Fenil and Bollywood

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KNOTTED: Sanjay Gupta and Anu Lekhi at their wedding

Sanjay Gupta marries ex-wife Anu Lekhi, in Bollywood-style romance

MEENA IYER Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; June 5, 2009)

This kind of thing only happens in Bollywood. And, giving rise to new story ideas is filmmaker Sanjay Gupta who remarried Anu Lekhi — the wife he divorced five years ago.
Sanjay, actually, is not the romantic-comedy type of filmmaker; he is known more for stylised thrillers. But in real life, there must be plenty of romance in the rugged
director for his earlier experience has not made him shy of tying the knot with the same woman again. They did it on Wednesday at a temple in Khar according to Hindu rites. Sanjay chose the same date as one of his favourite actors, Amitabh Bachchan — who married Jaya Bhaduri on June 3, 1973.

Sanjay first married designer Anu on August 18, 1997, after a long courtship. “We know each other for 15 years now,” said the new groom, his voice brimming with happiness. Five years ago, the couple had divorced, and Anu moved to Pune to live with her parents. Though the media sometimes buzzed with stories of Sanjay’s indiscretions, the filmmaker said he was always committed to Anu and there was no other serious commit
ment. “I have been stalking her all through these five years,” admitted Sanjay, “she is my soulmate.”

The man who made such high-onaction films like Kaante, Musafir and Zinda said he himself had been to hell and back over the last few years! “I have tasted huge success, had a near fatal accident… and now I have three films — Acid Factory, Pankh and The Great Indian Butterfly ready for release. I lost my mother earlier this year. In short, life has been a seesaw. However, through it all, one feeling has been constant. And that is my desire to be with Anu.”

Over the last six months, Sanjay wooed his wife rather desperately. He took her on dates to various Mumbai night spots where they sipped coffee and gazed at the stars. “When my
mother passed away, Anu was a source of strength. My in-laws treated me like a son even though the two of us had divorced. Now, they are my parents… and they were the ones who were present at the wedding ceremony,” he said.
The couple had wanted to remarry at the Vaishnodevi shrine in Jammu. However, a family member from the bride’s side is critically ill, so the venue
was shifted to Mumbai. “It was a lowkey affair with just family and a few of my close friends like Sudhanshu, Rohit and Sanjeev present. We have put our honeymoon to London, New York and Paris on hold because we are at the hospital with Anu’s maasiji.”

But those happiest at this remarriage are Buddy and Yoda, the pet dogs (a Pug and Golden Retriever, respectively) that Sanjay and Anu have had for long. “They were with us when we married the first time,” laughed Sanjay, “they love Anu… and just about tolerate me. Now that she is back, they’re absolutely thrilled.”

So are we, actually. Who doesn’t like a and-they-lived-happily-ever-after fairy tale? BT wishes the couple much love, luck and togetherness.

Hindi entertainment channels are nowadays mostly dominated by family melodramatic soaps and rigged reality shows! At this point of time, Sony Entertainment Television came up with an interesting concept. Titled ‘Specials @ 10’, the series consist of 4 different tele-films, each produced/presented by renowned filmmakers like Anurag Kashyap, Vikram Bhatt, Mahesh Manjrekar and Madhur Bhandarkar.Anurag Kashyap-presented Rajuben took away the cake as it managed to keep the viewers at the edge of the seat and moved at a fast pace, both of these qualities which other serials on TV lack!

Rajuben2Rajuben started on March 2, 2009 and ended 12 weeks later on May 18 (last Monday). It was aired only once in a week on Mondays at 10pm and each episode was an hour long. Unlike other serials on TV, Rajuben was shot in a different format and had a film-like visual quality.

The plot of the serial: Rajuben is the story of Rajshree (Shilpa Shukla), daughter of a staunch Gandhian (K K Raina). The serial focuses on three different points of Rajshree aka Raju’s life which is as follows:

Year 1986: Raju is an electrician and one day goes to Rohit’s (Rajesh Shringapure) place to repair his fan. Later, she learns that he is a gangster. But still, she falls for him and Rohit too starts liking her. Raju’s father gets the biggest shock of his life when he learns this. He tries hard to explain Raju that falling in love with a gangster can be dangerous but she stood adamant. Finally, she marries him and Raju’s father breaks all ties with her. As Rohit’s wife, she took time to adjust, given his husband’s profession. She tried to persuade Rohit into leaving the underworld. Rohit tried but his plan backfired.
Year 1990: Raju is pregnant. Rohit is all set to escape to Malaysia, to escape the crutches of police, much to the annoyance of Raju. By this time, Raju has understood A to Z of ‘bhaigiri’ business and she takes Rohit’s place in her absence. All of Rohit’s colleagues including Tabrez (Raj Arun) accept her. But Abu Miya, Rohit’s godfather and Abu’s close aide and corrupt politician Joshi (Harsh Chaaya) is dead against this idea and they tried to ward off Raju. But Rajuben has acquired too strong a position to feel threatened by anyone.

Rajuben
Year 2009: Raju is now MLA Rajshree and all set to contest for elections. Joshi is also in her political party and both are rivals. Rajshree’s twins, Sameer and Shraddha return after completing their studies and upon their arrival, some unknown gunmen attack them. Shraddha escapes unhurt but Sameer is kidnapped. Some hours later, Tabrez (who is still with Raju as her confidante) find Sameer unconscious in a gunny bag. Rajshree now tries to find out who could be behind it. On the other hand, Shraddha tries to strike a chord with Rajshree’s father, who still hasn’t talked to his daughter and after she married. And as for Rohit, he died in 1993 in Malaysia in a police firing.

What sets Rajuben apart from the rest of the soaps is its wonderful treatment. All these above mentioned three eras of Raju’s life move simultaneously as parallel tracks and intersect at several points, a laRang De Basanti style! Although these three tracks may seem to be poles apart at times, there’s a constant coordination between all three of them. For instance, when Raju’s son Sameer starts taking drugs, the story moves back to 90’s era and the viewers here learn how Raju had started selling drugs in order to make money. Even though the story constantly moves back and forth jostling between three tracks, the story doesn’t become confusing and complicated at all. And that’s the biggest achievement for the makers!

Some of the characters are very intriguing. Raju’s daughter Shraddha has feelings for Tabrez but is mature enough to understand that her mother deserves him more than anyone else. Shraddha equally loves her mother but is angry at the way she plays politics and takes wrong advantage of the media for her gains. On the other hand, Raju’s father, a Gandhian, wanted his children to follow the eternal Gandhian principals. But his own daughter married a gangster while his other two children used wrong means in their business, which was unacceptable to him. So he disowned all his children and lived alone with his wife. This raises a question-Does being a Gandhian also implies that we should not be supportive of our children, no matter what they do? Should a Gandhian be very ‘ziddi’ and angry-types? But at the same time, should a Gandhian give up his Satyagraha mentality just because everyone around is corrupt?

Tabrez

But the most favourite of all has to be Tabrez (see pic above)! He spoke little and when he opened his mouth, he won’t utter anything nonsense. He obediently carried out Raju’s orders without questioning her. He was unmarried but always loved Raju a lot and yet, didn’t marry her after Rohit’s death. Everyone around used him as a punching bag to vent their frustration. Yet, he was always loyal to Raju and her family and would see to it that nothing untoward happens with them. He is a guy who can be trusted anytime. Tabrez, you rock!

Performance-wise, everyone was perfect. Shilpa Shukla who had already proved her worth as Bindiya Naik in Chak De! India, does an amazing job as Rajuben. She gave a perfect performance in each of the three tracks. She impressed a lot in 90’s track. Eight month pregnant Raju, having fruit salad and ordering her men to finish off members of a rival gang-wow…what a scene!

Rajesh Shringapure too does a great job. It was difficult to accept in the beginning that he’s the same guy who gave a rocking performance in Sarkar Raj as Sanjay Somji! Raj Arun as Tabrez was undoubtedly the best performer! His wonderful role coupled with his natural performance made Tabrez the most adorable bhai of the story!

Harsh Chaaya did a great job as the villain. K K Raina left a mark as Raju’s father. Ritu Dutta as Shraddha was fantastic. Others did a great job too.

Amit Trivedi who created waves with Dev D album, composed the title track of Rajuben which suited the mood and theme of the serial. Editing was perfect. Screenplay was gripping and of course, the biggest winner! Lalit Marathe, who also directed the upcoming film Shabri (*ing Ishaa Koppikar; produced by RGV) directed this serial and did a wonderful job. Some of the scenes were truly memorable. My most fav was when Raju kills Abu Miya. She disassembled parts of her gun, hid all its parts including in her hair and inside her sandal. Then she went to Abu Miya’s place and proceeded towards the loo. Inside, she assembled all the parts together and came out and killed him! Brilliant!

On the whole, Rajuben was a slick and very interesting concept that succeeded in keeping the viewers engrossed and entertained. Those who have missed it, there’s a good news-Anurag Kashyap is going to release its DVDs soon! So all those interested in this wonderful one of its kind serial, grab your copy and do watch it!

My rating-***** out of 5!