage to lose the flab?

I take the credit for the discipline, but it was thanks to my dietician and my physical trainer. I am in better shape than I ever was. Okay, I am healthier now (laughs again). Can we talk about Dulha Mil Gaya?


I have waited for Dulha Mil Gaya for nearly two years. I am happy that none of us associated with the film sulked about its delay. I play Shimmer, a very over-the-top character and one of the best I have portrayed on screen. I am opposite Shah Rukh Khan and particularly loved the jugalbandi scene where we fight by taking names of each other’s films. And I always wanted to work with Fardeen Khan, who is a buddy.

By Subhash K. Jha, January 4, 2010 – 14:18 IST

Chetan Bhagat Those multitudes who have read Chetan Bhagat’s book novel Five Point Someone would agree there are uncanny resemblances between the novel and Rajkumar Hirani’s 3 Idiots. The film apparently set out to adapt Bhagat’s novel and then decided to go its own way, for whatever reason. Chetan Bhagat shouts foul as he finds his name missing from the opening credits of 3 Idiots, instead they are in the rolling credits in the end. On the other hand, the producers of the film claim that it was mentioned in the contract that Chetan had signed. Hurt and amused Chetan reacts.

You must be very upset by the latest proceedings?
You’re a writer. You should know how it feels to have credit taken away from you. And it’s not something only I’m saying. It’s out there. The book is there. The film is there. They’ve tried to take away from my contribution. My name is at the very end of the credit titles after the junior artistes and still photographers. From the time they started making the film, they’ve been stressing that their product is different. It’s like a systematic effort (to underplay my contribution). If you read the book and saw the film, you’ll see the similarities.

My name is at the very end of the credit titles after the junior artistes and still photographers

So would you say 3 Idiots is an adaptation of your novel?
3 Idiots is a total adaptation of my book. Some things are direct lifts, others indirect adaptations.

Aamir thinks you are trying to take away credit from the film’s writer Abhijat Joshi?
I heard his comments. But then he says he hasn’t read the book. There’s no denying Abhijat has done the screenplay. What Abhijat has done with my book can only be known if you’ve read it. If Aamir is so concerned about Abhijat not getting the publicity, he should let Abhijat talk. I very much respect Aamir. He’s the reason I thought the project would have a lot of integrity. I know for a fact he was told not to read my book because they told him it’d affect his understanding of his story. I was told it was a different script.

Even dialogues about matar-paneer and Maruti 800 cars are from my novel. The novel was set in the 1990s. Aaj Maruti 800 kaun bolega?

How would Aamir’s perception have been affected if he read the book?
I don’t know. I’m on a firm footing with the facts. See the film, read the book. And judge for yourself. The whole plot-structure narrative, even dialogues about matar-paneer and Maruti 800 cars are from my novel. The novel was set in the 1990s. Aaj Maruti 800 kaun bolega? I mention 42 exams and 16 broken bones in my body. They have kept the same numbers in the film. Kareena’s brother committing suicide on the railway tracks…so many other things in the film; it’s all there in my novel.

Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Aamir have accused you of trying to make mileage out of their movie?
If I didn’t take up the issue properly, I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself. If someone else goes and collects the award for best story at the awards functions how will I feel? Only once I met Aamir. When I landed at Bangalore where they were shooting 3 Idiots they said, ‘Don’t come we’ve too many visitors.’ They prevented me from going on the set. The book has been selling for six years. There’re lakhs of fans of the book. It’s not about Chetan being naraaz and Aamir being naraaz. My issue is not with Aamir. When the other film Hello based on my novel One Night At The Call Centre came, did I say one word against the characterizations or treatment? I was credited properly for that. I haven’t been credited for 3 Idiots.

When I landed at Bangalore where they were shooting 3 Idiots they said, ‘Don’t come we’ve too many visitors.’ They prevented me from going on the set.

Have you become embittered towards Bollywood?
You could make up any kind of contract. But is there any contract that stops people from being petty? My last novel Three Mistakes Of My Life is being directed by Abhishek Kapoor. I am co-scripting it. There’s a lot of interest in adapting my latest novel 2 States: The Story Of My Life. I don’t think there would be any problem with future project. With 3 Idiots, I know I’m in the right. I’m just telling people to see the film and read my book. I know Aamir is a very powerful person. But finally the truth has to prevail, no? I’m no great artiste. But there has to be fair play. I’m being accused of trying to get mileage.10 lakh copies of the book have been sold. The book has been read by 1 crore readers. Wouldn’t they know the truth?

Chetan Bhagat What do you intend to do?
The makers of 3 Idiots are busy with their victory tours all over the country. They’re naturally being asked about the similarities between my book and the film. Sorry I spoilt their celebrations. The truth had to be told. I’ve been told by them, ‘You’re just a writer. You don’t realize how big we are.’ Maybe I don’t realize how big they are. Main kya karoon? But the truth is above everything. Aisa nahin ke pura Bollywood kharaab hai.

Do you think you’ll be ostracized by Bollywood after this incident?
I’m not dependent on Bollywood for my livelihood. I’m a big Krishna bhakt. I’ll follow the right path. If I’m wrong I’ll leave writing and join ISKCON. What does a writer want? That his words should make a change in society. Maybe by taking up this issue I hope to bring about a change in the way writers are treated. Vidhu Vinod Chopra assured me that he would treat me like a king. Kahan ka raja?

Vidhu Vinod Chopra assured me that he would treat me like a king. Kahan ka raja?

What do you hope to achieve?
When they go to pick up the story award I want people to know whose story it is. When they make eye contact with their children they should know they’re lying. We’ve to show that truth comes before everything else. I don’t write for money or glamour. I just need paper and pen. Lord Krishna takes care of the rest.


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.