Archive for November, 2009
By Joginder Tuteja, November 30, 2009 – 12:17 IST
Ever since she made her debut with Parineeta, Vidya Balan has worked with many a veteran filmmakers like Vidhu Vinod Chopra (Eklavya – The Royal Guard), Mani Ratnam (Guru), Priyadarshan (Bhool Bhulaiyaa), Raj Kumar Santoshi (Halla Bol) and Aziz Mirza (Kismat Konnection). Meanwhile, she has also worked with first time directors like Pradeep Sarkar (Parineeta) and Sajid Khan (Heyy Babyy) as well as one film old Raj Kumar Hirani (Lagey Raho Munnabhai) or Nikhil Advani (Salaam E Ishq).
This is why, when she interacted with someone like Balki (who only has a Cheeni Kum behind him), what sort of change in approach did she see in them?
“The best part about him is that he is just fantastic when it comes to multitasking”, Vidya begins talking about the filmmaker, “Even during the making of the film, he would be managing his ad agency meetings. While having lunch with us, he would be having round table conversations. Meanwhile, he would interact with all of us quite normally on the sets.”
She is also impressed with the fact that in spite of a hectic schedule, Balki kept himself abreast with all that was being churned out in Bollywood.
“He would always catch a Friday movie release without fail. That’s not all; he is someone who goes for all the concerts and plays. Can you believe that? He has time for everything and anything. He manages his time so well”, she gushes.
Time management is not the only factor that has impressed Vidya. She believes that Balki is also an ace when it comes to people management.
“Temperamentally he is just so cool”, she smiles, “He is just so easy to work with. I have seen him interacting with his assistants. His people management is fantastic because whether it is Mr. Amitabh Bachchan or any junior most crew member on the sets, he knows how to get that comfort feel rolling. He gives and gets respects all around.”
However, the story goes that to begin with Vidya wasn’t too sure about working with Balki.
“I have a personal anecdote to share”, she divulges, “My sister and brother-in-law, whom I hold in great regard, have worked with Balki for years on the ads that he has made. I used to interact with a lot of their mutual friends and they always used to speak about him. This set me wondering that what was so great about him.”
She got the answer when Cheeni Kum released and Balki’s cinematic sensibilities were on display for one and all.
“I loved the film and didn’t forget the kind of wonderful experience that Balki had created. Now when I have worked with him, I know what makes some of his qualities so distinct. Both Cheeni Kum and Paa have been based on subjects hitherto unexplored and all of that has been possible due to one single factor – sheer conviction. Once Balki is sure about the story he wants to tell, there is no looking back”, she comments.
It is this conviction factor that attracted Vidya towards Paa.
“I was having a constant pull and push internally before I decided to do Paa. However, Balki didn’t flinch even for a microsecond. This is what that set me on path to do Paa. I had certain doubts but they were quashed by this guy’s conviction. It is simply admirable and we all just followed the line”, she adds.
While Amitabh Bachchan, Tabu and Paresh Rawal were senior heavyweights in Cheeni Kum, same wasn’t the case in Paa which featured her along with Abhishek Bachchan.
“There is this mutual sense of respect that Balki encourages”, says Vidya, “Like, I really enjoyed the way he used to interact with Mr. Bachchan. Similarly with me and Abhishek, he had his own way of conveying a point. Of course all of us we used to make suggestions and he was open to them as well. He would never dismiss our suggestions.”
And how much did these suggestions actually get incorporated in the final filming?
“Hardly any”, Vidya comes up with a laugh here, “Invariably he would go with what he felt was right. He believed in the principal of listen to all and do what you feel strongest about. But yes, this entire exercise used to be quite helpful since I would ask him quite a few pertinent questions and I would always get the right answers.”
This is the reason why she was quite convinced when in the early days Balki explained to her the entire idea about the film, its background (Progeria) and how it was not meant to evoke sympathy or pity.
“I was wondering if Paa would turn out to be a serious film but Balki was quite clear that this was not going to be the case. He promised that it would be a heart warming film and that’s the way it has turned out to be. The entire disease thing is just the background of the film. The idea is to project the story with all the sensitivity but not make it a sympathetic affair”, she concludes.
“The film industry tries to avoid releases in the first two weeks of January and also in March (exam season),” says an industry source. “The movie business really picks up during summer vacation time and the festive season. Big releases are reserved for Diwali, Eid or Christmas.”
Why this deviation from plan then? Trade analyst Amod Mehra blames it on the backlog. “The multiplex strike changed many a plan,” Mehra says. “Rann was meant to be a Diwali release but could not manage a clearance from the producers. Shah Rukh’s Dulha Mil Gaya was also marked for 2009 and My Name is Khan was rumoured to be a Christmas release. Veer is the only film that was planned for January 2010 and is on schedule,” he adds.
Producer Mukesh Bhatt has no reservations about time of release. “I released Raaz 2, The Mystery Continues in January and it was a hit. Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai, another January release, was a superhit.”
Film trade analyst Taran Adarsh explains that there has always been apprehension in the industry about releasing films in the first two months of the year. “They believe the audience doesn’t really want to start the new year watching films. Also, up north its too cold to get out and go to a cinema hall,” he says. Having said that, Adarsh thinks any month that provides the viewer with good content will be conducive for Bollywood. “Maybe early 2010 will break the jinx.”
About 25 films are releasing between December 4 and February 12. These which include many small-budget films such as the Vidya Balan, Arshad Warsi, Naseeruddin Shah-starrer Ishqiya, Chandan Arora’s Striker and MAMI-award winning Road to Sangam. Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan may clash at the BO with My Name Is Khan and Teen Patti likely to release on the same date. While some exhibitors feel that the release of big films are evenly placed, Mehra believes, “The audience will choose the film they want to watch. They cannot afford to make holes in their pockets and this will affect the fortune of some films.”
Of course, the fact that so many big names have releases within weeks of each other is another issue to contend with. Previously, producers have thrashed out their release dates in an informal manner to avoid overlap of big ticket films. But with the multiplex strike hitting the initial months of 2009 so hard, nobody is in the mood to wait anymore. Ranjan Singh, the marketing head of PVR Pictures is concerned that big releases may cannibalise smaller players. “But if this trend of back-to-back releases in a non-conventional period hits the high notes, all conventional jinxes will be broken and a new trend will be set.”
I had gone to Tirtanr, a village in Jharkhand to campaign for my close friend, Vinod Sinha. We had gone to Tirtanr from Dhanbad in a chopper and were supposed to return the same way. But, a snag in the chopper’s fuel tank discovered just before we boarded on the way back meant I had to come back some other way as I had professional commitments in Mumbai.
I opted to go from Tirantr to Kolkata by road from where I would take a flight to Mumbai. I left Tirtanr with a close friend Rajkumar Shrivastava and my driver. As the route from Tirantr to Kolkata is akin to a base camp for the Naxals, I asked for some security.
The cops joined the convoy two kilometres before the place of the attack. It was around 11.25 in the night when we saw a huge red divider kept right in the middle of the road. I am told that it’s a Naxal sign. The cops immediately told us to lie down in our van. They said that the place was the abode of naxals. They asked the driver to drive as fast as possible through the divider.
The people who laid the trap didn’t know that there were cops in our midst. This served us well as they were not prepared for any retaliation on our part. I was lying down in the car with my eyes shut. I could hear the bullets. It was like being in a war zone, I was completely shaken.
The cops called the CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force). To be safe, we had to reach a police chowky which was about five kms away. A few cops from that chowky had rushed to our aid. When we reached the chowky, the cops who were being updated on their walkie-talkies said that the Naxalites were angered by my escape, they would strike back. They believed that the chowky could be attacked.
By then, three vehicles of CRPF with about 25 soldiers each arrived. They said that they would escort me to a safe location. I was taken to Dhanbad in one of those vehicles, with one preceding us and the other following.
The first thing I did after reaching a safe spot was to call my wife. She was extremely worried. I then spoke to my eight-year-old daughter. She asked me if my plane was hijacked.
My conversation with these soldiers and my first hand experience of the perils they face is something I will never forget. I am still upset and scared.
I want to thank the almighty God and the soldiers who risked their life to take me out from the jaws of death. If not for them, I would not be speaking to you. It was the most scary and dreadful experience of my life.
Pratik signs a two-film deal with Rohan Sippy; will star alongside Abhishek Bachchan
He may not have signed on too many films after Jaane Tu… but he is now making up for lost time and is on a film-signing spree. The latest on Pratik is that he has signed on with producer Rohan Sippy for his film starring Abhishek Bachchan.
A source reveals, “Pratik is only a film old in the industry, but is going places. He recently signed Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s My Friend Pinto, and Saif Ali Khan’s home production, and now has a two-film deal with Rohan Sippy. Abhishek and Pratik are the protagonists in Rohan’s next. Rohan and Abhishek wanted a young fresh face and found Pratik to fit the bill perfectly.”
The source continues, “Rohan’s film has Abhishek as a tough cop on a drug-bust mission. The untitled film is about drug-trafficking in Goa. The actors have been asked to study narcotic neurosis and criminal’s quirks to understand their roles well.”
Rohan confirms the story and says, “Pratik is a very exciting young actor and we are planning on doing a couple of films together. The first is the one I am directing, starring Abhishek Bachchan. It is a gritty and witty thriller.”
This one is strictly for Paa. Not just the film, but Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s Pa, Amitabh Bachchan.
A stickler for discipline, punctuality and strict schedules during shooting Sanjay Bhansali is known to shoot through burning fevers and location setbacks, so that his actors’ dates don’t go awry. For the first time in his career as a filmmaker, Sanjay is voluntarily slackening his schedule for Aishwarya.
|Aishwarya Rai and Amitabh Bachchan|
Later this week Aishwarya will be given a couple of days off at a time when she is required to shoot with Hrithik Roshan. A friend of Sanjay and Aishwarya says, “Aishwarya is not just a leading lady for Sanjay. After doing three films together they are family. Sanjay saw how stressed Aishwarya was, trying to balance Guzaarish with the time required to pitch in with her father-in-law for Paa. In fact, Mr Bachchan has been running around alone inviting the film fraternity for the premiere on December 3 since Abhishek has been shooting non-stop in Goa for Ashutosh Gowariker and Jayaji is in Delhi attending parliament.”
Earlier this week Sanjay decided to give her a break. A common friend says, “When she expressed her helplessness about being unavailable to help Mr Bachchan, Sanjay made up his mind to give her an off on those crucial days on and before the premiere, although it meant considerable schedule adjustment on his part.”Sanjay reveals, “It’s no big deal. Adjusting my schedule is the least I can do for someone who has been a dear friend for many years. But this was not done for Aishwarya. It was for Paa and Mr Bachchan. It’s a very special moment for the family.”
Sticking by the unwritten rule in Bollywood about actresses being on unfriendly terms with one another are Bollywood’s top actresses, Kareena Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra. That Priyanka befriended Shahid Kapoor post Kareena broke up with him does not help in anyway. Currently, the two are fighting over a man named Pompy.
Pompy is Bollywood’s much coveted make-up artiste and Kareena and Priyanka both want him to glam up their looks. Having worked with Pompy on various films and commercials, the girls are addicted to him. The first thing they do after signing a film is to make sure Pompy’s schedule matches theirs.
A source from the industry revealed, “Earlier in the month, when Priyanka learnt that she had to go to Bangkok for the Anjaana Anjaani shoot with Ranbir Kapoor, her secretary tried his best to get dates from Pompy, but they did not match. The make-up magician was committed to accompany Kareena to Sydney, Australia, where she was to shoot with Kajol and Arjun Rampal for the Bollywood remake of Stepmom.”
|Priyanka Chopra||Kareena Kapoor|
The buzz in the industry is that Kareena counts Pompy as extended family and invites him to her films’ previews. The select few who attended the Kurbaan screening on November 12 confirmed that Pompy was a part of the audience too.
Not so long ago, cousins Rani Mukerji and Kajol would woo Mickey Contractor the make-up wizard resulting in many a misunderstanding between them. Some things never change in Bollywood.
That Shah Rukh Khan and Vishal Bhardwaj had a fall-out not too long ago was a hot topic of discussion among many. But this is Bollywood, and here, relationships are fickle. The latest on the duo is that they have patched-up, and if all goes well, SRK will star in one of Vishal’s films. They had a long meeting last week, in the course of which, the hatchet was buried.
A source revealed, “Shah Rukh and Vishal met warmly and discussed many ideas. One of them may soon translate into a film.”
Apparently, Shah Rukh and Vishal had creative differences over a script sometime ago when SRK wanted several changes in the script to suit his image and Vishal was not particularly kicked about it.
The first whiff that a patch-up was in the offing came when SRK’s wife Gauri Khan attended a screening of Vishal’s Kaminey at Yash Raj Studios. Commenting on the patch-up, our source said, “Shah Rukh saw Kaminey and sent a message to Vishal, lauding him. On the other hand, Vishal, in a recent interview, praised SRK’s acting abilities and stated that he would love to bring out the actor in his film. Gradually but surely, Shah Rukh and Vishal have put the past behind them. They are now keen on working together.
However, nothing about a film has been finalised yet. But when a director like Vishal and an actor like SRK team up, it will be a much awaited film.
|Shah Rukh Khan||Vishal Bhardwaj|
A few days back, Vivek Oberoi was woken up at 6 in the morning with an SMS. It was a text message from his Kurbaan co-star Saif Ali Khan, praising Vivek Oberoi him for his work in the film.
“I’ve craved for this kind of appreciation,” admits Vivek candidly, “I wanted people to see me for my work and not have a coloured perspective because of whatever’s transpired in the past.”
The actor’s gone through his share of trouble, both personally and professionally. “One thing I’ve learnt is that it’s easier to deal with failure than to deal with success. If you don’t know what to do with success, then you lose the plot. Success had gone to my head. I was surrounded by people who kept pushing me in the wrong direction and I kept going there, and when it finally hit me, I was like, how did this happen?
Those four-five years were just a blur, then to understand and recover from that took time,” he says, wisened from the experience.
But yes, there were times when he was completely down in the dumps too. “There was a time when I felt that everything I did was going to backfire. It was difficult to keep my sense of reason or humour at a time like that. One day, I was really upset and my mom asked me what’s wrong. I said I just feel completely lost — there was so much professional and personal upheaval. Then she pulled out a copy of one of my first interviews during Company and said ‘start here’. I read that and realised this is what I was,” he recounts.
The journey to recover started with Vishal Bhardwaj’s Omkara and life seems to have taken a turn for the better since then. His performance in Kurbaan has been appreciated and the actor’s looking forward to Prince — It’s Showtime, where he plays a slick, stylish thief and his mentor Ram Gopal Varma’s Rakta Charitra.
Vivek realises he has been given a second lease in his career. “I think in my seven years, something I have realised pretty late is the value of opportunity. What stands between me and a lot of talented actors is a platform that Mr Varma gave me, and the second time around, I got it with Kurbaan. Then I’ve got Kumar Taurani backing me with a big film and it’s a dream to be working with my mentor Ramu again,” he says.
The smile on his face says it all when he adds, “I’ve realised the whole idea of carrying grudges, negativity, anger, hatred and enmity just bogs you down. I’m at peace now. When I started out, it was more of a high, right now, I’m humbled.” So Vivek’s finally grown up? He’s quick to answer, “I’ve a better understanding of who I am now.” That’s more than what most would say.
SUBHASH K JHA Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; November 30, 2009)
Bhatt, who was chosen to produce and direct the film because of his close cultural links with Pakistan, and after making Awarapan in the neighbouring nation, said, “Zardari stepped in to say we must not make the film until we get their nod. We’ve stepped back for now.” However, preparations continue quietly. Shabana, who bears a cultural and physical resemblance to Benazir, and who is working with Bhatt for the first time since Arth, added, “I’d love to do the part. But the project is at a very nascent stage.”