Yash Raj Films has lost it now

The boom time for the Mumbai film industry is not translating into windfalls for top Bollywood production house Yash Raj Films (YRF), with its first offering of 2008, "Tashan", failing to live up to the hype.

While in 2007, YRF's tally of flops outweighed that of hits, their first release this year has failed to charm critics and the audience response to "Tashan" has not been too heartening.

Though heavy on formula and style, the film starring the reigning star of the box-office, Akshay Kumar, and media's favourite star couple, Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor, has no story to tell. Seems that writer-director Vijay Krishna Acharya was so busy packaging egos that he forgot what he wanted to say in "Tashan".

The fact that "Tashan" did not release in several multiplexes due to a long-standing tiff with cinema hall owners over sharing of revenues has been a major dampener. The country's top production house has been trying to get multiplex owners to agree on a new revenue sharing formula.

Their offer of keeping 55 percent of the box-office collections in the first week was rejected by exhibitors.

According to news reports, the first day's collection of "Tashan", which opened only in single-screen theatres on Friday, stood at 70 percent to 80 percent in Mumbai. Given that the film has not met expectations of both critics as well as audiences, the collections are likely to dip in the days ahead.

Its releasing in single-screen theatres is economically less profitable as fewer number of shows can be screened each day and the cost of tickets is much lower than in multiplexes.

Trade weekly said the film had a 70 percent start, but there were reports of business sliding downwards as day progressed. The reports are negative and the biggie is not likely to sustain in the days to come, according to trade analyst.

For YRF, the third highest spender in Bollywood at the moment after Reliance Entertainment and Indian Films, the fate of "Tashan" will serve as a cautioner.

The illustrious production house will be pumping in Rs.3.5 billion over the next 15 months into the industry and cannot afford to leave their audiences feeling unsatisfied.

Reliance Entertainment and Indian Films, which will be investing Rs.5 billion and Rs.4.4 billion in the industry over the next year-and-a-half respectively, are the biggest moneybags of the industry at the moment.

But among the seasoned banners, it is YRF that leads the pack. They have both the talents as well as enjoy faith of the audiences.

The Rs.120 billion strong Mumbai-based Hindi film industry is inundated with public and private investment. Entry of corporate bigwigs has shaken up traditional production houses.

This year, YRF, is releasing as many as five films across genres - thriller, comedy, romance and animation, starring some of the top actors and directors. Though the number is small in comparison to other banners, the banner is not known to churn out so many in a single year.

Known as the czars of Bollywood, YRF have been going through a bad patch ever since the average performance of "Ta Ra Rum Pum" and debacle of mega-starrer "Jhoom Barabar Jhoom" last year.

Though they tried to do things differently by taking up women-oriented scripts, they could not make things work in other releases of last year -- "Laaga Chunari Mein Daag" and "Aaja Nach Le". The only saving grace was "Chak De! India".

The lesson that content is king is still to get embedded in the core of filmmaking in India. But with production houses like UTV Motion Pictures planning to roll out 18-20 films this year and the Indian Film Company readying 12-13 films, it is a lesson that needs to be internalised at the earliest.

UTV, Indian Films and YRF will produce some of the most awaited releases of the year like Aditya Chopra's "Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi" starring Shah Rukh Khan, Rakesh Omprakash Mehra's "Dilli 6", Akshay Kumar starrer "Singh is Kinng", which is being directed by Anees Bazmee, and "Ghajini", which has Aamir Khan in the main lead.

I was not flirting with Shahid: Jiah

Jiah Khan has shot for two days for Ken Ghosh. And now she hears from the press that she's out of the film!

Bollywood plays strange games with those who aren't familiar with it.

Take Jiah Khan. She made a spectacular debut with an author-backed role in Ram Gopal Varma's Nishabd.

After that…nothing! Until Aamir Khan green-lighted her for a role in Ghajini.

Then suddenly everything started to fall in place. …Or so it seemed. Until strange stories about Jiah's conduct have surfaced.

Apparently she was shown the door in Ken Ghosh's new film with Shahid Kapoor. There was just one small problem.

Jiah wsn't informed about it.

She appears shocked by tales of her ouster. "I've already shot for two days for the untitled film with Shahid. After that there were scheduling issues.

My dates for Ken's film were clashing with Aamir and Ghajini. I couldn't possibly let the Aamir project suffer at any cost. It's my chance to create the impact that I couldn't, for some weird reasons, create after Nishabd."

Now Jiah is in fact all set to shoot for Ken's film. "I've already given my dates for Ken's shooting. No one has so far informed me that I'm not in the film. So it'd be right for me to presume the project remains as it is."

As for talk of her over-friendly messages to Shahid Jiah protests, "I've just sent him a couple of formal messages saying how much I'm looking forward to working with him. Is that wrong?" she asks with touching tenativeness.

She then whispers. "I'm new to all this. I keep to myself and I've no idea what people do in this industry. I am here only to work."

Jiah will have learn the hard way that PR skills are as important as professionalism.

In the meanwhile director Ken Ghosh suddenly surfaced to say Jiah was back in the project. "I wouldn't like to say much on the matter.I'll let my producers UTV clear all the misunderstanding.

But Jiah is very much in the project…This isn't to say that I don't want to work with Katrina. Of course I do. Look how hot she's at the boxoffice! We'll work together some other time. It's a small industry."

But how could Katrina be eligible for a role earmarked for Jiah??!!

"Why not?" Ken shoots back. 'Didn't Mr Bachchan do Zanjeer in place of Dev Anand? And didn't Mr Bachchan say yes to Deewaar after Rajesh Khanna opted? These things happen all the time. Like I said it's a small world."

Hrithik won't leave Suzanne

Hrithik wants to be in town when Hrehaan gets his sibling.

At the moment the most nervous person in Mumbai is Hrithik Roshan. His second baby is due any day now.

And Hrithik has put all his traveling plans on hold.

"I'm just not stepping out of Mumbai for some time now. That's why I had to say no to the Zee awards later this week in London. Right now I can't focus on any work that takes me outside Mumbai."

Keeping in mind his determination to stay put in Mumbai Hrithik is at the moment shooting for Zoya Akhtar's directorial debut Luck By Chance in Mumbai.

The actor has a guest appearance in the film…A commitment he made long ago and is only too happy to fulfil since Zoya is not only a close friend Farhan Akhtar's sister but also the first female director Hrithik has worked with.

"We've shooting nights for the last few days. And I've one full song to do before I am done. That will keep me busy till the end of the week," says Hrithik.

Hopefully by the time Zoya's shooting is done Hrehaan will have his sibling. And Hrithik his freedom to travel again.

I lacked vision & money like SRK: Suneil Shetty

Suneil Shetty, brand ambassador for hockey on the sting operation that exposed Indian Hockey Federation's secretary K. Jyothikumaran.

On one end you've been talking of taking the game forward. But this takes hockey ten steps backwards?
I disagree. This exposure of what lies beneath is the first step towards recuperation. The worst was when India failed to qualify for hockey in the Olympics for the first time in eighty years.

The team, coach, managers were all wrongly selected. I know we've a humongous amount of talent in our hockey team. If the sting operation is true it's the best thing to happen to hockey.

God has his own way of cleansing our conscience and our society. Today everyone has woken up to the changes required in the hockey. Why blame the players when you suddenly choose someone who's never been part of any team to play for the country?

A game is about the team spirit. The guy who passes on the ball has to have the confidence in the next guy. It's time now to make drastic changes.

Like what?
We should have a body akin to cricket's BCCI, a board controlling hockey. And we need energetic focused people like Rajiv Shukla and Sharad Pawar supporting our national sport.

These are people for whom the money wouldn't matter. They'd do it for the love of the sport. Look at cricket and cricketers from India. They're on the world map. The IPL is just the beginning. What happened to baseball and soccer in the US is happening to cricket in India.

Why can't we have a similar fate for hockey? Five years down the line I see the same happening to hockey. I'm happy that favouritism and corruption in the game are going to end.

Do you approve of the sting operation?
Not as a rule. Not if it's to mess up someone's personal life. But if it's for the good of the nation like the Jyothikumaran operation I'm all for it.

Don't you think sports in our country is being over-commercialized?
Which aspect of our life is not? Everything is up for sale. Even if the IPL is for money it's still a creative endeavour. What about the Football Premier League all over the world?

It has made football the no. 1 game worldwide. When someone has that uniform on it's a different feeling altogether. The IPL has just 5-6 foreigners. The rest are all our own boys.

But the loyalty factor gets mixed up for the spectator?
That's true. Mumbai is my karam-bhoomi and Bangalore is my janam-bhoomi. When the two play against one another I wouldn't know which was my loyalty would go.But we'll settle that.

So why aren't you part of the IPL?
I lacked the vision and the money. I'm happy to see Shah Rukh there, and doing so brilliantly.

What concrete plans for hockey?
I wanted to spread awareness about the game, probably get the spirit going.Now what we need is a committee to make drastic changes. And that's already happening. I'm there to support and promote hockey in every way possible.

When they had made Dhanraj Pillai sit on the bench at the peak of his career, I protested on his behalf. Today every sport needs a star to be promoted whether it's Ronaldo or Beckham. Dhanraj was our star. When they kicked him out I knew there was corruption.

Will be able to give time to hockey?
Of course I will. I believe every celebrity owes it to society to support worthy causes. And if the cause is for the country then nothing like it.

You were one of the first actors to bring in a spirit of entrepreneurship to the industry?
Oh absolutely. I think we need to learn a lesson from our senior actors who did so well for themselves and then died in poverty. It's a very fickle industry. All it takes is a Friday and you're forgotten. You've to secure your future.

Don't make movies the be-all end-all of your lives. That's why I did what I had to do with my finances. I'm a very strong individual. And I value my selfrespect.

Even if I had five flops no one can claim to have signed me as a favour. I never had godfathers.

But I've terrific friends like Ajay Devgan, Sanjay Dutt, Salman, Govinda and Shah Rukh Khan who've constantly supported me.

Aamir Khan hurt, hospitalised

Aamir Khan was badly hurt while performing a stunt for the remake of the Tamil thriller ‘Ghajini’ on Wednesday at Ramuji Rao Studios, Hyderabad.

He has been admitted to a city hospital and his wife Kiran has rached Hyderabad.

Shooting for the film has been postponed, which means that the release of the film would be delayed.

According to sources, Aamir Khan was shooting since 7 am in the morning. As he had to shoot intense action scenes, he wanted to finish the tougher sequences in the morning.

Around 11 am Aamir was shooting for a scene where he had to pick up a very bulky man and throw him against the wall. Unfortunately, Aamir pulled his hamstring muscle while he was enacting the action scene. Aamir just sat down and was unable to get up as he was in severe pain.

Immediately, a physiotherapist was called and he has been taking care of Aamir's injury since yesterday.

Bebo-Shahid meet again after split!!!

Remember Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack in Serendipity meeting at Bloomingdale's over the Christmas shopping, getting attracted to one another though they are attached elsewhere? They make a promise to meet if they are destined to.

Peter Chelsom's Serendipity now has a desi avatar.

Boney Kapoor's Milenge Milenge in the making for almost two years now is getting ready for release.

Ironically the film stars the once-lovers Kareena Kapoor and Shahid Kapoor. And since their first post-split film Jab We Met was such a whammer at the boxoffice, Boney of course wants to cash in on Milenge Milenge as the last film to feature the Jab We Met jodi.

For almost six months the producer has been chasing his dream pair.

But now the wait is over. After months of dillydallying Shahid and Kareena are dubbing for the film.

Says the director Satish Kaushik, "Shahid who's my neighbour has already started dubbing for the film.Kareena will dub as soon as she returns from abroad. Yes, the film does have elements of Serendipity."

The title Milenge Milenge suggests a touch of afterlife.

"No no. Milenge Milenge has got nothing to do with reincarnation. One film on that theme (Karzzz) is more than enough."

"Why is our marriage a matter of front-page interest?" - Arbaaz Khan

Arbaaz and Malaika Khan's rather ugly run-in with the monstrous after-shocks of over-exuberant product-marketing seems to have left the Khan family deeply affected. Known to be deeply conservative the Khans are extremely upset with Malaika and Arbaaz. "They feel it was wrong that we should've let them read about our little campaign instead of taking the family into confidence. In fact my parents clearly said, 'If we knew you two were going to be part of such a gimmick we'd have never allowed you to.' I never thought I'd ever get into something that would turn so ugly," sighs Arbaaz.

So far the Khan family has one child as a favourite child of controversy. "Salman doesn't care what is written about him. I'm not that kind of a guy. I'm very particular about the way I conduct myself especially about my marriage. Suddenly, I find myself fighting a lonely battle to redeem my wife and my image."

To compound the Khans' problems the multi-national company which conceived and implemented the queer campaign has completely washed its hands off the matter….a direct echo of what happened to the Roshans when the cell-phone company which goofed up in its communication system with the copyright ownership issue of Ram Sampat's tune decided to steer clear of their celebrity clients' troubles. "It's not just my name that's being affected, it's my wife's name too, and that I won't tolerate," Arbaaz says angrily days after the media reacted violently to the couple's gimmicky marital-discord campaign that hit the headlines last week.

Says Arbaaz, "My wife and I have been called publicity hounds and our little child has also been dragged into the matter when all we did was to go along with the multi-national's campaign. Is compliance a crime? Then we're guilty. And I apologize. I'm not the kind of a guy who gets defensive after doing something goes wrong. And this situation has definitely gone wrong."

What Arbaaz cannot fathom is why a section of the media chose to highlight the false story on a marriage breakup. "Neither Malaika nor I ever said we were splitting. It was the cosmetic company which put out a yarn about me re-marrying. From there some media persons let their imagination run riot. Since when is our marriage a matter of front-page interest?"

Wishing Mr. B R Chopra a very Happy Birthday!

Today is the birthday of Baldev Raj Chopra, the eternal great and legendary Bollywood Man! Some of you may not know much about his life, so we give a short biography of the living legend to help you in knowing the B-Day boy better!

After doing his M.A. in English Literature from Lahore University, he surprised his family by getting into film journalism. After that, he joined 'Cine Herald Journal' as a writer in charge of editing film reviews. He later went on to produce his first film Karwat in 1949. He is also responsible for giving India its first ever epic television serial 'Mahabharat', which entered the Guinness Book of World Records by registering 96% world viewership! Later, he was aptly awarded the prestigious 'Dadasaheb Phalke Award' for his contribution to Indian Cinema, which included classic and evergreen films like Naya Daur, Gumrah, Pati Patni Aur Woh, Insaaf Ka Tarazu, Tawaif, Nikaah and so on.

Needless to say that you must be by now ordering for bouquets galore to wish the B-Day Boy, Mr B R Chopra who turns 94 today.

All you need to do is post your Birthday wishes for Mr. B R Chopra, the 'Architect of Bollywood' in the window below.

No tension between Big B - SRK

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BHOOTHNATH brings together the two supremos -- Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan -- after a gap. In between, rumours were flying left, right and centre about the tension between the two actors and that the once good friends weren't interested in working with each other anymore.

Before we forward Ravi Chopra's clarification on the issue, let's bring to you another interesting facet pertaining to the film, which, I presume, a lot many people would be unaware of. Initially, director Vivek Sharma was toying with the idea of making a small film, but when he narrated the subject to Chopra, the producer insisted that they approach Bachchan Sr. for the role in question. However, Bachchan Sr. wasn't keen on doing the film. Reason being, he wasn't too sure of Vivek's abilities. But when he eventually agreed to act in the film, his only condition was Ravi Chopra should be present on the sets on all days. Later, when Bachchan grew fond of Vivek and realized that the director had the spark, there were no issues absolutely.

Ask Ravi Chopra if he sensed any kind of tension between the two actors [Bachchan, SRK] and the veteran film-maker denies it completely, “Not at all! In fact, they would play games and enjoy each other's company during breaks. I'd love to work with them again and again.” That should silence the gossip mills!

Vidya Balan chosen as Brand Ambassador for Airtel

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Keeping the tradition of bringing exclusive news intact, Bollywood Hungama does yet another cracker of a news breaker. Vidya Balan has been signed as the Brand Ambassador for Airtel.

This Bollywood beauty is on a signing spree, not just on screen, but off screen as well. The news of her being the Brand Ambassador for Airtel comes just days after her being signed as the Brand Ambassador for Toshiba. She has already shot for the commercial with yet another southern heartthrob Madhavan, with Vinil Mathew of FootCandle Productions, calling the shots.

Talking about Vidya Balan, R. Chandrasekhar - Head of Brand And Media, Bharti Airtel, said, “Spontaneity and vibrancy are key attributes of Airtel. Vidya is a hugely talented actress who brings a lot of freshness and naturalness to any role. We are sure that these traits of Vidya will have a positive rub off on the brand as well.”

With Vidya's career soaring up and up in the 'Air', it's really easy to 'Tel' that who is the next top most contender to the Queen Bee slot! What say Miss Balan!

Chak De India gets the 'Billies'

Chak De India, Yash Raj Films’ landmark hit about a group of young girls forgetting their differences and carrying India to the hockey World Cup title was honoured with the ‘Billies’, the ultimate accolade for depictions of women’s sporting achievement.

Named after Billie Jean King, the tennis legend who defeated Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes”, the Billies were handed out in four categories “Breakthrough & Innovation”, “Entertainment”, “Journalism”, and “Outstanding Journalist”. Chak De India was declared the best in the “Entertainment” category at a ceremony attended by sporting greats like Aimee Mullins (Track & Field), Julie Foudy (Soccer), Michelle Kwan (Figure Skating), Rosie Casals (Tennis Player), Tony Gonzalez (Football), Tracy Austin (Tennis) and many others. Living legend Elton John wowed the audience with his performance, including a heartful rendition of “Philadelphia Song”, which he had written in honour of Billie Jean King.

Commented Yash Chopra, Chairman, Yash Raj Films, “Chak De India continues to pay back the faith we had reposed in the movie even when conventional wisdom would have dictated otherwise. To win accolades like this from around the world, especially from places where depictions of women’s sport has had a long and established tradition is especially heartening. It was an honour to be selected by such a distinguished panel of women’s sports historians, journalists and media industry executives. But while we cherish this honour, the greatest reward for the movie was undoubtedly the love and affection that was showered on it by audiences worldwide.”

Shimit Amin, the director of the movie, picked up the award on behalf of Yash Raj Films. He later said, “The reaction to the movie was simply fantastic. You would not believe that this was a foreign audience- comprised of professional writers, critics and industry professionals for the most part- the way they reacted. It just reinforced our belief that the message of the movie and the performances of Shah Rukh Khan and the girls cuts across all boundaries.”

All in all, India is simply proud of both of you. Chak De SRK and Yash Raj!

I confess, I am a selfish actor: Kajol

'U, Me Aur Hum' may not have got a great opening like Shah Rukh Khan's Om Shanti Om, but Kajol is happy that she was a part of the project.

When I meet her at her actor-director husband Ajay Devgan's office in Juhu, Kajol confesses that it was not very tough to play the role. Kajol adds that she was confident that people would be able to identify with the role, when Ajay narrated the role to her. Here is a chat with the actor.

"I had a superb director to back me. I should undoubtedly give the entire credit to my director for the ease with which the character of Piya has unfolded on the screen in 'U, Me Aur Hum'.

The best thing that I liked about my character in the film was that besides the fact that she was normal and not handicapped in any way, Piya had a wicked sense of humor and at the same time, she was a little vulnerable too."

Kajol kick started her career with the film 'Bekhudi', more than a decade ago, with Kamal Sadanah as her leading man. Kajol is practical enough to confess that her role in 'U, Me Aur Hum' is not the best in her career till date.

"Every role that I have done has been the best at that particular point of time in my career. Since my latest release is 'U, Me Aur Hum', I feel that it is my best as of now." Kajol quips.

She admits that she is far too picky as an actor. "I am lucky that I have been approached by various kinds of directors, in spite of the fact that I am very choosy.

The problem is that my expectations as an actor are quite high and I am not getting the kind of roles that I want to do and I am not interested in doing the kinds of roles that I am offered", she avers.

What is interesting about Kajol is that she is capable of throwing surprises not only as an actor who gets into the skin of various characters but also as a person who can shock you out of your wits with statements you do not expect at all.

"I want to do films that I want to watch. I watch very few films for my entertainment. As far as I am concerned, happy and positive films make me laugh.

I am not against other kinds of films, though I may not be tempted to be a part of it. For instance, if tomorrow Mira Nair offers me a comedy film, I'd gladly grab it, without a second thought."

She disagrees when you tell her that married actors are not accepted by the audience when they set out to stage their comebacks in films.

"For your information, I acted with Ajay in films like 'Raju Chacha', 'Dil Kya Kare' etc only after I was married to him. Didn't 'Fanaa click'? I had acted in it after my baby Nysa was born. Didn't I?

I think that if you choose the right role, you can click, especially if you are a married actor, that too with a baby.

If I had made my come back with a film in which I played a college girl with a short skirt, I am sure I would not have succeeded. You should know to choose the right role."

Kajol confesses that she has mellowed a lot and is not the fire-brand rebel that she once was.

"I think motherhood changes you in many ways. Motherhood removes the chasma which is experience and you start looking at people in a different way and also judge them in a different way.

Your perceptions about people too changes. The way Nysa looked at people changed my pre-conceived notions too."

She adds, "Today, thanks to my growth as an actor, I feel that I can adapt my technique. I did not know what technique was earlier. I have, over the years, actually learnt a method to acting, and use it honestly with a lot more expertise and finesse."

Kajol says that then only film which she has signed is 'Toonpur Ka Super Hero'. She adds in the same breath, even before you can ask, that she has not signed any film with Karan or for that matter with Shah Rukh Khan.

"Ajay has got nothing to with me doing or not doing a film with Karan or for that matter Shah Rukh Khan. I choose the script every time I am offered a film, not Ajay Devgan, Aamir Khan or for that matter Shah Rukh Khan.

Ajay is proud that I choose to do films which I believe in."

She continues. "I have not heard Karan's script. It would not do him and his project justice, if I tell him that I'd do his film without listening to the script, though as a friend, he trusts me enough to let me make a decision and vice versa.

Our friendship is so strong that it will stand the test of time, whether we do a film together or not."

Kajol is happy that she agreed to be a part of the TV show 'Rock N Roll Family' with her mother Tanuja and her husband Ajay.

"We were offered a lot of reality shows earlier but we kept on declining each of them, although we appeared in one episode of 'Little Champs'. We agreed to be in 'Rock N Roll Family' because of the concept. It is about the family and the principles that we believe in."

Though it was a life long dream of Ajay to wield the megaphone, Kajol says that she does not plan to take up direction. "I'd say that as of now I am not inclined to take up direction, though I do not know what is in store.

Unlike Ajay, whose strength as a director is his clarity, I am a selfish actor. Mujhe sirf apne kaam se mutlab hain. I am in fact surprised that Ajay and I never had any disagreement throughout the shooting of the film.

I have had some point of disagreement with almost every director with whom I have worked till date. In fact, I'd say that the director Ajay Devgan exceeded my expectations when I worked with him."

"I hope that I have affected Ajay a lot. I have taught him a lot and vice versa. I believe that any marriage works only if there is a lot of give and take between the couple. In fact I agree one hundred per cent with the message that 'U, Me Aur Hum' sets out to drive home.

That man makes a problem bigger though it is never bigger than a man. We make the solution impossible, because we do not make an attempt to solve a problem, since we concentrate more on the problem than the solution," she concludes.- Jyothi Venkatesh

Big B slams Shatru in his blog

Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan in his blog has lashed out against Shatrughan Sinha's insinuations that the nominations list of the International Indian Film Academy awards were fixed.

He says in the blog: 'A section of the print media carried comment from my colleague and friend and neighbour, Mr Shatrughan Sinha.

It reportedly quoted his reactions to the nomination list of the IIFA Awards, wherein he has purportedly stated that ' Sab kissika beta hai, ya kissiki bahu, ya kissiki biwi ', and the media adding there interpretation to it, stating that this was directed to a particular family of 'guru' fame.

I believe what is being insinuated is that there is partiality or some 'fixing' in the choice of the nominations carried by IIFA. And as the report concluded, the indication was towards one family, not difficult to guess which one.

I am surprised at this observation, especially since, during the time of the National Award selection for Best Actress in one of the past years, when the Award went to Raveena Tandon, it was alleged that Mr Shatrughan Sinha's wife, the lovely and graceful Poonam, a great friend of Raveena's mother had recommended the appointment of MacMohan, the brother of Raveena's mother, on the board of the Jury (structured by the Govt., in power - in this case the BJP, of which Mr Sinha was a Minister of State ) in order that he may cast his vote in favor of Raveena Tandon.

If this alleged story is true then i do value Mr Shatrughan Sinha's alleged statement of 'Sab kissika beta, kissiki beti, kissiki biwi' - you are so right Shatru !!

Of course this does not take anything away from Raveena's very deserving Award - she has been a wonderful and talented coartiste in many films of mine, or, MacMohan, the Sambha of Sholay, who has remained a dear friend and has worked with me in several films. As has Mr Shatrughan Sinha !!

And may i also state that IIFA nominations come from the film fraternity through computerised voting systems, audited and compiled by Price Waterhouse Coopers, an International Company of repute and standing.

And Shatru I have seen some very encouraging reports of the film, where your son is being introduced to this great Industry. May he prosper and succeed even more than his illustrious father and may he never have to face a slighted accusation of 'fixing', when his name comes up for an Award in the future

I post separately a speech that i made at the book release in Delhi recently.

The book is called 'Icons' and is written by the renowned senior journalist Anil Dharkar. It compiles 60 years of Independence and the Icons that made an impact on the country.

I thought it was a pertinent piece. It never received any attention by the media. Perhaps it was not of their standard. I would love for you to read it and send me your impressions of it.

Namaskar, Shubh Ratri, Shabba Khair, Satsriakal and Good night !!'

Kareena's secret diet revealed

There have been enough speculation on Kareena Kapoor's crash dieting and enough stories about her fainting on the sets. All these rumours are just that – rumours.

Kareena's Nutritionist and Dietician, Rujuta Diwekar, has revealed the true story of the actor's diet and eating habits. Kareena met Diwekar in May 2007, and the latter has been the actor's dietician since then.

Apparently, Kareena gave Diwekar a brief about her character – that she had to be lean and sexy.

Diwekar knew that Kareena is a pure vegetarian, and wondered if she could lose the required amount of weight by going on a vegetarian diet. She put the actor on a diet that consisted of healthy nutritious food.

Kareena has been eating parathas, momos, cheese, pasta, bananas and other food that are perceived as fattening.

"Contrary to reports in the media, Kareena did not starve herself, and neither did she subsist only on orange juice. There were also stories that she fainted on the sets, but that is not true," says Diwekar.

"What worried Kareena was that her fans, especially teenage girls who look up to her as their icon, will blindly follow the false articles and emulate her.

The results can harm them in some way or the other. Kareena did not want that to happen, and thus this clarification," he adds.

According to Diwekar, the actor wants her fans to know that she has achieved her super sexy body, over a period of time, by being dedicated and disciplined about her fitness and eating habits.

"She is massively into a strict regime of yoga, which she practices for almost two hours a day. She loves the way she is looking now, just like a Hollywood star," Diwekar concludes.

Who's this Isabel in Sallu's life now

Isabel, a young starlet from the United Kingdom, is bent upon gatecrashing into Bollywood. But why is Salman Khan equally bent upon helping her out?

It would be natural for anyone maybe, not only for Salman, to play godfather to a sexy young thing especially if she has a striking resemblance to his steady Katrina (remember how he cast Sneha Ullal, an Aishwarya Rai look-alike, in Lucky?). What's more, Isabel even shares Katrina's surname, Kaif!

Well, she would share the surname, but not Katrina's boyfriend Salman. That's bvecause she is one of the seven Kaif sisters, and Katrina happens to be one of them!

Isabel Kaif is Katrina's kid sister, and has been seen in the background of recent Katrina photographs at various events. A sureshot signal of things to come, especiall pretty young things.

Salman Khan's Veer, whose story is credited to Salman, will commence shooting in August and director Anil Sharma is busy polishing off the dialogues at the moment.

Meanwhile, the buzz is that Isabel Kaif will be paired opposite Sallu Bhai! Salman has always been strongly bonded with his siblings, and they have all been one for all, and all for one.

Arbaaz and Sohail have produced and acted in films sharing the Khan synergy, as in Hello Brother and Maine Pyar Kyun Kiya.

Earlier, he gave music director duo Sajid-Wajid great breaks, as also cousin- singer, Kamal Khan. Lately, Partner was a film made only to help Govinda out of his career crisis.

So, is it any wonder that the story writer and star of Veer has been rooting for Isabel as the leading lady, especially when it has come out into the open that Katrina herself has nudged and pushed Salman and Anil Sharma!

Veer is a period drama set in the years 1852 to 1900. Salman's first period film looks like the perfect launch for her kid sister, feels Katrina. Officially however director Anil Sharma denies it all, calling it the usual rumour.

"I am working on the dialogues of the film. I am yet to finish some parts of the script. Once that is done then I will think about the casting.

All I can say at the moment is that Salman is in the main lead, but we are yet to finalise the leading lady," said Sharma.

Reportedly, Priyanka Chopra who starred in Anil Sharma's The Hero with Sunny Deol in her early career, has always wanted to be a part of all his films. Apparently, when she heard the story of Veer, she expressed her keenness to do the film.

Sharma denies this too. "No, it's not true. As I said before, we are yet to finalise the leading lady," he says. "I haven't signed any actress opposite Salman yet."

Sharma added that Salman gives major inputs in the script and dialogues though it's only the story that is his. "Being the son of the famous writer, Salim Khan, Salman has a great story sense. He has a very good sense of humour too."

Maybe it's Sharma's sense of humour too while denying all 'rumours'. So, who will it be as leading lady opposite Salman Khan in Veer? We would put our money, all of it, on Isabel Kaif.

If it turns out it's not she, but Priyanka or someone else, that would be a cruel joke by Sharma or Salman or both!

Amitabh and Aishwarya-Dont take it other way

Katrina Kaif Sizzling look in Black Dress

Katrina Kaif the sensuous beauty is now on covers of Cosmopolitan magazine April, 2008 edition. Her look in black dress, well she was glittering in that black dress.
Recently Race was released which hit the jackpot at box office, she gave her best performance in that movie and its quite obvious to say that she looked beautiful and glamorous in the movie opposite Saif and Akshay Khanna.

We don't regret marriage prank: Malaika and Arbaaz

Malaika Arora on the 'joke' on her marriage.

The shocking story on the end of one of filmdom's most durable marriages rocked Mumbai yesterday. Turned out, it was part of a well-planned campaign to promote a line of cosmetics.

A shocking and unethical illustration of how the media is used and manipulated to generate curiosity and interest in consumer products. Malaika Arora who was part of the campaign seemed pretty uncomfortable with the situation

What is this about your marriage in serious trouble?
Nothing. All is well in paradise. No serious or even non-serious trouble in our marriage

Let me get it straight. You did this as part of advertisement campaign?
It is part of an ad campaign for a product that Arbaaz and I are launching. Rather re-launching. See, the concept of the ad is that he comes towards the end and re-proposes to me.

What was told to the press was that Arbaaz was getting remarried. I don't know how when where they came up with the rest (of the story).

But Malaika, if you say your husband is getting re-married it wouldn't be wrong to presume that the earlier marriage is over, no?
That's what everyone has presumed.

Are you saying this was done with your approval?
Approval…well…the whole concept was of Arbaaz is getting re-married. I never thought that one concept would acquire these proportions.

Why don't you please speak to Arbaaz? He had decided to maintain a dignified silence on the campaign. But of course silence is interpreted as tacit approval.

I feel as a happily married woman it was wrong to project your marriage as jeopardized for the sake of an ad campaign
I completely agree with you. We've worked very hard to make our marriage a success. To us it's the most sacred thing in our lives. That's why we were very clear that the ad campaign shouldn't look tacky.

Of course the PR people have their way of doing things. And we definitely expressed our reservations to them.

They still went ahead with it?
Well I guess they had their PR in place, right?

Right. They got our attention. But I don't think it was right.
Speak to Arbaaz. A friend of mine sent a message saying, we always look up to your marriage as a role-model for the institution. I was inundated with calls and messages.

I guess the campaign worked, I am happy for them.

Arbaaz Khan
Arbaaz is neither too happy nor defensive about the campaign that turned his marriage to Malaika into a swift soap-opera.

"Malaika and I were asked to be part of this campaign which ran like a husband-wife story….marriage, stress separation and then finally the grand reunion…We made it clear we'd not be actively speaking to the press about the campaign.

We though the campaign would come and go and before friends and well-wishers started taking it seriously. But in no time a section of the media jumped on to the campaign line 'Arbaaz To Re-marry' and made up their own screenplay about my marriage with Malaika.

By God's grace we're very happy together and we don't need to resort to gimmicks to stay in the news. Do I regret the campaign? Not really.

We're professionals and today marketing a product entails all sorts of machinations that we as the endorsers don't have to agree with.

We had so many anxious friends contacting us to know what was going on.Honestly Malaika and I never thought it'd blow up into this unsavoury story.

We thought the campaign would be over before anyone has a chance to take it seriously.

And we never thought mediapersons would latch on to the remarriage strategy in the campaign and create a whole story about our breakup."

Goodbye Kareena, Enter Priyanka!!!

Shelving plans of making a bio-pic on the life of the Bollywood stunt queen Fearless Nadia, Vishal Bhardwaj has now embarked on another more contemporary cinematic journey.

After making a pain-lashed Shakespearean love story with Ajay Devgan and Kareena Kapoor, he has now moved on to Kareena's ex-boyfriend Shahid Kapoor and her arch -rival Priyanka Chopra for a full-on feel-good love story.

However contrary to reports Vishal's film is NOT a new version of Romeo & Juliet.

"People would love to see me complete my Shakespearean trilogy after Macbeth (Maqbool) and Hamlet (Omkara). But I'm not doing Romeo & Juliet," says Vishal.

While Shahid is confirmed, Priyanka currently shooting in Miami for Tarun Mansukhani's Dostana is still in talks. She is expected to give her nod when she returns to Mumbai in May.

For the boyish Shahid the shortage of leading ladies after Kareena's departure acquires an interesting twist with co-stars as varied as Vidya Balan, Jiah Khan and now Priyanka Chopra coming up besides him in the

Shambhavi steps into films!!!

Shambhavi Sharma, a finalist on MTV's reality show 'Roadies' who was known for her flirtatious and cunning ways, has now stepped into Bollywood with 'The Little Godfather'.

The film, being produced by Ekta Kapoor and Suniel Shetty, was offered to Shambhavi while she was featuring in the fifth edition of MTV 'Roadies', an adventure reality show.

'I was offered the film during the second or third episode of 'Roadies' through MTV,' Shambhavi told on phone from Mumbai.

The 19-year-old law student was also selected to participate in the international leg of the show, but was voted out in its very first episode.

So how did the 'The Little Godfather' come her way?

'I was not expecting it at all, it just happened. I used to love facing the camera and now that I am doing it, I am very excited about it,' she said.

Asked about her character and co-actor in the film, Shambhavi said she could divulge any details.

A self-confessed controversy queen, she feels she has become more confident after her stint in 'Roadies'.

'I used to be very shy before being a part of 'Roadies'. But after that, my whole perspective towards life has changed and I have also become more expressive,' she said.

Shambhavi describes her experience in the show as 'outstanding'.

''Roadies' is an awesome show. I enjoyed each and every bit of it.'

She stole the limelight on the show for her conniving, forthright and flirtatious ways. She now proudly admits that it was her well-thought strategy.

'I don't gel very well with girls. So when I used to be with the boys, people started thinking wrong about me. Besides, yes, my scheming was a part of my strategy to survive in the show,' she explained.

When Shambhavi returned to Mumbai, she realised that she had become a popular figure.

'When I came back, my friends and parents were very happy with the way I performed and people even started recognising me on the streets. I also signed a few autographs,' she said excitedly.

"Kajol heard the script and immediately agreed to do the film" - Ajay Devgan

He made his Bollywood debut doing a daredevil stunt atop two motorbikes in Phool Aur Kaante. Just as people started calling him an action hero he changed guard and gave some sensitive portrayals in films like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Zakhm. He is even known to have a great comic timing and has shown his funny side in films like Masti and Golmaal. Now he has done something which he has wanted to do since a long time. Yes, the talented actor, Ajay Devgan, turned director with U Me Aur Hum. The film has opened to a good response and most people have been unanimous in their praise for his directorial abilities. Bollywood Hungama caught up with the actor tuned director at his Juhu office and by the looks of it, he seemed extremely relaxed and confident about his maiden project. Here's Ajay talking about his journey and experiences during the making of U Me Aur Hum.

Your second baby (after Nysa) U Me Aur Hum was delivered last week? How does it feel?
(laughs) No, there is no comparison because Nysa is Nysa and I don't think I can compare her with anything in the world.

So is it you who went through the labour pains this time around?
Ya. Right now the labour pains are on because there were a lot of things to be done before the release but I think its fine (smiles)

When did you decide to take the plunge into direction? Was it a gradual decision or a spur of the moment thought?
It was never a decision….it was a thought, an idea which I had in my mind, and I started working on it. It shaped up so beautifully that I decided to make it myself. I had always been on the other side of the camera before I became an actor but I never really planned when I would direct my first film

Whom did you first convey your decision to direct?
Kajol (smiles). She heard the script and loved it and she immediately said I want to do the film.

Were you and Kajol the only (original) choices to star in the film or did some other names even cross your mind?
No other choices because Kajol immediately agreed to do the film before I even planned the film.

How easy or difficult was it directing Kajol in your very first film?
I think it was very easy. When you have an actor like Kajol, it's a director's delight; you can push the scene as much as you like knowing fully well that you have an actress who can deliver.

You are not someone who is immediately associated with romantic, mushy films. Why did you decide to choose this genre for your directorial debut?
It was the thought, the idea which inspired me… I didn't think about the genre.

Is U Me Aur Hum your way of defining what love and relationships is all about?
(Thinks) It can never be anybody's way. I think it is the right way of defining it making it a little more surreal and beautiful because that's what is required in today's world. So, I think it is the right way but I won't say it is my way.

You have been quoted saying that this was one story which you felt; you had to tell the world? Why so?
Because it's very positive. It talks very positively about love, relationships, problems and how you can tackle it and still be happy in life. I thought in today's world where things are turning negative its better to tell a tale which is very positive.

Are there elements from you real life love story which you have incorporated in U, Me Aur Hum
No …Not at all.

The buzz doing the rounds is U Me Aur Hum is inspired from The Notebook and Iris…Are there any similarities?
I think I'll only answer this question to those who have seen both the films and my film… After seeing the 3 films if he / she still wants to ask me this question…I'll answer it (smiles)

Describe your first day and last day as a director on the sets of U Me Aur Hum.
The first day was very normal. I didn't even realize when it started and when it got over. The last day…. well…….I think its still not the last day (smiles)

Why did you decide to shoot major portions of the film aboard a luxury cruise?
That is the script's demand and instead of the usual landscapes etc. I thought it would be something different to shoot the film aboard a cruise.

Were you quite the taskmaster on the sets? Apparently you were really adamant on Kajol doing the salsa though she wasn't very comfortable.
Every director tries to get as close to as what he wants. I feel that's not being a taskmaster, its just being honest to your work.

In fact, the Jee Le number would have been really one unforgettable experience to shoot considering even you got hit by one of the dancer's sandals… Could you tell us what happened after that?
(smiles) No nothing happened…the poor dancer was so scared that even if it hurt me I behaved as if nothing happened and just moved on

This is one of the first Hindi films where a Heli-cam was used…What purpose did it serve and whose idea was it to bring a Heli-cam into the picture?
Technique is always a part of story-telling. It was my idea to use the heli-cam. It was purely to enhance the story-telling and not to show off.

You are an accomplished actor, a producer and a director too now. Which one of these three do you enjoy most and which is really challenging?
I think it depends from time to time. I enjoy acting… I also enjoyed directing this film but that doesn't mean I'll keep directing. I don't know when the next thought will come which will inspire me so much, that I decide to direct it.

Your father Veeru Devgan had earlier directed you in Hindustan Ki Kasam…Did you take any tips from him?
You take tips from all kinds of directors. Though I have learnt a lot from my father about filmmaking technique since my childhood days, I have worked with many good directors. But yes he does inspire me.

Nysa made her first public appearance during the audio release. How did she manage considering both you and Kajol were neck deep busy with the film?
(laughs) Nysa didn't even know that she was making her first public appearance. As for during the making of the film, we managed to spend enough time with her. It's not like we were working throughout the day. Kajol especially was working only 6 - 7 hours in a day so we could manage.

The music of the film is slowly but surely picking up… Your favorite track in the film?
You can't ask this to a director (smiles) but I think it will be U Me Aur Hum- the title track by Vishal.

Why did you decide on Vishal Bharadwaj to compose the music? He doesn't really do much music these days…
Because I wanted my music to convey the same feeling which my story conveys and that is something which a director like Vishal can understand even better.

You are normally quite reserved and shy but are now going all out promoting your film on T.V. channels, radio stations and what not. How come this sudden change of image? Have you finally realized the importance of promoting and marketing a film in today's times?
As an actor I am still shy (smiles) but as a producer, it is my job to go all out and promote the film. In today's times, you have to promote your film…You don't have a choice. It is one of the most important aspects of filmmaking.

Most actors usually appear in one or two episodes of reality shows as celeb judges but you along with Kajol and Tanujaji seem to be permanent judges on Airtel Rock N Roll Family. What made you give your green signal to this show?
I am there on the show because I liked the concept. I think it's a beautiful concept which talks about three generations of a family coming together. It talks about Indian values and morals. I liked it so much and moreover it wasn't something which required a lot of time devotion from us. It's just a thirteen week thing so we decided to go ahead and do it.

In fact Aamir said that it was quite a task directing himself…did you also feel the same way?
I think if you are clear in your head, it's just a lot of hard work. Otherwise there is no problem.

U Me Aur Hum will be your third release this year. Does it bother you that your earlier two releases Sunday and Halla Bol failed to strike gold at the B.O…?
No it doesn't matter… It varies from film to film. Good films work…Period

There have been talks that you have even grown your moustache on a friend's insistence considering you sported one before the release of you recent few successful films (Apaharan, Omkara, Gangajal etc) Are you that superstitious
(laughs) I think it's ridiculous to think like this. I have grown my moustache because I like it. However, my daughter does not like it, so I think I'll remove it.

U Me Aur Hum opened with another biggie Krazzy 4 …Would you have rather had a solo release or do these things don't really matter?
It really doesn't matter… There's enough space for both the films

In what way is U Me Aur Hum different from the countless loves stories we have witnessed on Hindi cinema.
That is for the audience to see and decide. It's honest, it's very positive and in spite of the drama in the film it ends on a very positive note not just for the characters in the film but also for the audience when they come out of the theatres

Lastly how important is this film's success to you?
Very important as that's the way you measure appreciation.

Rodies use abusive language

Packed with pulsating stunts and tough guy acts, MTV's weekly reality show 'Roadies' has managed to hook millions of Indians, from college goers to school kids to housewives.

Five years after it came into being, MTV's 'Roadies' has proved to be one of the most popular programmes on Indian television today and thousands across the country send entries to participate in the adventure show.

'I relish the show. You cannot predict what is going to happen next. Every episode treats you to new adventure,' said Kalpana Bajaj, a Delhi-based housewife who has been following it for the last three years.

'And the best part is that it is in Hindi. Had it been in English, I might not have enjoyed it so much.'

According to TAM (Television Audience Measurement) data of February 2008, MTV commanded the highest audience share among all music channels during the telecast of the first episode of 'Roadies 5.0', the fifth edition of the show, telecast March 22.

This year 13 contestants were selected after being auditioned for attitude, tolerance and patience. The selected 'Roadies' are given bikes to travel on a pre-decided route and assigned difficult physical or rational tasks.

A vote-out takes place at the end of the show and whoever survives till the end is declared winner. And of course it's all captured on camera.

The winner is rewarded a cash prize of Rs.500,000 and a bike.

''Roadies' has a cult following today and the fact that it has at least equalled the popularity of (MTV's comedy show) 'Bakra' is an achievement in itself,' Rannvijay Singh, the host of the show, told on phone from Mumbai.

Rannvijay, who sees himself as a confidant on the show where the physical and mental calibre of a person is tested, is a winner of the first season of the show.

The show started in 2003 with seven contestants biking across the country to win a bike and is raging on even though it costs about one tenth the cost of other reality shows.

Among the general entertainment channels (GECs), MTV succeeded over the big boys like Zee TV, STAR Plus and Sony with a share of 9.83 points. And much of this is credited to 'Roadies'.

Raghu Ram, the brainchild and producer of 'Roadies', said: 'I think that the popularity of the show has increased by almost 2,500 percent from the first season and has built a global appeal'.

The show believes in making a contestant's life miserable so that only the deserving person makes it to the end.

When asked about the age limit, Raghu said: 'They have to be 18 years old to participate in the show. We haven't fixed the upper limit.'

Raghu maintains that the show has evolved over the year and tried to introduce a new format every year. 'This year, we have gone a step ahead and gone international,' he said.

In its fifth season, the 'Roadies' journey has gone beyond the Indian shores and been extended to Thailand and Malaysia.

But what makes 'Roadies' so popular?

Raghu believes the main draw of the show is the honesty with which it is shown. 'Nothing is rigged on 'Roadies' and, in fact, now we are even showing behind-the-scenes clippings. So nothing is made up and that is the real punch,' he explained.

'We don't give the contestants a TV, they don't have a mobile phone and they aren't even allowed to speak to strangers,' he said.

More often than not, the show has been criticised for influencing young minds with offensive language and by showing outrageous tasks.

'People send me hate mails saying that we are aggravating the use of foul language and spoiling children. But since we don't want to offend the sensibilities of the general public, we add beeps wherever abusive language is used,' said Raghu.

Despite the controversy, it's raging on.

Ashish Patil, general manager and vice president (Creative and Content), MTV, said: 'Nothing like this show exists on TV. It is wary of melodramatic judges and every emotion on the show is real.

'Besides, the thrills that the audience gets from the show are incomparable to those in any other Indian show.'

Split, actually or just a gimmick?

Here's another quake hitting bold and beautiful Bollywood. The made for each other couple, Arbaaz Khan and Malaika Arora Khan, have separated and will be seeking talaq, going by the indisputable indications.

This comes soon after the stunning, overnight as it were, split between Shahid Kapur and Kareena Kapoor, looked upon as the head-over-heels in love pair for quite some time.

While both Shahid and Kareena kept their counsel, Shahid rose in the esteem of his fans for playing the dignified lover being dumped after all those wild quotable quotes about their everlasting love and their tongue wrestling in a public place MMS.

Kareena, who is now looked upon as the coolest babe on Saif Ali Khan's arm (and in his arms), fell for Saif during the outdoors of Tashan and the news plopped out just prior to the release of Shahid-Kareena's only hit, Jab We Met.

Saif, just out of his torrid relationship with Italian bomb, Rozza Catalano, has gone through the pleasant agony of tatooing Kareena's name on his arm, and Kareena is in the euphoric quoteable quote mode again as if nothing or Shahid ever happened only the other day!

Of course, true to showbiz type, both Saif and Kareena are also emphasising to everyone who cares to listen, that their career is on the upswing at the moment, and certainly they will marry, but don't see that happening before another five years.

The emergency exit for another couple of Shahids and Rozzas to happen in the next five years.

On the surface, the Arbaaz Khan-Malaika Arora affair looked a lot more cool and dignified, and the eyebrow raising was because people couldn't believe that what they were seeing was worth believing. They seemed to be too genuinely happily married to be true. And they lasted all of 10 years and a five-year-old son, Arhaan.

After his much touted acting debut in Daraar, where he played a debonair sunglassed villain, Arbaaz's career never took off, despite the family film where all three Khan brothers played stellar roles, Hello Brother.

He managed two-and-a-half roles in the years since, but all of them rather insignificant. The last we saw him in was Apoorva Lakhia's Shootout At Lokhandwala, starring Sanjay Dutt, in which he played a dashing cop, buit the film was not a commercial success either.

Malaika, on the other hand, was a high-profile model and hit the Bollywood jackpot by swivelling her hips with Shah Rukh Khan atop a moving train.

Dil Se's Chhaiyaan Chhaiyaan made her a memorable item girl, and she made her sexual presence felt as a 'love and agony aunt' anchor on television and make cleaage and leg showing appearances at glitzy parties and inaugurals. Kaante's Mahi ve and Welcome's Hoth Rasiley, also added punch to her power as an item girl.

In a split-second appearance among a galaxy of Bollywood stars in Heyy Baby and Om Shanti Om, both the sisters Malaika and Amrita Arora are seen shaking their booty, along with Arbaaz!

When a television channel, Live India, broke the story late last night (April 16) and asked the couple separately about the divorce, Arbaaz and Malaika neither confirmed nor refuted the news, but their replies were loaded.

"It is my private life and I would not like to discuss it in public," Arbaaz said, adding, "Life is uncertain and no one knows what will happen tomorrow."

Malaika seemed to be pretty shaken and also asserted, weakly though, "It is too personal and I would like to keep quiet on this issue." When reminded that keeping quiet on such issues indicates trouble, Malaika reiterated, "I believe silence is golden."

The news comes as a surprise especially at a time when Malaika and Arbaaz are getting ready for their Kannada film together, Shaadi Ke Side Effects. The film, which is ironically about marriage and infidelity, casts Malaika in her first lead role.

It could just be a publicity gimmick for the film, but their reactions did not seem to indicate that. Even the Kareena-Shahid split was initially supposed to be a gimmick for pushing Jab We Met.

Arbaaz and Malaika's 10-year-old marriage is to end, it can safely be concluded, unless there is a last minute reconciliation.

They have one son, Arhaan, from this marriage and people have always looked on in awe at the couple's successful bonding despite a failed career of Arbaaz and Malaika always being the hot-bod model mom who even appeared in various stages of undress in Maxim recently, but with a total understanding between the couple.

Ten years of mutual respect between a high-profile couple is not usual in Bollywood or showbiz. That is why this comes as a shocker, coming as it is without any runway clues.

The news trickling in is that Arbaaz has found a new love with whom he is living secretly at a Bandra property. Even during the Shahid-Kareena affair, there were rumours of the goody-goody Shahid having been seen with co-star Amrita Rao too many times.

Kareena is supposed to have spit fire and doused any flame waiting to break out. But here, Arbaaz has actually separated from Malaika, his wife since 1997 and mother to five-year old Arhaan, two weeks ago.

A friend of Malaika has told the media, "Malaika and Arbaaz have stopped communicating with each other completely. She is not even aware where Arbaaz is."

Arbaaz, on the split and a rumoured second marriage, says, "I don't want to comment on my personal life or on Malaika. Why is the press so impatient? They will know whether I'm remarrying or not in due time. I will probably talk about it soon. At this moment I don't want to say anything further."

"All my three co-stars have surpassed themselves with Tashan" - Anil Kapoor

It's amazing how age has failed to wither Anil Kapoor. Not only has he been a major star for over 25 years, but he's somehow held onto the status of action-hero and sex symbol (from Jaanbaaz to Musafir to Race), even into his almost fifties. Hardly a few actors of comparable age and fame command such pay-packets, respect and are held in such esteem by Bollywood producers. This alone would mark Anil Kapoor out as someone special because cinematically speaking, he has been there and done that. Bollywood Hungama's Devansh Patel gets this exclusive interview with the actor whose hard work and 'Tashan' has still kept him winning the 'Race' and 'Welcoming' the crowds.

With last year's multi starrer debacle of Jhoom Barabar Jhoom and Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, do you think in 2008 Yash Raj Films need a bit of Tashan, meaning 'good luck'?
You are forgetting Chak De India which got a bit of Tashan with it. But you can't predict a box office result of any film. The film should entertain and people should like the film and enjoy it. It's up to the critics to give the stars but the true results will always be measured by the honest opinion given by the public after the film releases.

Critics give the stars but the true results will always be measured by the honest opinion given by the public
With scripts such as Dhoom and Dhoom 2 to his credit, Vijay Krishna Acharya has proved he can write...and write well. Do you think he will 'dhoom machale' in his debut film Tashan?
If Tashan clicks, then 'dhoom machale'. If it doesn't, then 'doom machale'. But no matter what the fate of the film is going to be, I can surely vouch for him that he is a good writer and an even better director.

We've always noticed that Yash Raj Films have remained quite secretive about their story line for many of their films. They don't like to give anything away? Would you like to give away something if not anything?
The promos are out; the posters are on the walls, the stills are out...so there is nothing secretive about the film. I feel that the strategy we used to have in the 70's and the 80's should sometimes be implemented by the producers, where nothing was seen of the film except for some few photographs. That's exactly what I and Aditya Chopra discussed. His strategy for Tashan is to let the people discover for themselves what the film is all about. As kids when we used to go to theatres, we only had exposure to couple of film posters and used to listen to songs on the radio, and that was exciting. That's the excitement Aditya Chopra is trying to project through Tashan. Let audiences enjoy every second of this film discovering it.

Let audiences enjoy every second of this film discovering it.
It's not only Akshay Kumar, but Saif, Kareena and you too are coming back to the action genre after a sabbatical. Do you think the audiences have forgotten this genre completely in the midst of romance, comedy and family entertainers?
Whenever a good script comes your way, no matter what the genre of the film is, it will always click anytime. But definitely, at the moment, people are too receptive to a little bit of everything. I think in the overseas, all the people, including the Americans and the Brits are more receptive to action entertainers like Rush Hour, etc. Likewise, we Indians love the love triangles and love sagas. But now things are changing. People are fed up and bored with romance and family melodramas. Give them a bit of Welcome, Chak De India, Race and Tashan and see the difference.

People are fed up and bored with romance and family melodramas
Is it right is saying that Anil Kapoor has got a midas touch. You welcomed your fans by touching Welcome and won the race by touching Race. What's going to happen with Tashan?
I hope Tashan is bigger than both Welcome and Race and I pray to God that Tashan is an even bigger box office film. But if it doesn't, I would still not regret it.

I hope Tashan is bigger than both Welcome and Race
You are speaking in broken Hinglish with a bit of lingo to it. Is it a difficult thing to be putting your voice in such a mix?
Rather than me speaking about my language, I'd urge people to go and figure out for themselves what I've done in the film. But whatever you've mentioned is so right. It is something I've never done in the past because it's not purely a south Indian, not purely Punjabi and definitely not pure Hindi. I keep my fingers crossed that my fans accept me in such a role so I can get a chance to repeat it whenever an opportunity arise in the future.

What's so good about playing a bad character?
I wouldn't say it's a bad character. According to me, Bhaiyyaji is a very lovable character. And you need to know this that now-a-days bad is good. The younger generation is more attracted towards bad guys than good ones I guess (laughs).

We know that Akshay - the real Khiladi is back to his favourite action genre after many years. Do you think Saif and Kareena could cope up to his style and image?
All actors have different skills. Yes, Akshay as we all know loved every bit of action he did on the sets. He was desperate to return back to what he loves best - action. In fact, Akshay by missing out on action for a few years has mastered comedy as well. Saif Ali Khan has done something which you haven't seen him do in these many years. So that might come as a surprise and the same applies to Kareena. All my three co-stars have surpassed themselves with Tashan, and when I say surpass, I mean that they have surpassed themselves in entertaining their audiences and then by their individual performances. Tashan tailors to entertainment in its true sense.

All my three co-stars have surpassed themselves with Tashan
Vishal-Shekhar's music for an action film like this sounds different. How different do you think it sounds?
It sounds great yaar. My favourite track is 'Dil Haara'. I love the way Sukhwinder has sung it. Other than that, I feel the songs will pick up more after the film's release. That's my opinion, though they are on the top charts on all radio stations.

Can you tell us a little bit about your character in the film?
The character stays in a small town in Kanpur. He rides a rickshaw and makes a living out of it. He is ambitious in his own way and if it requires him to go against the law to fulfill his ambition he would not think twice he would just go and grab it. He is called Bhaiyyaji. He wants to make it big in Mumbai, the city of dreams. He achieves that. Then he wants to make it big internationally but his problem is that he does not know how to speak fluent English because he has only studied till third standard and that's the background of his character. You have to see the film to see how he learns English and how he fulfills his dream to become the most powerful man.

Bhaiyyaji wants to make it big internationally but his problem is that he does not know how to speak fluent English because he has only studied till third standard
How would you describe Tashan? And what is your Tashan?
In true sense, Tashan means 'goodluck'. But in the film, Tashan is style, attitude and goodluck packed together. My Tashan is my two pair of jeans which I wear 365 days a year and my pair of boots which I've kept on wearing for years and years. My jeans and boots represent my style. As of now, this is my Tashan.

What was it like working with Yash Raj Films after so many years?
I have done three films with Yash Raj, I almost started my career with them. As a matter of fact, the turning point of my career was Mashaal, where I had the opportunity to work with Yashji and Dilip Kumar. I can never ever forget that because if Yashji would not have signed me for that film, I don't think I would have been giving this interview. Then I did Lamhe. We had such a wonderful time doing it and it was such a beautiful film and till today people remember that film. I have also spent some great moments with them traveling abroad and staying together. I think the best way to describe Yash Raj Films in one word is - Tashan.

If Yashji would not have signed me for Mashaal, I don't think I would have been giving this interview
Any message for your fans who are eager to watch 2008's biggest action flick, Tashan?
I'm coming to the U.K to attend the Zee Cine Awards on the 26th April, the day after Tashan releases. I'm looking forward to interact with them personally and I want them to go and watch Tashan just like they've watched Welcome and Race. So when I come to the U.K, I'll be waiting for their feedback.

Do you believe when you say in the promos of Tashan - 'First impression...is Last impression'?
I don't believe in it....but yes, the character believes. Bhaiyyaji believes