Gautaman Bhaskaran
an indian journalist
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© Copyright 2004

 

INDIAN CINEMA

Cinema In General

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Pans & Tilts…Star-struck Gods, selling a marriage, jealous partners…

In India, even Gods play favourites, and like mere mortals, the divine beings appear enamoured of cinema stars. Or, so we, I mean mortals, are made to feel. In Tirumala, the abode of Lord Venkateswara or Balaji, film actors literally play God. While the teaming crowds – hungry infants and tired-to-the bones elderly – wait for hours to have a darshan, their screen heroes and heroines arrive at the door to the sanctum sanctorum, wave around and breeze through. The huge gate opens in the nick of time to let the celebrities in and closes once they have passed by – all in the wink of an eye, as if some magic mantra had been chanted.

Aishwarya Rai
But this is no magic. The temple authorities are told well in advance about a star visit, and mobile telephones and walkie-talkies help make a celebrity entry or exit an affair of utmost precision.

Yet, a magazine reports that sometime ago Hema Malini, Madhuri Dixit, Sridevi and Meenakshi Sheshadri were asked not to visit Tirumala because it was peak time. In fact, Hema and Sridevi had planned to walk the 22-km up hill road from Tirupati to Tirumala.

Another shrine that attracts innumerable stars is Mumbai’s Siddhivinayak Temple, which became popular with movie men and women after Jaya Bachchan prayed for Amitabh’s recovery when he was grievously injured on the set of “Coolie”. Come Tuesday, Lord Ganesha is bombarded with celebrities, whose right of way is assured over the common folks. Two of the regulars there are Aishwarya Rai and Sanjay Dutt, and both have been trudging to this temple for very special reasons. Maybe, Ash prays that her choice of man this time is right. And, Sanjay probably wishes that he should be excused from serving time in jail.

But is Ganesha happy about this queue jumping? I wonder, for there should be no unequals in the House of God. What do you say?

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Aishwarya and Abhishek Bachchan have taken a cue from the wedding album of Liz Hurley and Arun Nayar. Like the Hollywood couple who sold exclusive media coverage to Hello magazine for a whopping sum of money, Ash and Abhi have done the same, selling the rights of their forthcoming marriage to an international bidder for millions of dollars. This will be the first time that such a deal has been made in India. The Bachchans will walk away with this credit. I feel that sanctity is eroded when something as sacred as the union of a man and woman is commercialised. Hindu weddings are but a series of holy rites performed by the couple with fire as witness. Imagine, placing such a ceremony under the hammer and letting the highest bidder capture such hallowed moments!

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But, when are Ash and Abhi getting married? I am told both are busy shooting different films. Abhi is working on “Drona” and Ash on “Jodha Akbar”. So Mr Bachchan Senior has been saying. The latest date is April 19. We will wait for confirmation.

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Now for post-nuptial star jealousy. Hrithik Roshan caused a mini scandal when he kissed a scantily clad Aishwarya in “Dhoom 2”. The Bachchans were shocked, and Abhi flinched. Well, it is now the turn of Hrithik’s wife, Suzanne, to feel the heat. She, I am told, is uncomfortable with her husband’s sizzling chemistry with Kareena Kapoor, and this is being cited as the reason for Hrithik refusing to do old-time friend Zoya’s movie with Kareena. This director gave Hrithik a chance when he lay defeated after “Lakshya” crashed. In the meantime, Hrithik has landed a meaty role in the Rs 70-crore “Aladdin”, to be produced by Rohan Sippy. When life is a ball why worry about lesser people.

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Tailpiece: Vipul Shah’s “Namastey London” will open on March 23 2007. It is a comedy about a Westernised Katrina Kaif marrying a dehati from Punjab, Akshay Kumar. Some have been saying that it is Manoj Kumar’s “Purab aur Paschim” in a new bottle. Rishi Kapoor, who stars in the movie, said that it reminded him of Mani Ratnam’s “Mouna Ragam” (Silent Note), while Gulzar felt that “Namastey London” resembled “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam”. Maybe, Shah’s work is a cocktail of all these. After all, our directors are really good in creating collages. Are they not?

(Webposted March 21 2007)