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Golly, This Is Bolly
FSJ February, 2013

MALAIKA ARORA

BONSAI IN HIGH HEELS



A hard-nailed professional has her soft-as-mush side too.


The passenger sitting next to Malaika Arora Khan on a Delhi-Mumbai flight asked her with concern, ‘Are you all right?’ when she found the famous face next to her weeping softly.

Malla, as most friends call her, was reading the senti new chick lit novel Bonsai Kitten on the flight and was happily sobbing at the heroine’s travails!

Back on land, Malaika and sis Amrita Arora Ladak, very graciously agreed to release Lakshmi Narayan’s debut novel Bonsai Kitten at a Mumbai bookstore.

Eloquently speaking on the social relevance of the book in times when the focus is so strongly on sensitivity towards women, Malaika also disclosed how the title struck a personal chord in her because, “I used to be called ‘Bonsai’ by my mum, by everybody, when I was a child and the shortest one around!” That probably was why she got into the habit of wearing high heels, the glam girl threw in as a light aside.

It was an eventful evening for Amrita too. “It’s my first outing since I had my second baby,” she disclosed, wearing an all-black outfit that covered her well. The media can sometimes be so unrelentingly mean. When Amrita had stepped out for Midnight Mass on Xmas Eve, the cameras had caught her and questioned whether she was pregnant a third time because she hadn’t shed her post-pregnancy weight in a jiffy.

The truth is, Amrita delivered her second son only three months ago and a bout of vertigo forced her to take it easy for a few weeks. “Now I’ve ordered her to hit the gym,” laughed Malaika. Ammu has been walking and stretching and gymming and will soon be back to preening in high-hemmed clothes, like sis Malaika who doesn’t look like the mother of a 10-year-old from any angle.

Malaika, the professional, had a bad throat like most Mumbaikars. But with a lozenge tucked in her mouth, she was present at the book release, looking and talking her warm best.

At the launch, much attention lingered on celebrity filmmaker Gauri Shinde who had admirers telling her how much English Vinglish had “mesmerised” them. For someone who makes such mature cinema, Gauri is deceptively young and she handled the attention like a pro (she has been collecting awards all season). She read out an excerpt from the book and also took questions from the crowd which included, do you find any similarity between your heroine Shashi and Divya, the heroine of Bonsai Kitten? She did and Gauri explained why.

Like Malaika, Gauri also had an instant connection with the title – she loves cats and between hubby Balki and her, they have two at home! 

Shatrughan Sinha

TO PAK AND BACK WITHOUT A SCRATCH

Around the time that the moods turned aggressive at the LOC after the beheading of an Indian jawan by Pakistan, one politician who quietly hopped across and came back satisfied was filmland senior Shatrughan Sinha.

He was in Islamabad to attend the wedding of late President Zia-ul-Haq’s grandson Osman to Misha Sadiq. “Islamabad was freezing cold but the warmth of the Pakistani people was something else,” he quipped on his return. Apart from revelling in the hospitality, Sinha also met and broke bread with a variety of politicians, cutting across party lines.

After a brunch meeting with former President Nawaz Sharif, Shatru returned immensely proud – he discovered that daughter Sonakshi had admirers in that family too.

Shatru has always had a personal equation with many Pakistanis. Zia-ul-Haq’s daughter Zain had even tied a rakhi to him. Years ago, after attending a Zia family wedding with Punam, all three kids and their maids in tow, Shatru was floored when the then President had personally visited him to bid him goodbye. And then his plane had been inexplicably delayed – because Zia had come with gifts for all but had forgotten the maids. So he sent gifts for Sinha’s staff too, before he let their plane take off!

Great stories, but why does the warmth turn to heat and fury at the LOC?


INDIA & THE BAN WAGON

It has been so fashionable for Indian celebrities to talk against the American authorities and their much-spoken-about racial profiling that at one time, Kamal Haasan too had thrown his lot with the rising voices. “Because of my surname, Haasan,” he had alleged, the immigration guys in the US had given him a rough time.

As all our celebrities are wont to do, they crib and go right back to the same state – for vacations and for their shoots. Kamal Haasan shot in the same country, undisturbed, his latest film Vishwaroopam. The same film has now been hastily banned in Tamil Nadu, after the censors had passed it, because a few Muslim organisations objected to it.

When filmmakers would show their films (like RGV’s Sarkar) to the Shiv Sena supremo to be greenlighted for release, or a film like Dharavi would get banned, Shabana Azmi, Javed Akhtar and many other much-heard filmland voices would always come out strongly and righteously against extra-constitutional forces. Quite accurately, freedom-loving citizens have always maintained that once a film has been passed by the Censor Board, only a court of law can stand between a film and its free release anywhere in India.

Correct. So where does everybody stand on the extra-constitutional bullying that’s now going on against Kamal Haasan’s film?

Let’s face it. Whether an anti-Obama or anti-CIA or anti-state film, this would have never happened in America. His film would have been released there as peacefully as he made it.

Distinguished Dozen For Lincoln


It’ll soon be Oscar time this month and India will be on the red carpet once again. The Anil Ambani-owned Reliance-DreamWorks’ latest feature film Lincoln, directed by Steven Spielberg, has 12 nominations at the 85th Academy Awards and 10 nominations at the BAFTA.

The awards come after the thumping rewards at the box-office for Spielberg’s historical drama on the Civil War. A more minor battle begins now at the Oscars.














TIGER TALES

Picture this: a huge, beefy, strong-muscled Tiger Shroff, son of Jackie and Ayesha, soon to be launched as hero by producer Sajid Nadiadwala.

And imagine this: a small kid who nibbles, won’t eat, has to be bullied/coaxed at meal-time.

The two are the same and it is veteran Danny Denzongpa who affectionately discussed gen next at a party thrown by close friend Ranjeet. The villain and wife Nazneen were hosting a dinner on their fabulous terrace (with garden and swimming pool) for an official film and cultural delegation from Mauritius.


“It’s hard to believe that Tiger was once such a fussy eater, he would hardly eat. Jackie would call me up and say, make him eat at your place, he’s a little scared of you,” laughed Danny.

Jackie Shroff, Danny and villain Ranjeet are three close friends who have been in and out of one another’s houses for over three decades and all their kids too, have been childhood buddies. So there is a lot of avuncular interest in each other’s children; all of them have two each and all their sons (not daughters) are right now aiming at an acting career. For instance, Ranjeet’s beti, the attractive Gigi, is a designer all set to launch her own label.

Danny, who is a full-time businessman with breweries back home in Sikkim, has sent son Rinzing Denzongpa to the UK to study Business. Ranjeet’s son, Jeeva Bedi, was keen to hit the fast track as a race car driver but because it proved too expensive a passion for his parents, his Plan B is to turn to films. Tiger has already signed his first.

“Such focussed boys,” Danny observed, proud of the next layer of actors coming from their homes.  “Tiger has built his body so well, he’s strong as a bull and can polish off a chicken and a half at one go. It’s hard to believe that as a child he wouldn’t eat at all.”





AND DANNY’S DISCLOSURES

Danny himself is well-preserved for someone in his 60s. An immensely contented man who has always lived life totally on his terms, “I had decided to retire after Robot (the Rajnikant film) and stay in Sikkim,” he shared. But come winter and he would head back to his beautiful bungalow in Juhu, Mumbai, where he couldn’t sit twiddling his thumbs. So he decided to put retirement on the backburner and picked up two films on the understanding that they would be shot only in the two seasons when he would be away from Sikkim. They are big films once again – during the winter schedule, Danny will shoot for and wrap up by March the Akshay Kumar film Boss, and Siddharth Anand will fly him to Czechoslovakia during the rains to shoot for the Hrithik Roshan-Katrina Kaif film Bang Bang, inspired by Knight And Day.

Interestingly, Jackie is still very busy as an actor. Ranjeet keeps busy with a TV serial and the occasional film. Danny is back to work too. With all their sons also stepping into the studios, there will soon be two sets of Shroffs, Denzongpas and Bedis working simultaneously here. Rishi-Ranbir, you’ve got company.

Nautanki Sippys

What  better way to cheer dad on his birthday than by enacting a scene from his most iconic film ever? The birthday boy, Ramesh Sippy aka the man who directed Sholay; the scene, Dharam’s suicide bid perched atop a water tank. The madcap behind the idea, son Rohan Sippy, unveiled the first poster of his new film Nautanki Saala on his dad’s birthday and staged the scene with lead actors Ayushmann Khurrana and Kunaal Roy Kapur.

The film has theatre for a backdrop. With a title like that the theatrics will follow.



SO BE IT, ANUP

The venue: Le Sutra in Pali Hill, Mumbai, which has some of the most innovative menus in town (try their Indian fondue for instance).

The celebration: An uplifting dance by the severely handicapped – men in wheelchairs and crutches, girls who can’t hear. And all of them dancing in complete synchrony to a wonderfully choreographed piece from the Gita, no handicap ever intruding into their spirited performance.

The occasion: The launch of a wellness magazine called Tathaastu which has an imprint in several countries.

A lifetime of devotional music and life-changing experiences have given Anup Jalota a serenity that he will be sharing with many – the Bhajan Samrat  has turned editor of Tathaastu. The inaugural issue was released by filmmaker Manoj Kumar (he gave Anup his first break in films with Shirdi Ke Sai Baba), who is popular in the film industry for his holistic therapies. There is an extensive lead story by wellness guru Deepak Chopra to kickstart the Indian chapter. Will Anup be a Samrat in journalism as well? Tathaastu.

 
DABBOO’S TEASE: VIDYA BALAN

Dabboo and Manisha Ratnani have turned the launch of their annual desk calendar into a must-attend affair every winter. This is the time a star can do a check on his ratings coz if you’re not featured in Dabboo’s cal you don’t really count anymore.






Hrithik Roshan’s first-ever portfolio was shot by Dabboo, so it’s a given that if he’s in town, he’ll be there. This time Hrithik’s BFF Arjun Rampal (they party and vacation together) made it to the calendar – and to the bash. Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan are the new additions this year. A sign that they have indeed arrived?










Shah Rukh horsed around with Dabboo’s little daughter; this is one time the Ratnani couple party with their kids. “Don’t be surprised if I have a fourth,” Manisha cheerfully announced. She just delivered their third, a son, after two daughters.




Dabboo’s calendar tease of the year: Vidya Balan in daringly unbuttoned jacket and cigarette, who laughed uproariously when she entered, tickled pink at her daring pic that was quite the sensation of the evening.


OUR MAN OF THE MONTH


Give it to JOHN ABRAHAM for coming to the rescue of Mumbai’s emaciated horses that are abused and used to pull heavy ‘Victoria Carriages’ for the momentary pleasure of insensitive human beings. John has pledged his support to ‘People for Animals’ in their fight to protect and free these horses that are inhumanly treated until they die a slow, painful death. A heart ticks under the brawn.









The Secular Colours Of AMEEN SAYANI

Remember Mukri, the pintsized comedian of Dilip Kumar movies like Ram Aur Shyam and Neetu Singh’s dad in Amar Akbar Anthony? His writer-daughter Naseem Mukri’s daughter Saeeda recently wed seaman Conan Fonseca. Walking the bride down the aisle to give her away was the golden-voiced Ameen Sayani, feisty at 80, who drove down from south Mumbai to a church in Bandra to stand in as the father of the bride. God Bless
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