Fenil and Bollywood

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Rani Mukerji to work with filmmaker Deepa Mehta in the screen adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children

By Subhash K Jha (MUMBAI MIRROR; January 04, 2010)

Last month, Rani Mukerji had a secret, productive and extremely encouraging meeting with author Salman Rushdie and director Deepa Mehta in Toronto. Rushdie and Mehta are coming together for a screen adaptation of the former’s celebrated Booker-winning novel Midnight’s Children. According to reliable sources, Rani met the author and the filmmaker for a good two hours and is now part of the screen adaptation. The buzz is Rushdie took a great fancy to her.

Rani Mukerji

Deepa is evasive about confirming Rani’s presence in Midnight’s Children. She says, “Yes, Salman Rushdie and I met her informally in Toronto, but nothing has been finalised.”

However, reliable sources insist Rani is part of the coveted project which already has Shabana Azmi, Seema Biswas and Nandita Das in its cast.

Hinting at the possibility of working with Rani, Deepa says, “I don’t know about Rani’s current box-office status but I have always wanted to work with her. I saw her work in Hey Ram, Black, Bunty Aur Babli and Veer-Zaara and loved it. She is among the best talent in India today. Whether it is Preity Zinta (Heaven On Earth), Shabana Azmi (Fire) or Seema Biswas (Water), I have always enjoyed working with strong, female actors.”

Rani too is on the lookout for a challenge that will take her beyond the roles she has done in Hindi cinema so far. Interestingly, she has never worked with a female director in her entire career. She came close to working with Mira Nair in The Namesake. She lost the prized role to Tabu because she didn’t want to play Abhishek Bachchan’s mother. Later, Abhishek too opted out of the project.

Deepa Mehta Salman Rushdie

BRAVEHEART: Lisa Ray in a still from the film
Cooking With Stella
Filmmaker Deepa Mehta says actress is a portrait of courage

SUBHASH K JHA Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; September 13, 2009)

Fortitude under the most trying circumstances is not an easy situation. But ever since she blogged so dispassionately about her illness earlier this week, Canadian-Indian actress Lisa Ray has become a heroine far beyond the screen.

Now, on September 16 at the prestigious Toronto Film Festival, Lisa will walk the red carpet with filmmaker Deepa Mehta and her brother Dilip Kumar for the gala premiere of Dilip’s rom-com
Cooking With Stella.

“We’re looking at a woman who is a portrait of courage,” said Deepa who has known Lisa from the time they worked together on the lyrical Water four years ago. “When Lisa was shooting for Cooking With Stella, she had so much fun and there was no sign of the illness,” recalled Deepa. “The only outward manifestation of the crisis to come was her loss of appetite. I remember telling her, ‘Lisa, you aren’t eating anything.’” But Deepa learned about Lisa’s multiple myeloma two months ago. “She told me. It was hard to believe. She wanted to keep it very private. Only her close friends and family knew. Which is why I was surprised when Lisa blogged about her illness. I think she decided that by coming out she would not only be able to confront and overcome the
sad situation, but also encourage others in similarly troubled spaces to fight and win over their illnesses,” guessed Deepa.


Last week, I shared about my meeting with Ashutosh Rana and this week, I am reminded of when I saw Shabana Azmi. Me and my parents had gone to watch Shyam Benegal’s Karishma Kapoor-starrer Zubeidaa and at Gaiety, one of the most popular cinema theatres of Mumbai and she was present in the same show. The incident happened way back in Jan 2001, a time when there were no multiplexes and celebs used to frequent single screens to watch films. That was also a time when Shabana Azmi had shaved her head completely for Deepa Mehta’s film Water. Unfortunately, the film couldn’t start after it triggered a protest. The film was then shot in 2004. But Shabana Azmi, unfortunately, couldn’t be a part of the movie then. Her role was then played by Seema Biswas.


Coincidentally, Seema Biswas had to again step into Shabana’s shoes after she refused to play a part in an upcoming film Cooking With Stella (CWS). While Water was directed by Deepa Mehta, CWS is directed by Deepa’s brother, Dilip Mehta! Too much of a co-incidence, isn’t it?!

CWS is a story about a Canadian diplomat (Lisa Ray) and her chef-husband Michael (played by Canadian actor-director-filmmaker Don McKeller) who get posted in Delhi. The cook in her household is a charming lady Stella (Seema Biswas) who teaches Michael the best culinary secrets of India. The film, along with being light comedy, is also an issue-driven film.

arthAlthough there’s no doubt that Seema would have done a great job in CWS, I still feel it would have been great if Shabana had essayed the role. She looks stunning even at this age and has already proved to be one of the finest actresses of Indian cinema. Shabana refused CWS as she is not a good cook. This reason bewildered many and Subhash K Jha rightly said, “If Amitabh Bachchan, who notoriously cannot even boil an egg, played a famous London chef in Cheeni Kum, why could not Shabana be Stella!”

Moreover, Shabana also lost another plump role and that of SRK’s mother in Karan Johar’s My Name Is Khan. She initially signed the film but then backed off after the filming got postponed, thanks to Shah Rukh Khan’s shoulder surgery. Just imagine-it would have been so very interesting to see SRK and Shabana Azmi together! And now Shabana is replaced by Kirron Kher. Now she’ll play SRK’s mom (Not again!).

Meanwhile, Shabana will be seen in Gurinder Chadha’s next flick, It’s A Wonderful Afterlife. For this film, she has put on 25 kgs! Whether it is shaving off her head or putting on weight, Shabana Azmi will go to any length for a film without any hesitation! Kudos to this wonderful actress!

(Some info and the CWS pic derived from Bombay Times)

vaada raha2

Bobby Deol-Kangna Ranaut starrer Vaada Raha is finally releasing tomorrow. The film is directed by Samir Karnik, who had made the acclaimed film Heroes. The film was ready since a long time and initially it was named Roshan. The promos of the film indicate that Kangna’s voice is dubbed in the film. The movie seems a family entertainer and gives a social message too that one should never lose hope. The film may turn out to be nice but it doesn’t seem that it would attract audiences due to bad promotion.

This post first appeared on MouthShut.com: http://www.mouthshut.com/diary/ccdcqpspo/Fenils-Bollywood-Talk65

WHAT’S COOKING? Don McKellar with Seema Biswas in the film; (centre) Lisa Ray and (right) Shabana Azmi
… in test of the kitchen, lands lead role with Canadian actor Don Mckellar which requires her to cook

SUBHASH K JHA Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; Aug 7, 2009)

Strangely, Bollywood did not really have a finger in this pie that was baked in Delhi. Canadian actor, writer and filmmaker Don McKellar slipped into the capital and shot a fulllength Indian film with Lisa Ray and Seema Biswas (yes, the same) and left without anybody getting wind of what was happening.

The film, Cooking with Stella, is made by Deepa Mehta’s brother Dilip Mehta, but features all of Deepa’s favourite stars — including Shabana Azmi — who the Indian-born Canadian director has used in earlier films like Fire, Earth and Water.
The story goes that Shabana
missed out on the title role in Cooking with Stella because, well, the actress is lousy at cooking! And the role requires the protagonist to play a cook in a diplomat’s (Lisa Ray) household who teaches the diplomat’s chef-husband (Don McKellar) the best culinary secrets of India. Seema Biswas, on the other hand, is a fabulous cook and was just right for Stella’s part. And she and Don whipped up a storm in the kitchen on the Delhi sets of the film. Bollywood, of course, is mystified why Shabana could not have acted out the part. If Amitabh Bachchan, who notoriously cannot even boil an egg, played a famous London chef in R Balki’s Cheeni Kum, why could not Shabana be Stella!

Don, who was seen last year in the dramatic thriller Blindness (which he also scripted), is an amazingly versatile actor and Dilip Mehta was thrilled to have him play the lead role. “He was intrigued by the character, we couriered him the script, and he was on. He came straight to Delhi and hit the deck running. All this
two weeks prior to principle filming,” said Dilip.

shabana The film is a social satire about a Canadian diplomat and her chef-husband who are posted in Delhi and inherit a household of Indian servants headed by the charming, totally-inspiring and wily cook Stella. Don, incidentally, did manage to take back to Canada with him several tips on Indian cooking that he learned while shooting from Seema!

IT’S MY CHOICE: Imran Khan For more pictures of the actor visit http://photogallery.indiatimes.com

Imran Khan opens up to BT about work and women…

MEENA IYER Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; June 19, 2009)

Imran Khan hasn’t shot for a single day since February. And is he worried about that? On the contrary, he is extra chilled out.

Currently preoccupied with building muscle for a new film (like Maamu Aamir, he’ll sport eight packs, perhaps!), pilates and pushups aside, Imran’s nose is buried deep in a pile of scripts. But he hasn’t been in front of the camera by choice.

He doesn’t subscribe to the view that out of sight is out of mind. “If you’re a good actor, even if you’re missing for years on end, your audience still remembers you. There is a standard wisdom that you need to be in the public eye constantly. You need to keep working. Otherwise the public will forget you. That is such b……t! No one can accept that I wish to take it slow,” he says.

The euphoria following Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na hasn’t died down, and though temptation knocks on his bungalow gates every day, the lighteyed, blue-blooded Khan has greenlighted just three films: Aamir Khan’s Delhi Belly (English); Sanjay Gadhvi’s 7 Days in Paris; and, Karan Johar’s untitled film with Sonam Kapoor. The rest of the reports are all speculation — that he is doing a film with Ranbir Kapoor directed by Tarun Mansukhani, that he is work
ing with Deepa Mehta, blah-blah. “Most of these announcements are made in the media factory and denied by them. I read the paper each morning to find out what is next,’’ he says.

One of Bollywood’s big hopes currently, Imran explains, “Tarun and I gravitate towards one another at parties because we’re both slightly shy. However, after that election video that we did, he hasn’t even called me. He hasn’t spoken about doing any film with Ranbir and me.’’ As for Deepa’s Midnight’s Children, once again the actor says, “Only the media called me about this film, Deepa didn’t.’’

Imran believes that the entire hype around superstardom is very surreal. “I’m reluctant to buy the hype,’’ says the 20-something actor. “I still go to my old eating joints, I don’t wear designer stuff — so many of my friends are better dressed than I am. And I keep a low profile.’’ Also — he is uncomfortable romancing his heroines.
“I’m uncomfortable romancing any girl other than my girlfriend Avantika,’’ he clarifies. As an actor even if he is required to light up the screen with a bevy of beauties, his personal stance still remains that “it’s only my girl and no one else for me.”

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