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Rajnish Sharma is an India-based journalist who has worked for leading Indian dailies like The Times of India and Hindustan Times. Besides these dailies he has written for a host of magazines and dotcoms in the US, Hong Kong and now Australia. Not one to get tethered to a beat he has covered virtually every aspect of journalism with his wide ranging interests ranging from culture & cuisine to finance & technology and from politics & Indian diaspora to environment & Bollywood. He can be contacted click here

Shah Rukh made of the ‘write’ stuff
In between hectic shooting schedules and spending quality time with his family, the super-energetic Shah Rukh Khan has managed to find time for another activity, something that will surely speak volumes about his talents as a writer. Yes, the superstar is all set to come out with his autobiography in the near future. “My book is coming along nicely. It was Mahesh Bhatt who put the idea into my head.” says the actor who is already through 25 chapters. The book which starts with his childhood and ends with the birth of his daughter is titled 20 Years To A Decade. Interestingly, there’s a chapter titled No News Is Good News which is dedicated to journos. Reveals SRK: “My last line is: Just when you thought he has finished this book, wait for the sequel.” We will!

Incidentally, Shah Rukh is in the US these days for a top-secret project. Well, what we mean is that the actor is shooting in the high security areas of NASA for Ashutosh Gowarikar’s Swades.

Ash’s influence not ‘Paramount’
Time Magazine may have named Aishwarya Rai among the 100 most influential people in the world, but it seems that still isn’t enough to fetch her a role opposite Brad Pitt. According to Bollywood baddie Gulshan Grover, Paramount Pictures has said a categorical ‘No’ to the suggested name of Ms Rai as Pitt’s leading lady in a forthcoming Hollywood film. Grover who is part of the cast, has been asked by Paramount to scout for a Bollywood actress other than Ash. Says he: " I didn’t bother to ask them why." The film, to begin early next year, will be shot partly in India.

But Ash still has old faithfuls like Gurinder Chadha sticking to her. Chadha has approached her Bride and Prejudice heroine for a new crossover film being produced jointly by Chadha and Kintop Pictures of Los Angeles. The movie titled Mistress of Spices will be the directorial debut of Chadha's husband Paul Mayeda Berges. It is a story of an Indian woman who runs a spice shop in San Francisco and has mysterious powers to cure problems of her customers.

Big B to play ‘Godfather’
Amitabh Bachchan is all set to do a Marlon Brando. Even as Ram Gopal Varma wraps up the Abhishek-Antara starrer Naach, he is gearing up to direct Big B in a film called Sarkaar which is “my faithful version of Francis Coppola's The Godfather.” The film will start in August or September. RVG has a unique take on the classic: “In spirit I want to remain as close to the original as possible. According to me, The Godfather has nothing to do with the mafia or the underworld. It's about a patriarch and his family honour.” Sarkaar will deal with high politics. The underworld will only be a tool in their hands, according to the director.

Incidentally, two years ago Mahesh Manjrekar planned to re-make The Godfather in Hindi as Kutumb with Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar and Abhishek Bachchan for producer Feroz Nadiadwala. The project got shelved. Let’s hope Sarkaar meets a better fate!

‘Kiss Miss’ is youth icon
She was first seen as Shah Rukh Khan’s bride in a TV commercial a few years back. Then this attractive model made her debut on the big screen with Khwahish (Desire) and Mallika Sherawat kissed fame — or should we say infame — as ‘Kiss Miss’. And now with Mahesh Bhatt’s Murder, the lady is hot! And yes, it has everything to do with her red-hot scenes with, not one but two, Bollywood hunks in the erotic thriller. Wait there’s more — the latest is that well known CNN journalist and broadcaster Riz Khan reportedly referred to the bindaas babe as a ‘youth icon’ of India. Mallika is quite delighted with the accolade. “Although it is for the young people in this country to decide if I truly deserve such glowing praise, one thing is clear - I have done my best to reflect their aspirations. Like them, I too don't believe in hypocrisy. For me, life is all about calling a spade a spade," she gushes.

Meanwhile, audiences wait for Kis Kis Ki Kismat in which this Jatni from Haryana will set the screen ablaze with our very own macho Jat, Garam Dharam. So the heat is on!

Two biggies are lined up for a June release and interestingly both of them feature Amitabh Bachchan. One is Farhan Akhtar’s much awaited Lakshya which also stars Hrithik Roshan and Preity Zinta, and the other is Govind Nihalani’s Dev in which Big B’s co-stars are Om Puri, Kareena Kapoor and Fardeen Khan.

After Ek Hasina Thi, Saif Ali Khan will now be seen in a romantic comedy Hum Tum in which he is paired with Rani Mukherjee. He is also doing an English movie titled Akuri (which means Scrambled Eggs in Parsi) where he plays a Parsi guy. His co-stars in it are Naseeruddin Shah and Dimple Kapadia.

Manisha Koirala is getting the opportunity to prove her mettle in her mother-tongue. She will be playing the role essayed by the late Nargis in the Nepali version of Mehboob Khan’s classic Mother India. Shooting will reportedly begin by the end of this year.

Zeenat Aman after a long hiatus (barring Boom) plays the lead role in a Malayalam movie titled Moksham. Zeenat plays a professor in Russia in the film which has been shot entirely in Russia.

The legendary Waheeda Rahman is currently in New Zealand shooting for director Girish Acharya's Brides Wanted, which is being made in both English and Hindi. The film also stars Anuj Sawhney, Girish Karnad and Sara Dias.

B.R. Chopra's grandson Abhay Chopra's student film, made for his film graduation, has been nominated for this year's Students Oscar for the best film award. Abhay is studying film direction in the US. The nominations are selected from entries from film schools from all over the US. The half-hour film titled India 1964, features Abhay's best friend and classmate, Ranbir Kapoor who is the son of Rishi and Neetu Kapoor.

Main Hoon Na
Starring: Shah Rukh Khan, Sushmita Sen, Zayed Khan, Amrita Arora
Producer: Shah Rukh Khan
Director: Farah Khan
Music Director: Anu Malik
If Main Hoon Na reminds you of the commercial hit cinema of the 70s…well, that’s exactly what Farah Khan set out to achieve. It doesn't preach. It doesn't go by logic. But it’s an entertainer all the way, much like the Nasir Husain and Manmohan Desai’s masala potboilers of yore.

Shah Rukh Khan is Major Ram Prasad Sharma, who is asked to go back to college on a secret mission. The purpose is two fold - to find his long lost brother (Zayed Khan) and to provide security to Sanjana (Amrita Rao) daughter of General Bakshi (Kabir Bedi in a cameo), who has initiated a peace dialogue with Pakistan. Raghavan (Suniel Shetty) is the bad guy trying to thwart the good guy's efforts.

Main Hoon Na has some thoroughly enjoyable moments in the first half. There's a college principal with chronic amnesia (Boman Irani), a professor who can't get her pronunciations right (Bindu), there's another professor who spits every time he opens his mouth (Satish Shah) and of course, there's a new chemistry teacher (Sushmita Sen) in her sizzling chiffons. Particularly delightful is the use of peppy RD Burman songs throughout. Post-interval, the movie moves into the action zone when the focus shifts to the terrorists and their mission.After a long time we get to see Shah Rukh Khan in true-blue action hero garb, though he also gets ample chance to emote the way only he can. While it’s true that the Khan towers over and above the rest of the cast, a proof of Farah’s directorial skill lies in the wonderful performance she is able to elicit even from Zayed Khan. SRK and Zayed bond warmly on screen. Suniel Shetty comes up with a refreshingly restrained act. Amrita Rao enacts her bubbly role well and Sushmita carries her part with verve. Boman Irani doesn’t exactly bring the house down like he did in Munnabhai, but he still does a great job.

Music by Anu Malik is in sync with the mood of the movie and the qawwali has become a rage. Dialogue by Abbas Tyrewala is whacky and touching by turns. V. Manikandan's cinematography is excellent. The director says she is quitting choreography and plans to take up direction full time. Good decision, Farah.

Current Top 10 Songs
1. Tumse Milke (Main Hoon Na)
2. Main Aisa Kyun Hoon (Lakshya)
3. Chak De (Hum Tum)
4. Anjana Anjani (Yuva)
5. Kaho Na Kaho (Murder)
6. Zara Zara (Run)
7. Bepanaah Pyaar (Krishna Cottage)
8. Kal Ho (Kal Ho Naa Ho)
9. Mann Ki Lagan (Paap)
10. Marhaba (Deewar)

Current Top 10 Movies
1. Main Hoon Na
2. Murder
3. Masti
4. Bardaasht
5. Sheen
6. Charas
7. Kal Ho Naa Ho
8. Khakee
9. Krishna Cottage
10. Hawas


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