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  Bollywood Previews

Aishwarya Rai plays the title role in “Umrao Jaan.”
“Umrao Jaan”: Starring Aishwarya Rai, Abhishek Bachchan, Suneil Shetty, Shabana Azmi, Divya Dutta, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Puru Rajkumar; directed by J.P. Dutta; music by Anu Malik.

Remakes seem to be the trend in Bollywood these days and producer/director JP Dutta gives us his interpretation of Mirza Hadi Ruswa’s book ‘Umrao Jaan Ada.’ Set in 19th-century Lucknow, Aishwarya Rai plays the title role of a young girl, Amiran, who is kidnapped and sold to a kotha by an escaped convict her father had earlier helped put in jail.

Under the tutelage of Khanum, played by Shabana Azmi, the young girl is educated in literature, poetry, classical music, dance and style and is christened Umrao Jaan. Soon, this courtesan was famous in all of Lucknow for her grace and beauty.

Looking for true happiness, she is drawn to Nawab Sultan, a wealthy refined gentleman played by Abhishek Bachchan. Meanwhile, Faiz Ali, a feared outlaw also vies for her affections. Will Umrao be able to realize her dream of having her own family and home or will she remain confined to the kotha for the rest of her life. Listen for classical melodious music with lyrics by Javed Akhtar.

Shahid Kapoor and Amrita Rao overcome hurdles in Rajshri Productions’ “Vivah.”
“Vivah”: Starring Shahid Kapoor, Amrita Rao, Anupam Kher, Alok Nath, Seema Biswas; directed by Sooraj Barjatya; music by Ravindra Jain.

Rajshri Productions latest film focuses on the golden period between a couple’s engagement and marriage. Shahid Kapoor plays Prem, an eligible bachelor, who wants to take time to find his true soul mate but respects family traditions and values.

He agrees to meet Poonam, played by Amrita Rao at his father’s insistence. Poonam has been raised in a small town by her aunt and uncle played by Seema Biswas and Alok Nath. Her aunt is jealous since Poonam’s charm and beauty overshadow that of her own daughter’s.

After an awkward introduction, Prem and Poonam discover they truly are meant for each other and are engaged. The marriage is set in six months and they enjoy this romantic period in their lives. When everything is ready for the wedding, a crisis puts their love to the test. The makers say the film is a heart warming tale of unconditional love.

Abhishek Bachchan and Uday Chopra are back in “Dhoom II.”
“Dhoom 2”: Starring Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai, Abhishek Bachchan, Uday Chopra, Bipasha Basu, Rimi Sen; directed by Sanjay Gadhvi; music by Pritam.

Abhishek Bachchan, Uday Chopra, and Rimi Sen reprise their lead roles from “Dhoom” in this sequel. They are joined by Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai who are paired together for the first time. Reports say Aishwarya was told to lose weight and get in shape for this role. The details of the storyline have been kept under wraps, but we know policeman Jai Dixit is still chasing a gang of thieves on motorcycles.

Playing the “bad guy” for the first time, Hrithik Roshan is the smooth talker on the wrong side of the law Dixit is pursuing. Said to be the first Bollywood film extensively shot in Brazil, “Dhoom 2” promises many more action sequences that involve not just bikes but also skydiving and sand boarding. The previews showcase a high-tech thriller packed with special effects.

Jyothi Venkatesh
Bollywood Buzz


Meet Chachu, the dwarf!

Salman Khan gets into a role with which he can easily identify in producer Sajid Nadiadwala’s “Jaan-E-Mann,” set to release this Diwali. He plays a cool dude, a college stud called Suhaan, who is a charming womanizer. He is a longhaired rock singer and a wannabe star. He’s immature, full of himself and his dreams. Only when he is on the verge of losing everything does finally wakes up to what really matters in life.

Akshay Kumar
While he is the perfect guy to fall in lust with – Akshay Kumar who plays an intelligent guy called Agastya – is a nerd and a geek who cannot even communicate with a girl properly, forget about dating. Preity Zinta plays Piya, a college beauty, who is the princess whom every guy wants to fall in love with. Unlike “Mujhse Shaadi Karoge,” where he played a live- wire stud, in “Jaan E Mann,” Kumar portrays the role of a bespectacled, simple guy who gets tongue tied whenever he sees the woman he loves. The film also stars Anupam Kher, who will be seen in a path-breaking role as a happy-go-lucky, suit-clad dwarf, who is a successful lawyer friend, philosopher and guide to Khan. Kher says his character Chachu was challenging physically and mentally but notwithstanding the physical pain, he wanted to evolve as an actor by taking on challenging tasks.

“Main Hoon Don!”

Shah Rukh Khana and Priyanka Chopra
Though Kalyanji Anandji had composed the evergreen songs of the original “Don” starring Amitabh Bachchan, Zeenat Aman and Helen, and directed by Chandra Barot, the new version directed by Farhan Akhtar and starring Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra and Kareena Kapoor in the pivotal roles has Shankar Mahadevan-Ehsaan and Loy as the composers. Only two hit songs from the original sound track have been retained, “Yeh Mera Dil Pyar Ka Deewana” and “Khaike Paan Banaraswala.” Kapoor gyrates to the number done originally by Helen. According to SRK, who plays a double role in the film, like Amitabh Bachchan did in the original, it is his way of paying a big tribute to Big B who he has always looked upon for guidance as an actor. Khan, however is worried that there may be an attempt to compare him with the Shahenshah of acting. “I am interpreting the character of Don, which has been made more contemporary and precise in my own way. Let me reiterate that in no way can I stand up to the original performance in the earlier version.”

The race for Diwali releases

Aishwarya Rai
“Umrao Jaan” starring Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai and “Dhoom Part II” were slated for release during the auspicious occasion of Diwali. The release of both films has now been postponed. In the rat race to release their films, only two producers have succeeded. They are Farhan Akhtar and Sajid Nadiadwala, who will be releasing “Don” and “Jaan-E-Mann” respectively on Oct. 20 to coincide with the Diwali celebrations all over the world. While “Umrao Jaan” will now be released on Nov. 3, Sanjay Gadhvi’s “Dhoom Part II” produced by Yash Chopra and starring Hrithik Roshan, Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai in key roles will see the light of the day on Nov. 24. Rajshri Productions’ latest venture “Vivah” starring Shahid Kapoor and Amrita Rao and directed by Sooraj Barjatya will be released on Nov. 10 while the release of “Babul” starring Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan, John Abraham and Rani Mukherjee in pivotal roles and produced and directed by Ravi Chopra has been pushed to December.

Shah Rukh Khan speaks his mind

Shah Rukh Khan
Shah Rukh Khan is an actor who does not mince words and known for his stance for calling a spade a spade. "As an actor, I have slightly become tranquil. Experience teaches you a lot. You learn from your experiences whether good or bad and try to grow as a human being. I made it a point to learn from my various directors. Barry John who had taught me acting while I was in Delhi also has been instrumental in shaping me as an actor. I owe whatever I am today solely to him. I realize that if one wants to be a somebody, one cannot afford to sit idle. One has got to pursue one’s goal. Or else one cannot become a Sachin Tendulkar or M.F. Husain or for that matter a Lata Mangeshkar easily."

Talking about his penchant to do maximum number of endorsements, Khan continues, "I believe in the maxim Make Money However And Whenever You Can As Long As You Don’t Sell Your Body. No other actor I think has endorsed or will be endorsing so many products like I have done or I will be doing.

"To me acting is like a job for which I do get paid. I think your work is what life is all about. Ultimately, it is only work with which you are left. I look forward to whatever work I am doing. I like the process of work though I do not necessarily care about the final product, which in any case isn’t in my hands."

Jyothi Venkatesh is a veteran film journalist, friend and former colleague of Khaas Baat. He is based in Mumbai, the cradle of Bollywood.


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