Fenil and Bollywood

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Frieda Pinto introduced boyfriend Dev Patel to her parents during a secret Christmas trip to Mumbai

By Kunal M Shah (MUMBAI MIRROR; January 05, 2010)


It’s a love story that’s been brewing for a while now, though both Dev Patel and his Slumdog Millionaire co-star Freida Pinto have carefully avoided either confirming or denying it in public. But after Dev’s mother confirmed that they are seeing each other, another little development seems to underline that the relationship may be headed towards more official territory.

Freida Pinto and Dev Patel

In a hush-hush visit, Frieda came to visit her parents in Mumbai over Christmas — and guess who accompanied her?

“Freida and Dev were in Mumbai last week for a couple of days. Dev visited her home in Malad where Freida introduced him to her parents and family,” reveals a source. “Dev was down here with a couple of his friends from London and they also partied in Mumbai. Freida took them around and in fact, both of them were seen at Hawaiian Shack. But they wanted to keep this visit low profile and made sure that their itinerary was kept under wraps.”

When contacted, actor Mridul Singhvi (who also manages the Bandra nightspot), confirmed, “Yes, Dev and Freida were here with a couple of friends on Wednesday night. We dedicated the song ‘Paper Planes’ from Slumdog Millionaire to them. We all were very excited to see them but they were extremely hesitant about their pictures being clicked. They came in at about 11.30 in the night and were there till the time the club closed at around 1.30am. However they weren’t very social and stuck to a corner on the 3rd floor.”

VIR SANGHVI (Hindustan Times)

Here are two images you may remember from television. The first was the Oscar ceremony. Simon Beaufoy won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay for Slumdog Millionaire. It is no secret that Beaufoy’s script differed significantly from the book by Vikas Swarup on which Slumdog was based. But Beaufoy made it a point to thank Swarup on stage and to say that without his book there would be no screenplay, no movie, and no Oscars.

Later that same night Slumdog director Danny Boyle, while accepting his own Oscar, apologised to the choreographer Longinus, whose name had been left out of the end credits of Slumdog. When the film won the Best Picture Oscar, the entire unit went on stage including Vikas Swarup who had been flown in to Los Angeles by the makers of the film at their expense.

And here is a second image. It is a press conference in Noida on Friday. The cast and makers of 3 Idiots are answering questions from the press as part of the publicity campaign for the film. When journos keep asking about the lack of recognition accorded to author Chetan Bhagat, on whose book the film is based, producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra stands up, points a finger at an inquisitive journalist and shouts ‘Shut up’. Chopra is prevented from saying much more by his colleagues and Aamir Khan then swings into damage control mode. He tries to sound reasonable but manages to abuse Chetan Bhagat, calls him publicity hungry — a bit rich considering the stunts Aamir staged to gain publicity for 3 Idiots — and berates journos for believing Bhagat.

What is the difference between the two images?

I think one word sums it up: grace.

Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy and the Slumdog unit behaved with grace. Vinod Chopra and his star behaved with a complete lack of grace.

If you’ve missed the controversy, here’s what it is about. Vidhu Vinod Chopra bought the rights to Chetan Bhagat’s novel and then turned it into 3 Idiots. Nobody disputes that 3 Idiots is based on the Bhagat novel and indeed Bhagat is credited as such in the movie.

The point of discord is the placing of the credit. Bhagat suggests that it should have been at the beginning along with all the other writer credits. Instead it appears at the very end.

In his defence, Chopra says that the end is an appropriate place for the credit because his scriptwriters, including Rajkumar Hirani, the film’s director, changed so much of the story that the final film has little to do with Bhagat’s novel.

Bhagat says that this is not true. Yes of course there is a lot in the film that he did not write but it is still recognisably his story and on his blog he lists several points of similarity.

For the purposes of argument, I am quite prepared to believe Aamir and Chopra when they deny Bhagat’s version of events. I am also prepared to accept that the screenplay is significantly different from Bhagat’s novel.

But here’s the thing: it shouldn’t make a difference.

Vidhu Vinod Chopra is contractually obliged to give Bhagat credit as the writer of the source material for the movie. So, the issue is not whether the script is 95 per cent based on the book or 25 per cent derived from Bhagat’s novel. The only issue is one of placing. Should Bhagat have been part of the opening credits? And was it graceless to bury his name in the end credits?

In Hollywood, it is not uncommon for scriptwriters to significantly alter the plots of source material or to only use a part of the book. Slumdog differs significantly from Vikas Swarup’s Q&A. The Firm dispenses with John Grisham’s ending and invents a new one. In Papillon, a major character who was not even in the book was invented by the scriptwriters. David Lean’s Dr Zhivago junked the second half of the book. The recent My Sister’s Keeper differs substantially from Jodi Picoult’s bestseller of the same name.

In every single case, however, the original novel was properly credited and the author mentioned in the opening credits. Nobody believed that this detracted in any way from the screenwriter’s achievements. It just demonstrated a certain grace and honesty on the part of the movie’s maker.

So why, you may well ask, is Vidhu Vinod Chopra being so bloody-minded about denying Chetan Bhagat his opening credit?

The honest answer is I simply cannot understand Chopra’s pettiness.

I hold no brief for any of the principals in this drama. At the HT, we’ve had a bad experience with Chetan Bhagat, who we believe behaved unprofessionally when he was a columnist. On the other hand, I have met Vinod Chopra, have worked with his wife and have always thought well of him. Personally, I have the highest regard and admiration for Aamir Khan, whom I know slightly.

So, this is not about personalities. It’s not even about principle — Chopra has conceded the principle by giving Bhagat his credit even if he has buried it in the end.

It is about grace.

What does it cost the makers of 3 Idiots to give Chetan Bhagat his credit in the space where a writer’s credit is traditionally placed in the international movie business? It would make no difference to the movie’s massive box-office performance. We would not think any less of Rajkumar Hirani, a fine director with a great track record. And Aamir’s reputation as the most consistently successful star of our times would remain intact.

Finally, it comes down to how big a human being is prepared to be. Even people who did not think much of Slumdog Millionaire were overwhelmed when Danny Boyle used the Oscar platform to say sorry to Longinus for leaving his name out of the credits. That was the single-biggest night in Boyle’s life, a culmination of everything he had worked for. And he still found the time to mention an Indian dance director he would probably never meet again.

That’s what I call class.

Our own film industry, however, has not covered itself in glory by the way in which it has behaved over Bhagat’s credit. Our producers, directors and actors have come across as mean-spirited and petty and ready to get into fights over something as minor as the placing of a credit.

Just as India has the potential to become a superpower in the 21st century so Bollywood has the opportunity to become the world’s leading film industry in this century. Certainly, we are not short of talent or of audiences.

What we are short of, however, is grace. And our directors need to learn that no amount of box-office success can buy you class. Our film industry will never hit the big time if its leading lights continue to think like small-timers.

It’s time for Aamir, Chopra and Hirani to show some grace. Otherwise they risk coming across as three idiots.

The views expressed by the author are personal

FINGERS CROSSED: A R Rehman
A R Rahman has got two nominations for Slumdog Millionaire

SUBHASH K JHA Times News Newtwork (BOMBAY TIMES; January 2, 2010)

A R Rahman, the most talked about Indian of last year, is counting down to the 52nd Grammy Awards. They’re being held on January 31, at LA, and the Oscar-winning music composer has won two nominations for his soundtrack from Slumdog Millionaire. The song Jai Ho – which fetched Rahman two Academy awards and a Golden Globe – has been nominated for ‘Best Song Written for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media’ and also for ‘Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media’. Rahman, naturally, is pleased. While he’s aware the Oscar Awards for Slumdog Millionaire required a whole lot of lobbying, the Grammy needs no such push. “All I’ve to do is wait and watch what happens. The Grammy is as exciting as the Oscar. It’s the ultimate music award, isn’t it? Although it’s a nomination for a film song, the Grammy is still another shot in the arm for Jai Ho. Any recognition is welcome. Jai Ho is an important song.” Not strangely, he feels a huge sense of responsibility. “I hope I never let down my country, my people, my music, my family and myself,” said the music genius who has just returned home after being in his “other base” — Los Angeles.

Rahman, meanwhile, is unhappy with the outcome of his first Hollywood soundtrack. “The music of Couples Retreat got a good response. But I feel my music was not used properly. It was a comedy. I guess you can’t expect music to have much of a place in a comedy. They were more into laughter than music,” he complained, adding, “The music has all been used. But not the way my fans would expect. I was prepared for the outcome when I entered this project.” So he’s not really disappointed by his first foray into Hollywood. “If I had waited for the perfect Hollywood vehicle, I might have had to wait endlessly. It’s not easy for an Asian to enter into Hollywood camps. It’s a new beginning for me. I got great reviews.”

He’s got a lot of offers but also has a tough schedule this year to be able to give any more time to new commitments. And, contrary to rumours, acting is not one of Rahman’s forthcoming commitments. “That’s completely false news,” he said shocked. “I am not going into acting. I’m going to be speaking in a documentary on my friend, the musician P. J. Mortan. We’ve known each other for some time. He collaborated with me for a track in Couples Retreat. That’s it. It’s not a feature film. I’ve no aspirations to go into acting. God has given me one skill and I’m very happy with it.”
Shekhar’s Paani is ready to roll in Spain

By Subhash K Jha (MUMBAI MIRROR; December 16, 2009)


Shekhar Kapoor flew into Chennai earlier this month to record his first song for Paani, officially flagging off his first feature film undertaking since the sequel to Elizabeth two years ago.

Says Shekhar, “Paani is now completely on. We start shooting in April 2010. We’re at a pre-visualisation stage. And I needed Rahman’s song for that. Since it is located in a futuristic city, I’ve artistes in Los Angeles, Singapore and India creating my city.”

While the film is set in futuristic Mumbai, Shekhar plans to shoot in Spain. “I’ve had a big offer from Spain to shoot the film in their country. They too are fascinated by the water theme. It’s a massive project. Otherwise it wouldn’t interest me.”

The film will star newcomers in the lead. Says Shekhar, “The girl has to be a 17-year old French-Canadian who lives in the Upper City (the posh area) of  Mumbai. And the young Indian boy is a desi Leonardo DiCaprio who’s a water revolutionary.”

The film is a forbidden love story. “The girl’s father is the global head of a water company. We need another girl, a smouldering entertainer like Shakira, who’s a big star in the Upper and the Lower City. Then there’s an Oracle called Amma.”

Shekhar will cast the hero from India while the girl will be cast internationally. He swears he hasn’t decided a single member of the vast cast as yet. “You know I had planned whole schedules of Elizabeth and I hadn’t found the actress to play the lead. And since Elizabeth wasn’t cast, no one else was. The studios were getting frantic with worry. We tested a hundred actresses. I wasn’t the least worried. I knew I’d find my Elizabeth. I saw two shots of Cate Blanchett in a film no one had seen and I decided on her. The most difficult actor to cast was Richard Attenborough. Likewise I’m not worried about Paani.”

The spoken language of Paani would be English. But there will be a dubbed Hindi version. “Even the characters of the Lower City would be speaking English. Slumdog Millionaire has proved that language is no barrier. Even though all the Indians spoke English, the language didn’t come in the way of credible self-expression. I will have a dubbed Hindi version too.”

Paani will be readied in time for the Venice Film Festival in 2011.

By Subhash K. Jha, December 11, 2009 – 19:00 IST

Post the grand international success of Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, Mumbai slums have become fashionable and popular visiting places for international audiences. Just how much so, Sudhir Mishra discovered when he took his long-delayed film on slum life Tera Kya Hoga Johnny (featuring Neil Nitin Mukesh, Soha Ali Khan, Shahana Goswami and Karan Nath along with a real street-child Sikandar) to New York’s South Asian Film Festival held from October 28 to November 3.

At the festival American critics reacted to Sudhir Mishra’s Tera Kya Hoga Johnny as another Slumdog Millionaire.

Now Sudhir will release the film in a dubbed English version. “After Slumdog Millionaire, the West is looking with much curiosity at the slum culture of Mumbai. I had no plans of doing an English version of Tera Kya Hoga Johnny. But everyone who saw it in New York suggested I do it. Every frame in my film has been shot in the lanes and gullies of South Mumbai in Colaba.”

With Tutu Sharma now taking over as co-producer of Tera Kya Hoga Johnny, the film is all set for an early January 2010 release.

Thus ends the blame game whereby Neil Nitin Mukesh was being accused of trying to stall the film by not dubbing for it.

Defends Sudhir Mishra, “First of all most of the film is in sync sound. There was just about a day’s dubbing to be done by Neil. He finished it long ago. Why blame the poor guy?”

BOLLYWOOD HUNGAMA.COM

Anil Kapoor’s super luxe vanity bus, one of the most expensive in Bollywood today, has all the amenities one could possibly dream of. It took over a year to design it

By Meena Iyer (MUMBAI MIRROR; December 11, 2009)


Anil Kapoor can’t stop beaming thanks to his spanking new golden yellow vanity bus delivered to the Slumdog Millionaire actor two days ago. Anil’s prized possession is currently the talk of the film industry.

The 42-feet-long vanity bus with the registration plate MH-04 TRA 135 took a year to be made. Done up by leading car designer Dilip Chhabria’s son Bonny Chhabria, the interiors are done in mahogany wood with the upholstery being in shades of beige and ivory. The bus is made by the Tatas and has been assembled on an imported chassis.

The bus is primarily divided into an office space with ivory leather sofas. There is ample legroom and a designated office space for Anil’s secretary with computer monitors, laptops, a worktable, television and all the requisite amenities.

The inner room is a makeup-cum-lounge area that is the star’s private place. A huge LED mirror runs from the floor almost to the ceiling of the bus right across which stands a sofa-cum-bed. An additional moving chair can also be placed in this room should Anil wish to sit closer to the mirror.

There are two bathrooms in the bus; the one outside at the entrance of the office space specifically for visitors, while Anil’s own bathroom is more spacious and has a shower as well.

Dilip Chhabria says it took Bonny and him almost a year to design the bus because Anil was constantly in and out of the country post Slumdog Millionaire and he rejected the interior plans on a couple of occasions.

Shakti Kapoor, who was shooting with Anil for No Problem yesterday, said, “This is probably the most expensive bus standing at the studio right now. It reportedly costs Rs 2 crore.”

Neither Anil nor the Chhabrias were willing to reveal the actual amount that the bus cost but one hears that the final cost is Rs 1.91 crore.

Anil’s bus is said to be second to Shah Rukh Khan’s 50-feet-long bus that stands outside Mannat. That is built on a Volvo chassis and is reported to have cost SRK approximately Rs 3 crore.

ROCKET SINGH GOES THE ‘THE HANGOVER’ WAY!

I always believe that promotion is of utmost importance for a film to succeed. It helps to create hype and arouse curiosity which in turn helps the film get a good opening. But some producers don’t stress too much on promotion, presumably for two reasons:

-> The producer doesn’t have enough money to publicize his product. Or maybe, the budget of the film went so high that the producer couldn’t afford to spend additional 2-3 crores on promotion

-> The producer is supremely confident of his product. He is confident that he has come up with a winner and come what may, it will attract audiences and do a great job commercially.

The second reason seems applicable as to why Rocket Singh-Salesman Of The Year, releasing tomorrow, isn’t promoted much.  Obviously, YRF aren’t short on funds so first reason can be ruled out. And going by Ranbir Kapoor’s confident declaration that Rocket Singh is his best film till date, it seems that the film will turn out to be a great entertainer. In his words, “I can proudly say that Rocket Singh… is not just my greatest film till date but also one of the greatest films made in the recent times. Believe me, it belongs to a different world altogether”.

Maybe, Ranbir did this as a personal publicity campaign on his part; after all, actors always do this, isn’t it? But it’s a fact that whenever the Chopras adopt a negligible promotional strategy for their film, then that film works wonders. ‘Chak De! India’ was also badly promoted and many trade pundits had predicted that it’ll fail. It even took an average opening. But the response was extremely positive and from the 2nd day, the film began attracting audiences in large numbers. It later turned out to be one of the biggest blockbusters of that year, 2007. Similarly, last year, Chopras went slow in promoting Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi which was very successful at the BO.

Another classic example is the case of The Hangover. How many of were aware of this film or had planned to see it when it released? The film had no famous stars and it also wasn’t promoted well across the world. In India, it released with a Hindi biggie, New York and Hollywood biggie, Terminator Salvation. The first day collections were pathetic. But the critics’ positive response and equally satisfying response of junta compelled moviegoers to catch this flick. In big cities, it ran for as many as 6-7 weeks (a rarity for Hollywood films) and was running with 70%+ occupancy even in weekdays!

So the point is-promotion is most vital but when your product is top-class and you are confident about its success, it’s okay to not promote the product much. Even ‘A Wednesday!’ and Mumbai Meri Jaan weren’t marketed well but later turned out to be two of the most loved films of 2008.

Coming back to Rocket Singh, the other reason why its promotion is low is because of Ranbir Kapoor’s presence in the film. He has received immense appreciation from his last 2 films, Wake Up Sid and Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani and is already on his way to become superstar. So maybe, YRF is of the opinion that Ranbir’s presence is now enough to get people to theatres. Also the title of the film, title song and the fact that it’s directed by Shimit Amin (director of Chak De and Ab Tak Chappan) has created some curiosity. If the film really turns out to be exciting as Ranbir has said, then he would be immediately crowned as the superstar for sure! Let’s hope for the best!
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CELINA’S AWARD WINNING FLICK NOT RELEASING IN INDIA

Many moviegoers and even those in industry were shocked to hear that Celina Jaitly got the Best Female Actor award for her New Zealand flick Love Has No Language at the Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF)! A popular Bollywood screenwriter’s status on Facebook read, “Celina has won the Best Actor Award at CIFF. I’m trying to find out whether Stevie Wonder, Ravindra Jain and Nasser Khan (of Shadow fame) were the judges”! Such reactions were expected as Celina was never considered as an ‘actor’ anytime by majority. So this news came as 440 volt ka jakta!

Talking about the film, it has released in several countries but it still hasn’t got a release here in India and now Celina has confessed that the film won’t see a theatrical release here-it would come directly on DVDs. It pains to see inferior treatment being meted out to India so many times. The lead actress in the film is from India, she has even bagged a prestigious award and yet the film won’t release here-doesn’t sound fair, does it? Even Slumdog Millionaire got a very late release in India and it didn’t do a great job as people had already seen the film by downloading from the internet. Somewhere, this should stop!

CHECK OUT THE PROMO OF LOVE HAS NO LANGUAGE HERE

(Ranbir and Celina’s quotes taken from Bollywood Hungama.com)

This post first appeared on MouthShut.com: http://www.mouthshut.com/diary/chidprllp/Fenils-Bollywood-Talk78