Fenil and Bollywood

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Amitabh Bachchan looks back on the hits and misses in his life over 2009

SUBHASH K JHA Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; December 14, 2009)

When Amitabh Bachchan was asked to describe what 2009 meant to him, the great actor said, “Gosh, what a year this has been — a few ups, and a few downs… more downs really! Years, months, days… they rush through at such speed, it’s impossible to keep an account of them.” He’s right, he’s had ups and down all right, but what’s there to complain about? If his Aladin was a disaster, then look at what a thumping success Paa has become; these are the only two films the Big B has had in 2009. He wrapped up work on Johnny Mastana, Rann and Teen Patti by June because he wanted to be by the side of his ailing friend Amar Singh. Now all these films await delayed releases because of the multiplex strike earlier. It’s been six months since Bachchan took on any new film or faced the camera. But he kept himself busy with television, with the Bachchan Sandhya on the occasion of his father’s 102nd birth anniversary, with the promotions of Paa. Here the Big B reflects back on 2009…
Aladin was a disaster, Paa a success…
• Aladin failed and Paa moves in a direction that looks to be one of success, both critical and commercial. Modesty prevents me from disclosing what reactions we are getting. But no amount of prudence prevents me from admitting that Auro has been embraced in a manner that I have never seen before. The other noticeable factor has been the will of the people. They want Auro and this film to succeed. No amount of sophisticated marketing will ever stand in the way of the choice and demands of the masses and this is why all traditional assumptions on the business trends for Paa are falling short. Auro is dictating an unique box office attitude all by himself and the so-called pundits are wrapping up their janam patris and shifting base.
You’re back on television, a new experience…
• It is different from KBC and gets more intricate as we move along. The medium and those that are attached to it, work diligently round the clock, and it is a marvel to see the amount of thinking and labour that goes on behind the scenes to create something like this. I feel very saddened when I have to announce the person who has been voted out and then later to spend time with them after their eviction. It’s much like what I used to feel when on KBC I had to inform the participant that his answer was wrong. You’d think KBC was harder because that was my first time on television. But no. Every time I do anything new and that means starting a new film too, I get butterflies in my stomach.
The year zipped by for you…
• I really have no recollection of what went by. I know what I am doing now. Age does have this adverse effect on one and I am no different from any other. It may seem power packed for you but for me, it is just another day, another job. I endeavour to do what is assigned to me to the best of my ability.
You’re 67 and still going superstrong…
• I don’t know if I am still going strong, but yes, I am alive and I exist. I have never wished for any fancy recognition or accolade. I am grateful for the jobs that I get and am thankful that I am given opportunity for work.
Your thoughts on the world around…
• I wish for there to be peace and harmony. For humans to understand that we are all one and that we all have common characteristics. To understand that all faiths need to be respected, for none of them are different in their beliefs. That we are one nation, united by our independence and our sovereignty. That this world we live in belongs to all of us and we need to protect it for its survival. That a kind word and a smile never did harm anyone.
The most significant occurrence in your life this year…
• That I am still alive!

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RADIO v/s PAA

This weekend will see the release of two diverse films, Paa and Radio. The best thing about both films is its cost-both films are made at a reasonable cost and should not find it difficult to recover it. My take on these films:

PAA:
Undoubtedly, Paa will be the first choice of moviegoers. Directed by Balki (Cheeni Kum) and music composed by Illaiyaraja, Paa has aroused a lot of curiosity. By now, it’s a very common knowledge that Amitabh Bachchan plays the role of a 12 year old suffering from progeria in the film. He looks unique and completely unrecognizable in his new look. Big B has even altered his voice to suit his 12 year old character and it rocks completely. He has even sung the title song of the film in that changed voice which is a treat to hear! To hear Auro (name of BigB in Paa) speak click here.

Besides the chance to see Amitabh in a never before seen avatar, the other USP of the film is Abhishek Bachchan playing Amitabh’s father! The film also stars Vidya Balan and Paresh Rawal as Auro’s mother and grandfather respectively. The film is being promoted innovatively. 2 days back, Amitabh Bachchan and Vidya Balan were on Radio Mirchi FM and spoke as the characters of the film. Listeners were asking questions to Auro (i.e. Amitabh) about his life and he answered wonderfully! It was just brilliant!

Without a shred of doubt, the film will be lauded with appreciation, especially for the performance of Amitabh, Abhishek and Vidya. However, the film has also got some negative reactions from a section of audiences who feel that Big B’s look is horrible and they can’t bear watching him as ‘an ugly child’ for 2 ½ hours. Also, the film should get a good response to sustain in theatres. And if that happens, then there would be no stopping for this film! In fact, I am expecting a Taare Zameen Par-type craze for Paa. Let’s hope for the best!

RADIO:
In an interview, 2 days back to Bollywood Hungama, Himesh Reshammiya shared how he wanted his previous disastrous film, Karzzzz to release on another date. That’s because the producers planned its release on October 17, 2008. 17 equals to 8 (1+7=8) which is Himesh’s unlucky number. But the producers didn’t listen to him and released it on 17th. And then Karzzzz flopped in spite of adding 3 extra ‘z’ in the title for ‘numerlogical reasons’. I really laughed reading this part. Is Himesh trying to say that Karzzzz would have succeeded if it had released on another date? The film was a disaster in all respects and would have flopped even if it had released on some other date or if 100 more ‘z’ was added in the title! Besides having a faulty script and direction, it had a very high cost (reported to be around Rs 40 crores). It was obvious that it would have been impossible to recover this amount. And as expected, the film barely recovered about half of its cost!

But Radio, that releases today, is a safer bet. The film is made at a reasonable cost-6 crores. The film has already recovered this amount from other sources. But to get the prestige of being hailed as a hit, the film’s theatrical collections should exceed 6 crores. It’s difficult to say whether this can happen as Radio has a terrific competition in the form of Paa. Also, the film is an urban love story and is targeted at the multiplex junta, who don’t ‘worship’ Himesh like the masses do! So as of now, nothing can be said about the fate of Radio.

But Himesh is confident because the film is releasing on Thursday 3rd as 3 is his lucky number! He has more faith in numbers than the script of the film. Last time, when Karzzzz bombed inspite of all numerological precautions, he blamed the producer and the wrong release date. Let’s see who he will blame this time, in case Radio flops! But I hope it works and all the best to its entire team!

WHICH FILM ARE YOU MOST INTERESTED IN? DO LET ME KNOW!
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E-PIRATES MOURN AT MININOVA’S CLEAN UP ACT

E-pirates are a disgruntled lot ever since Mininova went on a Clean-up act. Mininova is the most popular website when it comes to downloading movies, songs, games and other stuff. Every new film used to be available on the site a day after the release or at times, on the day itself. Further, all downloads were safe and didn’t carry any virus. Hence, it was the most preferable website for millions of net users.

Needless to mention, downloading stuff on Mininova were illegal and last week after they lost a civil dispute, the website announced that it’ll share only those movies that are uploaded through Content Distribution Service. Thus, they deleted all illegal stuff which was there in their database. This has proved as a setback for all those who never used to venture in theatres but instead used to watch films on their PC through Mininova.

It is difficult to say whether this step will prove beneficial for our producers and distributors. No one can can say for sure whether these e-pirates would start frequenting cineplexes to watch movies. There were many factors why these people chose Mininova instead of theatres and these factors still exist, the biggest one being the inflated ticket prices. No effort has been done to slash ticket rates and in fact, the prices are increasing. Also, there are many other websites like Mininova (though not safe) from where one can still download films! So unfortunately, piracy will continue to thrive even in the absence of Mininova.

This post first appeared on MouthShut.com: http://www.mouthshut.com/diary/ccbhuqsuo/Fenils-Bollywood-Talk77

By Taran Adarsh, November 27, 2009 – 10:52 IST

Be forewarned. DE DANA DAN is the most bizarre film from the maharaja of laughathons, Priyadarshan. Not even in your wildest dream you’d think that Priyadarshan would place almost an entire film in a hotel and have its entire cast, comprising of 26 [or is it 27?] characters, most of them weirdos, interacting with each other. Brings back memories of BLAME IT ON THE BELLBOY? May be!

But Priyadarshan needs to be credited for pulling it off. There are times when you laugh hysterically at the most outlandish jokes and situations. There are times when a raised eyebrow or a wide-open jaw makes you break into a guffaw.

BY BOLLYWOOD HUNGAMA.COM

Be cautioned. DE DANA DAN is a loud film, with each and every character screaming on top of his/her voice, with the characters shouting, running, even floating and swimming in the end.

But what do you expect in a Priyadarshan film that has a title like DE DANA DAN? The promos never promised path-breaking or thought-provoking cinema that would give birth to debates and discussions. So why look for logic in this one?

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DE DANA DAN makes no qualms of narrating a story you haven’t heard before. Here, the story is non-existent and it’s left on Priyadarshan to mix-n-match those two dozen characters and keep the momentum alive for the next 2.45 hours.

DE DANA DAN promises laughter and entertainment and sticks to its promise. This one’s not for the hard-nosed types, but for those who worship escapist cinema. Who want to chuckle, giggle and chortle at those mindless jokes. In short, DE DANA DAN is a pure dhamaal entertainer!

Nitin [Akshay Kumar] is a butler, cook, driver, watchman, gardener to a wealthy female industrialist [Archana Puran Singh] in Singapore. Like any young man, Nitin too dreams of a better life. He desperately wants to become rich and marry the love of his life, Anjali [Katrina Kaif], who supports him financially.

Ram [Suniel Shetty], Nitin’s best friend, also came to Singapore with the dream of striking it rich, but ended up a courier delivery man. He falls for Manpreet [Sameera Reddy], but her high society parents will never approve of marriage, not unless Ram has lots and lots of money.

In the midst of all this is Harbans [Paresh Rawal], a shrewd businessman, who’s looking for ways to multiply his income and avoid his debtors. He decides the best way would be to marry his son [Chunky Pandey] off to a girl whose parents can give him a large dowry. He is introduced to Manpreet’s parents at a function and is impressed by their social status. He introduces himself as a well-established businessman, impresses them and they decide to get Manpreet and Harbans’ son married.

With several factors working against them, Nitin and Ram soon reach a dead end in their relationships. When both receive ultimatums from their girlfriends, they realize that only a life of vice can help them out of their misery. They come up with an audacious plan to kidnap someone important and demand a ransom.

The kidnapping goes awry and both hide at a local hotel while waiting for the ransom money. But misfortune is never far and the kidnapping spirals out of control.

Meanwhile, Manpreet’s wedding reception is being held at the same hotel that Nitin and Ram are hiding in. Soon, they are joined by a motley set of characters including a Chinese Don [Asrani], a hired assassin [Johny Lever], a ACB police inspector [Sharat Saxena], a club dancer [Neha Dhupia], an ambassador [Vikram Gokhale], a young frustrated double crossing wife [Aditi Govitrikar], a letch [Shakti Kapoor], a drunken waiter [Rajpal Yadav] and a dead body nobody wants to check into the hotel.

DE DANA DAN is atypical Priyadarshan film that has the unmistakable stamp all over it. But, at the same time, DE DANA DAN is erratic and uneven – energetic at times, lethargic at places. Also, the culmination to the film is very similar to the director’s earlier works, with the entire cast running helter-skelter.

On the flip side, you miss Akshay’s presence in the second hour. He disappears [gets locked in a cupboard] for at least 20 minutes and the focus, hence, shifts to the other characters. His fans will miss his presence, for sure. Besides, the film tends to get very lengthy towards the second half and overtly verbose too.

Director Priyadarshan is synonymous with comedies and the ace storyteller promises laughter in abundance. Handling so many characters, plus making a film on mistaken identities could be very tough, but the director gets it right. Pritam’s music is alright, while the RDB track, ‘Paisa’, is the pick of the lot. Salim-Sulaiman’s background score is energetic. K. Ahambaram’s cinematography is alright.

The review would be incomplete if one ignored the dialogue writer’s [Jay Master] contribution to the film. The lines are laced with wit and soaked in humour and bring the house down on several occasions.

DE DANA DAN has so many characters that it gets difficult to pinpoint or single out any one actor. Akshay is at his best in a Priyadarshan film and DE DANA DAN proves it. Suniel is natural to the core. Paresh is incredible; he pitches in a superb act. Katrina and Sameera don’t have much to do. Amongst the plethora of actors, Johny Lever, Neha Dhupia, Manoj Joshi, Asrani, Vikram Gokhale and Archana Puransingh deserve special mention.

On the whole, DE DANA DAN is targeted at the masses and it delivers laughter in abundance. Leave your brains behind to enjoy this madcap entertainer!

By TUSHAR JOSHI (Mid-Day; November 27, 2009)

Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Hrithik Roshan are at loggerheads over the usage of English dialogues in Guzaarish. The director and actor have been indulging in verbal volleys over it.

Guzaarish has quite a few dialogues in English. In fact, most of the interaction between Hrithik and his co-star is in English. While Bhansali thinks it’s necessary to converse in the Queen’s language, Roshan doesn’t feel the same.

Recently there was a showdown between the two when Duggu went ahead and spoke some lines in Hindi, which were in English in the script. This upset Bhansali who told the actor that he couldn’t make changes and call the shots.

Meri marzi yaa teri marzi?
A source reveals, “Hrithik feels that an overdose of English will make the film too classy. It won’t cater to the masses that will come to see the film. He even suggested that Bhansali add subtitles, but the director isn’t quite convinced. He’s going ahead and using English lines wherever he thinks fit.”

The risks Duggu is taking
Apart from growing a beard, Hrithik has also been asked to pile on some extra kilos for the film. “Since his character is paraplegic and bound to a wheelchair, he will have to look chubby and let go of his muscular chiselled appearance.  Hrithik is pushing the envelope and taking huge risks with Guzaarish,” notes the source.

Hrithik and Bhansali remained unavailable for comment.

MM

DDLJ ENTERS ITS 15 YEAR; STILL RUNNING SUCCESSFULLY IN MUMBAI!

One of the best Bollywood films of all time, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ) has been running since its release in 1995 at the Maratha Mandir theatre in Mumbai! Very surprisingly, the solo 11:30 am show of DDLJ still gets viewers and during weekends, it is easily 70-100% full! It was released on October 20, 1995 and this Tuesday, it entered into its 15th year!

However, a lot of doubts have been raised as to how such an old film still manages to get audience. Some say that Yash Raj Films, the producers of DDLJ, are forcefully running the movie at Maratha Mandir to create a record. But none of this is true and I can vouch for that as I myself have gone to see DDLJ couple of time there. Some of the reasons for DDLJ’s successful running:

1. OUTSTANDING ENTERTAINER: DDLJ is a sweet well-made feel good film that has its heart at the right place. It was a cult film at that time as it managed to place something interesting before the audience and at the same time, didn’t trudge a different path. And SRK’s mind-blowing performance created frenzy among the females. You can find many (males too) who have seen the film more than 30/40/50/100 times and are ready to watch it again! Thus, it’s a film which almost any moviegoer can watch it anytime!
2. SHAH RUKH KHAN’S CRAZE: Shah Rukh Khan has one of the biggest fans following. So many fans from other cities/countries that are on a visit to Mumbai make it a point to watch DDLJ at Maratha Mandir!
3. TICKET PRICING: The rates of DDLJ’s show are damn cheap. Balcony tickets cost Rs 22, Dress Circle tickets are priced at Rs 20 while stall tickets are available for Rs 18. With such low rates, it becomes damn affordable for anyone, even for the poorer sections living nearby, to watch DDLJ many times!
4. LOCATION OF MARATHA MANDIR: The theatre is situated opposite Mumbai Central Railway Station, the southernmost terminus in Mumbai on Western Railway. Many travelers who reach the station in the morning but have a late afternoon train to catch decide to watch the film in order to pass their time! Even though Apsara, Novelty, Minerva theatres aren’t very far from the station, travelers still prefer watching DDLJ. Also, the hawkers, vendors and other poor people working/dwelling near Maratha Mandir go for it as for them it’s the ultimate entertainment. Other single screens nearby have closed and they can’t afford multiplex tickets. So they prefer watching DDLJ due to cheap ticket rates and also because the film never bores!
5. CURIOSITY: I know many who stay far away in the suburbs of Mumbai but have gone to watch DDLJ out of curiosity and amusement that the film is still running!

Some 6-7 years back, even I found it difficult to believe that the film managed to get audience in each show. But then, DDLJ is a magical film. Also, when I had gone to see DDLJ in its 500th week, I was surprised to see that people who were there in the show (it was housefull) were so engrossingly watching the film. They knew the film perfectly as they had seen it many times and they could have cracked jokes and passed stupid comments in emotional scenes, as masses generally do. But they didn’t and were shanti se seeing it! DDLJ, indeed, is much more than magical, I guess! Whatever it is, it rocks and I hope it keeps running forever!
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MAMKACCEPT THAT YOU GUYS MADE A BAD FILM!

Blue and All The Best have done a great job at the BO but the 3rd Diwali release, Main Aurr Mrs Khanna (MAMK) have failed miserably. The film could neither impress the critics nor the audiences. Director Prem Soni gave two reasons for film’s debacle-first, the producers made a mistake for going easy on the film’s publicity and second, there was a general resentment against the film and attempt was made to sabotage it! Producer Sohail Khan, on the other hand, blames the co-producer of the film, UTV, for releasing the film during Diwali with Blue and All The Best. According to him, MAMK wasn’t perfect Diwali stuff and that people want to watch comic films in the festive time (Ironically, Prem Soni a month ago was heard saying that Diwali is the perfect time for MAMK!). He wanted the film to release next year during Valentine’s Day.

Both Sohail and Prem are giving different and contradictory reasons but none of them are ready to accept that they made a bad film. Even if the publicity was low-key, the film had made its presence felt. And regarding the point that attempt was made to flop the film; I don’t buy it at all. Go and ask viewers who saw the film-they all were disappointed. So, the word-of-mouth wasn’t good and that’s why the film failed. Sohail’s reasoning also isn’t justified. A bad film is going to flop whether it’s released in Diwali or on Valentine’s Day or during any other fest. Also, during 2004 Diwali, Veer-Zaara and Aitraaz had occupied almost all shows in theatres and also the headlines. Yet, Mughal-E-Azam, released simultaneously with these two films with very less prints, managed to grow and do a great job at the BO.

At such times, my respect for Ram Gopal Verma increases! He’s the only one who accepts that his film wasn’t upto the mark. He went to the point to say that those who liked his Sholay-remake Aag are mental patients! Kudos to RGV!

– By Taran Adarsh, October 3, 2009 – 08:34 IST

1998 Diwali. Vashu Bhagnani – David Dhawan’s BADE MIYAN CHOTE MIYAN and Karan Johar’s directorial debut KUCH KUCH HOTA HAI had opened on the same date. Both worked at the box-office. Eleven years later, history seems to be repeating itself, with Karan Johar’s WAKE UP SID and Vashu Bhagnani – David Dhawan’s DO KNOT DISTURB opening to packed houses.

WAKE UP SID started with a bang from Show 1 on Friday morning. Released on a smaller scale – approx. 350 prints [225 physical and 126 digital] – at metros and mini-metros, the film started on an 80% + note and ran to packed houses during noon/evening shows. The terrific start of the film caught almost everyone in the industry unaware. The film has been appreciated tremendously by the youth and gentry [read multiplex junta] and is likely to hold very, very well over the weekend.

DO KNOT DISTURB had a slightly shaky start in the morning shows, but picked up momentum towards noon/evening shows. The film showed 60% – 70% occupancy at places and by evening, was also running to packed houses at several screens. The masses have liked the film and this laughathon too is likely to hold strongly during its opening weekend. The heartening start has infused tremendous optimism in the industry.

BOLLYWOOD HUNGAMA.COM

John Abraham joins Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan in Danny Boyle and Anurag Kashyap’s Bombay Velvet
By Subhash K Jha (MUMBAI MIRROR; September 18, 2009)

John Abraham

Mumbai Mirror had reported on September 14 in the story Boyle Bells The Cats? that Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan will star together in Danny Boyle and Anurag Kashyap’s forthcoming film, Bombay Velvet. Well, the film got much bigger as news is that John Abraham was actually the first actor to be signed on for the international epic.

A source says, “This was just after John and Anurag formed a mutual fan-club after working together in No Smoking. Although the film didn’t work at the box-office both John and Anurag  vowed to do another film. That’s when Bombay Velvet was born. The film has three segments and John was signed on for the second segment. He will play a real-life 1960s hero of the masses.” SRK and Aamir will star in the first and third segments respectively.

John has since then been reading up extensively to prepare for his first true-to-life character. The role requires him to completely change  his body language and to get rid of his very contemporary body language and mannerisms.

In fact, friends have been provoking John into  believing that he is no longer part of the project. But John isn’t the least bit fazed.

A friend of John says, “When he heard that Aamir was signed, John was really happy for Anurag. People told John that Aamir had replaced him but John knew the truth. Even if it was true, he’d have been happy for Anurag. However, Anurag would never ever drop John. After 10 years of struggle in the film industry, John was the first hero who took Anurag seriously. Earlier every attempt to get into the big league had failed. Anurag would rather drop the project than drop John.”

Speaking about  John starring in Bombay Velvet, Anurag Kashyap had said earlier, “John Abraham has drastically cut his price for my next film Bombay Velvet. So even when I work  with stars my project becomes economical. I don’t charge any money as a director until the  film makes money. After No Smoking, John and I want to make sure our film is  accessible to the audience. Today I realise where I had gone wrong in my earlier cinema. I’m working on my weak points. I tend to get repetitive. So I’ve got two writers for Bombay Velvet who criticised me the most for No Smoking.”

Aamir Khan & Shah Rukh Khan


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