Fenil and Bollywood

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BONDING AT WORK: Gurinder Chadha

Gurinder Chadha on movies and being back in Mumbai

MEENA IYER (BOMBAY TIMES; December 15, 2009)

Gurinder Chadha, the NRI film-maker, who tells delectable stories of Punjabi families living in Southhall, UK—i.e. Bend it like Beckham (2002), Bride and Prejudice (2004); is back with her latest offering It’s a Wonderful After Life.
The film has an obese Shabana Azmi (yeah, she piled on 20 pounds for the lead character); with other popular names like Sendhil Ramamurthy (from the popular television series Lost), Sally Hawkins (Golden Globe winner), Chris Wilson and Jimi Mistry. The film itself is scheduled for a summer 2010 release, but the internationally feted filmmaker was in Mumbai with her twins, on a whirlwind trip to bond with some of Bollywood’s best.

Says Gurinder, “I’m a bit more sensitive to Mumbai after the 26/11 terror attacks.” She says her son Ronak loves it here and every time he smells the ‘stench’ in the air around the sea, he keeps saying, “Mommy someone is frying fish.”

For Gurinder however, even making a trip to the five-star hotels that were under siege, was a onerous task because “it will break my heart to go in there and pretend all is well.’’ About her completing a ‘trilogy’ of sorts with It’s a Wonderful After Life, she says, “It’s a funny film with a heart. It talks of what would happen if women ruled the world.’’

About Shabana who is the protagonist, Gurinder says, “Shabana who had to pile on pounds for the film had a field day eating parathas and cake.’’ She guffaws as she adds, “She also wore the cheapest cardigans and flowery salwar-kurtas with kothis (jackets) to look the part. And she perfected her Brit-Punjabi accent by attending a baby shower of one of my relatives.’’ Gurinder adds, “Shabana is a legend in India and working with her was indeed a pleasure.’’

And guess what, thedrawn-to-India-forever-film-maker will return to Kerala for her next film that revolves around two children. “I’m in talks with Santosh Sivan,’’ she
says.
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By Devansh Patel, December 10, 2009 – 08:21 IST

Abhishek Bachchan Indian cinema’s finest premiere comes to an end. People all over the world are doing the monkey dance. Such is the hysteria. Facebook status of various friends read that all those who’ve watched Paa proclaim it to be one of the biggest hits of it’s time. It’s strange, but it’s true, a newly wed couple decided to watch Paa and postponed their honeymoon for a day. Is Paa becoming a revolution in itself? UK’s Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama’s London correspondent Devansh Patel asked a few rapid fires to the Paa himself, Abhishek Bachchan, on the feedback he’s been receiving or has received so far. “The kind of reactions that I have been getting be it on facebook or twitter or via SMS or via email has been overwhelming. Overwhelming because I still haven’t managed to answer all of them, there have been so many of them! And without trying to sound very pompous I think 99% of it is all very very positive. The response has been fantastic, I don’t think I have ever received response to any of my films like the way we have received for Paa“, answers Bachchan junior. We recall the day when Big B was all tears after watching Abhishek perform in Guru and so we asked the multi-talented Abhishek, “Did that happen to you while you were watching Amitabh Bachchan as Auro?” Surprisingly, he replied, “Yes”, and after a long pause, said, “No too, because every time I got sucked into the film and tried to react to it emotionally, the producer in me would wake up and try and find ways that I could have done certain things better. So for me, it was like balancing – being an actor and a producer, and a lot of times the producer in me would not allow me to be the actor whole heartedly. So although I do think its Pa’s best performance till date, I still feel that as a producer I could have performed a lot better.”

For the two days after the film was released, all the social networking sites were flooded with comments, suggestions and some interesting and thought provoking reasons to go and watch Paa. One such interesting suggestion read – Don’t you feel that a film like Paa should be doing the rounds of the international film festivals and should be screened especially for the BAFTA members? To which Abhishek comments, “I think that’s being a bit presumptuous, I am more than happy that our Indian audience and the Indian diaspora is watching the film – I think film festivals and BAFTA and all are although very prestigious, are things that the international jury will decide. If that is the fate of the film, I am happy. What I am most excited about is that our audience is currently enjoying the film.” Getting Abhishek Bachchan over the phone these days is like making a call to the White House. AB is a busy man and an even busier producer. All the running around has boiled down to many one liners – Paa is a hit! Paa is a super success and Paa is inspirational. One last question to the busy man, “How content is the producer today?” we ask. The answer was filled with content. Abhishek replies, “I am very content, it’s been just a few days since the release and my film is already in overflow which means it has covered its costs, I am in profits. So as a producer, economically speaking, I am very happy!”

BOLLYWOOD HUNGAMA.COM

By Joginder Tuteja, December 1, 2009 – 11:21 IST

De Dana Dan The inevitable has happened. Owing to popular demand, ‘Gale Lag Ja‘ – the rain song and dance number featuring the lead pair of Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif – has been added to the film’s narrative.

Though this much hyped song had created quite some buzz en route to the release of De Dana Dan, it was chopped off from the final copy of the print since it was adding to the film’s length. However, the makers of De Dana Dan were open to the idea of incorporating the song as an added bonus if audiences demanded so and the film worked at the box office. With weekend collections being quite strong worldwide, the final call was taken around bringing back the song in the narrative.

Confirms Ratan Jain, producer of De Dana Dan, “We were clear that the song would be added only if the film did well at the box office. There was no point doing that if (God forbid) people wouldn’t have been going into theatres. Now that the weekend collections are out, we know that there would be repeat audiences for the film. For them, it would be another incentive to watch the film again while for the first timers, it’s an added bonus.”

Since the film’s running length is a little less than 3 hours already, would the incorporation of song be of any further impact?

“No”, says Jain, “The length of De Dana Dan is still the same. To compensate for those 4-5 minutes of the added song, we have edited an equal duration of a few scenes from the film.”

Gale Lag Ja‘ would now appear in the first half of the film at the point when Akshay calls Katrina to the hotel in order to share the kidnapping plan and then run away with the ransom amount.

Meanwhile, Ratan Jain is ecstatic with the kind of collections that the film is showing with every passing day.

“Saturday and Sunday were far better than Friday while Monday was more or less similar to Friday, which is superb”, he says, “Normally, films fall quite rapidly on Monday but we have stayed on very stable grounds. The collections are superb overseas as well, whether in UK, Gulf or elsewhere. In India, we have seen Rs. 23 crores coming in just from the weekend which is superb. All our distributors are very happy and we are all set for a bountiful first week.”

BOLLYWOOD HUNGAMA.COM

HOT! Vivek Oberoi, Neeru Singh, Nandana Sen and (below) Aruna Shields
Meet Vivek Oberoi in his new avatar in Kumar Taurani’s action thriller

MEENA IYER Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; November 22, 2009)

It could well be Bollywood’s answer to Ian Fleming’s James Bond franchise said Kumar Taurani about his early 2010 release Prince — It’s Showtime. This action-adventure that has Vivek Oberoi as the Prince was shot extensively on foreign locales at a budget that can make you go ‘phew’. “It’s like Vivek’s comeback to mainstream commercial cinema. He’ll be in the super-league after this one,” promised Kumar. Prince is a “thriller with a heart’’ and has enthralling stunts and endearing music. “It has a very intriguing plot and, of course, bikini-clad women who are more than just eye-candy,’’ revealed Kumar. Vivek plays an espionage agent who’s suffering from memory loss and each of the three women he dates, tells him that she is his “Maya’’. So there’s Nandana Sen who has carved a niche for herse in Bollywood, Neeru Singh has done Punjabi films with Harbhajan Mann, and Arun Shields, an actress from the UK who’s making her Hindi film debut with Prince. “Ou script required glamourous girls,’’ said Kumar who feels that fresh talent adds novelty to the plot.
The filmmaker is also happy because those who have seen the theatrical promos have said that it reminded them of the Bond and Bourne Hollywood series. “There are unbelievable action sequences with Vivek hanging mid-air, heavy-duty combat scenes shot in an aircraft, fights on trains/planes and what-have-you. The film is one of those fast, furious, sleek affairs that take you on a ride of your lifetime,’’ added Kumar. “Like Tips’ earlier films, Soldier and Race, Prince — It’s Showtime will appeal to the audience who come to the movies for a rollercoaster ride of emotions and action,’’ said the filmmaker who hired some of the best foreign technicians besides Bollywood’s action king Allan Amin. “The title track sung by Atif Aslam is already a rage. My director Kookie Gulati certainly knows how to engage his crowds,’’ smiled Kumar.
Shahid Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor are both mature adults, at the peak of their careers. And we might just see them act together again

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

Shahid Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor

Had Kareena Kapoor and Shahid Kapoor still been a couple, Kareena would have surely starred opposite him in his father Pankaj Kapur’s directorial debut, Mausam. After all, Pankaj had written the script of Mausam keeping Kareena in mind. This, of course, was when Kareena and Shahid’s relationship was going strong. The former lovers last starred together in Jab We Met.

After the Shahid-Kareena break-up, Mausam got delayed to some extent since Pankaj Kapur had to drop his plan of casting Kareena and started considering other options for the lead actress. Also, Pankaj couldn’t get a producer for a long time before Religare Vistaar Entertainment came into the picture.

A source said, “Things are fine now but they can’t go back to Kareena saying that they want her to do the film. They are feeling quite awkward about asking her to star opposite Shahid and hence they have decided to launch a nationwide hunt to look for a girl who will be suitable for the film.”

When asked about him earlier wanting Kareena in his film, Pankaj said, “Who told you this? I am still writing the script. How can I think of casting actors before I have completed my script? I will further talk when we are ready to roll.”

Producer Sheetal Talwar said, “Well, Shahid and Kareena look fabulous together on screen. But we are now having a nationwide hunt for the lead actress for Mausam.”

Kareena had no idea about this till we contacted her to ask what she has to say about Pankaj Kapur writing a script keeping in mind her and Shahid’s jodi. Clear about not mixing her personal and professional life, Kareena said, “If they have a good script and a good role and ask me to do it, I see no reason why I shouldn’t.”

Pankaj Kapur

Now that Kareena has no problem starring opposite Shahid, we wonder if his father will drop his plans of a nationwide hunt for the lead actress and make the next call to Kareena.

Mausam is an out-and-out romantic film to be shot in five countries- UK, Spain, Italy, Austria and India. It is expected to start in January 2010.

‘Row On Depiction Of Love Story’

THE TIMES OF INDIA (October 22, 2009)

New Delhi: An early winter appears to have struck Indian Summer—the controversial film on the Nehru-Edwina romance—with its producers formally informing the I&B ministry that the project has been shelved.

In a letter on October 5, India Take One Productions

said the script was being revised and the film’s production had been rescheduled for the latter half of 2010.

Recession in the UK has been cited as the reason for the delay. But agency reports quoted director Joe Wright as saying that the postponement spawned out of a row on how much of a “love story” between India’s first PM and the wife of the last viceroy could be depicted. “We were in be
tween a rock and a hard place. The Indian government wanted us to make less of the love story while the studio wanted us to make more of the love story,” he said.

The communication comes close on the heels of the controversial script “cuts”— sanitising the script
of all intimate scenes—as mandated by the I&B ministry. The film is an adaptation of British historian Alex von Tunzelmann’s 2007 book ‘Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire’. American director Wright was to begin filming in early 2010 and Cate Blanchett was expected to play the part of Edwina Mountbatten.

The letter written by India Take One said,
“The producers of the film Mashobra Films are revising the script and are planning to reschedule the production in the latter half of 2010 after removing all objections. Due to recession in the UK, they have delayed/postponed the project till further notice.”
Among the scenes that the ministry has reportedly suggested be knocked off include intimate scenes between Nehru and Edwina. TNN

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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