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Salaam Namaste
“Salaam Namaste”: Starring Saif Ali Khan, Preity Zinta, Arshad Warsi; directed by Siddharth Anand; music by Vishal-Shekar.

This romantic comedy produced by Yash-Raj Films takes place in Melbourne, Australia. Saif Ali Khan plays Nick, a carefree guy who lives life to the fullest. He works as a chef in a restaurant and his passions are cooking and partying. Preity Zinta plays Ambar, a cheerful girl who arrives from Bangalore to study medicine. Her part-time job as a radio jockey for a station called Salaam Namaste has her interviewing Indians in Melbourne. When Chef Nick oversleeps and misses a scheduled interview, Ambar decides to teach him a lesson. The two are drawn to each other despite their opposing views on many matters. Not wanting to rush things between them, they instead decide to share an apartment with separate rooms as they get to know each other. Slowly, minor quarrels and rising tempers interrupt their happy moments. So, are they made for each other? The makers say “Salaam Namaste” offers a quirky take on life, love, and relationships. Debutante director Siddharth Anand assisted during the making of “Hum Tum,” another successful, colorful film about a cool, young pair.

“Chocolate”: Starring Anil Kapoor, Suniel Shetty, Arshad Warsi, Emraan Hashmi, Irfan Khan, Tanushree Dutta, Sushma Reddy; directed by Vivek Agnihotri; music by Pritam.

This unusually titled thriller tells the tale of seven strangers in a foreign land and a crime that brings them together. It’s Christmas time in London when a series of bizarre incidents shatter the celebrations of peace and joy. Some out-of-luck Indians are brought into custody by the police. But are they just scapegoats and is there a mastermind behind these events? Several subplots reveal the various characters that cross paths. Anil Kapoor plays Krish a debonair, egotistical lawyer with sharp skills ready for any challenge. Suniel Shetty is Rocker, a strong-willed man who never lets anything get in his way. Irfan Khan is Pipi, a thinker, who believes in following the right path. Tanushree Dutta plays Sim, a temptress with a suspicious past. Sushma Reddy plays a journalist going through hard times. Do these ordinary people have any dark secrets? The film’s tagline says, “Sometimes, it’s best not to ask too many questions.”


“Film Star”: Starring Mahima Chaudhury, Priyanshu Chatterjee, Vasundhara Das, Aryan Vaid; directed by Tanuja Chandra; music by Jatin-Lalit.

Set against the backdrop of Hollywood, this film features Mahima Chaudhury as Hiram Pundit an arrogant actress who thrives on public adoration. When her films aren’t successful and her popularity wanes, she can’t bear it. She runs into Digambar, played by Priyanshu Chatterjee, an old college friend she hasn’t seen in years. He’s now an out-of- work lawyer and alcoholic, who sings in a club to make a living. Digambar criticizes Hira, saying her acting has become predictable and she needs to reinvent herself onscreen. This chance reunion begins a series of life-changing events. Hira finds a real-life drama involving a traditional wife, the murder of her rich husband, and a powerful father-in-law. She hopes this true story will put her back on the A-list.

Vasundhara Das plays Leela, the woman in jail for murder, who Hira begins to sympathize with and resolves to help. Director Tanuja Chandra is known for her strong women-oriented films, including “Dushman” with Kajol, “Sangharsh” with Preity Zinta, and “Sur” with Gauri Karnik.

Anusha Kuchibhotla stars in “Chains.”

Meet Madan Bellam, a former engineer who founded Maaya Corporation, a software company in the Silicon Valley, and now is director-producer of an Indo-American thriller “Chains.” The California resident is gearing up to send the 108-minute movie starring Eric Roberts, Anusha Kuchibhotla, Jacob Narayan, Rashmi Rustogi and Ann Russell to film festivals after private screenings.

Shot in San Francisco, the film is about two friends, Meera and Susan, from different lands whose bonds transcend nationalities, until Susan mistakes Meera’s marriage as abusive. Bellam is quite open about the influence and inspiration behind the story, which he co-wrote.

“I wanted to show the subtleties of domestic abuse by weaving it into a story that will inform and entertain,” says the 40-year-old who spent $250,000 to make “Chains” in less than a year. “I was influenced by the wonderful integration of the Indian culture into Western culture in ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ and have attempted to present a realistic and non-stereotypical point of view.”

Bellam is working on his next project, a film that will be shot in Telugu and Hindi in India. “The film’s roots are based on ‘The Godfather’ by Coppola,” he reveals. “I will shoot it in Cuddapah village in Andhra Pradesh, where I was born.”

For more information on Bellam’s film, click on


The Kronos Quartet poses with Asha Bhosle, second from left.

Kronos Quartet deserves a pat on the back. Make that two. After all, how many string quartets would dedicate an album in honor of one of Bollywood's favorite musical directors R.D. Burman?

The soon-to-be-released CD, "You’ve Stolen My Heart: Songs from R D Burman’s Bollywood" is produced by the California-based group, which is made up of David Harrington, John Sherba (violins), Hank Dutt (viola) and Jennifer Culp (cello).

It’s the first time that Kronos Quartet, founded by Harrington about 32 years ago, has produced an album. It also is a first collaboration for the group with a Bollywood personality - Asha Bhosle. Harrington explains in detail how the CD came about: “I’ve known R D Burman’s music for 15 years,” he says.

“My collection of Indian film soundtrack is probably the largest of any kind that I have. As I listened to the collection, I began to realize that quite a few were either composed or sung by Burman. And the female singer was Asha Bhosle.”

The Kronos Quartet
More than a decade ago, a friend handed Harrington "Aaj Ki Raat" - Asha Bhosle’s album. In 1999, the Quartet recorded a solo version of Aaj Ki Raat with tabla maestro Zakir Hussain. It didn’t take long for Bhosle to hear about Kronos’ work.

“Since 2000, I began to go back to Burman’s music and finally it seemed like the right time to make an album,” says Harrington. Soon, he got in touch with Bhosle and within a few months, recording for the album was completed.

“I wanted to use original recordings like in Western classical music,” he says. “In the spirit of Burman’s musical polyglotism, Wu Man’s pipa was substituted for the santoor and sarod. And because rhythmicality is an essential ingredient in Burman’s music, we brought in Zakir Hussain.” v Kronos itself augmented its acoustic sound with keyboards, percussion etc.

Of the 12 tracks on the album, Bhosle has sung eight, including the ever-popular Dum Maro dum (Hare Rama Hare Krishna), Chura Liya hai, (Yaadon Ki Baraat), Piya Tu ab to aaja, (Caravan), Mera Kuchh Saaman, (Ijaazat), and two Bengali songs.

“Asha Bhosle is not just a great singer but also a great musician. Her voice is an instrument in itself,” says Harrington. Each member of Kronos also has contributed a solo with the cello, violin and viola

"You’ve Stolen My Heart: Songs from R D Burman’s Bollywood," will be released this month in the U.S. Harrington hopes that it will be released in India some day also.

“Burman was an amazing creative composer and I feel inspired, better and refreshed after wrapping up the album,” says Harrington.

“I hope an audience is out there that will become acquainted with the genius of R D Burman and the unbelievable mastery of Asha Bhosle.”

By Nitish S. Rele

Three Indian movies recently made it to Time magazine’s list of 100 all-time favourite films.

Satyajit Ray’s "The Apu Trilogy" (Pather Panchali, Apur Sansar, Aparajito), Mani Ratnam’s "Nayakan" and Guru Dutt’s "Pyaasa" are part of the unranked but alphabetically listed names compiled by the magazine’s critics, Richard Schickel and Richard Corliss. The two critics each picked 100 films, out of which 40-50 titles made both the lists.

Schickel had this to say about "The Apu Trilogy: “… Ray’s filmmaking is direct in manner, simple in its means and profound in its impact. It is, as another great master, Akira Kurosawa, said, ‘The kind of cinema that flows with the serenity and nobility of a big river’ – the river of life as it is ordinarily lived.”

Ratnam gets commended by Corliss in the following words: “He has no such difficulty blending melodrama and music, violence and comedy, realism and delirium, into a two-and-a-half-hour demonstration that, when a gangster’s miseries are mounting, the most natural solution is to go singin’ in the rain.”

And on the classic "Pyaasa," Corliss remarks: “The writer-producer-director-star paints a glamorous portrait of an artist’s isolation through dappled imagery and the sensitive picturising of S D Burman’s famous songs. And Rehman, in her screen debut, is sultry, radiant — a woman to bring out the poet in any man, on screen or in the audience.”

Among the other films making the list were "ET," "The Godfather — Part I and II", "Kandahar," "Schindler’s List," "Psycho" and "On The Waterfront."

Missing on the list was the classic "Gone with the Wind."

Apparently, Schickel and Corliss “don’t give a damn” for the film.

The Warrior

“The Warrior,” winner of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award for Best British Film, opens in New York City and Los Angeles on July 15 and additional cities later. Hopefully, this tale of a local enforcer for a rich Indian warlord who renounces his life of violence and then becomes prey of his murderous ex-colleagues will make it into Florida theaters soon.

Directed by Asif Kapadia, “The Warrior” follows the hero’s journey from the deserts of Rajasthan through the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas. It features a mix of samurai-style movie action, stirring performances, sumptuous landscape photography and a mystical tale of personal redemption. Kapadia, who makes his directorial debut with the film, has crafted an exotic, yet universal, story about the human spirit.

Irfan Khan stars as Lafcadia, a skilled and deadly Rajput warrior, who works at the behest of a brutal local warlord (Anupam Shyam) who regularly sends Lafacadia to carry out such savage punishments as beheadings and pillaging raids of entire villages. Then one day, Lafcadia decides to go straight. In the middle of a massacre, a mystical encounter with a young girl brings about a moment of transformation in which the warrior drops his sword and vows never to kill again. Gathering his only son Katiba (Puru Chhibber), Lafcadia hits the road and heads for his native mountain village.

But the warlord who controls Lafcadia will not let his warrior go. The warlord soon dispatches a second warrior, the ruthless Biswas (Aino Annuddin), to hunt down Lafcadia and bring back his head. “I didn¹t want to make a small film. I wanted to push myself as a filmmaker and make something unique to me,” says Kapadia of Indian descent but now living in England. “The project was a huge leap into the unknown but I loved the story and was desperate to see it come to life. I was drawn to shooting something on a large scale, with distant, strange landscapes, horses, deserts and burning villages. And I had fallen in love with the amazing light of India, the people, the faces, the choices of untouched landscapes.”

Presented by Award Academy winner Anthony Minghella (“The English Patient,” “Cold Mountain²) and Miramar Films, the 88-minute movie is in Hindi with English subtitles. It is produced by Bertrand Faivre.

Information for this story was provided by Miramar Films.


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