Bhandarkar’s Angels

Madhur Bhandakar’s Fashion gives you a ringside view into the gritty world of glamour. The three-time National Award winning filmmaker who has made it his business to do exposés, first on journalism (Page 3), then starched suits (Corporate), then beggars (Traffic Signal) and now modelling (Fashion), takes his camera into the green-rooms of the ramp queens.

With shades from Hollywood 1998 television film Gia, where Angelina Jolie plays super-model Gia and the 2002 Academy winning feature the Catherine-Zeta-Jones-Renee Zellweger film Cabaret, Bhandarkar shows you how the timeless beauties who walk the ramp mechanically, with a faraway vacant looks in their kohl-lined eyes, are in reality vulnerable porcelain dolls who often crack under pressure.
His protagonist is Priyanka Chopra (Meghna Mathur), a Chandigarh resident who comes to Mumbai determined to be a super-model. Then there is Kangana Ranaut (Shonali Gujral), the reigning model, whose oomph and style leaves Meghna envious and panting. Little does the Chandigarh girl know that behind those vacant eyes is a traumatised soul, who like a paraplegic, leans on drugs and spirits to see her through the motions of life! And of course there is debutant Mugdha Ghodse (Janet), a tough-talking, kind-hearted girl who is the perfect friend in the otherwise uncaring world of glamour.
As the lives and dreams of Meghna, Shonali and Janet crisscross, the film takes you on a quick-fix journey that deals with aspirations of the ordinary people to the compromising, seamy side of the glamorous profession, showing you a side to the modelling world you may well have heard and read about, but is still something that keeps you hooked.
The screenplay moves smoothly in the first half. However, it gets into fits and starts in the pre-climax portion, where it lingers on the track that tries to show how a repentant Meghna, who has gone from sweet-to-superbitch-to-worldly-wise, is trying to salvage her soul. Fashion could well have been at least 15-minutes shorter.
Niranjan Iyengar’s dialogue is witty in portions and makes you chuckle, yet there are times when the girls (Kangana and Priyanka), especially when they are having their emotional outbursts are let down with the dialogue that is constricting. Mahesh Limaye’s cinematography also lacks consistency. For most parts it is captivating, yet at other times it is shoddy. The music for the title track, ‘Shaurat ka hai yeh jalwa’, is muffled and means little.
The highlight of Fashion is the performances. Kangana Ranaut, whose track is ‘inspired’ from model Gitanjali Nagpal’s riches-to-rags story (with a slight twist) plays her woman-on-the-edge part with precision; your heart goes out to her. Debutant Mughda Ghodse is not only a knock-out looker, she is also an able performer combining the hard-with-the-soft shades in her screen character like a true-blue professional.
But of course, the film belongs to Priyanka Chopra who’s superlative from frame A to Z. Not only does PC look terrific, she also delivers a mature performance, both as a smalltown-girl with a dream and as a super-model who tramples over people without qualms.
The supporting star cast is able. Though Arbaaz Khan, Sameer Soni and Harsh Chhaya do the job at hand, you still wish Bhandarkar had chosen more sensitive actors.
Having said that, Fashion is still worth a trip to the multiplex because it allows you to peek unabashedly at the scantily-clad women who work as terrific distractions every time you get restless in your seat. And it also gives you the emotional rollercoaster ride that movies these days rarely do.

‘I object to calling my films soft porn’

In his career of 35 years, Jagmohan Mundhra has made 28 films, the latest being ‘Shoot On Sight’. From making erotic thrillers to socially relevant films, Mundhra, who has shifted his base from the West to Mumbai, talks about his journey with Mastii-Kustii:

From soft porn to hard-hitting drama on domestic violence (‘Provoked’) and Islamic terrorism, you have come a long way. How do you see the journey?
First, i object to calling my earlier films soft porn. I have never made any kind of porn. I’ve done films falling in a very legitimate American genre called erotic thriller. All those films were rated R, had legitimate storylines and reputed actors. I consider myself first and foremost a storyteller. I must tell the story with conviction in a gripping and engaging manner. If the story has shades of blue, you can’t tell it effectively by shying away from sex and nudity. I have always been interested in telling realistic stories (remember ‘Kamla’ as far back as 1986). I am happy to have the opportunity to tell different type of stories. I make what i like to watch as a movie goer.
Did you enjoy the reputation of being a soft-porn filmmaker? Did you turn to socio political themes to fight the erotic image?
Of course, it bothered me and it bothers me even now. I am not apologetic about the type of films i have made. But being branded so takes away the legitimacy of one’s skill and craft and discounts the quality of my work.

You’ve now become a biopic specialist. All your recent films have been based on real characters. Why?
I find these stories inspirational, dramatic and stranger than fiction. I like subjects which cause debate. I like conflicts which impact our daily life. I like drama which makes an emotional connection.

What happened to your film on Sonia Gandhi?
It is on hold. It will be revived at the right time.

Your new film, ‘Shoot On Sight’, addresses the issue of Islamic terrorism and Islamic identity? It became controversial in Britain. Do you foresee the same in India?
I hope not. The film tackles the issue in a very balanced and sensitive manner. The film’s tagline is: Is it a crime to be a Muslim? That says it all.
A majority of moderate Muslims are caught between Islamic extremism on the one hand and Islamophobia of the West on the other. The film’s protagonist speaks for this silent majority. Hopefully, the film will be controversial to spark off a healthy debate.

What are you working on now?
I am making ‘Begunaah’, a Hitchcockian thriller about an innocent man on the run after framed by culprits. I am also doing ‘Naughty@40’ with Govinda, a comedy which only Govinda can deliver.

Ghajni: Poster and First Look

And you thought Aamir was done with acting! Ghajni first looks simply wonderful, given the invisible hype that had surrounded its initial reports.Now, we have something tangible to prove that the film should make the later half of 2008 quite interesting indeed.

The most-awaited films

IT’S been a damp squib of a year, not just for Bollywood but also for movie buffs who were expecting a lot of entertainment post Diwali. But the top big budget films that were scheduled to release later this year will now hit theatres only in 2009 due to reasons such as varied as clashing dates, errant producers and technical problems.

Billo Barber by Priyadarshan
The movie starring Shah Rukh Khan and Irrfan Khan was slated for release on November 9, but has now been pushed to February 2009. One of the reasons is that some portions of the film, including the songs, are still incomplete. It’s also believed that SRK postponed the release to make way for Dostana and Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi being made by his friends Karan Johar and Aditya Chopra, respectively. Another reason, according to industry sources, is the poor business of Kuselan, the Tamil version of the film starring Rajnikanth. Seeing the audience response to Kuselan, Priyadarshan has decided to make some changes in his version.

Chandni Chowk To China by Nikhil Advani
Previously titled Mera Naam Chin Chin Choo and Made In China, this movie stars Akshay Kumar and Deepika Padukone in the lead. The film, produced by Rohan Sippy on a budget of Rs 65 crore, was scheduled to release on October 24, but has now been pushed to January 2009. Due to problems with some prints of the film, a part of the film will have to be reshot in a studio in Mumbai. Apparently, it was hard to get Akshay’s dates to re-shoot for the damaged prints.

Wanted Dead And Alive by Prabhu Deva
According to trade sources, the movie has been made on a budget of Rs 30 crore and an additional Rs 5 crore will be spent on publicity. Wanted... was scheduled for October 2, but has been postponed to next year. Some songs in the movie, starring Salman Khan and Ayesha Takia, are yet to be completed. Salman was busy with his TV show, Dus Ka Dum, and was unavailable to finish the shoot for Wanted.... Says Boney Kapoor, producer of the film, “Salman also had Yuvraaj and we didn’t want the two to get mixed up, so we decided to postpone it.”

Ghajini by AR Murugadoss
After a special screening of Ghajini, Aamir had spotted certain aspects that needed correcting and had insisted the director re-shoot. Earlier, plans were to release the film for Diwali but due to Aamir’s request, Murugadoss has planned to re-shoot a few scenes. And now, since Aamir Khan is busy shooting for 3 Idiots, it will take a month for Aamir to get back for re-shooting.

Kambakkth Ishq by Sabir Khan
Produced by Sajid Nadiadwala, Kambakkth Ishq stars Akshay Kumar, Kareena Kapoor and some Hollywood biggies. Made on a whopping Rs 90 crore, it was due to hit the screens on December 5, but will be pushed by three months. The reason? Date problems and being unable to rope in all the stars at the same time.

Victory by Ajit Pal
The film starring Harman Baweja, playing a cricketer, and Amrita Rao, has been pushed from November 21 to early 2009. Made at a cost of Rs 25 crore, it has many cricketers playing themselves in the film. But the makers didn’t want to risk releasing it along with Dostana. The big releases at the end of the year and the nonavailability of multiplexes are also responsible for the delay.

Raaz 2 by Mahesh Bhatt
The production company and Mahesh Bhatt are confused about what the film should be called — Raaz or The Mystery Continues or Raaz II — because Mahesh Bhatt doesn’t want people to think it’s a sequel. The film stars Emraan Hashmi, Kangna Ranaut and Adhyayan Suman. And there were reports that Kangna didn’t have dates as she was busy with Fashion.

Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Dilli 6
The movie was slated for late 2008 or early 2009. But the Abhishek Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor and Kunal Kapoor starrer will hit screens in February 2009. The reason, according to unit insiders, is Bachchans’ long ‘Unforgettable Tour’. Also, there were certain corrections made in the script after the last schedule ended, which will take time to be filmed as Abhishek is still busy with his world tour.

Aashayein by Nagesh Kukunoor
This John Abraham-starrer is waiting for Dostana to get out of the way. An industry source says Kukunoor wasn’t happy with the end product.

“We can’t say the audience didn’t see any good films this year. Yes, it was not very exciting, but there was variety. With Welcome to Sajjanpur, Race, Jannat and Jodhaa Akbar and now Dostana, Fashion and Golmaal Returns, there have been films worth watching. In any case, it’s not such a long wait for the new lot of releases, which is early 2009 itself.”

Imran’s the winner!

Now that’s what all the trade figures and guys are saying everywhere. Two of the most awaited films clashed last week at the box-office and going by the reports, Imran Khan’s Kidnap has not only beaten Drona at the domestic market, but has also beat the lifetime gross of director Sanjay Gadhvi’s smash hit Dhoom in UK. Imran seems to have won the race both in the domestic and international market. But we are sure Abhishek Bachchan will strike back soon.

Kareena to launch her own website

oining the league of international stars like Victoria Beckham, Madonna and Jennifer Lopez, Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor is all set to launch her own website. The site would inform netizens about the actress’ latest fashion trends. “Kareena’s official website is going to be on an absolutely tech savvy format. It’s going to be on the lines of the sites of international stars,” a source close to the actress said.

The source added, “Her website is going to be more fashion-oriented. The site will have updates not only on Kareena’s fashion trends but also other trends that take place all over the globe.” The actress has been known for her fashion presence and looks forward to sharing her trend sense with her fans through the site. “She has sound knowledge about the fashion industry and the website will give her a chance to share her fashion knowledge with her fans. There have been a number of occasions when Kareena has even actively participated in designing her own costumes for films,” said the source. Kareena is also the brand ambassador of a global fashion retail chain.

Kajraare captures timeless moments in moving frames

The first look of Pooja Bhatt’s directorial venture Kajraare is finally out. Producer Bhushan Kumar of T-Series says that the film will brings picturesque virgin locales to life.

Kajraare is special since it sees the Bollywood debut of Mona Laizza, a popular Pakistani TV actress. She plays the lead opposite Himesh Reshammiya in the film, which is touted as an Indo-Pak love story. Apparently, around 70 girls auditioned for the role and Mona was zeroed in on.

The film is shot in the virgin locales of Lahore, Morocco and Europe. Himesh will play a lawyer. Needless to say, the film will have music by Himesh himself. The film is Pooja’s fourth directorial venture after Paap, Holiday and Dhokha. One hopes that Himesh’s mass appeal manages to pull through Kajraare, touted to be Pooja’s first commercial entertainer. The film is written by Mahesh Bhatt.

One knows the kind of history late Gulshan Kumar and Mahesh Bhatt created with Aashiqui. Now, with the new scions coming together, it looks like this Himesh-starrer will rewrite box office history yet again. The buzz is that the film is inspired by Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night.

Ameesha for Man`s World!

A lot of things have changed in Amisha Patel`s life since she made her debut opposite Hrithik Roshan in Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai, eight years ago. The actress no longer lives with her family and soon, dropped her surname.

However, the things that interest us most is the make-over, which the actress has gone through. From the girl-next-door Amisha Patel you have the sizzling hot Ameesha.

Following a super-successful start to her career with back-to-back smash hits such as Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai and Gadar-Ek Prem Katha, everyone believed Ameesha would be the next big thing in Bollywood.

But some very wrong choices of films and problems on the personal front resulted in this Gujju girl`s career going off-track.

In this issue of Man`s World, Ameesha confesses she simply loves food and can never starve. This is in the face of those models and actresses who hope to achieve perfect curves by surviving on bananas!

Ameesha has always been frank about the men in her life. She is currently dating hotelier-businessman Kanav Puri and also has a warning for us all!

`I hate any man who tries too hard to impress.` CAREFUL GUYS! You might want to rethink the pick-up lines.

Abhishek escapes the Delhi blasts

Small B narrowly escaped the deadly Delhi blasts on September 13 due to a traffic jam that had kept him from attending an event in the capital`s famous Connaught Place. His father, Amitabh Bachchan, wrote on his blog, `Shattered and shocked he called to say he was alright. Abhishek had left in the afternoon for New Delhi and was on his way to Connaught Place for a function he had to attend. Minutes away from there, the traffic became a snarl and he knew he would not make it in time so he asked to turn back. And the blast happened just then,` Amitabh wrote on his blog

We wish Junior well and also express our relief in the incident.

Snakes and rains trouble Billo Barber

Priyadarshan`s latest movie seems to have run into some bad weather - and some wildlife! The crew have been battling storms and snakes on location at Pollachi in the Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu. Actor Irrfan Khan has the story on the snake!

`To her credit, Lara handled the situation very sensibly and bravely, probably because she didn`t know how poisonous the snake was (lucky her). If it had bitten her it would`ve been disastrous,` Irrfan said.

`Disastrous` remains a weak adjective to describe the loss of that face to a damn snake!

Geeta Basra dismisses link with Harbhajan Singh

This is one rumour that will knock your bails out. Actress Geeta Basra has lashed out at a tabloid report (and a particular journalist), for a publishing a story that`s just `sheer nonsense`. The report claimed that Ms Basra entered Harbhajan Singh`s room in a hotel and ran to the extent of suggesting a romantic angle to the claim.

But Ms Basra is fuming as she cleans her rifle. `How could this journalist write something like this. Didn`t she see other people around me? Did she peek into the room to see what these individuals were doing? You can be naughty but certainly not cheesy.` The actress also said that she was accompanied by her friends and family members in that visit to the hotel room.

We don`t know the truth yet, but if the rumours are true and going by Ms Basra`s looks - not a bad catch Bhajji!

Unpaid staff disrupt Himesh`s M2KNDM2K

The workers on the sets of a movie that sounds like a German licence plate, are angry, real angry.

Earlier this week, the crew of Himesh Reshammiya`s Mudh Mudh Ke Na Dekkh Mudh Mudh Ke, unleashed havoc on the sets of the movie citing unpaid wages and salary trouble.

According to reports, the workers claimed that they were unpaid for their work and after waiting patiently for a couple of days, they decided to bring the shoot to a standstill. Incidentally, it was the last day of the shoot and Himesh managed to keep the cap on his head.

The actor is not really our best friend but we hope the clouds of crisis pass over M2KNDM2K - shortening it doesn`t help!

Shriya Saran in trouble over her Hollywood deals

Her posters are now being used for target practice at the offices of The Tamil Film Producers Council. According to reports, the group are pursuing action against the actress for ignoring Tamil projects and paying more attention to deals from Hollywood.

The group have also claimed that she ignored a film starring Dhanush, son-in-law of Rajnikant, and continued the focus on overseas projects. Shreya has two international films coming up - Other End Of The Line, produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and , being directed by Canada-based director Deepa Mehta and her brother Dilip.

We hope for a quick solution to this row because if it escalates, it may be hard to replace that pretty face.

Review: Drona bites the dust


Goldie Behl

Abhishek Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra, Kay Kay Menon

Is he a storybook superhero, a mythological figure, a prince, or an ordinary guy who forgot to shave? Nope, it’s Drona. What a drone, really.

Priyanka Chopra’s voiceover introduces us to the story, which, for the first ten minutes reads like a mythology lesson. So we learn that there’s this vial of amrit (nectar of immortality) that the asuras (demons) are after and the caretaker of this fluid, the one with adbudh bal, is called Drona. It’s a legacy passed down the generations (where, but naturally, the Dronas only bear sons). We meet present Drona; he’s called Aditya (Abhishek Bachchan) and lives in Europe with a churlish aunt and her annoying son. The mother-son duo put Aditya through such grind, they'd put Cinderella’s stepsisters to humble shame. His only recourse is a blue petal that floats ever so often his way.

One day, a new petal guides Aditya, all grown up and stubbly now, to a bracelet (golden with a red and green stone; tacky, tacky). Once he wears the bracelet, he meets the new-age demon in the guise of magician Riz Raizada (Kay Kay), and thus starts the race for the amrit.

Drona is guided by a bodyguard (Priyanka Chopra, luscious, but carrying a tasseled weapon that couldn’t hurt a mosquito), who starts most of her sentences with babuji kehte the. Riz’s army comprises a bunch of black hoods right out of The Lord of the Rings series. Drona and counterpart Sonia then set off to decipher a series of clues to reach to the amrit, and through the journey we see Hatimtai-type (remember the Jeetendra movie?) fantastical encounters and visual effects.

For one, there’s a magical town called Raazpur, full of midgets wearing pale blue eye shadow, with the location’s art direction straight out of a school craft project. Sadly, as bodyguard, Sonia is rather incompetent. Getting either injured or kidnapped, she’s mostly rescued by this Drona chap rather than the other way around. Of course, the two fall in love, making way for a forced, boring romantic song. The final confrontation between Drona and Riz is riddled with an excessive clink-clank of swords and dialogue baazi about achai-burai and andhera-ujala (good vs. evil; light vs. darkness).

Technically, the film needed more masterful work. The cinematography by Sameer Arya (Koi…Mil Gaya, Malamaal Weekly) is ok for the most part, but revels in some frightful close-ups occasionally. The main flaw is with the writing where no attempt was made to add depth to the characters or think up innovative plot movements. It seems a rehash of former superhero movies—there’s the unknowing child hero from Harry Potter and Koi…Mil Gaya, the predictable love angle, the insinuated songs, the special effects from a hundred Hollywood pictures.

Execution by director Goldie Behl (Bas Itna Sa Khwaab Hai, 2001) is weak, making a comedy out of intended-to-be intense scenes. There’s the one where Drona’s secret guards, people he’s known all along, are revealed (a neighborhood nun, a chef, two local goons and yadda yadda); one them being Sonia. She explains the secret of Drona to a baffled Aditya and then immediately breaks into a hip song with several oiled musclemen in a garage set-up.

She also insists on calling him Adi sir, as do the others. Which era are we in, exactly? If it’s present time, then why are they wearing those ridiculous costumes with flowing brocades, turbans and all? Apart from looking plain silly, you’d agree it’s a pretty tough call for Drona to dodge a circle of attackers while adjusting his embroidered dupatta. Then of course, after a grippingly picturised zoom-vroom car chase, Sonia and the black hoods decide to combat each other using old-world swords and knives. To the film’s credit, some action scenes are truly engaging – the car chase mentioned above and a train sequence in the second half.

Special effects are nothing special. The faces forming out of sand dunes, we’ve seen already in The Mummy, thank you. The production design (Tania Behl) is unimpressive. Even a conch that’s of utmost importance to the story is painted a garish purple and decorated with stuff you’d in your local hobby store.

Abhishek Bachchan, who has magnanimously carried off challenging roles in the past, is out of sorts here. Slightly overweight and too-stubbly, he’s unconvincing in the role. Much more likeable is the eccentric Riz essayed superbly by Kay Kay Menon. So interesting is this dark character with a sense of humour (inspired by the Joker from Batman), you almost root for him instead. Priyanka Chopra looks like a trillion bucks, and one wishes her character was given more solid foundation.

She excels in the action scenes, but is reduced to a whimpering heroine who waits for the horse-bound hero to rescue her. Jaya Bachchan is graceful in her short role as Drona’s mother, never mind the carelessly overdone make-up.

This is the case of a film where every aspect is affected. There’s the filmmaker’s smug assurance of wowing the audience with visual excesses. This `all show-no soul’ mode is based on the assumption that the viewer is otherwise deprived of such visual splendour. So many films, Love Story 2050 and Saawariya, to talk of the recent, have gone down this road. What to say, another one bites the dust.

Verdict: One and a half stars

Review: Kidnap is a big yawn


Sanjay Gadhvi

Imran Khan, Minissha Lamba and Sanjay Dutt

When you carry the baggage of super-successful films such as Dhoom and Dhoom 2, the expectations from your subsequent outing is bound to be gargantuan. Unfortunately, Kidnap falls short of expectations. You expect a seven- course meal, but you're served mere crumbs.

Where does it falter? The boy versus man concept holds tremendous scope and writer Shibani Bathija could've come up with an enthralling revenge drama. But Kidnap fumbles, stumbles and falls on its face. The cat-n-mouse game is hardly enticing and that is its biggest drawback.

Kidnap comes close to Zinda in terms of plotline. There're similarities between the two films. But Kidnap isn't as dark and gruesome as Zinda. Also, Kidnap loses focus after a promising start.

The hallmark of any revenge fare is the suspense quotient. In this case, there's a motive behind what Imran does. And money is definitely not the motive here. So far, so good. But the purpose of kidnapping the billionaire's only daughter as also the chain of events that lead to the culmination is such a put-off. Things keep deteriorating as they reach the finale.

The culprit? Obviously, the writer of this lifeless, unexciting and tedious drama. Shibani seems to think that the audience is pea-brained.

Silver lining or just dark clouds? Imran Khan's splendid act acts as a soothing balm, but if the pudding is tasteless, no amount of dressing can salvage the situation.

When Dr Mallika (Vidya Malvade) asks her daughter Sonia (Minissha Lamba) what she wants for her 18th birthday, Sonia tells her she wants to meet her dad, Vikrant Raina (Sanjay Dutt). The mother and father of this kid have separated, we're explained at the very outset. After a spat between the mother and daughter, Sonia walks off in a huff and doesn't return.

Mallika panics when she gets a call from a stranger that he has kidnapped Sonia. The kidnapper, Kabir (Imran Khan), has only one demand -- he will negotiate with nobody but Sonia's father, Vikrant.

Reluctantly Mallika brings Vikrant back into their lives to save Sonia. But Vikrant chokes at the thought of taking orders from a criminal. But Kabir holds the trump card - he holds Sonia - and Vikrant knows he has no option but to toe the line.

Kabir tells him they are going to play a game - just the two of them. Vikrant has to play by the rules set by Kabir and he has to play alone. He has to play to save his daughter. If he even utters the word 'police', it will be bye-bye for Sonia!

Because his daughter's life is at stake, a reluctant Vikrant agrees to obey Kabir's orders…

Never judge a book by its cover. This adage suits Kidnap to the T. One look at its promos and you know what the story is, but the screenplay is so amateurish, even lifeless at times, that you scream in pain!

Gadhvi and Shibani open the cards at the very outset. The sketches at the very beginning as also Minissha's kidnap within 10-minutes of the start compels you to think that the follow up should be equally exhilarating. But things start going wrong from this part onwards.

Imran's clues for Sanju, the first in a train and later at an engagement ceremony, make no sense. Later, Sanju and Vidya Malvade's entry in the jail is bizarre. This part takes you back to the cinema of 1970s and 1980s, when nonsense dominated.

Later, when Sanju refuses to take Imran's call, Imran lands up at his house. Which kidnapper, in his right senses, would ever do that? Even the flashback - Imran's childhood portions - are just not impactful. The same goes for the climax. The shootout at the New Year party is ridiculous. Seriously, the writing is pathetic!

Sanjay Gadhvi is letdown by a script that easily ranks amongst the worst of 2008. Pritam's music is another sore point. Barring the Mit Jaaye track, the remaining songs are lacklustre. Bobby Singh's camerawork is first-rate.

Kidnap belongs to Imran Khan. Watch this youngster take giant strides and you know that he has arrived. He carries the cold look effortlessly. Sanjay Dutt looks disinterested, as if he is about to break into a yawn. Minissha Lamba is miscast. She doesn't look like a 17-year-old in the first place. Also, the generous dose of skin show doesn't gel with someone who's held captive.

Vidya Malvade is efficient. Reema Lagoo is a mere prop. Rahul Dev's character looks forced.

On the whole, Kidnap fails to grip you and that is its biggest flaw. At the box-office, Kidnap, being teen sensation Imran Khan's immediate release after the blockbuster hit Jaane Tu..Ya Jaane Na, would ensure a strong opening weekend but the poor merits are sure to take a toll once the initial euphoria subsides. Disappointing!

verdict: two stars

Ajay Devgan's close shave with death while shooting in Thailand

Bollywood star Ajay Devgan escaped death while giving an action shot for a film near an island in Thailand - the weather suddenly changed and the chopper moving over him nearly lost control. He escaped unscathed, despite the helicopter blades whizzing inches from him.

He says he was shooting with other actors near Phi Phi Island. The action director Jack Gill had planned out a stunt in which the jet-ski chase was suppose to be shot from a chopper.

"Initially, as we started filming and moving around in the shallow waters, the waves were moderate. So we decided to move ahead in the deeper waters since the scene required a proper aerial view which should look like a chase from a top angle," Ajay wrote on his blog

He was shooting with four other stuntmen. "They were moving aggressively in the sea trying to give their best shots by manoeuvring with their cuts around me. The chopper was also hovering right above us and as close as possible to us to get better shots," he added.

According to Ajay, all seemed to go well until they realised they were nearing another smaller rocky island called Maya Bay. "Suddenly the weather started to change. The wind and the waves were trying to show us their stunts and our guys instantly thought of retreat.

"A sudden gust of strong wind hit me and next moment the chopper above us lost control and blades were so dangerously close to us that we could feel the strong whipping winds of our helicopter," he described.

Ajay, who featured in several action movies including his debut vehicle Phool Aur Kaante and Raju Chacha, says this incident will be etched in his mind for a long time.

Meet the ultimate woman of substance

There are very few people in Bollywood who’ve never disputed what I’ve written. Shabana Azmi, Preity Zinta, Bipasha Basu and Sushmita Sen are among that rare breed. These women never question me, never jump at a word or a line. None of these resplendent women are known to brook any nonsense. When wronged they’ve fought back. In an industry motivated entirely by myopic selfinterest I pride myself for knowing these ladies so well.

Shabana, I’ve known the longest. I heroworship her. I think her to be the ultimate woman of substance. Last week when she called to say she would be in my town I was at a loss for words. Shabana coming to my home was a miracle. There was a problem, though. Shabana was in my town for a few hours. And that too as Shatrughan Sinha’s guest.

“Why should I let you meet him during my schedule?” he joked with Shabana and then promptly deputed a guy to escort my VVIP guest to my place. Shabana has always played the perfect hostess to me in Mumbai. It was my turn now. And I was nervous as hell. Entertaining celebrities is an art. You can’t be gushing fawning and photographing your guest.

It was my friend Urmila Matondkar who told me how terribly hounded stars feel when they are clicked while eating when invited.

We never click pictures when we’ve celebrities over. With Shabana I had to make an exception. I don’t mean to play down all the visitors I’ve had home, from the lovely ladies Rakhi Gulzar, Sonali Bendre, Shilpa Shetty and Manisha Koirala to the really cool guys Gulzar saab, Suniel Shetty and R Madhavan. They were all fab. And each visit has its own story to tell.

But Shabana was… extra-special. Always has been. I’ve often asked Javed saab if I could marry his wife. When I told Shabana this she burst out laughing. “Javed says, ‘Do so at your own risk’.”

By the time she left, it was way past the precious time she had allotted to us, and Shatrubhai kept calling every two minutes.

And yes, about those photographs… I made an exception. Shabana insisted on being photographed with every member of my family individually including my driver.

I’ve learnt many things from Shabana in the past. I’ve learnt to overcome my shyness and be a go-getter. “If you want something in life don’t stand in the back waiting your turn. Push your way up. I always did. When I wanted to be cast by Mrinal Sen and Gulzarbhai I hounded them,” she said.

Shabana taught me the only way to survive is to be pushy. She also taught me that good acting is all about losing your vanity completely before the camera. Her emotional nakedness in
Arth, Bhavna, Log Kya Kahenge, Fire and Morning Raga are unscaled by any other actor.

During her visit, we were discussing how much like her mother she had become lately. Shabana shared with me an anecdote about her mom. This was just after the release of Shabana’s second film Faasla. “Mom was horrified. Good that Ankur came first. If Faasla had been my first film my mother would’ve married me off to the first man who agreed.”

Whether addressing parliament or chatting with a family in Patna, Shabana is equally at home. Oh yes, that’s the other thing I learnt from her. Savour the moment and seize the day.

But that day when Shabana came visiting I learnt something more from her. It’s far more difficult and important to be a good guest than a good host