August 23, 2001, Chandigarh, India
Wisecracking their way to Bollywood
Glorifying dons on celluloid
Santoshi goes back in time
Wisecracking their way to Bollywood
are television’s favourite children. The new icons of hip who have
turned fast-talking and wisecracking into an art form. Malaika Arora,
Laila Rouass, Maria Goretti, Cyrus Broacha, Nikhil Chinappa, Mini Mathur
and others are giving urban youth a lot to sing and dance about. Yet,
despite being minor celebrities themselves, these VJs keep looking for
alternative careers in films.
When she danced into the hearts of viewers with her stunning ‘Chhaiyya Chhaiyya’ number opposite Shah Rukh Khan in ‘Dil Se’ Malaika was deluged with similar Bollywood offers. But after doing another itsy-bitsy role with Bobby Deol in ‘Bichchoo’, she’s been refusing them all as she doesn’t want to be typecast as a hip-swinging heroine. "I’ll wait for a good role to come my way."
The wait now seems to be over. The pin-up girl is all set to dazzle the hearts of Italians. Malaika has been approached by no less a person than Roberto Begnini for the role of dusky Indian princess in a new French-Italian production. Begnini made headlines in 1999 when he received Oscars for Best Director and Best Actor for ‘Life Is Beautiful’.
MTVveejay is over the moon with the offer and says it is one of her
biggest breaks in life. "I love veejaying and I pretty much let
myself go — jabber and dance and let the music make me feel good. But
I love films as well and have been waiting for a good offer like
this." Now with an international film offer, what more is Malaika
looking forward to? Lots and lots of great roles. "I want to be an
actress of substance."
Malaika is not alone. Sister Amrita Arora, Shophiya Haque and Laila Rouass all want to be stars of substance. So do Cyrus Broacha, Nikhil Chinappa, Purab and Rahul Bose. Despite many of them flopping in their attempts, these VJs are all trying to get a foothold in Bollywood.
Take the case of Laila Rouass and Rahul Bose. When they were first cast together as co-hosts of BBC’s ‘Style’ they made a striking pair.Then they drifted apart. Rahul Bose made a beeline for films. His first role was in Dev Benegal’s critically acclaimed ‘English, August’ and then he did a villain’s role in Govind Nihilani’s ‘Takshak’.
Rahul once again paired up with the effervescent Laila in another Dev Benegal film, ‘Split Wide Open’ where he played KP, a hustler who sells tap water to the poor and bottled mineral water to the rich. Laila Rouass did the role of Nandita, a NRIfrom London who hosts a TV show in Mumbai where people come and talk about their secret lives.
But, says Laila, "‘Split Wide Open’ was not my first film. I had an important role in a telefilm called ‘City of Dreams’. It was produced by Feroze Nadiawala and I co-starred with Lisa Ray and Saeed Jaffery".
The two other VJs who’ve acted together in a film are Nikhil Chinappa and Sophiya Haque. They made their debut in Sunhil Sippy’s ‘Snip’ Though the film failed to set the box office on fire, both the veejays are now scouting around for more film roles. Nikhil had earlier done the serial ‘Hello Friends’ opposite another VJ, Maria Goretti.
Though ‘Snip’ was Sophiya’s first movie, she’d earlier been short-listed by Mira Nair for ‘Mississippi Masala’ but she lost out to Sarita Chowdhary. A second offer came from Mira Nair again for a new film in ‘Gautam Buddha’ in which she wanted Sophiya to play the part of Buddha’s wife. Unfortunately for Sophiya, there was a reported dispute between Mira Nair and Warner Brothers over the basic theme and the film was scrapped.
"I just got lucky with ‘Snip’. Though the film wasn’t a great commercial success, it has opened new career opportunities for me," says Sophiya who is chasing some ‘dream roles.’
It seems the sizzling beauties are getting a better deal as far as the number of films is concerned. These ladies combine good looks, vivaciousness and spontaneity to bag films. So, when filmmakers are looking for fresh faces they fit the bill well and their experience as a VJ on television also acts as an added incentive.
A fine example of this is Harshita Bhatt whose first film ‘Shararat’ with Abhishek Bachchan is ready for release. She also stars in Shah Rukh Khan’s epic drama ‘Ashoka:The Great’.
Or take the case of
Malaika’s younger sister Amrita, a vivacious, chirpy and cool VJ for
MTV shows like ‘House Full’, ‘Made in India’ and ‘Chill Out,’
Amrita has decided to quit television and take the Bollywood route
Interestingly, the film industry seems to be beckoning Amrita enthusiastically. She’s bagged the lead role opposite Fardeen Khan in ‘Kitne Door Kitne Pass’ as also two untitled films with D. Rama Naidu and E. Niwas opposite Govinda and Salman Khan.
Unlike the girls, males VJs still seem for behind. "The problem is that none of them is conventionally good looking. That works to their disadvantage," says an industry source.
However, there are some exceptions. Channel (V)’s Purab is busy shooting for Padam Kumar’s ‘Supari’. He earlier played a pivotal role in Zee’s hit serial, ‘Hip Hip Hurray’. Cyrus ‘bakra’ Broacha is doing a cameo in Anupam Kher’s multi-starrer, ‘Om Jai Jagdish’.
"A VJ cannot go on forever," says the stunning Malaika and adds, "They why are all looking for alternative careers."
Adds Maria Goretti, "Most VJs have
a very short shelf life. So it’s best to get whatever you can till the
cameras are focussed on you. Otherwise it may be too late." That
explains why small screen icons are looking to the big screen with so
much craving. (NF)
Glorifying dons on celluloid
MANY years ago Mani Ratnam made ‘Nayakan’, with Kamal Hassan cast as the notorious underworld don from Mumbai, Varadarajan Mudaliar. Ramgopal Varma took gang wars to street-level gunfights in ‘Satya’ — soon to be followed by another gangster film, ‘Company’.
It has now come to light that Mahesh Manjrekar wants to make a biographical film on Chotta Shakeel and had even sought the permission of the dreaded criminal holed up somewhere in West Asia. It is the closest any filmmaker could get to portraying the life of a living don.
The disturbing aspect about this move is that the Mumbai police have intercepted the call made by Manjrekar to Shakeel and are suspecting more than a mere discussion om filmmaking. Transcripts of the taped conversation were read out in the Bombay High Court late last month.
Arguing on the bail application of incarcerated diamond merchant and film financier Bharat Shah, lawyer Kapil Sibal read out excerpts from the transcripts to establish that it was not only his client, but others like Manjrekar, Sanjay Dutt and Salman Khan who were equally "involved" with crime syndicates.
On Manjrekar’s film plans, Shakeel was quoted as agreeing to cooperate while complimenting the filmmaker on an earlier effort, ‘Vaastav’. He specifically asked Manjrekar if the scene of five murders in a van, as shown in the film was inspired by an incident involving his gang.
Shakeel was also taped speaking to Salman Khan about ‘Chori Chori Chupke Chupke’ — the film that landed its producer, Naseem Rizvi and Shah in jail. The former was quoted as saying that apart from one Nange Khan, he had not spoken to anybody about the case.
These revelations have sent shock waves
within the industry as nobody can be sure about who to trust and who not
to. The general suspicion is that these could just be the tip of the
proverbial iceberg and what the police have said about "more
explosive evidence" (on film-underworld nexus) could be true after
Santoshi goes back in time
HIS much-hyped and long-delayed ‘Lajja’ is yet to hit the screen and Rajkumar Santoshi has already announced his next film. "It’s a period film," said the director of such award-winning money-spinners as ‘Damini’ and ‘Ghatak’. "It will be on the life of Shaheed Bhagat Singh".
Santoshi has also been signed by southern movie mogul Ramoji Rao for a three-part film on various episodes on the ‘Mahabharata’. He describes this as a nine-hour "epic project" with an outlay of a billion rupees — the highest ever budget for an Indian film.
What has however, raised many eyebrows is Santoshi’s betrayal of herd mentality, following the mega-success of the two costume dramas, ‘Lagaan’ and ‘Gadar’. He has held the reputation of a filmmaker who takes up contemporary issues like injustice on the downtrodden and status of women in Indian society.
Besides, two other films are already in the making on Bhagat Singh. One is by Raj Kanwar and will be shot on a start-to-finish schedule at Amritsar. The other is by Sunny Deol with brother Bobby Deol playing the martyred freedom fighter. Sunny will produce, direct and play Chandrashekhar Azad.
Santoshi does not seem to be bothered by these parallel efforts. Instead, he argues that it is easy for him to pick up any top star in the industry for the title role. "But for me. Bhagat Singh is a much bigger star than all the stars in Hindi cinema put together."
He discloses that ‘Mahabharata’ will also have newcomers, particularly with a stage background. The pre-production stage will take at least a year, by which time he will be able to wrap up and release the film on Bhagat Singh.
When asked to comment on his friend,
Priyadarshan making another biographical film with Abhishek Bachchan as
Chandrashekhar Azad, Santoshi said: "Priyan is a competent
director. His ‘Sazaa-e-Kaalapani’ (another historical film) was
technically superb. Moreover, Abhishek is of the right age for the
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