Fenil and Bollywood

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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.’’
Shivangi Kolhapure talks about living life on her own terms

By Vickey Lalwani (MUMBAI MIRROR; December 26, 2009)

Shakti Kapoor’s wife Shivangi Kolhapure prefers Canada over Mumbai. She even got her Canadian citizenship three years ago. But she is now in Mumbai to support her daughter, Shraddhaa, who debuts with Teen Patti. A source close to her family said, “Shivangi spends a lot of time in Canada. She is in Mumbai because the release of her daughter Shraddhaa’s film Teen Patti is round the corner.”

Shivangi is quite excited about Shraddhaa’s film. She said, “Shraddhaa got offers from many filmmakers, but she refused them all. Most of them wanted to make quick films to be released before Teen Patti. It would have been unethical to sign those films.”

But why did she move to Canada? Shivangi said, “It’s an open economy out there. I want to make movies in Canada. I am very excited about my plans.” Doesn’t she miss her family? She said, “They certainly miss me. But they know I want to structure my life this way. Shraddhaa was studying in Boston, so she was near me. My son Siddhanth was busy studying in London. So, there was no problem until now.”

Did the decision to spend time in Canada stem from her discomfort over the media glare? After all, her husband Shakti Kapoor is no stranger to controversy. Shivangi replied cautiously, “Not at all. I am not running away. I really like it this way. Think about it, there was a controversy around Siddhanth too. In fact, he was the only guy who tested negative in that party that was busted by the cops. Did anybody write about that?”

(L): Shraddha (R): Shivangi Kolhapure

Khiladi gets invited to Canada’s biggest talk show

Bollywood Khiladi Akshay Kumar did more than cause a stampede in Toronto where he went last week to be be the Indian torch bearer for the 2010 Winter Olympics. The action star, who intends to auction the torch and give the proceeds to the Special Olympics, was subsequently invited to television studios to be on one of Canada’s most powerful and influential talk shows – The Hour.

Aired every night, The Hour covers politics, the arts, entertainment, the environment, human rights, sports and more. Its host, George Stroumboulopoulos, is one of the most respected journalists in Canada and has interviewed many of the most influential and recognised people in the world from heads of state to rock stars.

Naturally, Akshay with his huge fan following in Canada was the perfect choice as subject on the show that earlier featured Hollywood actors Matt Damon, Samuel L. Jackson, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom Cruise. The Khiladi is not saying what Stroumboulopoulos asked him, but the TV host is known more for flamboyance than any cut-andthrust on air.
Akshay Kumar, who will run with the Olympic torch on December 17 in Toronto, is apprehensive about dropping the torch

By Subhash K Jha (MUMBAI MIRROR; December 15, 2009)

The first Indian ever to have got the opportunity to run with the Olympic torch, Akshay Kumar made all efforts to be a part of the run. He had to request director Priyadarshan to allow him to go to Toronto for the Olympic run on Thursday, December 17. While his excitement was palpable, he was also worried about dropping the torch while running.
Akshay said before leaving, “As I am getting ready to leave for Toronto, I just keep telling myself one thing over and over again, ‘No matter what happens Akshay, don’t drop that torch. Naak kat jayegi.’ It would be so embarrassing. I would never be allowed to visit Canada.”

Akshay regretted not being able to take along his son Aarav. “It’s just for a day so I somehow managed to squeeze it in my schedule. But it would be too tiring for Aarav. If I was going for 5-6 days I would have taken my wife and son along.”

Akshay was working round the clock to beat the deadline for his departure to Toronto last night. The untiring actor said, “Only when I go home in the night do I allow myself the luxury to feel tired. On December 17, I run with the torch then I return to Canada next year to see some of the Olympic’s sports. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

On November 16, the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper handed over the Olympian torch to Akshay in Mumbai. “When I was given the torch some kids came running to just to touch that torch.  I can’t tell you what a proud moment that was. I remember, as a child I used to watch sportsmen carrying the torch on our black-and-white television,” said an elated Akshay.

By Taran Adarsh, November 2, 2009 – 11:24 IST


My Name Is Khan

It’s official! Fox STAR Studios, 20th Century Fox International and Fox Searchlight Pictures have announced that MY NAME IS KHAN, the highly anticipated film from director Karan Johar and starring Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol, will open in theaters in India and over 40 countries including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and the Middle East on Valentine’s Day weekend [February 12, 2010]. Other remaining territories will release in early spring/summer 2010.

In MY NAME IS KHAN, Shah Rukh Khan stars as Rizvan Khan, an unconventional hero who embarks on an incredible journey across America in order to win back the love of his life. Along the way his unique brand of goodness and humanity touches the lives of many and inspires a nation.


Elesh Parunjanwala hits back at fiancée Rakhi Sawant for maligning him with accusations about his financial instability and eventual move to Toronto

By Vickey Lalwani (MUMBAI MIRROR; October 28, 2009)


Elesh Parujanwala may have been the lucky suitor to win over Rakhi Sawant among 16 contestants on Rakhi Ka Swayamvar, but he has wisened up to one fact fast — Mother Mary she ain’t.


Elesh, who came to Mumbai with hopes of settling down with the controversy queen, has been at the centre of controversy himself, thanks to Rakhi’s outbursts.

The man is deeply hurt and angered by Rakhi’s attempts to malign his image with her accusations of his financial instability and his plans to relocate to Toronto post-marriage with her. So far, Elesh had maintained a dignified silence, but having been pushed too far, he now sets the record straight. There is a distinct sadness in his eyes and voice when he speaks about Rakhi.

Rakhi Sawant and Elesh Parunjanwala

Elesh says that he tried his best to make the relationship work. Talking about his incompatibility with Rakhi, he says, “I tried my best to understand this woman, but failed. I tried to know her past, I tried to understand her moves. I tried everything, but failed. On the contrary, Rakhi never tried to understand where I am coming from. Her notion about NRIs is so limited. I think it is based only on watching movies and TV. Rakhi needs to understand that real life is different from reel life.”

To begin with, Elesh is amused that Rakhi did not want to stay in his hometown, Toronto after marrying him. He elaborates, “Honestly, I never told her to settle in Toronto. She can always travel back and forth. What’s wrong if I suggested that if and when we have a baby, he/she should be born in Toronto? I have my parents there and they would be a support system to my family. Anything wrong with that?”

Commenting on Rakhi’s accusation that Elesh is financially not stable, he says, “What does she mean by saying that I don’t have money? That’s all so stupid and unnecessary. I am studying and have decided not to take money from my parents. I want to be an independent person. Am I doing something bad?”

Clearly, Elesh has realised that Rakhi has used his name to play to the gallery and get her nautanki’s worth of airtime. Getting more vociferous, he says, “Frankly, I am shocked by the allegations. Anybody else in my place would have sunk into depression. Had it not been for the support of my family, I don’t know what would have happened to me. I do realise people have their own reasons to try to make others feel small and bad in the eyes of the public, so that they can gain sympathy. Part of being in Bollywood, I guess. But I am hurt. The controversy and the humiliation that I have been put through; the name calling to mar my character has hurt my family and me tremendously.”

Bharati Dubey | TIMES NEWS NETWORK (THE TIMES OF INDIA; October 18, 2009)

Want to net Indian tourists? Woo Shah Rukh Khan or Amitabh Bachchan. It’s a simple formula that several foreign countries seem to be following to boost tourism.

In a first, Khan has just been signed on by the Korean Tourism Organisation as its cultural ambassador to promote tourism as well as to encourage Indian film-makers to shoot in Korea. With SRK promising to use everything from taekwondo to the Korean countryside for his next home production, Korean Consul General Dong Yern Kim is all smiles: “I am confident that Shah Rukh Khan’s appointment will enhance awareness and interest about Korea among his fans.’’

The Bollywood bait has been utilised by countries to promote tou
rism for a long time now. Invite Bollywood film-makers to shoot, offer them hospitality, incentives and the works, and then watch the movie act as a powerful advertisement for India’s outbound tourist market, which is growing at the second fastest rate in the world.

Even before any concerted efforts were begun to market countries, however, there was Yash Chopra, the man who launched film tourism’s Indian chapter. Chopra regularly used UK and Switzerland as the backdrop for his lavishly mounted, chiffon-saris-in-the-Swiss Alps phantasmagorias, and thanks to him, Indian tourist traffic to Switzerland spiralled by almost 30%. Similarly, after Rakesh Roshan shot Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai in New Zealand, the desi footfall went up manifold—Roshan was even honoured by the New Zealand prime minister for promoting tourism.

Recently, the Singapore Tourism Board invested $6.3 million under its ‘Film in Singapore’ scheme that subsidises international film productions by up to 50%.

Thailand is new filmy favourite
Krrish was the first Bollywood film to opt for this scheme, and the annual Indian tourist traffic to Singapore immediately after its release went up from 60 lakh to 70 lakh.

Lately, there’s been a change in the Bollywood list of favourite locales. Switzerland and Dubai are no longer as hot as they used to be—it’s Thailand that tops the list of new favourites, with South Africa a close second. Others include Mauritius, the US, the UK, Nambia, Canada, Italy, Austria and Sri Lanka. “More and more countries are aggressively wooing Bollywood to shoot their films,’’ says producer Rajat Rawail. “Israel, Ireland and Poland are the three new players. Then there’s Fiji Islands, whose government is even willing to give producers a payback of 35% of the cost incurred on shooting. All of them have realised that the exposure their countries gets through our films is huge.’’

Says Sudhanshu Hukku, director, Locations, a firm that organises destinations for film-makers. “Today the world is taking cognisance of the fact that Indian films do leverage huge tourism. The Indian film industry, the world tourism boards and film commissions need to work together. They need to work out Indian film-specific incentives such as tax rebates, subsidies, air
fare support etc, which provide opportunities through in-film branding for tourism.’’

Strangely, India has been unable to similarly promote itself through outside films. Although the government has sanctioned nearly 19 international projects to be shot in India, there is still a lot of reluctance because of the red tape involved. Angelina Jolie went back with a bad taste in her mouth after shooting A Mighty Heart. Udaishankar Pani, who has been the line producer for Gandhi and Salaam Bombay, says, “It is getting extremely difficult to shoot in India because of the red tapism and the number of clearances one has to seek.”


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