Another film inspired by Hollywood flicks is on the way. Will it work?

ACCORDING to recent reports, Hancock and James Bond will soon meet on screen for a new Bollywood film starring Randeep Hooda. The hero of the film will possess the qualities of both characters — he’ll look like a normal guy but have supernatural powers.

While ‘inspiration’ isn’t a new word in the dictionary of Indian cinema, an overdose of movies inspired by Hollywood and regional movies makes movie-goers wonder if Bollywood scriptwriters and directors have run out of ideas. Recent movies like U, Me Aur Hum (The Notebook), Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic (Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music), Love Story 2050 (Back to the Future, Star Wars, Bicentennial Man and Time Machine), Krazzy 4 (The Dream Team), Shaurya (A Few Good Men), Partner (Hitch) and Heyy Babyy (Three Men And A Baby) have all been inspired by Hollywood movies. While remakes like Partner, Heyy Babyy and Sarkar (The Godfather) worked at the BO, all the other movies flopped.

So what goes wrong in these ‘inspired’ films? “The movie has to be made well,” says MG Sathya, scriptwriter for Swades. “It’s a very subjective matter and there are parameters that make an inspiration work,” he says. Sathya also feels that filmmakers often use the formula as a marketing strategy. “Directors don’t need to say that a film is an adaptation of another movie. But they do to get people interested in their films,” he says.

However, he feels there’s nothing wrong in making a movie based on the script of another movie as long as it’s well thought out. “We make movies for the masses. They don’t pay attention to whether a movie is inspired by another movie or not. It depends on the marketing, star cast and director,” Sathya says.

But actor Ramesh Aravind feels there’s no point in remaking a movie. “If I were to make a movie based on some other hit, I’d present my point of view to the audience. I’d never remake it with a new star cast,” he says. “When I watched U Me Aur Hum, it was like watching The Notebook,” says techie Sudheendra M. “So I knew the ending when the movie had just started. I knew she’d remember everything at the end and it totally killed the movie for me,” he says.

According to Ramesh, the classics should be left untouched. “Classics have their own impact. Filmmakers shouldn’t touch the original as the second version of a classic often turns out to be a disaster,” he says. What draws audiences to theatres when they already know the storyline of a movie? “Some people go just to see how badly the moviemakers goofed up,” says Ramesh, adding, “My wife went to see RGV Ki Aag to see how well they remade Sholay!”



In demand even before the debut

ACCORDING to recent reports, model and actor Mugdha Godse has signed a three-movie deal with a production company that involves directors like Priyadarshan, David Dhawan, Nagesh Kukunoor and Madhur Bhandarkar. So well before the audience gives its verdict on her debut performance in Fashion, the actress has her hands full with future projects.

This is the case with most actors who’ve made their Bollywood debuts recently. The marketing machines for these debutants have been in overdrive, arranging media coverage, interviews and promos. So they’ve become stars even before anyone’s actually seen them on screen.

How much does the hype do for newbies? “The promotions and media attention help the actor for the first film. People need to know there’s a new face they need to look out for,” says actor Adhyayan Suman, who made his debut with Haal-e-Dil. “The publicity doesn’t help an actor bag more films. It’s the talent that gets noticed and decides future projects. The producers have an eye for talent and that’s why they they signed me for other projects. I consider myself very lucky,” says Adhyayan.

The dearth of fresh faces also sends producers on signing sprees, says Ram Mirchandani, executive vice-president of a production company that is also co-producing Fashion. “If an actor looks good in the promos and the publicity campaigns, we sign him up on the premise that he’ll have the potential to become a star. That’s a risk we have to take. Also, after a movie becomes a hit, the actor’s fee increases and he becomes less approachable because of date problems,” says Ram.

Adhyayan points out that superstars like Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan can’t do every film and that creates opportunities for newcomers. “It’s good for the industry that producers and directors have more options,” he says.

But actor Rajeev Khandelwal of Aamir fame believes in playing fair. “I didn’t sign any films before my debut was released. I waited for the film to release and the audience to give me their verdict. Then I signed a three-film deal with a production company,” says Rajeev.

Is insecurity also a reason most debutants sign other films before their first films release? “To each his own,” says Rajeev, adding, “There could be other reasons for other actors; they could be far-sighted. I just believe in playing a fair game.”


Deepika Padukone: Bachna Ae Haseeno, Chandni Chowk To China

Ranbir Kapoor: Bachna Ae Haseeno, Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, Wake Up Sid

Harman Baweja: Victory, It’s My Life, What’s Your Raashee?, Chenab Gandhi

Imran Khan: Kidnap, Luck, Delhi Belly

Adhyayan Suman: Fast Forward, Raaz 2, Dewaana 2

Rajeev Khandelwal in Peter Gaya Kaam Se

Rajni Kanth

Kathanayakadu for I-day?

Tamil superstar Rajnikanth’s much anticipated bilingual Kathanaykudu is postponed. According to sources, the film will not release on July 31 as scheduled earlier. Due to the delay in visual effects, the film is likely to be released on Independence Day — August 15. The producers, apparently, are hoping to release it before August 8. The film is produced by C Ashwini Dutt in Telugu and is directed by P Vasu. This may call for other Telugu filmmakers to post-pone their releases. An official announcement is awaited.


‘Mind it! Mere fans hai Japani’

RAJNIKANTH is going to Japan in, and probably with, his new film Kuselan, in which the actor has a rocking new image. Rushes from the film that has Japanese subtitles show the flamboyant star looking younger and more dynamic than he did in Sivaji — The Boss.

Rajni has never been to Japan but the superstar is an iconic figure there. Japan has a sizeable South Indian population that worships Rajnikanth; but he has several Japanese fans too. Local stores have DVDs of all his movies. Ten years ago, his film Muthu ran for 23 weeks at a Tokyo theatre and was seen by over 1,27,000 Japanese. Rajni, at the invitation of the Tokyo International Film Festival, might take Kuselan to Japan. In it, he changes 20 costumes in two songs and romances nine Japanese models in one song.

The actor told Mastii-Kustii from his home in Chennai, “I don’t know whether I can make it to Tokyo. But I’m excited that the Japanese are waiting for Kuselan with as much passion as they had for my films a decade ago.”

Priyanka Chopra

Priyanka in a never-seen-before role!

So what if Priyanka Chopra and Harman Baweja’s jodi didn’t exactly set the BO on fire in Love Story 2050? They are all ready to sizzle in Ashutosh Gowariker’s What’s Your Rashi? And needless to say, the actress is maha excited about her role. And not just because she would be paired with ‘good friend’ Harman again. “It’s a very different film, a romantic comedy and my character is something no actress has ever played in Indian cinema,” says Priyanka. Now that’s quite a loaded statement!

Mani Ratnam

Money money Mani

Kollywood is abuzz with news that ace director Mani Ratnam has signed the biggest ever deal in the history of south Indian cinema, to do a three-version film in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi. His production company is supposed to be in the final lap of negotiating a whopping Rs 120 crore deal with Anil Ambani’s production house for all negative rights for the three languages. Industry pundits say that if the deal takes place, it will be the biggest for a south Indian film producer and director.

Mani Sir, as he is known in Kollywood, has been quietly working on the script of this film since the release of his super hit Guru in January 2007. The elusive director, who never gives interviews, has been keeping a low profile after the demise of his younger brother G Sreenivasan, the moving spirit behind his production house.

The Hindi version will feature Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai and Govinda in a negative role. Confirming that he has signed up for the movie, Govinda told TNN, “I am actually doing a film with Mani Sir. Isn’t it every actor’s dream to work with him? We met recently and I heard about my role, which interested me a lot. It is an intense film and my role will definitely surprise the audiences.” Abhishek, who scored his first solo super hit with Guru, is all excited about this new untitled film, for which he has given bulk dates.

The Tamil and Telugu versions will have Vikram doing Abhishek’s role while Aishwarya Rai will be the common heroine for all the three versions. It is going to be a tight rope walk for Ash as she has to juggle her dates with Shankar’s Rajnikant-starrer Robot during the same period. The role to be performed by Govinda will be essayed by Pritviraj, who started his career in Tamil in a villain’s role in Kana Kandein. The supporting cast of actors would be different in each language. The film will start rolling in Karaikudi from September 10, and will also be shot in the forests of Madhya Pradesh.

In a way, Mani Ratnam will be going back to his roots. He is teaming up with his photographer from his early films, PC Sreeram, the wizard of lighting in Indian cinema and the godfather to many well-known cinematographers. Mani’s ‘discovery’ A R Rahman will be composing songs for this film. Mani was unavailable for comment while spokesperson of Anil Ambani’s production house in Chennai refused to talk about the deal.

Zayed Khan

‘I’m just a crazy guy’

HE’S probably got more phone numbers and managers than the number of hits in his kitty. But despite his last release, Cash, bombing at the BO, Zayed Khan has managed to bag three big banner projects this year. “It’s all my charm!” he quips. “On a more serious note, there comes a point when you just cut loose. An actor cannot handle everything on his own. I’ve realised that a good project has a good director. I was patient because I only wanted good work. I don’t mind sitting back and being idle. But I’m talented. I just needed to clear my head and re-analyse myself. It was always a question of what I see myself as,” he explains. “I'm as versatile as a rainbow and can work within a wide spectrum. I’ll become anything my director wants me to be. I could do a romantic film, despite enjoying action films,” he says. The upcoming Mission Istaanbul will see him jumping from a four-storeyed building. How did he do that? “It’s simple: you just jump. You have to be in a state of no-mind. If you think too much, you’ll have more doubts. Be confident about your team and cut down all the possibilities of failure. I’m just a crazy guy; I don’t expect anyone else to do it. A lot of actors have acrophobia. But I’m a very physical actor,” he says.

So is he the next Akshay Kumar? “Akshay’s fantastic. But I have grown up on Sanju and Salman. I also look up to Jackie Chan,” admits Zayed. The action freak’s also open to comedy. “I’d like to do a scriptbacked, intelligent comedy. I don’t think I’m cut out for slapstick,” he says. Remind him that he’s not been successful as a lead hero, and he says, “I’m being offered lead roles by many directors. I’m happy that I’m attracting directors of great stature. In fact, I’m playing the lead role in Mission Istaanbul.” The length of his role in MI has not gone down well with co-star Vivek Oberoi, who’s accused the director of giving more mileage to Zayed. “Vivek’s playing the next best supporting role. It’s unfortunate that people have misconstrued my closeness to Apoorva (Lakhia). After all, I’m not the director. I’m very professional. I don’t thrive on controversies. If Vivek is upset, I have no control over it,” he maintains. But Zayed’s hugely popular with the rest of the cast and crew. He reportedly bought windcheaters worth Rs 50 lakh for the entire crew of MI. “Yes. This is the least I could do for all my boys who work so hard. I like treating them well and often take them out for dinner,” he reveals. So will his six-month-old son watch him beat up the baddies in the film? “He’s too young to understand action. He’s happy with The Jungle Book and Junior Einstein,” smiles Zayed.

Shah Rukh Khan

No war between SRK and Rajni

There’s no competition between South superstar Rajnikanth’s film Kuselan and Shah Rukh Khan’s home production Billoo Barber. Kuselan is slated to release on August 1, while Billoo Barber is still under production. Both films are an adaptation of the Krishna-Sudama story. Kuselan will release in Japan too.

Says Kandaswamy Bharathan, the executive producer of the film, “Rajni’s previous film Sivaji got stupendous response in Mumbai as well. And in Kuselan, he looks younger than he did in Sivaji. The response last year was quite overwhelming, which’s why we have decided to release it in all the metros.” And because Rajnikanth is immensely popular in Japan, he will be seen interacting with nine Japanese models in a scene in Kuselan. “I can’t reveal anything more,” says Kandaswamy.

Vidya Balan


1) Yeah, I know a lot of people love them. But I can’t stand cats — I hate them.

2) I also hate the colour, sky blue.

3) I have a huge fetish for perfumes.

4) I love and own a lot of sunglasses.

5) I love getting wet in the rain.

kung fu

Why are kung fu movies more popular than films based on other martial arts?

THERE’S Jet Li and there’s Jackie Chan; one does serious cinema, the other does comedy. And when both of them come together, it’s sure to make kung fu flick fans happy. Which is what happened when both came together on-screen for the first time in The Forbidden Kingdom. Though Kingdom’s not in theatres anymore, there are other kung fu movies out this month — Kung Fu Panda and The Mummy 3, which has Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh. But there no movies based on other martial arts — karate, jujitsu and judo, for instance — that have been made lately.

“That’s because karate is a more rigid martial art, while kung fu is more fluid,” says RJ Anjaan, who’s studied both art forms. “While karate relies more on inner strength, kung fu stresses on transferring power between opponents using props. So it makes more shooting sense,” he says.

Kung fu movies are more entertaining, says creative consultant Vishal S. “Jackie Chan movies are especially fun. But the ones with Jean Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal aren’t that great,” he says. But kung fu isn’t only about Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Chow Yun Fat. “There’s Tony Jaa, who’s done a Thai martial arts movie called Ong Bak. I like him because he doesn’t use cables for his stunts,” explains ad filmmaker Sandeep Menon.

Filmmaker Kavitha Lankesh, however, isn’t much of a martial arts movie buff. “The last kung fu movie I watched was Enter the Dragon. Bruce Lee was amazing and it was path-breaking then. Crouching Tiger... was good, but Ang Lee’s made better Chinese movies,” she says. She will watch Kung Fu Panda, though, because of her daughter.

Shahid Kapur


1) It’s funny, but I tend to talk in my sleep sometimes.

2) I’m an extremely shy person and am also an introvert.

3) I absolutely adore Kaizer, my golden retriever.

4) I never miss my workouts. It doesn’t matter how busy I am, I always find time to workout.

5) I’m a pakka vegetarian.

Konkona-Ranvir to tie the knot?

THEY’RE not a couple who lend themselves to gossip frequently, but rumours are rife that Konkona Sen Sharma and Ranvir Shorey are living in together. The buzz is that they’re finally going to make it official and announce their engagement soon. The actress, who was staying with Ranvir in a rented apartment in Andheri, Mumbai, has recently bought a four-bedroom flat in Goregaon, which she’s busy designing.

“They’re a very chilled out pair and regularly host gettogethers for friends. It’s good fun spending time with them,” says one of their neighbours. The source adds, “Soon, they will be shifting into their new apartment in Goregaon. They’re quite serious about each other and plan to get engaged very soon.”

However, there are others who insist that the pair actually have gotten engaged. It is confirmed that they have done Mira Nair’s How Can It Be? together. The movie, according to Ranvir, is a short film shot in New York. He has said that working with Konkona was fun, but has called her a “friend”. The pair have also featured in Mixed Doubles. On the engagement, the actor has been cagey at best, saying that it’s a personal choice not to talk about the subject.

Recently, at the ongoing Cinefan film festival in Delhi, when someone walked up to director Aparna Sen, Konkona’s mom, and congratulated her on Koko’s engagement to Ranvir, she simply replied, “Thank you.” She, Koko and Ranvir went about together, quite like a family, but none of the three spoke on the subject of the relationship.

Age of debuts

Bollywood witnessed two debuts this week. According to initial reports, debutant Imran Khan seems to have sailed ahead of his rival Harman Baweja with ‘Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Naa’ eliciting a better response than ‘Love Story 2050’ at the box office. According to trade pundits, the film, which also marks the directorial debut of writer Abbas Tyrewala, had a weekend opening of 80% while the Harman-Priyanka futuristic love story managed a mere 30%, despite the fact that its cost of production is much more than Aamir Khan’s college caper.

Truly, it’s the age of the debutant in the industry today, for never has the Indian audience been so receptive to new talent. Almost every second week, a new actor, director or story-teller hits the marquee and manages to strike gold, either with the masses or with a niche market that is growing sizably with increasing cinema literacy.

In the actors league, there haven’t been too many dream debuts to boast of. Of course, there were two filmmakers who launched their sons in spectacular money spinners: Raj Kapoor who introduced Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia — in ‘Bobby’ and Rakesh Roshan who gave the industry a new singing-dancing sensation with Hrithik Roshan in ‘Kaho Naa Pyar Hai’.

Recently, it was Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone who created a Rishi-Dimple furore, although they starred in separate films, which met with a different fate at the box office. Ranbir’s ‘Saawariya’ may not have scorched the hustings, but his brand equity soared as high as Deepika’s diva act in ‘Om Shanti Om’.

The only other actor who became a star with his first film was Salman Khan, scoring a first-film high with ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’. Both Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan had been fringe folks on the art film circuit before hitting big time with ‘Qayamat se Qayamat Tak’ and ‘Deewana’. Aamir made his debut with Ketan Mehta’s ‘Holi’ and SRK leapfrogged from TV to cinema with Mani Kaul’s ‘Idiot’.

Amongst the recent crop of actors, there have been a few other interesting debuts: Neil Nitin Mukesh in ‘Johnny Gaddar’, Shiney Ahuja in ‘Hazaron Khwahishen Aisi’, Vidya Balan in ‘Parineeta’ and Rajeev Khandelwal in ‘Aamir’. The films may not have rewritten box office history, but the debutants did manage to get themselves noticed. Also, there was Shahid Kapoor who scored with his first film, ‘Ishq Vishk’, although we haven’t forgotten his presence in the chorus line in Subhash Ghai’s ‘Taal’.

Interestingly, in contemporary Bollywood, there has been an upsurge of new filmmakers, more than actors, who have made the audience sit up with their first ventures. Beginning with Mansoor Khan (‘Qayamat se Qayamat Tak’), Sooraj Barjatya (‘Maine Pyar Kiya’), Aditya Chopra (‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’) and Karan Johar (‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’), the director’s hat has been increasingly doffed before audience applause.

It augurs well for the entertainment industry if Friday’s have been seeing newer names striking gold at the box office: Nikhil Advani with ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’, Sriram Raghavan with ‘Ab Tak Chappan’, Sagar Bellary with ‘Bheja Fry’, Pradeep Sarkar with ‘Parineeta’, Dipankar Banerjee with ‘Khosla ka Ghosla’, Raju Hirani with ‘Munnabhai MBBS’, Aamir Khan with ‘Taare Zameen Par’ and Raj Kumar Gupta with ‘Aamir’. Indeed, Bollywood’s petri dish is currently brewing with newfound ideas. The future could be explosive.

Carpet couture

The rise of red carpet fashion is the ultimate style statement for Bollywood babes, says Sreemoyee Piu Kundu

LAVISH parties, celebrity endorsements, glitzy premieres and highprofile award shows promising instant flash bulb nirvana — the cult of red carpet dressing is fast becoming a burgeoning industry, particularly for the image-makers. “The trend was initiated by 80s divas, like Sridevi and Juhi Chawla. But, today, our stars are part of the international film fraternity. Naturally, their public appearances are as intently viewed as their onscreen personas,” states Mumbai-based costume designer Neeta Lulla, whose list of patrons include just about every Bollywood belle — from Sushmita Sen (at TAG Heuer promotional drives), Shilpa Shetty (during the UK celeb show Big Brother and on her visit to the House of Commons, UK), Rani Mukerji (Filmfare awards) to Aishwarya Rai (Cannes). Vikram Phadnis, Salman Khan's loyalist designer, adds, “India is waking up to a full-blown celebrity culture. Actors are global icons now. The overwhelming paparazzi presence has catapulted both the designer and his muse to the centre of world attention.” The pressures (read ego tantrums, gruelling shooting schedules and frequent overseas trips) are high. Lulla points out, “Sometimes, we've had to prepare four-five ensembles for Ash overnight, once we're informed by her to put together a complete wardrobe for an event. Time constraints create pressure.”

Designer Anita Dongre, responsible for Mallika Sherawat's bootylicious Cannes appearance for the Jackie Chan film The Myth confesses, “I didn't realise the greatness of the opportunity, till calls poured in.” Even menswear designers like Narendra Kumar Ahmad (who's designing for Madhur Bhandarkar's Fashion) are betting their bucks on their boys. “Heroes today are leaner, meaner and exude sporty zest,” says Ahmad who's designed for John Abraham and Saif Ali Khan for the Filmfare awards. “Women prefer adventure in terms of colours and cuts, while men like sharp fits, dark tones, shorter jackets, slim pants and avant garde accessories, like ties, watches and shoes,” adds the designer whose macho line-up covers Rahul Bose, Irfaan Khan, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Vivek Oberoi and Akshay Kumar.

The branding game has witnessed new entrants too in the form of Delhi designers. Like designers S h a n t a nu - Nikhil who're styling actress Dia Mirza for Sanjay Gupta's upcoming flick Acid Factory. “New age girls like Kat r i n a Kaif and P r i ya n k a Chopra are more or less the same body size (US 4/UK 8) and they love experimenting with their looks. That's where we fit in,” says Nikhil. “Dia has eternally borne a delicate look, but for IIFA in Bangkok, we created a yellow satin gown with a plunging back and a fitted centre, to flatter her body like a luxe sex siren. Inversely, for Bipasha, to compliment her new bob cut, we designed a flouncy, romantic gown with Puerto Rican chandelier embroidery at the bust for a magazine cover shoot. It softened her sharpness markedly,” adds Nikhil.

The nine-yard is albeit receding. The look in B-town has tilted towards “sharper cocktail dresses and floor-sweeping gowns,” state Delhi designers Gauri and Nainika, who have been roped in to create Katrina Kaif's look for her next Subhash Ghai film. “They want easy-to-carry, no fuss, form flattering, glam garb which is devoid of overthe-top bling,” feels Gauri.

New style sensibilities are here to stay. And yet, the old are not completely depleted. Phadnis reinstates, “In this industry, personal relationships still rule as stars share a certain comfort level with their film designers.” Designer Manav Gangwani who's dressed Sophie Choudry, Zayed Khan and Raima Sen at the IIFA functions, however asserts, “One wrong style move, and the celeb attire will be shredded by the media.” Vanity is star property. And, dressing up stars the ticket to an elite dress circle where business and pleasure lock lips. In Nikhil's words, “Once your dress becomes a style statement, you've arrived.”

As designer Suneet Varma says, “To be seen, to be photographed, to be recognised, to create a trend or a flutter — there's no perfect paradise than the red carpet.”