Sangeeta Bijlani was a very prominent part of Salman’s guest-list at his birthday binge.
Says a guest from Salman’s celebration, “Sangeeta was very much a comfortable part of Salman’s family. She mingled freely with the guests and was an integral part of the Khan family. Salman has reached that comfort zone with Sangeeta where she can blend with the family without being attached to Salman.”
Interestingly, the guest-list at this year’s birthday party included very few female guests, corroborating the growing belief that Salman is now looking at a serious permanent relationship.
Says the guest, “Besides Sangeeta Bijlani who was there as part of Salman’s family, the only recognizable female guests were Kangna Ranaut, Shriya Saran, Diana Hayden and Mugdha Godse. Salman kept a distance from the ladies and danced the night away with his buddies.”
Anil Kapoor was not only there with his brother Boney Kapoor, Anil broke into his ‘1 2 Ka 4‘ dance number from Ram Lakhan on the dance floor with Salman.
Says the guest, “Every time a song played, the relevant star was pulled to the dance floor by Salman. Imran Khan who was there with his wife Avantika joined Salman for a jig when ‘Pappu Can’t Dance Saala‘ came on.”
Salman and his close friend Sajid Nadiadwala were constantly in serious conversation. Shirish Kunder who will be directing Salman in Sajid Nadiadwala’s Kick was there with his wife Farah Khan. Clearly, the couple’s friendship with Shah Rukh Khan is over.
The highlight of the night was Salman and Sonu Sood’s joint efforts on the dance floor to the sound of ‘Munni Badnaam‘. Apparently, Salman pulled out all stops and danced as though there was no tomorrow.
Says the guest, “He was very comfortable in male company, polite and aloof with the ladies. This birthday Salman was clearly in a mellow and guarded frame of mind. We suspect he’d be married by the time the next birthday is around.”
Salman played the perfect host. “He looked after us so wonderfully. On his earlier birthdays, he would just be there while we made ourselves comfortable at his farmhouse. But this time, he looked after every guest personally, right until Wednesday afternoon when the party ended. Salman made sure every guest stayed for the breakfast of parathas. He told all of us we couldn’t leave without tasting the ‘brilliant parathas’ that are made on his farm. No one refused. You can’t say no to Salman.”
Interestingly, Farhan Akhtar, fresh from his collaboration with Shah Rukh Khan, was also present at Salman’s birthday bash in Panvel. Salman, we hear, is seriously considering a film for Farhan and Ritesh Sidhwani’s banner.
Sonu Sood who flew down for just 5 hours on Tuesday night from Hyderabad said it was a trip worth making. “Not everyone gets a call from Salman bhai to come to his birthday. I couldn’t refuse. I flew out of Hyderabad at 9 pm on Tuesday, reached Salman’s farmhouse in Panvel by 12.30, stayed for four hours and flew back to Hyderabad in the morning. I’d do the same again. But only for Salman bhai.”
Shah Rukh Khan must have gone through some real anxious times when the Thursday evening press show resulted in select mischief mongers spreading negative word of mouth about his latest release Don 2. Critics in general weren’t really kind too and despite the fact that the film took the best opening ever for a non-holiday release, there were many waiting with daggers and all set to attack after the weekend went by. However as things stand today, Shah Rukh is pretty much having the last laugh with the film holding well even on the weekdays, hence ensuring that the film is a clean hit and may just turn superhit.
“Don 2 has done well and now all eyes are on how far would it go”, says a source, “Of course Ra.One backlash coupled with the fact that the film hasn’t been designed for universal audience means that the film wouldn’t end up creating or beating records set this year. However, it is now entering the Rs.100 crore club and make neat profits for all involved. For Shah Rukh this is now his second century in a row. Of course Ra.One was touted to do much better but negative word of mouth aborted its run, though not before it managed Rs.115 crore for itself. However in case of Don 2, multiplex audience across the country are liking the film which is a big plus.”
There are some who are of the belief that given the fact brand Shah Rukh is involved, each film of his should be setting benchmarks instead of just coming close to them and compare with the contemporaries.
“Agreed, but for that a film should be designed as the one with universal appeal as well”, says a prominent filmmaker on condition of anonymity, “If he plays to his strengths and ends up serenading women in chiffon sarees for a Yash Raj film, he is bound to set records. However, of late he has been experimenting too much and making a conscious call to stay away from mushy affairs, case in point being a My Name Is Khan, Ra.One or Don 2. Results are of course going to be mixed.”
However, his fans worldwide are now rooting for him to do get back into wholesome family entertainment mood as a result of which in months to come, he would begin films which, as per industry parlance, are considered to be ‘safe’.
“Yash Chopra’s film that he is doing with Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma cannot go wrong. Then there is Rohit Shetty’s Chennai Express for which he starts shooting with Kareena Kapoor. These are the films that have an eye on multiplexes as well as single screen audience. Guess Shah Rukh is through with technology, gizmos and 3D now, it is time to get that major biggie which would shut the mouth of even the staunchest of detractors”, the filmmaker adds.
His fans wouldn’t mind that either.
Kamal Haasan talks exclusively to Subhash K Jha on his new Hindi-Tamil bi-lingual & passion for films, read on…
Vishwarapoom, your latest brainchild, was supposed to co-star Sonakshi Sinha. What happened?
There were dates issue. We tried to work it out. But there were legal contracts and any delay would have had repercussions. So we had to regretfully move on. But there was no ugliness, no bitterness or ego hassles.
Wasn’t she really young for you?
That was the way it was written. I was playing my age. She was playing hers.
Vishwaroopam is a project whose direction you had to take over?
It was my project and my story. Then time was running out. Sonakshi Sinha’s dates were gone. My dates were also running out. I do one project at a time. If the director doesn’t respect my time, I will have to. I am very clear on this. If my dates are being wasted the project becomes mine. I’ve limited time, what with me celebrating a birthday every year. I wish I could celebrate my birthday like the government, every five years.
Vishwarooopam is said to be inspired by the Anthony Hopkins starrer Hannibal?
After I read that I was really inspired to think about a film based on Hannibal. I may do that in the future. Not this time. Vishwaroopam, I am keeping the theme close to my chest. Here in Tamil Nadu the press has a tendency to jump the gun and draw conclusions and create trouble. For example if I make a spiritual film they’ll say since it’s Kamal Haasan it has to be subversive , so they’ll ban it even before it’s ready.
Where is Vishwaroopam set?
The US, India, UK, Jordonâ€¦
It’s being shot simultaneously in two languages?
That’s right. In Hindi and Tamil. My first bi-lingual since Hey Ram. I am happy with the work we’ve done so far. Dasavathaaram got dubbed into Hindi, but the vocabulary was twisted. Unless it’s a really funny film like Appu Raja the dubbing doesn’t work. The culture-specifications come in the way. How do I say Jaise karni vaise bharni in Tamil? That’s why we’re doing a double version of Vishwaroopam and needed a leading lady who had no fear of languages. Om Puri Saab has that fear. He refuses to do a Tamil film. Some people fear the unknown too much. I embrace it.
Your leading lady in Vishwaroopam?
She’s Pooja Kumar; a Broadway actress from New York, Punjabi girl of Indian origin. It’s a big break for her. Vishwaroopam is probably the biggest film being made in Tamil Nadu right now.
You completed 57 years in November. Out of these a good 50 years in front of the camera. Aren’t you exhausted?
The day I start looking at acting as work I would be. Working for money or fame saps you. I stopped doing that 25 years back The only time I am really happy is when I am in front of the camera. When I am not, I start ruminating, restrospecting and brooding. I equate acting to building card-houses which I used to do as a child. I spent hours doing it. My mother used to shout at me, ‘Are you building the Taj Mahal?’ For me it was building the Taj Mahal. Today I feel like Shah Jehan trying to build something taller than me (my career).My work is my card-house. I truly admire what they do on the beaches of Orissa. They create true work of art on the beaches and then watch the wind and the waters sweep it away.
How do you manage to get so excited about your films even today?
Because the first 100 films that I got were market-driven. They were films which everyone presumed were going by the market demand. Actually there was so much I wanted to do. People advised scolded and counseled me about my career. So one day I woke up and decided to nurture Kamal Haasan, the actor.
Your recent Dasavatharam is apparently a huge hit in Tamil?
Yes, the Hindi dubbing was not a great idea. Then I did Manmadan Ambu which didn’t do too well for reasons I won’t go into. So many factors go into the making of a film, not just Kamal Haasan or Rajnikanth.
You are often forced to take over troubled projects. Wouldn’t you just like to focus on acting?
But I was always a reluctant actor! I continue to be that. I announce a project, the camera rolls and I’m happy. I’m fortunate to be doing leading parts even now. Except for my mentor K Balachander for whom I can do even a walk-on part. When he directed his 100th film I just walked in to do a small role. I just clowned around on camera. Balachander is my inspiration. He had a heart problem 40 years back. He has been making films for another 46 years .He can never grow old. My father used to be like that until he suffered a stroke. Then I suddenly realized he was an old man. That’s also true of my brothers Chandra Haasan and to an extent Charu Haasan. I can never imagine them being old.
Your brother-in-law Mani Ratnam too had a heart scare recently?
He is a cool cat. I was surprised when he had a heart problem. Yeah I heard he checked into the hospital on his own. He probably scripted a convenient time for his hospitalization. People think my film with Mani Nayakan is my best work. To an extent it’s true. But I’d like to think my best is yet to come.
Another film with Mani Ratnam?
We keep discussing ideas. But we never get down to it. I don’t know what we fear. We spoke again on my birthday when he came visiting. He wanted to know what it felt like acting producing and directing all at once.
What does it feel like?
It’s easier to move the table on the sets yourself than to ask someone else to do it. But seriously, direction is a lot of responsibility. But if you’ve been trained under Balachander as I have, it’s a lot easier. You have everything down on paper before you start shooting. Alfred Hitchcock used to say he had everything in his script and then he had to begin the boring process of directing it. By now while directing I am experienced enough to know my moves.
There was one character Balram Naidu in Dasavathaaram of a research analyst that became very popular. His speech and personality have become iconic. He was also played by Sanju Bhai (Dutt) in a Hindi film (Chatur Singh 2 Star). So yes, I am returning to comedy. Then someone also wants me to play Tipu Sultan. My hibernating historical Marudanayagam is still talked about. People ask, ‘When are we releasing it?’ They talk of it as their own.
Tipu Sultan was a very controversial figure?
We aren’t taking the political angle at all. Tipu Sultan is now being researched and written.
Are you enthused by Hindi cinema?
Yes, some of it. I am very happy Aamir Khan is now attempting films that should’ve been done ten years ago in Hindi. People attribute this new cinema to the entry of corporate houses in Hindi cinema. But where were these corporate houses when Hrishida (Hrishikesh Mukeherjee) made his films, and Gulzarbhai made Achanak? Brilliant films are possible in every corner of India and at any time.
Your elder daughter Shruti Haasan has made a career in both Tamil and Hindi?
I’m proud of her because she isn’t doing a product of our home banner Rajkamal Films. The only thing Rajkamal did for her was to give her a chance to do the background score in Unnaipol Oruvan. It wouldn’t matter to me if she failed as a movie actress. But right now it looks like a winning streak.
Do you advise her on her choice of films?
No. When we talk career we get into an argument. I know it sounds cliched, but we talk as friends. Every father says that. This started 10-12 years back. In Hindi films she is facing the same problems I did. If a K. Balachander hadn’t come along to do Ek Duuje Ke Liye with me in Hindi I wonder what would’ve happened to me! I would have suffered much worse because Shruti is far more savvy than me.
Don’t you want to act in a film with her?
Shruti has been telling me that we should. But I don’t want her to do it just for the heck of it. She is a star now. I want her to act in one of our home productions for the glory of our banner. By the way for the Tamil version of Dasavthaaram she was my coach for my American accent. She had just returned from the US and was the perfect medium to help her father’s Madrasi accent to be transformed into a yankee accent. She was a bully. She made me do many retakes in the dubbing. And after the dubbing she wanted me to correct some more of my accent. Eveyone thought that was taking it a little too far (laughs).
And your younger daughter?
Every time Akshara stands behind the camera and says, ‘This is where I want to be I am reminded of myself.’ I started behind the camera and gradually moved to the front.
Digest this! Ekta Kapoor is holidaying in Thailand and shaking in her chair watching a movie in 4D. It’s Mission Impossible. Now, out here in misty Mumbai, the Indian Film Fraternity has literally not stopped shaking since yesterday over the biggest news of 2011 that read – ‘Karan Johar and Ekta Kapoor are coming together in 2012 to produce a love story with a twist‘. Then there’s still The Dirty Picture pushing its way and inching closer to a Rs.90 crore mark. But that one question everyone’s been asking since a couple of years is – What’s going on? What does Balaji Motion Pictures do that’s so extraordinary? So after talking to Ekta this morning, I’ve come to know that the extraordinary thing isn’t the movies that she makes, it’s the people that she collaborates with. Welcome aboard Dharma Productions and Karan Johar. Together, they’ve announced their first maiden venture for the big screen – an untitled movie written by Althea Kaushal, directed by debutant Akshay Roy and backed by two creative heads that are making a lot of heads spin since the last twenty four hours. Come to think of it, their biggest competition will be this question – Can they make a love story that pushes the envelope? Hell yes! Currently in the scripting stage, Ekta and Karan have always believed in giving creative ownership to their team and believe it or not, that same possession will bring about the revolution once this biggie hits the big screen. And no matter what the world says, the duo are here to shake things up big time because they share in common the belief that they don’t make movies to make money, they make money to make movies.
UK’s Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama‘s London correspondent dials all the way to Thailand and talks to India’s prized possession who is just not holidaying but thinking every second of her time – How do I get time from the busiest people in the world and entertain them? For a woman who has made a living fostering creativity talks about pushing teams beyond their comfort zone, encouraging rebellious new talents, building morale and her favourite love stories. Ekta, it’s your turn now!
“The Dirty Picture has surpassed beyond my expectations”
I’m really hoping that The Dirty Picture reaches the three figure mark. The movie has surpassed way beyond my expectations. But let me tell you, the movie that Karan and I have announced yesterday has been in the talks before The Dirty Picture had released. We were jamming for sometime over this thing and I know the expectations have gone overboard because two very interesting companies have joined hands.
“Karan has got that slice of life in his movies that are filled with love in abundance. So hopefully the combination will work”
The movie is smart and will be an interestingly shot film with debutant director Akshay Roy in the hot seat. I was so charged about this movie when Karan and I discussed this. It’s a very content driven film. The few things I’ve done in our movies are edgy, bold and innovative and Karan has got that slice of life in his movies that are filled with love in abundance. So hopefully the combination will work.
“We never want our movies to buckle under the pressure of expectations. We make movies that we like”
There is no success formula in Balaji Motion Pictures office. I’ve never believed that there is a success formula to make movies. We first make sure what we want to make and the rest is history. We never want our movies to buckle under the pressure of expectations and over the top enthusiasm. It’ll never happen that one day you’ll make a movie that everyone will like. If it happens, it’s great. But we make movies that we like and will keep doing that all my life.
“I believe romance is always edgy”
I did the most edgy and innovative love story quite a few years ago on the television called Kasautii. It was a cursed love story. But yet it was an identifiable emotion and an understandable one. Love cannot be self-explanatory for everyone to understand sometimes. I believe that romance is always edgy.
“My favourite love story is Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and that’s why I went to Karan Johar”
Honestly, my favourite love story is Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and that’s why I went to Karan Johar to talk about this love story that we are making. In the history of love stories this is my favourite and then not far behind is Maine Pyaar Kiya along with Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna. KANK was a very bold and a brave attempt by Karan back then and sometimes the uncomforting works better in love stories.
“Karan and I’ve always backed the young talents. See how many good directors he has launched”
Akshay Roy is a young boy and very hardworking. Karan and I’ve always backed the young talents. See how many good directors he has launched. We got to give someone a chance to prove his mantle and Akshay is hell bent on proving just that through this film.
“Althea Kaushal and Akshay Roy are great finds”
No casting will ever start for me till the entire script is locked and ready. Althea Kaushal is writing this movie of ours. Both Althea and Akshay are great finds. It’s easy to call the cast and tell them to come on board. The kind of attitude, styling and mannerisms for characters will only be visible if the movie’s written in its entirety. That’s when we know whom to approach for the movie. We will never know the nuances till the characters are ready and that’s when our actors will be ready too.
Unlike Aishwarya who covered her baby bump in layered outfits, Celina Jaitley has no qualms in showing off her baby bump.
Celina Jaitley, who married her hotelier boyfriend Peter Haag in July this year and is now expecting twins, was spotted celebrating Christmas with husband at a at Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai.
The actress is expected to deliver in April.