Gautaman Bhaskaran
an indian journalist
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© Copyright 2004



Cinema In General


Pans & Tilts… The Ash affair, film on Kashmir, Ta Ra Rum Pum, Lajjo…

The whale of a question in Bollywood now is, will the doe-eyed former Miss
Ash and Abhi
World be lucky the third time? Yes, I am talking about Aishwarya Rai, all set to wed into Indian cinema’s first family, the Bachchans. Her two earlier affairs with Bollywood Bad Boy Salman Khan (who, reportedly drunk, ran over sleeping pavement dwellers in Mumbai, and, earlier, shot black buck in Rajasthan violating a law) and chocolate hero Vivek Oberoi (who hung around her like Mary’s Little Lamb even when Ash was on jury duty at Cannes a few years ago) while seemingly leading up to the altar ended gracelessly. Khan allegedly abused her, and Oberoi could not keep his mouth shut.

But Abhishek Bachchan, who got engaged to Ash in January, has been restrained, having already lost one woman earlier, Karishma Kapoor. She belonged to a family that in many ways set Bollywood rolling in the 1940s and 1950s, right from the grand old patriarch, Prithviraj Kapoor, to his sons, Raj, Shammi, Shashi, and their sons and daughters…

But, Ash is still not free from worry. The planet Mars is aspected unfavourably in her birth chart, and unless she finds a partner who has a similar feature in his as well, Indian astrology that claims to be a near-perfect science predicts an unhappy marital relationship, even death to a partner. The Bachchans and Ash did make the mandatory rounds of several temples to appease the gods, but it is time that will tell us whether they have been mollified.

The marriage of Ash and Abhi will be a quiet affair at Prateeksha, the original Bachchan home at Juhu, on April 20 2007, the day considered by Hindus as auspicious to begin anything new, a voyage through life in this case.


Now for the real big news. Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan have not been invited for the wedding of the century, so to say. I can understand why Salman and Shah Rukh are not on the guest list: we know Salman gave a hard time to Ash, and Shah Rukh fell out with Amitabh Bachchan over “Kaun Banega Crorepati”. But, why has Aamir been kept out? Shocks never cease, do they.


The Ash-Abhi wedding card is elegance personified. The card is in the form of a gold and beige book, and its leaves open out to invite one to “Sangeet” (a song and dance pre-wedding entertainment) on April 18, and the actual marriage on April 20. There is an introduction invoking celestial blessing for the couple in Sanskrit verses, and a poem by Abhishek's poet-grandfather, the late Harivansh Rai Bachchan, on new beginnings and marriage along with two As intertwined on the cover of the book as well as on the accompanying box of chocolate meringues.


Rahul Dholakia made “Parzania", a film on the Gujarat riots of 2002 that killed 10,000 mostly Muslims. It was critically acclaimed, but could not get the cash boxes jingling. Not exactly. The movie was not shown in Gujarat at all, and even in other regions, “Parzania” had a limited run, thanks to the long delay by the Indian Censor Board in giving it a screening certificate. An understandably tired Dholakia is now ready to make another film on the Kashmir conflict, but he is not going to weave his script around politics. Rather, he will focus on Kashmir’s idyllic and ordinary life through the Bollywood formula of music and melodrama as well as din and dance. Sometimes, passion takes a hard knock, and rebellion runs aground, and what is left is compromise with a capital C.


The movie may not have a serious sounding name, but it has two of Bollywood’s great performers, Saif Ali Khan and Rani Mukherjee. The film is “Ta Ra Rum Pum”, a mushy romance helmed by Siddharth Anand. It is about a race car driver, and for Saif whose race of a life with Italian model Rosa crashed soon after his own heart ailment, “Ta Ra..” must be life relived on the fast track of mad motoring. The movie, shot mainly in New York, must have also come as pep for Rani, who is probably disappointed at failing to be the Bachchan “bahu”. I am told she was once in the race, with Jaya Bachchan and Big B quite keen on her marrying Abhishek. Well, there goes another romance crashing, another dream dashing.


Tailpiece: Kareena Kapoor will shoot for Mani Ratnam’s “Lajjo” from November 1. 2007. That appears like a great break for Kareena, who has not really been able to clinch good roles, except, of course, in “Omkara” (Othello), where as Dolly (Desdemona), she did a fine job. I hope Ratnam’s “Lajjo” will be as wonderful to us viewers, and to K.

(Webposted April 13 2007)