Katrina's real friends

Though Katrina Kaif ’s birthday bash was the place to be at, with the who’s who of B-wood there, and the SRKSalman spat as bonus, Kat says that most people from the film industry are colleagues and well-wishers. But in her free time, the actress prefers spending time with her ‘friends, “and most of them have nothing to do with the film industry!” she tells us. Working well, with her head on her shoulders it’s these non-filmi dosts that probably help her keep her feet on the ground. Nevertheless, the kudi is flying high these days, thanks to the support from her ‘genuine friends’, fans, her ‘stars’ and of course Sallu!

Bollywood Hot Hunks

Once upon a time, when the likes of paunchy Rishi Kapoor was gallivanting on screen, there was only Sunny Deol and Sanjay Dutt who strove to flex and flaunt their well-toned, chiselled bodies. And then Salman Khan hit the screen, propelling young actors and wannabe models to hit the gym.

Years later Shah Rukh Khan flashed his six-pack in the Dard-e-Disco track from Om Shanti Om, inspiring the older lot to sweat it out. Now everyone from Shekar Kapur to Govinda are puffing and panting to look fab.

Sure, women don`t like sweaty men but they definitely do like the taut abs and arms once out of a cold shower. Presenting the top bare-chested hunks—the ones that scream `come to me`.

Hrithik Roshan

Who cares about the extra thumb when you`ve got the rest of the gorgeous him to ogle over. With his launch pad Kaho Na Pyar Hai he gave a hint of his broad shoulders, muscular chest and strong arms in a see through black top in Ek pal ka jeena. And he didn`t disappoint when he discarded the shirt in Fiza, Aap Mujhe Achche Lagne Lage and even in the box office dud Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon. His lean muscular bod was as talked about as Ash`s svelte look in Dhoom 2. He didn`t miss out on showing off his sculpted look even in the period drama Jodhaa Akbar in the stupendous fight sequence with a wild elephant. When even an elephant can succumb to his powers, it`s no surprise that women all over go weak in their knees on seeing him.

Salman Khan

The icon of six-packs in India. His poster is the one that adorns the walls of wannabe models and actors. His face tops every muscular body that has advertised local gyms. Seeing him shirtless is a fantasy that practically every girl to granny entertains.
Salman is the one who started the brawny look nearly two decades ago. The gawky look he sported in films like Baaghi, Suryavanshi and Nishchay, gave way to bulging muscles in Veergati and Judwaa.

He immortalised the look in the evergreen hit Oh Oh Jaane Jaana from Pyaar Kiya Toh Darna Kya. When it first came on screen, it marked the arrival of Bollywood`s first bare-chested hunk and took the nation by storm.

And he continues with his signature trend even now—Sallu will be shedding his shirt in his upcoming film Hello.

Shah Rukh Khan

King Khan has to be in this list especially after having gone all out to acquire a six-pack at 40. Just the promos of Dard-e-Disco had the women squealing. Needless to say SRK`s six-pack played a key role in making Om Shanti Om a super hit.

Saif Ali Khan

Saif started out as a long-haired chocolate boy whose career was going nowhere till Dil Chahta Hai. The iconic film gave him a complete makeover, and now he`s one of Bollywood’s biggest stars.

However, he went from uber cool to HOT when he went bare-chested for the title track of Salaam Namaste. This pushed the Chote Nawab to work out harder and flaunt his chiselled body in the rest of his films as well. The saving grace of Race and a flop like Tashan seems to be Saif`s hot bod, which he bared recklessly. Mmmm!

John Abraham

John `yumm` Abraham has been flashing his sculpted torso ever since he hit the ramp. Thank god, we didn`t have to wait for Bollywood to unveil him. Nevertheless, this former Grasim Mr India made a sensational debut with Jism opposite girlfriend Bipasha Basu.
In his first film itself John displayed his torso with élan and had the girls drooling. John kept working on his acting and physique simultaneously and the results were there for all to see. Like Salman Khan, most of John`s films—like Paap, Elaan, Garam Masala and Zinda—featured him in a bare-chested shot.

His recent release No Smoking may not have found many takers but who can forget the scene in which John stands bare-chested in front of a mirror and lights up a cigarette.
He promises to surpass even this in his forthcoming film Dostana. The first promos show a beefed up, bare-chested John emerging out of the sea and you can’t help but notice the chiselled V-shaped torso and those picture-perfect abs. Sigh!

Akshay Kumar

Akshay Kumar`s always one to stand out. In the world of the beefcake, Akki chooses lean and mean. For him it`s not the gym or lifting weights, but running and martial arts. He unveiled the lean look in his first few films like Saugandh and Khiladi. By the time Main Khiladi Tu Anadi released, Akshay`s athletic frame improved and, ever since then, he`s had the girls hooked.
In recent times, his Dil Samandar song along with John in Garam Masala had the temperature soaring. His forthcoming film Blue promises to do the same with his bare-chested underwater stunts.

But we don`t have to wait for the film to be out. Instead, take a look at his bare-chested Levi’s Jeans ads. That should keep the women occupied till his next release.

Ranbir Kapoor

Yes, Saawariya flopped but we bet the women took back the shots of hot Ranbir twirling in a towel with a smile plastered on their face. Inhibitions? What`s that? Ranbir not only shed his shirt in his very first film but also the towel and are we glad! The latest pin-up boy in Bollywood didn`t disappoint in Bachna Ae Haseeno either, where he serenaded three ladies.

Bollywood`s best butts

Behind every successful leading lady is a good behind!

Another mastii-kustii exclusive feature where we leave behind the traffic, the bad breakfast, the terrible boss and the weather. These women have made it to the list of best-looking butts in the industry currently—and we have the evidence to prove it!

Kareena Kapoor

Regarded as the most perfect butt in all of Bollywood, we know, we looked! Kareena Kapoor has often taken flak for being too thin and reports of her surviving on three fruit juices a day have been widely circulated. But all this fades in comparison to what she has currently. Kareena is probably the fittest of all and her serious efforts to maintain that hot body through regular exercises and an all-vegetarian diet is appreciated on our list - she takes the top spot!

Sherlyn Chopra

She`s got more curves than an Italian sportscar! Sherlyn Chopra is the boldest of the new breed of item machines who spice up that track you really like dancing to. Packing a perfect body and moves that could leave Rakhi Sawant in tears, Ms Chopra is on our list with honours.

We must also call attention to an earlier statement by the item queen who said that, if it`s okay with the censor board she wouldn`t mind a full frontal in a movie.

Now we know how the censorboard will react to that (they`ll probably call the army in). Sorry Sherlyn, not happening here!

Deepika Padukone

The girl`s got all the glam in the world! A bombshell with a mix of pure sex appeal, a smile that just stops everything and a body that causes heart failures. She is on the very top of our list for two reasons—we love the acting and we just can`t stop having her on the desktops.

Ranbir Kapoor better watch out for the mob that`s coming!


A goodwill gift to the world from the Czech Republic. When she left that country behind, Yana wanted to see the world and, after modelling in Japan for Toyota (they started making better seats after that), and following a stint at an Osho ashram in Mumbai, she`s one of India`s biggest selling faces. Now, why can`t we have more movies with her?

Bipasha Basu

One of Bollywood`s hottest actresses, too! She can dance, those legs can leave you faint and that face can fry microchips. What`s surprising is Bipasha has not had her share of recent magazine covers unlike the competition. But then again, if they publish that body we`ll run out of paper! Our forest will never meet the demand.

Malaika Arora

Married and a mother of two. Who cares? The former VJ has maintained the shape over the years and for that reason she has her very own parking space on this list. The Chaiya chaiya item girl (for Dil Se) caused a sensation back when the item girl was still being frowned at by the censors. But after the entire board was sent to the firing squad, Malaika turned out to be the nation`s staple diet.

Sameera Reddy

Another goldmine the industry is ignoring. The acting may have taken a backseat, but given the looks and that wonderful bod, we could make ourselves a Bollywood remake of Baywatch—with her saving the lucky drowning idiots.

Those for the idea can start writing the scripts and send it over and those against it—better flee to a non-extradition country!

Mallika Sherawat

The one that flew over the censor board! She almost killed Imraan Hashmi in Murder and the nation was witness to the `shape` of things to come! Mothers were worried, classrooms were empty and the town came to a standstill when Ms Sherawat unleashed herself on us.

Probably one of the most controversial actresses in the circuit currently, she would probably go down in history for everything but the acting!

Sushmita Sen

She was Miss Universe once and that meant she left much of the competition on our planet behind. Her performance in Bollywood is subject to argument, but there is a constant here. Despite the years, Sushmita Sen still holds that body of command. Poor SRK was left `short` on a lot of stuff when he was paired opposite the actress in Main Hoon Na.

Widely respected for her usual calm demeanour and true beauty queen poise, Sushmita definitely makes the list for the combination of grace, elegance, beauty, charm—and butt!

Shilpa Shetty

Now we know what set off Jade Goody! There can only be one ‘ass’ in the Big Brother

house—and Shilpa owned that one. The Brits were all over this `exotic Indian beauty` and their tabloids were singing from the rooftops. She was the face (and everything else) of our nation. Now we know what set off Richard Gere, too!

Urmila Matondkar

In Rangeela, she made the nation dance and Aamir Khan looked as invisible as the milkman! Urmila has an almost military fitness regime and she sure looks the part. An exquisite blend of limitless potential, great dancing and a wonderful figure that fits any director`s requirement!

The star is nearly on the bottom (no pun here) of our list because we haven`t seen enough of her lately—wonder who`s to blame? We need a change of government!

Priyanka Chopra

The only reason why the world watched Love Story 2050.

As Harman Baweja cycled down mountains, fought off robots, dodged deadly laser beams and tried to deliver dialogues, the world`s attention was somewhere else. Distractions are valued in times like these, especially when you have made a movie that borrows its plot from a five-year-old`s diary.

Priyanka Chopra scrapes the bottom of the barrel for two reasons—she needs to realise she`s hotter and needs to get more glam into the roles.

`Fatwa` against Salman and family

In a horrifying development, Salman and his family have been served with a religious edict by certain Muslim organisations who felt that the celebrations in the actor`s house, during Ganeshotsav were against Islam.

This move by the religious authorities has angered Bollywood insiders who claim unnecessary interference from the `extremists`.

“What is the locus standi of these people? Who are they to question people`s religious beliefs? Why don`t they issue such a `fatwa` against terrorists and terrorism, which is un-Islamic? The clerics are talking nonsense,” veteran Bollywood-scriptwriter and Salman`s father, Salim Khan, retorted on live television. Where is justice when you need it?

Kareena on her price and Saif

India has its own Martha Stewart in this woman! In a recent interview, the actress revealed that her work takes the most important position in her life (more than Saif`s) and that she expects the boyfriend to understand her needs as a professional.

The wide-ranging interview includes the details of her diet, if she really is starving herself to size zero and the million-dollar question—is she Bollywood`s highest paid actor? Whatever the answers are, Bebo seems to be enjoying a high.

The bikini bomb

Say hello to Minissha Lamba! She`s the latest entrant into the exclusive `Bollywood in bikini club`. Members include Bipasha Basu and, of course, Mallika Sherawat.

When asked about the audience reaction, the actress, who was last seen in Bachna Ae Haseeno, replied: `It is shocking for quite a few people, but if you ask me, I am really enjoying it all.`

Us too!

Malaika Arora thinks hubby is hotter than Salman

India`s original diva thinks the great Sallu is no match for hubby Arbaaz Khan and also that she and her husband are very much in love despite what the media projects.

Malaika Arora Khan and Arbaaz Khan were on the sets of Sajid Superstars, when they `almost` spilt all the details about their family life and the sensational news about their `staged break-up`.

Amu goes de-glam!

Amrita Arora is all excited about her new look these days. In Hello, she plays wife to her real-life brother-in-law Arbaaz Khan! But, speaking about the new look, she says she’s surprised herself. “I play a character called Radhika, which was Atul and Alvira’s idea, who is married and lives under the watchful eye of her motherin-law, and strives to please her and keep her family happy. She’s al all-out bharatiya nari, complete with the sindoor!” But what really brought about more than a few laughs and giggles on the set was her playing Arbaaz’s wife. “I found it hilarious, especially when we had a ‘tender’ scene to shoot! Malla (Malaika) also thought it pretty funny. But in real life, Arbaaz and me are quite close, and have been so ever since Malla and him were going around. We would hang out from way back then.” Well, as they say, pictures speak a thousand words, but for her new look, we’re actually quite at a loss for words!

The secret of Katrina’s hot quotient!

Finally we got to know why Katrina Kaif is so super hot. Literally at that! A close friend of the actress reveals, “Katrina has shot in the most extreme weather conditions with temperatures as hot as a burning furnace. But never once has she complained about it.” Giving an example the friend added, “A song in Singh is Kinng that was shot in Egypt, was shot in extreme conditions. The entire cast and crew were perspiring profusely except for Katrina. She looked absolutely chilled out. She went about doing her work calmly. The entire crew was surprised.” It is the cold weather that leaves Katrina absolutely cold. “While shooting for Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahaani in Ooty, Katrina had wrapped herself in layers of blankets. In fact it made quite a funny sight where unit members including Ranbir Kapoor began teasing her saying, ‘We now know that the most apt gift to give you on any occasion is a shawl or a sweaters’.” It’s cool to be hot, Kat!

Imran goes for a whole new image

Imran Khan is in all-out action mode these days. The actor, who made his debut with a cute, chocolate-boy kind image in Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na is now going for an image makeover. In Kidnap, he will be seen in a negative role. Now it’s heard that Imran is training himself in martial arts for Soham Shah’s film Luck. Imran is back after a gruelling, action-packed 50-day schedule for the film at Cape Town recently. Our source informs, “Imran’s character in action-thriller Luck is supposed to be an expert in martial arts. He has a lot of action scenes with veteran villain Danny Denzongpa.

Imran was supposed to undergo special martial arts training in Mumbai before leaving for the long Cape Town schedule, but he could not do it as Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na had just released and he was busy with the post-release publicity campaigns.” Imran had a special trainer at Cape Town and underwent rigorous weight training exercises. “The next schedule, which begins in December in Cape Town, also includes Sanjay Dutt. ,” says our source.

Soham Shah’s Luck is a multi-starrer and has Kamal Hassan’s daughter Shruti making her debut as the romantic lead opposite Imran. The film also features Mithun Chakraborty and Ravi Kissen, along with Sanjay Danny.The action thriller has also been shot in the Namibian desert and is slated for an April 2009 release.

Naseer or Victor? Dholakia undecided

Director Rahul Dholakia is finding it tough to finalise the cast for his film on militancy in Kashmir, especially for characters based on real-life politicians. He just can’t decide whether to rope in Naseeruddin Shah or Victor Banerjee to play a hardline separatist leader in Lamhaa. Naseer, with his mastery of the Urdu language and the art of oration, would be perfect. But the actor has done several films on militancy and political extremism, including his new release A Wednesday. “Naseer would be perfect. He has the mesmeric presence required to hold large audiences in a political thrall. But he has played the suave radical earlier in Sarfarosh,” Dholakia said.

The other choice is Victor Banerjee, who has shown keen interest in Lamhaa, which also stars Bipasha Basu. “Victor was one of the first actors I sent the script to. He loved it. My only reservation was that Victor has always played soft gentle characters like the ones in Satyajit Ray’s Ghare Baire and David Lean’s A Passage To India,” said Dholakia.

Salman’s loss is John’s gain

Salman Khan has been replaced by John Abraham to endorse an international energy drink brand. Sources reveal that Salman had earlier been approached by this company to endorse their image as the brand ambassador, but suddenly John was taken.

"The energy drink officials came to meet Salman with a lucrative proposal for taking him as their brand ambassador. He met them but did not immediately make a decision. The officials were in a hurry as they wanted to begin the promotional campaign soon. They had already planned two TV commercials with him — one in India and the other abroad," says a source.

"Salman was supposed to leave for London to shoot London Dreams on Monday for a 45-day schedule. He already had a packed schedule. The shooting of his earlier films Yuvraaj and Wanted: Dead and Alive were pending because of his reality show Dus Ka Dum. Salman intended to complete these films as soon as he got back from shooting London Dreams. However, the energy drink officials insisted that he adjust the dates with them first. Salman then quoted a higher price. The officials then told him that they would discuss the matter and get back to him," reveals our source.

In the meantime, Salman decided to reschedule his dates to adjust for the commercial shoots. Salman was stunned to hear that John Abraham had been signed as the brand ambassador. "The officials found Salman’s price very high and decided to meet John Abraham. They even signed him at a much lower price than what they had initially offered Salman. John was more than happy with the deal and he is now about to shoot for the commercials in the following weeks. When Salman heard about it he was irked, not because John had been chosen as the brand ambassador, but because the international brand’s officials showed lack of professionalism," says our source.

Juhi enjoys being Sita

Juhi Chawla, who had earlier missed the chance of portraying the role of Draupadi, will now be lending her voice to the animated version of Sita in Ketan Mehta’s animated film Ramayan. The film is being directed by Chetan Desai. When Juhi won the crown of Miss India in 1985, B.R. Chopra had offered her the role of Draupadi in the epic Mahabharata. Rupa Ganguli eventually played the role. Juhi had in fact shot for two days, but at the same time Mukul Anand offered her the lead in his film Sultanat. Not wanting to miss the golden opportunity of venturing into Bollywood, Juhi then refused to play the role of Draupadi. Recalling the episode, Juhi regrets the fact that she could not do the role of Draupadi. However, she satisfied her instincts by lending her voice to Sita in the animated film. Call it a sort of Kismat Konnection — had Juhi debuted on the small screen, we may have missed her chirpy laughter on the big screen.

Bachna Ae Haseeno set to make a splash in Germany!

The Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika Padukone and Bipasha Basu starrer Bachna Ae Haseeno is all set to make a splash in Germany very soon, premiering in Hamburg on October 2. The film has appealed to critical sensibilities across Europe, and has been nominated for the Art Cinema Award at the Filmfest Hamburg. The first Yash Raj film in a long time to sway both critics and audiences has also been selected for the official programme, and is part of Agenda ’08. The Art Cinema Award was established in 1969 by the Confédération Internationale des Cinémas d’Art et d’Essai (C.I.C.A.E.), or International Confederation of Art House Cinemas. In Germany, the award is given at the Berlinale and at Filmfest Hamburg. What’s more, the confederation’s extensive network will support the distribution of the winning film throughout Europe. Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein is contributing 5,000 euros to the award in support of PR measures by the German distributor. The international jury consists of the cinema directors Daniel Lavaud (France), Dietmar Zing (Austria) and Erdmann Lange (Germany).

Around the Bollywood

Even before the release of their film Aladin, the makers Eros pictures have now announced a sequel to the film. The sequel is slated to go on floors mid next year. The original cast is expected to return. Having seen the first cut of Aladin starring Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt, Ritesh Deshmukh and Jackie Fernandes, Eros is confident of the product and has announced the sequel.
Speaking on the development, Kishore Lulla, chairman and managing director, Eros International said, “Eros is committed to the Indian film industry and our aim is to make wholesome Indian cinema for the global audience. We are very proud of Aladin as it a 100 per cent Indian product and we are very confident of its universal appeal among audiences. I am not worried about the fate of this product at the box office but we will continue to invest our faith in such cinema which can be watched across the globe and Aladin 2 will be a greater challenge in every aspect as it will be many times bigger than Aladin.”

Sunil Lulla, president, Eros International, India added, “I am confident that with Aladin, we have a Hindi film for a global audience. It is going to be a complete family entertainer with universal appeal as there is a little something for everyone — lots of magic and fantasy for the children along with action, adventure and romance for the youth. Adding to that, the film guarantees some of the best and most complex visual effects seen in Indian cinema.” Sujoy Ghosh said, “I was completely taken aback and touched by Kishore’s reaction. This was a very nice gesture by Eros. Aladin 2 will be a bigger challenge and much more fun. I don’t understand crossover cinema but the aim is to make a full on Hindi film, songs, dances et all, for a global audience.”

Amrita is in awe of Shyam

Amrita Rao is in awe of her director Shyam Benegal. “The actress who is playing the role of a potter in his film Welcome To Sajjanpur just can’t stop talking about the director. “Shyamji is revered in my community and that makes me feel proud. One call from him is all I need to say yes to the role. I did not even ask him what the role was all about. I was in school when I saw his film Zubeida and have been a fan ever since,” she says. “What surprised me most was I have always considered him to be a workaholic and he is the coolest director to work with. He used to come out with the most amazing one-liners and have the entire unit in splits.”

The actress goes on to add, “We shot the film in Hyderabad and Shyam has special connections with the city. What surprised me the most was I came to know that he is a complete foodie. He can talk about food even on a full stomach. Every evening after shoots, he used to order the mouth watering Hyderabadi delicacies like halim and patthar ghosh. He knew where to order from. We had a great time working with him,” says the actress.

Hari Puttar awaits court verdict

Mirchi Movies Hari Puttar has been into trouble even before the release. Warner Bros, the maker of the highly successful Harry Potter movies, has sued the makers of the movie Hari Puttar: A Comedy of Terrors, saying the title is too similar to their own movies. The Hindi-language movie, created in Bollywood, is about a 10-year-old Indian boy (with no magical powers) in the UK who has to protect a computer chip his father designed for the Indian Army. The case against Mirchi Movies will be heard before an Indian court this week but the production team and stars say their movie bears no resemblance to any of the J.K. Rowling books.

Munish Puri, the COO of Mirchi Movies says, “The case in the court and the matter is subjudice, and we have been in the public domain stating we have been making the film but we see no similarities between the titles. I am unable to comment on the court proceedings. We are expecting the judgement from the court. The judge has reserved the judgment.”

Meanwhile the makers are making sure they leave no stone unturned to promote their film. The company has already tied up with Diamond Comics wherein two pages of the cartoon story will be published in the months of July, August and September. “We are also collaborating with Britannia Industries. We will be promoting the film in 1,000 schools. We have tied up with McDonald’s and our merchandise will be given with every happy meal. We also have games that will be marketed by Zapak games,” informs Munish.

What is unique about the film is that Munish has also gone a step ahead in promoting the music of the film. “We have redesigned the entire audio of the film for the visually impaired. We believe in the concept that music is stronger than a picture and what better way to illustrate it. We will be displaying it in 83 centres. Unfortunately, Cartoon Network and Pogo have refused to promote the film because of the Warner Bros issue,” informs Munish.

Abhimaan once more

Now, this is called truly following in your parents' footsteps. According to industry insiders, Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai are set to recreate the magic once created by Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan in Hrishikesh Mukherjee's classic, Abhimaan.

Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai have been signed on for Rajeev Menon's next film, which is based on Abhimaan, where the sizzling chemistry between Amitabh and Jaya had once set the screen ablaze. The film will go on the floors in February 2009, and has music by A R Rahman.

Our source says, “Rajeev was very keen to make the film with Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan. The film has the backdrop of music and both Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek are playing singers in the film. In fact, Aishwarya was so excited about the film that she immediately gave dates for the shooting. The husband-wife duo is currently working on Mani Ratnam's film, Ravana, which is based on the Ramayana. After that, they will start shooting for Rajeev's film. Rajeev had earlier worked with Aishwarya Rai in Kandukondain Kandukondain, which released in 2000.”

When contacted, Rajeev Menon confirmed the news, saying, “Yes it is true that I am making a film with Abhishek and Aishwarya. I will be starting the film in February and A R Rahman has composed the music.”

When we asked him what his film is about, he said he was busy, and hung up.


Subeer Kumar (Amitabh) is on his way to becoming India's top pop singer. He has no intention of getting married, but when he visits his Durga Mausi, he falls in love with the simple Uma, by whose voice he's enchanted. He marries her and returns to Mumbai, where he announces that he will never sing without Uma again. However, Subeer encourages Uma to sing alone. Soon her success overtakes his, and the seeds of jealousy begin to grow in him.


Feel like a jackass!

DIRECTOR: Kunal Shivdasani

ACTORS: Shiney Ahuja, Esha Deol

It’s only words. How can they quite adequately sum up an unimaginable hilariousness healthily reproduced for your viewing pleasures alone? That’s why, I’d prefer if you didn’t laze around this review, and watched this film instead. It’s serious fun. It starts off as that (which I shall concentrate on), and trust me, never disappoints you thereafter. We’re seated across a table with the home minister of this nation; the three service chiefs; and a gentleman, who appears more important than all of them, the head of India’s Anti-terrorism Squad. The gentleman shows us clips of an egghead with black fungus pasted from ear to ear, grinning and grimacing over taking control of the whole world some day. He is behind bars. A turbaned man in the room, the super-boss of India’s police, looks mischievously away from the camera and blurts to the effect, “Shod vee ancounter heem?” No, suggests the ATS chief. He’s behind blasts at several European capitals. We need to find out his future plans.

It may beat most that no one has ever done a background check on the ATS chief himself, this sole keeper of our nation’s security. This Mr Kumar could well himself be a top-shot terrorist Sheikh Abdullah or Shiraj-ud-Daula or any other Muslim name, which this Islamophobe flick makes a dictionary of. The home minister incidentally has a sexy secretary Simone. She figures out the gentleman’s identity quite easily. If you suspect a spoiler in here, do not fret. The more I let you in on the secrets, the more eager you’re likely to get to catch this movie’s precious treasures.

The film is called Hijack. You know there’s going to be one. You also know the egg-head will ask to be released in exchange of hostages on a flight that, for some reason, is kept unnamed. A tragedy of such magnitude needs to be humanised. So we watch a kid at a night-club making travel plans with her three friends without her parents knowing about it. A little later (after an ‘item number’, of course), the night-club is blown into bits. A blast comes cheap; it costs only some computer-generated images. We could do with more. Never mind the bomb, the four buddies somehow land up in the said flight. Life is normal, along with the other bunch of abnormal people on the plane that shall remain unnamed.

The film has a stunt-hero swinging from a helicopter, who’ll rescue the hostages: another thing the promos tell you. They may not have shown you how he chases the aircraft on the runway hanging on a mobile staircase, before he calls in a helicopter in a matter of seconds.
This brooding loner of ours (Shiney Ahuja) is the source of most fun actually. Even Rambos have a past. This one imagines the first time he bumped into a random girl at a bar. She left in a hurry. She never gave him her phone number. But they began singing and wining and dancing and bearing a child in a rare dream-sequence within a flashback.

That wife is no more. The child, in a boarding school now, is going to board the ill-fated flight. “You must fasten your seat-beats,” the father dutifully informs her over the phone. We sit warned.

The plane is made to forcibly land at the same airport where our champion leading-man is the top mechanic. He gets in drilling a hole into the plane. He first knocks down the hijacker who’d smuggled in a gun in his Haldiram Bhujiawala packet. He takes on the other one as well. There are two more bumbling beards to go.

By now the air-hostess on board (Esha Deol) just cannot take it. She finally nasals in, on behalf of her audience, “Do you know what a hijack is? Do you know what a hijack means?” Most would look up a dictionary. Our hero tells us he was once the pilot of a plane that was hijacked!
Alright, amigos. Unimaginable as it were, someone actually filmed this stupendous toy-shop. Someone actually funded it. The least you can do is take along a group of giggles, grab the frontrow aisle seats, and enjoy.


DIRECTOR: Santosh Sivan

ACTORS: Purav Bhandare, Anupam Kher, Sarika

Alone bird falls dead to the ground as a little child and his grandfather walk up the hills. The boy appears puzzled. The grandfather (Victor Banerjee), before burying the dead, suggests the bird’s maqsad or purpose in life must have been accomplished. This is why it’s no more. Everyone, he says, must have a mission, else life would appear pointless.

The little boy has a maqsad. In his case, it is to get back his pet donkey, Birbal. The family had sold it off to protect their home. The boy, Tahaan’s grandfather dies shortly after. His mother (Sarika) is mute; sister, unmarried; father, missing among many in Kashmir. He is still determined to be with his soul-mate, the little donkey. He plants himself by Birbal’s side, helping an old man ferry goods across the valley.

Along the way the film says a lot, without quite saying much, which is what all artistic filmmaking is all about. The kid fleetingly enquires about deserted homes from where the Hindus have fled away. He observes little children in the mountains whose pastime is playing ‘terrorist-terrorist’ with each other. The game is a lot like hide-and-seek, except they kill each other with fake guns, an inspiration from their own childhood.

He asks quite often who owns the mountains. The old-man (Anupam Kher), his boss, tells him the mountains own us. They will survive, while we will all move on. Our existence is a very small thread of nature’s much larger story.

Were it not for the child’s name, I would have mistaken him for one of those rose-cheeks picked up from a kahwa shop in Kashmir. But the film itself isn’t about performances alone, though almost each stands out. Few directors appear blessed with a visual sense of Sivan’s. His cinematography may have entirely set a new path for camerawork in Hindi cinema after Roja (1992), or maybe even Raakh (1989), his debut. Many have imitated his slick shots since (and most for the wrong reasons). Yet, the Valley in Sivan’s Kashmir here, though lyrical and in its natural best, appears in a strange way, sullen and unhappy. You observe them like you would appreciate good actors - never drawing attention to themselves.

This is quite unlike Terrorist (1999), Sivan’s early film as a director, where the tightest close-up of water dripping from a little girl’s hair actually seemed to take away from the intimate story of a suicide-bomber that it was. In fact, the last few years, as a director and already a much proven cinematographer, Sivan has seemed more interested in the subject than cinema in isolation. Navrasa (2005), his docu-like account of the eunuch community didn’t need much photography at all.

Life goes about its own usual ways even in times of bombs and terrorism. It does for Tahaan’s Kashmir. As it does for all conflict zones of the world, from whose life Sivan has suitably borrowed to tell this sweet, subtle, sensitive story. It’s the human, apolitical nature of this quiet film that instantly draws you in. The subject may be intensely political. The picture isn’t.

At some point, entirely avoidable according to me, little Tahaan meets the militants. A terrorist-outfit, sensing the kid’s resolve toward his mission, hires him to ship a handgrenade in return for the donkey. The eventual message is still of choices and hope. All is not lost; thanks for letting us know. This film deserves immediate shelf-space among the senselessness around.

‘This is one of Big B’s best performances’

“It’s not a dark film, contrary to perception, but it definitely isn’t commercial masala movie. In the film, Mr (Amitabh) Bachchan is playing a Shakespearean stage actor. The film is about his life –he’s done Shakespearean plays, and that’s why the film is in English – because he’s always in his theatre mode, reciting dialogues out of some play or the other. Arjun Rampal plays a film director and tries to seduce Mr Bachchan into the world of cinema, though Mr Bachchan believes that theatre is the best form of acting. But the film is about how Arjun brings him into the world of cinema and what happens next,” Arindam explains.

He thinks that the actors’ performances in The Last Lear will surprise people. “People think Preity (Zinta) is all dimples and bubbliness, but they’ll love her performance. She plays the role of an actor in Arjun’s film. Once he manages to bring in Mr Bachchan, there are confrontational scenes between Preity and him,” he says. “The reason I got them all is that, while it’s not a film for everybody – it’s in English – if I’d made this film with anyone else, there wouldn’t even be five people in the auditorium. With all of them there, I’m sure people will come in and once they do, they’ll love it. If not his best, this is certainly one of Mr Bachchan’s three best performances. Now it is up to people to debate whether Black was better than this, but most people might find this one to be Mr Bachchan’s best,” says Arindam.

So, does Arindam plan to stick to niche cinema, or does he want to venture into more commercial films? “We won’t get into potboilers, but definitely into massive commercial cinema, with scripts that are different,” he explains. “Chak De, Lagaan, Taare Zameen Par are all from the genre we’re into, but they all had mass appeal. I’m sure we’ll find such scripts and get into such films soon. There are better people making commercial masala films and romance. Farah Khan is good at potboilers, and you can’t beat Yash Chopra at romantic films even today. Bachna Ae Haseeno did everything one can do in that category. So when other people can make it better, why try that genre?” he says.

And what are his upcoming projects? “There are about four to five films in pre-production stage, all of which are sensitive and sensible,” he says. “Most of them will now have a larger market. The first one’s called I’m 24, and it’s got Ranvir Shorey in it. It’s going to be a good film in terms of reach – everybody should be interested in it. It’s a light-hearted romantic comedy, so I think everyone will love it.”