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SMILES AHEAD: BT shot Akshay Kumar exclusively on the sets of Khatta Meetha

Akshay Kumar in his avatar as the Common Man

MEENA IYER Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; January 1, 2010)

The last decade in Bollywood has primarily been dominated by three Khans (Shah Rukh, Aamir and Salman) and one Kumar (Akshay). And even as his brand equity is at an all-time high, Akshay Kumar’s business plan in the new year is to take his banner Hari Om Production (HOP) to greater heights.


The banner which is a late bloomer, swung into action with Waqt — The Race Against Time in 2005, but has already notched up hits like Namastey London, Singh is Kinng, the entertaining grosser De Dana Dan, and is now ready for its next three productions — Priyadarshan’s Khatta Meetha, Farah Khan’s Tees Maar Khan and Nikhil Advani’s Patiala House.

Says Priyan, a close associate of Akshay and the HOP, “Khatta Meetha is a satire on the system. It is about the road-mafia which is prevalent all over but more so in Bihar and eastern UP. The main plot line is inspired by R K Laxman’s famous common man. Based on a true incident, this film unveils the travesty of the common man. I have made this film in Malayalam earlier and it was wonderfully received. I’m sure it will be a winner in Hindi too.’’ Both Hari Om Productions and Akshay will move by leaps and bounds in 2010. While the banner will have two releases in Khatta Meetha and Tees Maar Khan, the actor will also be seen in Sajid Nadiadwala’s Houseful and Vipul Shah’s Action Replayy. Of course, it is not all work and no play for this superstar. He is currently on vacation in Goa with his family. Asked what was uppermost on his mind when the clock struck 12, he says, “I sincerely want 2010 to be a year of peace and harmony. I wish BT readers a Happy New Year.’’

Rewinding to his recent Canada trip where he represented India at the Winter Olympics, the superstar says, “I can’t tell you what a proud moment it was when I was handed the Olympic Torch in Canada. It was very moving. In my opinion films and sports are the two passions that can bind any nation.’’ Having talked about his moment of glory on foreign soil, Akki adds, “I’m proud that New Delhi is the chosen destination for the Commonwealth Games. I pray for peace because I want this sporting event to go off really smooth. I want the world to know that India is safe and capable of hosting an event of this magnitude. As a true sports lover this is something uppermost on my mind.’’
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By Subhash K. Jha, December 31, 2009 – 11:35 IST

Abbas Tyrewala Abbas Tyrewala who directed one of 2008’s biggest successes is also a writer of great repute, having written among other things, the prophetic dialogues of Munnabhai MBBS and the screenplay of Maqbool.

Abbas went to see the latest Yashraj production Rocket Singh Salesman Of The Year not only as a writer and director but also as an eager fan of the films that the banner comes out of.

“I love Jaideep Sahni’s writing and Shimit Amin’s direction. But what were they thinking while doing Rocket Singh? Where is the payoff in the screenplay? Where is the hero? Ranbir plays a timid Sardar who steals phone lines and computer hardware from his work-place to start his own business. And we are supposed to accept him as a man of integrity! Would he be able to start his own business if it wasn’t for the nefarious support he gets from his work-place? In other words the ‘hero’ resorts to those very underhand tactics that he claims to abhor and takes the help of that very organization which has disgraced him!”

Most damaging of all, Abbas couldn’t see a hero in Ranbir’s character. “The boss (Manish Chowdhary) is so over-the-top he belongs to another sensibility altogether, calls Ranbir a ‘bastard’ several times, humiliates and disgraces him publicly. We wait for our hero to have his revenge on the boorish boss. I completely believe in the old-fashioned Hindi film formula where the hero gives his tormentor tit for tat. But Boss, where’s the comeuppance for the villain? In fact the story comes across more as the boss’ redemption story as the hero’s.”

Abbas is now more than sure what he wants to do with his own hero John Abraham in 1-800-Love at the end. “I want my hero to either win or die at the end. Not a hero whose fight for the right simply peters out to a dead-end.”

In fact Abbas’s disappointment with Rocket Singh Salesman Of The Year has given him a renewed creative strength. “I now know exactly how my hero’s journey to end. I’m an old-fashioned storyteller. And we’ve at heart a very traditional audience. They want to see the hero triumph at the end, not walk away from the villain as he makes an apology speech.”

BOLLYWOOD HUNGAMA.COM

Akshay Kumar waives off his entire fee for Khatta Meetha and Tees Maar Khan. What effect will the actor’s decision have on the bloated market price of other stars?

By Meena Iyer (MUMBAI MIRROR; December 30, 2009)


It could be atonement for his past deeds, or should it read, atonement for his past fees. Trade circles say that Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar who attained notoriety as the actor who was reportedly signed for as high a fee as Rs 71 crore for a film, has had a change of mind.

Reliable market sources say that the entire completion cost of Akshay’s next two films -Khatta Meetha directed by Priyadarshan and Tees Maar Khan directed by Farah Khan will reportedly not exceed Rs 35 crore.

So how did this miracle happen?

According to one trade source, “The cost of making Khatta Meetha and Tees Maar Khan will not include the actor’s fee.”

The same source adds that when Akshay realised that his films Chandni Chowk to China, Kambakkht Ishq and Tasveer lost money because of his individual fee as an actor, he decided to make a market correction.

Having studied the current Bollywood trade scene, the actor in concurrence with his filmmakers has decided not to charge a single penny for his films.

However, Akki’s banner Hari Om Productions is a co-producer on Khatta Meetha and Tees Maar Khan.

The actor explains the logic behind this drastic move of not charging his market fee, saying, “My fee for both films will be zero. If both films are hits, then my production house will stand to benefit by getting a part of the profits. If the film is average, the profit margin will automatically be reduced. However, it’s important to note here that even if the film flops, no one will lose money because the budget has been controlled. By not charging my personal remuneration as an actor, I’m making sure that these films will at least romp home with no losses.”

Trade sources say that the Akshay module is being closely watched by all actors who have home productions.

NO WORRIES: Abhay Deol
Abhay Deol, who is busy wrapping up Aisha, clears the air

MEENA IYER (BOMBAY TIMES; November 22, 2009)

Abhay Deol is currently one of Bollywood’s hottest properties. The actor who has been on a roll since Anurag Kashyap’s Dev D and Dibakar Banerjee’s Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye got those rave reviews, is once again in news courtesy Dev Benegal’s The Road Movie, a film that has taken the international film festival circuit before it comes to Indian shores. As the leading man of the film, Abhay has been jet-hopping from Toronto to Venice, New Delhi to Doha. On a day when he can actually catch his breath for a few minutes, the actor says, “I’ve bought myself a new office in Mumbai. My banner is all set to roll with our first production in the month of January 2010. My director Navdeep Singh and I are just finalising details before we go on set.”


He has an achiever. In the first leg of his journey, the young actor has gone from struggling actor to being the toast of the international film circuit; and in the second leg he has gone from being Bollywood hottie to independent film producer. Yup, in about a year, life has thrown up a myriad of opportunities for this contemporary thinking actor. But there has also been his share of controversy. Reports said he was unhappy with the treatment meted out to him on the sets of Sonam Kapoor’s home production Aisha. It is conjectured that Abhay was cooling his heels on the sets of the film in Delhi because things were haphazard.

However Abhay refuses to be drawn into a controversy. Says he, “My producer should be clearing the air on any controversy surrounding Aisha. As a professional actor I will never talk about what happened on set. I hold Sonam (co-star and part producer) in highest regard. And, there is no ego issue with her.”

Abhay is also expected to start work with Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani’s banner and he is said to be in talks with producer Krishna Shah for the film on Indira Gandhi. Of course, the actor’s silent on these films too. “My producers will make the announcements as and when they have to,” he says. “All I can say is that I’m exhilarated with the work I’m doing.”

LAUGH SOME MORE: Ajay Devgn, Paresh Rawal and Konkona SenSharma in a still from the film
Three National Award winning artistes pool talent for a full-blown commercial comedy

MEENA IYER Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; November 17, 2009)

Remember Amita Pathak? She’s the girl who made her debut opposite Adhyanan Suman in Haal-e-Dil. Now Amita is back wearing the producer’s hat. The 20-something has just launched her banner Wide Frame Films. And, she is combining forces with Hollywood giant Warner Bros Pictures India to make her first production — Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge? — a subtle satire which when translated means, ‘Guest when will you leave?’

Amita says, “The story idea is mine. We had a guest at home for three months who over-stayed his hospitality. And it lead to so many funny and frustrating situations. When I narrated this to my director (Ashwini Dhir) and to my father (Kumar Mangat) they felt it made the perfect premise for a rip-roaring comedy. And that’s how Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge? was born.”
Amita even managed to get not one but three National Award winning artistes — Ajay Devgan, Konkona Sen Sharma and Paresh Rawal to greenlight her project almost immediately.

Says Ajay, the leading man, “I liked the script because it is very real… and has some slice-of-life comic situations. It is also very cleverly written and the humour in the dialogue makes it very likeable. I’m sure people from all walks of life will identify with this because every home must have had a guest who has been the bane of their lives.”

The music for this film is by the hot-shot composer Pritam and the film will release globally on February 26, 2010. “The script of Atithi… itself is a non-stop laugh riot and when you add the comical talents of Ajay, Paresh and Konkona, we have a winner at the box office,” says Denzil Dias, Deputy Managing Director (Theatrical) , Warner Bros. Pictures India.
meena.iyer@timesgroup.com
Sohail Khan took off his T-shirt and wore a waiter’s shirt at a recent party. No, it wasn’t a fashion statement

By Kunal M Shah (MUMBAI MIRROR; November 07, 2009)

The Khan brothers have a penchant for roaming around bare-chested. After his bhaijaan Salman Khan’s love for removing his shirts publicly, it’s now Sohail Khan who is taking the legacy forward. Recently, during Ajay Devgan and Kajol’s party for All the Best, Sohail took off his T-shirt and handed it over to directors Abbas Mustan, much to their surprise.

 

Mustan at the party with Sohail’s T-Shirt

A witness from the party said, “For the party, Sohail was sporting a blue T-shirt that read ‘Player’. When Abbas Mustan saw him, they casually told him that they have recently registered the title Player under their banner and will soon make a film by the same name.

They joked that with Sohail wearing the T-shirt, someone might get inspired and steal their title. Suddenly, Sohail removed his T-shirt and gave it to them. Then, the bare-chested Sohail summoned a waiter passing by and asked him to remove his shirt.

Sohail Khan

The flummoxed waiter did as he was told and Sohail was seen wearing the waiter’s shirt till the party ended.”

Mustan confirmed the incident and said, “You know, it was really surprising. We casually mentioned that we intend to make a film titled ‘Player’. Sohail instantly removed his shirt, gave it to us, and wore a waiter’s shirt.”


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