Fenil and Bollywood

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CANDID CHAT: Kareena Kapoor
Kareena Kapoor says she is guilty of just that…

MEENA IYER Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; January 4, 2010)

It has been a year of fluctuating fortunes for Bollywood’s most powerful actress — Kareena Kapoor. The janta and her sceptics will never let her forget that she had three duds in 2009 with Kambakkht Ishq, Main Aurr Mrs Khanna and Kurbaan. But just when they were nailing her coffin, she bounced right back with the biggest hit of them all.

Like a cat that has swallowed the cream, Kareena smacked her luscious lips and said, “There I was licking my wounds when God above answered my prayers. Honestly, I’m delirious. To think that I started 2009 with a whimper and ended it with a bang. Someone up there heard me.’’

Just before she set off on a tour of England with Saif Ali Khan, the incorrigible Bebo said, “2010 has a lot of promise. I sincerely wish the Midas touch continues. I’ll start the year with my idol, Shah Rukh Khan, with whom I’m travelling to Miami for RA 1. Then I’m going to be traipsing the globe with Saif in Agent Vinod. And, if Aamir keeps up his promise to me, the two of us will end up in a romantic film by the end of the year.’’ Jumping like a child, she asked, “Listen, is it wrong to love more than one Khan at a time? I’m guilty of just that. Shah Rukh and Gauri are my close friends. I love Saifu. And as for Aamir, well, what can I say? He’s the new Khan on my block.’’

Gamely she takes the blame for her duds. She knows the critics dipped their pens in poison when she did KI and MAMK. “My funda is simple,’’ said Bebo. “Actors should be like scientists, always willing to experiment. I experimented and I failed. That doesn’t take away from my acting abilities. If I don’t experiment, the same guys will write — she’s a plastic doll on screen. One does take chances with one’s roles and if the films fail, I’m more heartbroken than anyone else. Don’t forget films are all I live for. I give my films everything I have. So failure does affect me. But to write me off each time I have a flop is unfair.’’

Maybe, but that’s the way things in Bollywood work. One Friday you’re a handmaiden, the next Friday you’re the Queen. And, if you’re lucky, you can get an extended lease at the box-office. Like Bebo just managed. meena.iyer@timesgroup.com

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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Some crew members of the much delayed Agent Vinod have opted out of the project for fear of being jobless after signing a contract with the production house

By Sonal Chawla (MUMBAI MIRROR; December 19, 2009)

Saif Ali Khan and Dinesh Vijan’s Agent Vinod, which finally seemed poised to take off, has been delayed again. Due to this, some crew members got fed up of waiting for the film to go on the floors and hence opted out of it to work in other viable projects.

The film was supposed to go on the floors in July, but Saif could not find time for Agent Vinod as he was busy with the promotions of Love Aaj Kal. Later, both Kareena and Saif got busy with Kurbaan and the film got postponed. Then Kareena’s dates were given away to the Bollywood version of Stepmom, so the film got delayed even further to January. Now, it is finally reported that the film will begin in the second half of the next year.

A source from the unit, who has backed out of the film, says, “We have been roped in for this project for over six months. We were first informed that the movie will go on the floors in December, which was then pushed to January. Finally, the other day, we got a call from the production house saying that the film might go on the floors by April and we need to sign the contract papers.”

It was the commitment to the project, which seemed on a shaky path that made them back out of it. The source adds, “How can we sign the contract papers? Once we sign the contract, we can’t work anywhere else. So, we will be jobless till this movie goes on the floors. Given this inconvenience, many of us have backed out of the film. We are not signing the contract as we don’t want to be bound with the production house for so many months. If we do sign the contract we will be twiddling our thumbs and not earning money. Some of us have moved on since there is no guarantee of when exactly the film will take off. Meanwhile, we are taking up some other projects,” adds the source.

Producer Dinesh Vijan remained unavailable for comment. Guess Agent Vinod and he were having a fictitious tete-a-tete.

Buzz is that the budget of Agent Vinod has been slashed from Rs 65 crore to Rs 40 crore. Are the makers playing safe or is there more to it?

By Vickey Lalwani (MUMBAI MIRROR; December 03, 2009)

Considering the fate of some of the recent films bombing at the box-office and the aftereffects of recession, corporate are entirely rethinking their film financing budgets. Apparently, this is why Eros International, the financers of Agent Vinod starring Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor, has considerably slashed the film’s budget.

The buzz in trade circles, based on a conversation overheard between a leading producer and a couple of distributors is that Eros International is renegotiating their deal with Illuminati Films, producers of Agent Vinod. The budget of the film has been brought down considerably from Rs 65 crore to Rs 40 crore. Illuminati Films is co-owned by Saif Ali Khan and Dinesh Vijan.

Agent Vinod is a spy thriller with Saif and Kareena playing undercover agents. In fact, buzz is that Kareena plays a full-on action star on the same lines as Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft in Tomb Raider.

In today’s time, when having a big star in one’s film does not guarantee money recovery, it is not surprising that Eros is having second thoughts about the budget of the film. Apparently, the dismal performance of the recent Saif-Kareena starrer Kurbaan at the box-office has also played a big role in Eros deciding to cut costs. Incidentally, this is the third time recently that the real life couple failed to set the screen on fire.  They had not too long ago worked together in Roadside Romeo and Tashan.

However, our source insists that the slashed budget of Agent Vinod has nothing to do with the box-office failure of Kurbaan. The source says, “It is a wise business decision which can be termed as a precautionary measure. It has got nothing to do with Saif and Kareena per se. For all you know, Agent Vinod may be a hit and a cut in its cost will benefit Eros and Illuminati all the more.”

Sriram Raghavan, director of Agent Vinod, says that the film will be going on the floors in the next two months. Commenting on the slashed budget, he says, “I don’t know if there is any such development, but I can’t downsize my script. There are a lot of foreign locales and action in the film. So, it’s definitely a high budget film. However, I cannot reveal its budget, producer Dinesh Vijan is the right person to comment on it.”

Eros International and Illuminati Films declined to comment on the story.

By Taran Adarsh, November 24, 2009 – 08:44 IST

Saif Ali Khan, Anil Kapoor A lot has been spoken and written about RACE 2. Now here’s the latest on the film. Abbas-Mustan have finalized the script of the film, which is currently being given finishing touches. As for the star cast, the sequel to the super-successful film will star Saif Ali Khan and Anil Kapoor in principal roles. Akshaye Khanna may not feature in the film because he was shown dead in the first part.

Meanwhile, one more lead man – a top name – is expected to be signed shortly. Also, producer Ramesh Taurani is planning to sign three leading ladies, all known names, for this film.

RACE 2 is expected to roll in March/April next year. “We will start RACE 2 once Saif is through with AGENT VINOD,” producer Ramesh Taurani divulges.


In the process of eliminating handful of terrorists, we end up creating many more-this best describes the policies of Western developed powers who are hell bent on making the world more democratic but adopt inhuman ways to achieve the end point. Kurbaan throws light on this sensitive topic and thankfully treats it well. The flick throws a spate of questions and forces you to think, discuss and debate. But it doesn’t get preachy and hence it’s not like one of the several films on terrorism that are made for a niche audience. The film is thrilling, has some wonderful twist-n-turns and includes some moments of love and passion too. All this make Kurbaan one of the finest films of the year-one that can’t be missed!

The story of the movie: Ehsaan Khan (Saif Ali Khan) takes the job of a teacher in a university in Delhi where he comes across a psychology teacher, Avantika (Kareena Kapoor). He instantly falls in love and she also ends up liking him. But unfortunately, she’s called back to New York where she originally belongs. Realizing that it would be wrong to have a long-distance relationship, Ehsaan also moves to NYC with Avantika. But before that, they marry. After moving to New York, they buy a new house in a neighborhood full of Asians, conservative Muslims to be precise. The neighbours invite Ehsaan and Avantika for dinner so that they can get familiar with each other. Soon, Avantika realizes that things are not fine in the neighbourhood as they seem and finally, realization dawns upon her-she has been as used as a pawn in a dangerous game.

The beginning 20-25 minutes focuses on Saif-Kareena’s courtship and may not impress. It was the weakest part of the film and wasn’t treated well. But thinks take a good turn with the song Shukran Allah and when the couple shifts to New York. The film engrosses from the scene where the neighbours invite them for dinner. From this sequence, the film turns into a roller coaster ride with lots of unpredictable turns. The entry of Riyaaz (Vivek Oberoi) in the narrative adds to the icing on the cake.

The intermission point was brilliant and fortunately, unlike other films, Kurbaan doesn’t fall or gets slow in the post-interval portions. In fact, the 2nd half also keeps you hooked onto your seat. A number of sequences are memorable in this hour. Kirron Kher sharing the tragic story astonishes you and Kher’s mind blowing performance only enhances the impact. Same goes for the scene where Saif is nursing the wound with little help from Kareena after getting hit by a bullet. The way the blood tickles down and the way Saif screams-man, it gives goosebumps!

The last 30 minutes of the film is undoubtedly the best portion of the film. The tension that is created in the climax and the engrossing and captivating direction is truly appreciable. The film ends on an acceptable note.

Regarding the flaws, as mentioned before, the first 20 mins doesn’t work. Also, the film is full of violent and gory scenes which might not be liked by some sections. And the editing wasn’t upto the mark. More about it later!

Kurbaan is a rare film where the cast and most of the crew have worked exceptionally well in all respects. Saif Ali Khan was outstanding in his role. He looked dapper in his new look and performance wise, doesn’t provide even a miniscule chance of complain! Thus, Kurbaan can safely be added to the list of ‘finest performances of Saif’. This year has been particularly lucky for Saif with his home production Love Aaj Kal being a super hit and now even Kurbaan has been appreciated. His next Agent Vinod with Kareena is also expected to rock! Way to go Saif!

Kareena Kapoor has exposed as minimal as possible and still managed to look stunning. She’s always been delivering fine performances and in Kurbaan too, she does a perfect job. Watch out for the scenes where she discovers that she has been used and in the climax. She proves once again as to why she’s one of the top actresses today! Great going!

Vivek Oberoi steals the show with his wonderful act. In fact, his acts impact more than Saif-Kareena at several points in the film. Audiences as well filmmakers would surely sit up and take notice of this highly talented actor who was neglected in the past due to many reasons. He is expected to shine in his next films, Prince and Rakta Charitra too!

Kirron Kher, like Vivek, leaves a mark in several scenes. For a change, it was good to see her in a different kind of role than her usual stereotypical ones. Om Puri performs with ease. Dia Mirza looked charming and impresses with her special appearance. Nauheed Cyrusi does a fabulous job. Asheesh Kapur, who plays her husband, was great. Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Aakash Khurana and others were good.

Salim-Sulaiman’s music was haunting and songs suited the film well. Shukran Allah, Ali Maula and Kurbaan Hua are the three best songs. Ali Maula leaves a mark. The duo’s background score was electrifying and they may bag the Best Background Score award this year.

Anurag Kashyap and Niranjan Iyengar’s dialogues were sharp and top notch. Best dialogue of the film was, “Ek minute ke liye bhi ye mat sochna ki ye allah ka kaam hai!Parvez Feroze’ gory action enhanced the reality of the film. Asif Ali Shaikh’s editing wasn’t upto the mark. One can notice that desperate attempts were made to haphazardly cut down mini portions of scenes to reduce the duration of the film as much as possible. Not good!

Rensil D’Silva, the screenwriter-director scores in his dream debut. Although the direction wasn’t perfect, the film managed to make an impact and give out a strong message. The screenplay was undoubtedly intriguing.

And finally, kudos to Karan Johar for writing the film and also for producing such a hard hitting flick. KJo was criticized for making lovey-dovey films only. But with his last two films and Kurbaan, he has proved that he’s here not only to rake in moolah but also to provide fresh and interesting flicks! Hats off!

Some of the best scenes of the film:
1.       The songs Shukran Allah and Ali Maula
2.       Ehsaan and Avantika at the dinner in the neighbour’s house
3.       Avantika meets Dia
4.       The plane bombing sequence
5.       The intermission point
6.       Riyaaz at the Saif’s lecture
7.       Riyaaz’ quick conversation with Avantika at the mall
8.       The scene at the sandwich parlour
9.       The coffee scene
10.     The climax

On the whole, Kurbaan is an engaging and thrilling film that impresses and engrosses thoroughly! Go for it and have 160 minutes of captivating and thrilling time!

My rating-**** out of 5!

This review first appeared on MouthShut.com: http://www.mouthshut.com/review/Kurbaan-180014-1.html

ACTORS FIRST: Kareena Kapoor with Saif Ali Khan in a still from the film that is releasing on November 20.
Kareena Kapoor writes exclusively and personally for BT on working with beau Saif Ali Khan for Karan Johar’s new romantic thriller

KAREENA KAPOOR Times News Netowrk (BOMBAY TIMES; November 12, 2009)

The questions I am most frequently asked today are how was it working with Saif Ali Khan in Kurbaan and doing those intimate and intense love-making scenes with him… I think those scenes, and our pairing, have been blown out of proportion by people who can only think of us as an off-screen couple. When the audience sees Kurbaan, I want people to forget Saif and Kareena Kapoor and see the film for Ehsaan and Avantika, because on screen we only do what our characters demand. We’re serious actors… creative artistes, cinema is our business, we’re passionate about our careers, our work, we have individual takes on cinema and that is what makes us push ourselves to do films like this one where the roles are powerful. Really, this is not some candy floss mini skirt love story… it is a love story, yes, but intense and complicated, and beautifully woven with terrorism to be a thriller.

Of course, Saif and I are happy to come together in this film, but it’s not as if Dharma Productions had us in mind from the start. I remember Karan Johar spoke to us individually. He chose us separately as actors, because Avantika’s role was so apt for me, and Ehsaan’s was almost written for Saif. It’s great if directors like Karan, and Shriram Raghavan of Agent Vinod, pair us together as actors because they believe we can sink our teeth into meaty roles… and not just because Saif looks hot and I look beautiful, as a jodi. We’re not selling ourselves as a pair, you know.

But, yes, Kurbaan was a great journey because of Karan… and a special one because of Saif. Karan is not just a professional filmmaker with whom I discuss cinema, he’s a friend and philosopher on whom I rely upon when taking the most personal decisions. He’s truly a superlative person, multitasking all the time, making films, but always available for family and friends. There was also director Rensil D’Silva, who is edgy in personal life, so he brought a fresh take to the film that was real and slightly borderline… but it being a Karan Johar film, Kurbaan is also commercial, so there’s a wonderful balance.

As for Saif… what can I say, he is truly one of the best actors in the country today. So versatile. And, like with Aamir Khan opposite whom I am also cast in my next film, there’s also so much to learn from Saif. They keep me on my toes. Aamir is a method actor, Saif is both — method and spontaneous, you cannot take one Saif Ali Khan film and put it into another… you cannot compare an Omkara with a Love Aaj Kal. And while I enjoy different schools of acting, I rely on spontaneity, so I could glide through my role in Kurbaan as a result.

It’s different working with Saif because we know each other so well and there’s the need to switch off and go into character. That’s why we chose a real and serious kind of film instead of some romantic comedy that had flippant roles. It was easier to perform because the scenes were raw and edge of the seat. Switching off Saif and Kareena and switching of Ehsaan and Avantika was complicated, difficult, but in the end, that is what made us select this film. The roles. And that’s what I want you to see it for.


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