New York Movie Review

New YorkBy Taran Adarsh

Rating: ****

Myth: New York is about 9/11.
Fact: It's not. But it reflects the mood that's prevalent across the globe, post 9/11. The world is divided today. No two opinions on that!

Myth: New York bears a striking similarity to KHUDA KAY LIYE.
Fact: Nope. KHUDA KAY LIYE and New York may belong to the same family, of an innocent person being picked up for questioning after the WTC catastrophe, but the similarities end there. In fact, KHUDA KAY LIYE and New York are as diverse as chalk and cheese.

New York, helmed by Kabir Khan, attempts to be as real as possible. A tale of friendship, with terrorism as the wallpaper, New York hits you like a ton of bricks at several points in the narrative. In fact, there was a possibility that New York may turn out to be a dry experience, a documentary perhaps, but the drama is so well structured and so gripping that you get sucked into the world of Sam, Omar and Maya from its inception.

New York is a triumph for Kabir Khan, who deserves distinction marks for handling the subject with remarkable maturity. Also, this film should be a turning point for John, Katrina and Neil. More on that later...

The verdict? New York is, without doubt, one of the finest films produced by this premier production house, Yash Raj. Grab a ticket today!

Omar (Neil Nitin Mukesh) has gone abroad for the first time in his life and soon enough, he begins to see and love America through the eyes of his American friends, Sam (John Abraham) and Maya (Katrina Kaif). But an incident changes the world round them.

At this point enters Agent Roshan (Irrfan), an FBI agent, who sets the ball rolling for a series of tumultuous events that turn the lives of these friends upside down.

New York affects you like no other Hindi film has done so far (on 9/11). In fact, there are portions that give you goose bumps, especially towards the second half of the film, when John recounts his past.

One of the reasons why New York works is because not once does Kabir Khan borrow from the past or tilt towards predictable stuff. You just can't guess what and where the story is headed and what the culmination would be.

The director and his team of writers establish the plot and characters beautifully, but the real action is reserved for the second half. The nightmarish experience that John undergoes is disturbing, but lifts the film several notches up.

But New York has its share of loose ends. The film dips in the second hour. It tends to gets lengthy before it reaches a powerful, brilliantly executed climax. Also, a few sequences only add to the length of the film, which could've been curtailed in the writing stage itself.

Director Kabir Khan picks up a real incident -- innocent civilians being suspected as terrorists, soon after 9/11 -- and weaves a brilliant tale around it. The screenplay is its biggest star, without a doubt. Given the fact that New York isn't one of those routine masala fares, Kabir has injected songs only when required. Cinematography is striking.

Now here's another surprise. John, Katrina and Neil, all actors, deliver their career-best performance. If the first half belongs to Neil, John takes over the second hour completely. John is superb when he recalls the past.

You can feel his pain, that effective is his performance. Also, note his expressions towards the end. This is a different John, for sure. Just one word for his performance -- fabulous!

Neil was remarkable in JOHNNY GADDAAR, but disappointed in AA DEKHEN ZARA. Fortunately, he's in top form this time around. Katrina gives you the biggest surprise.

Known for her glamour roles, Katrina proves that she can deliver if the director and writer offer her a role of substance. She's outstanding. In fact, people will see a new, different Katrina this time. Irrfan is, as always, first-rate.

On the whole, New York is amongst the finest films produced by Yash Raj. At the box office, there's no stopping this one. Go for it now!

"Abhishek and I are brutally frank with each other" - Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

Verve's undisputed power cover girl, India's highest paid, most in-demand actor; international face of the country; recipient of a myriad film awards and the big daddy of them all, a Padma Shri, reminds me of a little girl on a Ferris wheel - spinning ever upwards, almost out of control in the frenzy of her life. Today, she is closeted in her vanity van at N. D. Studio in Karjat with make-up artist, Ojas. She is busy putting on a face, which to me seems so unnecessary! Earlier, fresh countenanced, tired-eyed but oh so beautiful, she had made flash decisions on gowns (no saris); colours (out with that dull mauve) and silhouettes. The world's most beautiful woman (so says Julia Roberts!) standing there in black tights and silver-and-white tee, could have slipped into anything and looked like a million bucks. She is small, slim and graveeyed and I remember reading that these, her most outstanding feature, have been donated already to science. She was not in the best of moods, struggling to control diva-esque tendencies - probably triggered by yet another unnecessary controversy, this time at Cannes, hanging over her head like a cloud of bad hair. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is ready to shoot but only on her own terms. And, no, she has too much on her mind today to commit to a chat.

The wind blows dry and hot on director Vipul Shah's set of Action Replay, featuring a re-creation of South Bombay in the hip 1970s. Being India's foremost leading lady is hard work. Juggling schedules, make-up, costumes, cover shoot, camera roll - and they haven't even started yet; the shoot scheduled to finish at 5 a.m. and lead Akshay Kumar, nowhere in sight. (And, did I mention, there's no time here for an interview!) I realize later, when she does manage to squeeze in a conversation, that the country's most glamorous celebrity works her trim butt off - and she truly believes in what she is doing. And this could be key to understanding Aishwarya and her reality. She is an idea, a dream that somehow fits into society's fantasies about itself. But it is hard to overestimate her significance in the reels of Bollywood culture. She is famous and not just in this country, of all women perhaps only less so than Sonia Gandhi herself and daughter Priyanka.

Interviewing Aishwarya is like prying open a floodgate. Pinned down another day, she is ready to give it her all, while firmly guarding her privacy. "Each year I am thinking it (her schedule) will ease up. It is the choices I make and the filmmakers I work with who are extremely passionate about their craft, demanding, in a positive way, in terms of detailing, in terms of preparation, plans and discussions prior to going ahead with filming...that involves a lot of participation which I enjoy the most...along with the companies I am involved with in terms of endorsements...." By all accounts, the former model and Miss World (1994) today commands a price of Rs 6 crore a film, the highest paid to any female actor in Bollywood and takes home around Rs 1 billion from advertising assignments annually. Certainly makes it 'worth it'.

There is a collective intake of breath as she makes an entry in a clinging red Shahab Durazi gown with large shoulder bow, looking for all the world like a girl on her prom night out, all wrapped up and ready to go. I notice a photographer's assistant roll his eyes, blown away by her raw appeal. She is electric before the camera, her obvious fatigue dispelled by the lens. She trips, she turns, she pouts and through it all she chatters with celebrity cameraman, Atul Kasbekar. From Marathi jokes to football scores and cricket, she is game for it all. And as the mood gets intense, she is like an animal, each muscle and nerve twitching, contorting into herself, radiating energy so that every man and woman there can feel goose pimples rise - like a contortionist thrilling her audience. And then, with that famous giggle which really is not a giggle at all but a stomachturning sound, she is gone with a wave of her hand with the ring that she never takes off (there is a bangle too), and the heightened energy waves immediately ebb.

"I don't think it would be fair to bring it down to numbers because it would sound very presumptuous of me to sit here and tell you this is the salary that I command, though I must confess it feels wonderful, like with any professional who commits to a job, to take home a good salary. It gives you a sense of accomplishment. One thought that after marriage things might change a bit and I am not solely responsible for the fact that this is not so. It is definitely the kind of work I have behind me and the kind of film-makers I have been working with, that they are forward thinking enough to transcend and rise above this mindset that existed earlier and perceive me as an actor, a professional passionate about my job. And then, everyone gets married, everyone goes on maternity leave...." What is different about her perception of herself is that she sees herself as destiny's child. God's chosen one, his out and out favourite.

Director Vipul Shah, prowling his sets, cell phone in hand, even as we wind down our shoot with the setting sun, ticks off the reasons he counts that make Aishwarya one of the most powerful personages in Bollywood. "She is the first actress who has actually done Hollywood films; internationally she is the face of Indian cinema and she is the most beautiful, fantastic dancer. She gives more than 100 per cent to whatever she does and we get tired, almost, of her perfectionist attitude." Why, I ask him, is she a star when there have been so many beauties, so many sensuous dancers, so many convincing actors? "In spite of her being so exquisitely beautiful, she has a girl next door quality - that combination is extraordinary." The appeal of a Waheeda Rehman, a Meena Kumari or a Saira Banu - an appeal almost from another age? Aishwarya paradoxically taps into the fantasy of accessibility while keeping the distance. And then, there is that masterstroke of innovation or fate, whichever way you see it. "And, of course, being the Bachchan bahu multiplies the situation." Husband and scion of Indian cinema's first family, Abhishek Bachchan and she have become akin to romance royalty, a couple in love, walking the red carpet hand in hand, imparting freshness and normalcy to the film industry.

In retrospect, how much did this high-profile alliance grow her already powerful stature? "This marriage has not been about names coming together or creating a force to reckon with for a perfect alliance. Very honestly, this is a boy and a girl who fell in love and got married with their parents' blessings...that's really our story - Abhishek and Aishwarya love each other. We have, very consciously in the first two years of our marriage, not commercially exploited our alliance in terms of doing endorsements together. We did not sell the rights of our photographs to magazines and try and make money, even though there were all those offers. Our alliance has been accepted in a loving manner and this was proved particularly on our Unforgettable) world tour. We were like bride and groom to the whole world. "

Says Subhash Ghai who directed her in Taal, where she metamorphosed from curly-haired pahadi belle to MTV superstar: "I would like to believe that Aishwarya Rai is undiminished power in the world of cinema and glamour, not because she is a perfect beauty but because of her impeccable intelligence, strong inner spiritual power and sense of commitment to whatever she does. I am yet to notice a lowlevel remark from her side even about her enemies. She carries herself, her crises and her success with equal dignity. She is my favourite as a person and actress...."

Days later, I am waiting in the offices of father-in-law and superstar, Amitabh Bachchan's company, A B Corp Limited, in Mumbai's Juhu district, feeling rather small amongst the somehow discreet line-up of the dozens of awards, statuettes, citations that the Bachchan's seem to have amassed. There must be a special person just to clean and polish these! Abhishek in track pants, walks in and out again. I am waiting still. If Aishwarya views herself as the modern professional at the top of her career, then her double-edged position of power has cocooned her in her own reality which has little bearing on the world around and such mundane things as passing time. She has been in a meeting all morning. She fusses typically about her father-in-law's lunch (it is almost time for tea) even as she leads me to a well-appointed room with a large TV screen and stacks of DVDs piled up. A painting of Abhishek, in abstract colours, takes pride of place on the wall. This is a room that has the feel of conversations and obsessive film viewing. It's where I finally settle for a chat with Bollywood's reigning queen...who ponders a lot, talks a lot and so we have here Aishwarya unfiltered...

"You just know when you are home!"
Abhishek and I have been close throughout our careers. Within a year of our being together, he proposed to me and it was an immediate yes. In Toronto, we had the premiere of Guru and there was a screening and a press interaction in New York and we were supposed to take the flight back, when he proposed. And he said he had a reason for that, he said he used to be in New York at that very spot thinking about the possibility of us being together. It was not about the frills but about the personal emotion deep within."

"My marriage was a glorious, fabulous, wonderful, superlative personal experience."
And having said that, the circumstances were unimaginable. I never thought I would get married in the middle of a film. You imagine you would complete your work, indulge yourself. In movies, they show this entire preparation time and the irony was that I was doing that in Jodhaa Akbar. Ashu (director Ashutosh Gowariker) would keep saying that your craft, your kala, is preparing you for this wonderful real life moment. So, I was the bride in my work and its wonderful how my life has made me smile so many times and made me wonder at incidents where something is going on in your life and there is an interesting parallel on your work front.

"Abhishek and I have the ability to keep things real."
Which is great and keeps our relationship what it is - an incredible friendship...we are brutally frank with each other, we are brutally frank about our life, we both have an incredible sense of humour and we have the ability to laugh with each other, at ourselves and with life and I think that is special.

"It starts with, I as an actor should want to do what I am doing, otherwise I will be cheating my work."
If I am not comfortable doing what I am doing, the camera picks up every little thing, you cannot lie to the camera. I have been fairly radical throughout my career in terms of trying to break out of the predictable journey of a leading lady. Early on, I took up mature roles and started working in regional cinema. It was recognized that I had a dancing prowess and I could have been the next dancing superstar but I chose subjects where the directors wanted to create a slightly different character.

"The truth is, I did not go seeking to make an inroad into Hollywood or move there."
The entire international interest in me started when Devdas went to Cannes. Coincidentally, Gurinder (Chadha) was meeting me with two script ideas at the same time. So naturally she became my first choice. It was suddenly perceived that Aishwarya has made this decision to go to Hollywood. I said that I am open to cinema, just as I was when I did Iruvar, Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. When I joined films finally, it was after Miss World and films were already coming my way. I have virtually been invited here and to date scripts come my way and by the grace of God, I am spoilt for choice. That is the same way I choose my English films. I am sure people have wondered why I have said no to biggies like Will Smith, Michael Douglas, Rush Hour 3 or Troy. But, I had committed my time to Indian films.

"A day off is totally husband time and family time."
When we were in Chennai shooting for Guru, we went with Abhishek's friends from college time, to the theatre and we watched movies back to back, just that one evening we went from one theatre to the next in this multiplex. The wonderful thing about people is that you can actually request them, just say 'hey guys, we would like to hang too, do what you do'. And people will smile and let you be. Abhishek and I love music and I have an incredibly full iPod now thanks to him. I have never been pseudo enough to say I like only English music and popular tracks of the time but also old classics and Hindi music of earlier times. We also genuinely love watching movies. But most of all, we just love spending time together. Both of us are very talkative and we have to give each other time to speak before piping in.

"The most precious thing that happened this year has been my father's recovery from cancer."
The whole family has been very strong and I will give equal credit to my mother. I wanted to become a doctor before I wanted to become an architect and so I have always been called the 'frustrated quack'. If there is any kind of even small medical crises, I am there with all the facts. Even Abhishek recognizes this. He used to call me Florence Nightingale.

"Professionally what was wonderful was being bestowed with the Padma Shri."
People from the fraternity said you are the youngest from the industry to have received it thus far. I owe it to my parents and I devote it to them. It was very special when my in-laws said we welcome the fifth Padma Shri into the family. And I am blessed with the best husband in the world because it reflects on his strength that he can stand by his woman on a public platform at every given opportunity and applaud her. With a tight film schedule ahead, the actor will face the year with the cylinders that drive her, on full blast. While her achievements have been large, one wonders, what next? With fresh faces bombarding the movie going public's sensibility; will Aishwarya now appeal to a more mature audience? Not an older audience minds you, just a more mature one.... While the choices she makes today may be more critical than ever before, destiny's child is not worrying any.

Kambakkht Ishq is an illogical film: Akshay Kumar

Kambakkht Ishq is an illogical film: Akshay Kumar By Joginder Tuteja

Akshay Kumar believes in entertaining audiences even if his films come with an 'illogical' tag. He admits that his forthcoming "Kambakkht Ishq" belongs to the same category.

"I don't want to get into logical films... I am happy doing films where one can keep discussions around logic at home, " Akshay Kumar told on phone from the US where he is currently on holiday.

"I want people to come with their parents and children, munch popcorn while the movie plays, get entertained, have some nice lunch or dinner after the show ends and then go back home happy and smiling, " he added.

"See, for so many Hollywood or Bollywood films out there, you don't ask around whether a particular scene or happening is possible or not. Look at James Bond movies - now don't we see so many illogical things out there? But we are fine and rightly so because these films eventually entertain. You don't search for logic there and in the same way, 'Kambakkht Ishq' too is an illogical film", said Akshay.

Releasing July 3, the film, also starring Kareen Kapoor, was extensively shot in in Hollywood.

"And I am extremely lucky to have found this opportunity for myself. You get to see and do so many big things in just one film. Where else would you otherwise get a chance to shoot in Kodak theatre?

"You set your film in nothing less than Universal Studios, then you do stunts along with Brandon Routh (better known as Superman), you romance with Denise Richards and Kareena Kapoor and then the ultimate pleasure is to share screen space with Ramboji (Sylvester Stallone), " he said.

For Akshay, working in a film like "Kambakkht Ishq" was akin to a dream coming true.

"Frankly, the film was not just a journey but a roller coaster ride. There are so many big and known names who are a part of the film. Moreover, what's even better is that each of the aforementioned names are essential part of the film. It's not that they have been roped in just for the sake of it. There is no gimmickry involved and you will realise that once you see the film, " said the actor.

Commenting on the film's budget, he said the makers of "Kambakkht Ishq" haven't gone overboard.

"The film's budget is decent in fact, not that huge as some may believe, It's a reasonable budget around Rs.45-50 crore and is in the similar range as 'Chandni Chowk To China' or a 'Singh Is Kinng'. We haven't gone overboard at all."

He also said that in spite of so much being packed in this Sabbir Khan directed film, the makers have kept the film's length in check.

"Don't worry, we won't take much of your time", joked Akshay, "The film boasts of some power packed entertainment in those 2 hours and 15 minutes. I guess that is quite reasonable for a film of this scale."

Check out Aamir and Kareena's look in 3 Idiots

Check out Aamir and Kareena`s look in 3 IdiotsKareena Kapoor may have a big release round the corner (Kambakkht Ishq) but that hasn't deterred Bollywood's IT girl from finishing off her other pending assignments.

Kareena was busy shooting most of last week with Aamir Khan for Rajkumar Hirani's 3 Idiots. The actors finished a major shooting schedule first in the cold climate of Ladakh and then even shot some vital portions in Delhi.

What one can't miss noticing in theses images floating on the internet is Bebo's simple, bespectacled look, a complete opposite from her glamorous avatar in Kambakkht Ishq. She is also seen wearing a simple salwar kameez rather than any western outfit which she is more often seen in.

As for Aamir, the actor seems to be in a light relaxed mood, sporting a light pink tee with blue jeans.

3 Idiots is based on Chetan Bhagat's much acclaimed novel '5 Point Someone' and also stars Sharman Joshi, R Madhavan, Mona Singh and Boman Irani in lead roles.

Amitabh had Michael Jackson knocking at his door

Amitabh had Michael Jackson knocking at his doorPop legend Michael Jackson was the "incredible perfection that god could have possibly created" and a man who personified "the impossible", says Hindi film megastar Amitabh Bachchan.

"He (Michael) changed the very psyche of not just the kind of music he was making, but also the psyche of the listening audience. Nothing compared to him. He was just this incredible perfection that god could have possibly created in his mercy," Amitabh posted on his blog Friday.

"His body moved like a wound up toy machine. Every conceivable action of rhythm and style was incorporated inside his diminutive form without any blemish. The exhilaration that he provided became synonymous with the ultimate. He was the impossible," he added.

The news of 50-year-old Jackson's demise Thursday following a cardiac arrest at his home in Los Angeles took Amitabh down memory lane.

"In the mid 60s or thereabouts, I heard a group of pop singers who went by the name of 'The Jackson Five'...the youngest among them was this chubby cute little fellow with an extraordinary voice and a body that for his age and countenance moved exceptionally well. I found out his name was Michael - Michael Jackson.

"It was around the mid 70s that lightening struck and from it emerged this grown up version of Michael Jackson, singing, moving, dancing like he was from some other planet," wrote Amitabh who had a chance meeting with the man himself.

The megastar's first tryst with the King of Pop, who became a rage amongst people cutting across all ages and strata, was after 1982, the year Amitabh had an accident on the sets of his film "Coolie".

Amitabh had gone to the US for recuperation and consultation with doctors there on his post-operative condition and happened to learn that Jackson was to perform at a concert the next day. He did everything he could to watch the show and when he finally got to experience it, he says it was "hallucinogenic madnes".

In the early 1990s in New York, Amitabh had Jackson knocking at his door.

"The door bell of my room in the Helmsley Palace Hotel rang and I sauntered up to open it. There as I stood in the doorway, across me, was Michael Jackson. He looked a little surprised as he turned around to those he was accompanied with and in his now well known soft voice gently spoke up - 'Oh! Excuse me! I think I have the wrong room'," said Amitabh.

Later of course, the two legends met again and "exchanged pleasant conversation".

"He was soft spoken, very humble and most polite. I never saw him again, but when he came to perform in Mumbai (in 1996) at the Andheri Sports Complex, Prateeksha, where I live, shook the entire night with the vibrations of all his most popular numbers booming out from the venue.

"An exceptional artist has gone. Someone that created an almost outer world experience for all of us with his art," Amitabh wrote.

I touched Michael Jackson: Farah Khan

I touched Michael Jackson: Farah Khan"I officially had no training in dance and whatever I learnt was from watching Michael Jackson by watching his videos, especially 'Thriller' over and over again. I consider him as my guru," one of the Bollywood best choreographers Farah Khan.

Jackson died on Thursday in Los Angeles due to suspected cardiac arrest. He was 50.

Farah said that she heard the news on Friday as she landed in Los Angeles to meet Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan who is shooting in LA for Karan Johar's 'My Name Is Khan'.

"I have just landed here to meet Shah Rukh. I reached in the hotel and got to know about the sad news. It has not sunk in yet. It is still to sink in that he is no more. I still have my college pictures where I am dressed like him, such was my obsession.

I have always told my near ones that my ultimate dream would be to choreograph Michael Jackson. I always had this hope that it will happen one day, but with this news my ultimate dream stands shattered," Farah said.

She remembers the 'Thriller' hitmaker as "one who revolutionised the way we look at dancing today" also recalled her encounter with the pop superstar in New York at a Bollywood awards night.

"I am grateful to God that I could meet him once in my lifetime. I clearly remember that meeting at an awards night in New York. I had a won an award at the ceremony and Michael Jackson was also getting an award for his humanitarian works.

The organisers knew how crazy I was for him so they did take me to backstage to meet him. I went over to him, touched him, spoke to him and even clicked a picture with him. He asked me my name, my profession. It was a surreal experience. I was shivering throughout the night. I will always cherish that picture," Farah told CNN-IBN.

"I thought I would retire after I choreograph Michael Jackson," she added.