Back stage drama
Popular Pakistani actress Meera is back in India for film Beauty Queen and all set to take up her first Punjabi project on this side of the border

A beauty pageant marred by a sting operation and a failed contestant's ghost out to seek revenge — well, this is going to Meera, popular Pakistani actress' new film. Beauty Queen has once again brought Meera Irtiza Rubab to India who has worked in couple of movies on this side of the border as well.

Melica Amina
Melica Amina

"I have never worked on this theme before and I wanted to come to Chandigarh always. This movie gave me this chance which I grabbed instantly," says Meera in chaste Urdu apologising first for not knowing English fully yet!

With successful run as a model, actor on telly as well as big screen back in Pakistan, Meera who started working at the age of nine has retained her innocence and enthusiasm of a beginner. "I have got such warm response in Hindustan that it moves me each time I visit this country," says Meera who finds in Chandigarh.

Extremely busy she is both onscreen and off screen as brand ambassador of Lux in Pakistan and more brands, Meera is kicked about having been honoured with Presidential award back home. "I have enacted many roles on screen. What I am most proud of is Iqra, a series in which I play the lead. A girl who challenges the feudal system to break free," says Meera who came for the announcement of the film in Chandigarh on Sunday.

The movie Beauty Queen, a joint venture between Sunil Bansal and Ashish Bhavsar, ropes in models from about 12 countries to make this film in 3 D format. As the director narrates the script, one cannot help but ask if it bears semblance to Miss Congeniality… "Well that's the movie to save the world, I am not saving the world but just bringing the reality on screen with a twist of sting and revengeful ghost," says Ashish whose other two 3 D projects one on vampires (they are Mr and Mrs Singh) and Mere Genie Uncle are near completion.

Back to Beauty Queen, the movie has also supposedly Zeenat Aman and Aman Verma in key roles and will be largely shot in and around Chandigarh. Melica Amina, Iranian model based in New York plays one of the twenty contestants in the flick. Ask her what made her pick up this flick, she answers, "I have been part of the glamour industry for ten long years. Been part of the on stage and backstage drama, I have lived this life. The chance to play myself onscreen made me sign up this film."

At last, ask Meera on how is Bollywood different than Lollywod (Pakistan film industry based in Lahore), she goes, "Movie industry be it in Hindustan, Pakistan, Iran, China or Los Angeles is the same. All have access to the latest technology, the only difference today is the language they use!"

What I am most proud of is Iqra, a series in which I play the lead. A girl who challenges the feudal system to break free... — meera

On a positive note
Actor Milind Gunaji likes to play the dark characters, but is as bright as it can get when it comes to interaction…
Jasmine Singh

His journeys lead him to the bright sides of life, but it is the dark where he finds himself most of the times or where he slips into conveniently. Bollywood actor Milind Gunaji doesn't mind playing negative roles most of the times in films, as long as they make him grow.

In Punjab for the shooting of his third Punjabi film Rab To Sona Ishq, Milind likes to peek outside the dark areas more than once though.

Laughs Milind, who has been travelling extensively for the last few months, "I play a negative character in Rab To Sona Ishq and it is fun to be doing that." It is not the negative role that intrigues us much, but his Punjabi-speaking skills. "This is my third Punjabi film so I feel with time my Punjabi diction has got better," he decides to carry on the rest of the conversation in Punjabi!

Milind, who was applauded for his role in Devdas, has much up his sleeve. He likes to pen his thoughts in books, travelogues and more. "These interests keep me going. I am doing a number of films, playing the lead in a Marathi movie. I would be doing a Hollywood project pretty soon," adds Milind, whose close up shots have been used in the upcoming Hollywood flick Singularity.

"Cinema is in its best phase; different unconventional yet believable scripts and new crop of directors have brought about a change in the entertainment quotient. And the same is true for Punjabi cinema, which is growing in leaps and bounds. Not only in terms of the subject, Punjabi cinema is also growing technically, which is a good thing. And as long as I get to grow with it as an actor, I am happy doing negative roles in whatever medium," says Milind.

Sallu, unplugged
Wherever he goes, he creates a buzz. Whatever he does, he makes a difference. Here's catching up with Bollywood star Salman Khan… 
Jasmine Singh

A simple distinction in geography differentiates an active volcano from a dormant one. Back in Bollywood, one actor surprises everyone, his fellow industry mates and the audiences by turning active from a dormant stage! Salman Khan has turned the spotlight on him after delivering one box-office hit after the other. He is all over the big screen, small screen and even sabotaging the advertisement world. Seen in his usual Toofani self in the new Thumbs Up advertisement, Sallu quickly shares what has brought this hurricane change in his career and more.

Set yourself free

I have never sweated over anything. I have always believed in the concept of right time. This is precisely the reason why I relate to the brand Thumbs Up. I feel each one of us should be let free to discover our own potential.

The 'Dabangg' in me

Salman is a man who stands by the circumstances of his choices. Some hiccups here and there; the actor lets himself be flown with the tide of time, never losing his adventurous self though. "I associate with the qualities of adventure, resilience, energy and courage. I believe these are the attributes, which drive us to our true calling in life. Being fearless and bold is a choice that we make in life; everything boils to one simple thing bas dhakkan hatane ki der hai," he says.

Social calling

I totally realise that I have a responsibility towards my audiences who come to watch me on the big screen," shares Salman, who is currently shooting for his next project Mental, which is being directed by Sohail Khan. At the same time, each one of us has a responsibility towards society as well. "I am now urging the brands to use our collective reach to do good for the community. For instance, Being Human has tied up to launch a series of Career Development Centres, which help prepare the youth in smaller towns for entry level jobs in the corporate sector," he says taking long breaks in between the conversation.

Work is worship

"When people ask me what I do in my free time, I say films because this is my hobby; something that I love to do. I like biking as well," he sounds excited, "but I don't get much time for it."

Emraan Hashmi is on a high!

Emraan Hashmi is the new Salman Khan! This is because of his huge fan following among the classes and the masses and his success ratio. He has just returned from Berlin and begun shooting for his first Hollywood film, in which he is a lead player. He talks about his fans in Berlin and shooting for this new movie along with Ek Thi Daayan.

On Berlin

We started shooting the film by Danis Tanovic while we were attending the Berlinale. Hollywood and Bollywood have different sensibilities. I have seen all the films that Danis has made and I feel honoured to be working with him. I had taken my wife Parveen for the festival but I was so busy that we hardly spent any time together.

Over to Patiala

We are now in Patiala, shooting for the Indian leg of the film's schedule. I cannot say much about the film or my character right now but I can say that Urdu and Hindi have been spoken in some parts of the movie.

The cross roads

I got to meet my fans in Berlin. It was so heartening to see foreigners wearing the Indian flag on their jackets and carrying them in their hands. They love Indian cinema.

Thrill of the super natural

I did Ek Thi Daayan because, like other kids, I have grown up listening to stories about witches. They can be real or fake but the stories we hear are scary and our parents ask us to do the right thing through stories. One always fears the unknown and the film has taught me a lot about the paranormal and metaphysics.

The big banner

Unglee has shaped up very well and is an interesting film. I know it is a big deal to do a Dharma film but you cannot differentiate one production house from another. Ultimately, the director sets the tone on the sets of a movie. Karan knows about the pulse of the audience and puts his money in the right projects. He has so much knowledge about films.

The drama king
Teen sensation Justin Bieber threw tantrums while at a dinner at a posh London restaurant, asking a family to change tables so that his bodyguards could sit closer to him.

The Boyfriend hit maker celebrated his 19th birthday this week, with a couple of posh dinners and in the process tried to use his celebrity status to have things his way, reported a publication online. The Canadian singer, who was there on tour, turned up for a meal at a posh eatery in London's Grosvenor Square and took his seat with two men guard in front of the table so that no one would hassle him. But after complaints from fellow diners, management asked them to move.

They demanded a table where a family was already dining - which they were told wasn't possible, following which Bieber upped and left. "Justin bowled into the restaurant with an entourage and plenty of attitude. He sat down while the two security lads stood over him, staring at everyone. It was affecting the mood of the room so management politely asked them to sit down. "They pointed at a table next to Justin and said they would sit there and to move the people there elsewhere. The management said that wasn't acceptable so they got up and walked out in a strop. It was ridiculous," said a source. — PTI

Problem child: Justin Bieber

Worth the wait

Minissha Minissha is gearing up to showcase her violent streak in Sanjay Sharma's next film, Black Currency, which is her debut into action films.

Minissha, who has been quite experimental with her roles, is all set to transform herself into a rough and tough intelligence officer. "This wasn't a cake walk for me", she said. These days, she is busy rehearsing for the robust look and has been religiously practicing martial arts, flips and kick-boxing. It could be a long wait for Minissha's fans but seems like it will definitely be worth the wait!

On a firing spree!

Nicki Minaj Singer Nicki Minaj has reportedly fired her stylist and hair dresser. The 30-year-old Starships hit maker has taken the step because she wants to take her career seriously now and present herself in the best possible way, reported a publication online.

"Nicki is desperate to be taken seriously as an artist. She has fired her long-standing hairdresser, who has been responsible for some of her crazy hairstyles over the years. She has also fired her stylist,” a source said.

Minaj has been one of the judges at singing reality show American Idol. "Nicki feels that now she is done with American Idol. She can finally be taken seriously and release a proper hip-hop album," the source added. —PTI

I'm terrified of my mother: Rihanna

R&B star Rihanna says the only person she is scared of is her mother. The 25-year-old singer says she doesn't care what anyone thinks of her but admitted her mother can really intimidate her, reported a publication. 

The Diamonds singer says, "I'm not afraid of any person in this world but my mother. I'm terrified of her! She called me two days ago and reeled me in about two naked pictures that Melissa (Rihanna's best friend) put up on Instagram. My mom, she went crazy on me," she added. Explaining how she felt after talking to her mother, the singer said, "I was like embarrassed." — PTI

Funny way of being serious
Amarjot Kaur

That comedy is a funny way of being serious; it must demand much seriousness to be executed with utter dexterity. Had not his pursuit required it to be written and read, Jaspal Bhatti indeed framed the parameters of meaningful Punjabi comic satire, while employing his remarkable genius for accomplishing the same. Endeavouring to pay him a tribute on his birthday, Bhatti's wife, Savita Bhatti along with their son, Jasraj Bhatti have organised The Jaspal Bhatti Comedy Film Festival on Sunday. 

"What better way to remember him than to have organised a Comedy Film Festival," Smiles Savita, while adding, "This festival is open for all those who want to make a short comedy film. We will be more than glad to welcome ethical satires, which do not attempt to malign anybody's beliefs and faiths. The entry charges are Rs 500 and those who wish to participate, can submit their films till January 31st, 2013."

Jasraj, who donned a yellow turban, details rather precisely upon the prerequisites of entering into the competition, "The short film can run up to seven minutes time duration and it must be assembled in a digital format. Also, there is no language bar, however, English subtitles should be provided.” The winners will be awarded a four-month long training, which will be free of cost and we will also confer the best director with a cash prize."

The fairytale begins
Tanya Malhotra

They are searching for their princess! No, it's not a fairytale or a Bollywood flick. After three consecutive years of triumph, the fourth season of Indian Princess and Indian Princess International is all geared up to set the world on fire.

The chairman, Sunil Rane, along with the organisers and 32 participants were in Chandigarh on Friday to kick-start the event. Rane is passionate about the pageant. "In four years, we have come up to an international level, where celebrities are associated with our brand and talents from across the globe are eager to bond with us," he says.

The extravagant arrangements by Cosmos, who set up stages at IIFA worldwide, will be one of the major attractions this time. Karisma Kapoor will be one of the judges at the grand finale that will take place on March 8 at Hotel Tulip Star in Mumbai.

"The pageant is a great opportunity for the contestants to showcase their talent and grow in the fashion industry," says Varsha, wife of Sunil Rane. "We have bigger dreams in mind, this is just a beginning!" she adds.

"I am truly privileged to be a part of this event. I am a singer now and releasing my album shortly and it wouldn't have been possible without this platform!" says Bobby Layal, first runner-up of Indian Princess 2012.

While some contestants are born and brought up in India, there are many who came from abroad to be part of this pageant. "Contestants have poured in from Qatar, France, South Africa, Bahrain, Bhutan, Nepal, Netherlands, Malaysia, Singapore, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Surinam, Sri Lanka and many more countries. This is our greatest achievement!" says Rane.

"Undergoing a thorough training in diction, fitness, etiquettes, make-up, styling and photos shoots, we were groomed in Blue Ocean Resort and Spa under the guidance of professionals and a trip to Thailand completely changed our perspective," say the participants.

Tarika Chauhan from City Beautiful expresses her experience as 'majestic'. She says, "The whole experience has been incredible and I can't wait for the grand finale!" Channel V will broadcast the event from March 23 onwards in 16 countries.

Crafted in tradition
Find interesting handloom and handicraft items from the state of Madhya Pradesh at this exhibition...

The Mrignayanee chain of emporia is a unique marketing outlet to display and sell a wide range of products which includes Chanderi, Maheshwari and Kosa Tussar sarees, dress material, home and office furnishings, handicrafts, jewellery and gift items. The highly developed skills of weavers, craftsmen, and artisans reflect the glory of Madhya Pradesh through the products manufactured by them. Through these emporia MP Laghu Udyog Nigam Ltd. is not only rendering the much needed support for the development and marketing of the products of handloom and handicraft sector, customers can find these things in our short period exhibition at Lala Lajpat Rai Bhawan - 15.

On till March 10. — TNS 

Stress Buster
Break free
Stress has a habit of accumulating because we have a habit of brushing things under the carpet. Learn to accept and deal with your stressors
Renee Singh

A lot of people don't seem to notice that energy is what we humans are all about. And keeping our energy levels high is a sure way of keeping ourselves stress free. Most people have a huge 'toleration' level and allow a steady drain of energy constantly. They become so used to these drains on their recourses of energy and motivation that they stop noticing it anymore.

These energy drains which we call 'toleration' gradually turn into low grade stress that slowly starts affecting our ability to deal with larger stressors in our lives.

A lot of times without realising we start feeling stuck in a situation. This happens due to our attitude to tolerate. Eliminating toleration is one way of reducing stress from our lives. Life coaches often help people in finding ways to reduce stress by cataloging and systematically eliminating those things from life, which are constantly draining our energies in every sphere.

On many days even when we have done no physical activity we feel unusually tired and listless. It is because we have allowed stressful thoughts to overtake our lives and make a huge drain on our energy levels. We need to take charge of ourselves once we have the conscious awareness that we are victims of our own toleration attitudes. In order to deal with this we need to

1Make a list: Sort in your mind all the things that drain your energy and write them down. Once you are clear on this score it becomes easier to deal with your stress.

2Set your priorities: By getting a sequence wise list of your toleration, you can also easily figure which ones affect your energy levels the most. Prioritise your tolerations and once you have assessed them correctly start working towards eliminating them.

3Cut down on tolerations: Once your list of stressors is set start taking action. Tackle the most stress- inducing toleration first. This leaves you with greater energy for other activities like eliminating the lower priority energy drains.

4Change your reactions: You can change your experience of stress by merely changing your attitude. Just change your thoughts perception, action and reaction to whatever you face. It does not mean you ignore your problem. It just means that you see the opportunity in the challenge, and take steps to be less reactive to stress.

5Inculcate good practices: Meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises can increase your resilience to stress. Do maximum indulgence in these methods.

You need to work on the tolerations constantly so while making your list and brainstorming on it if you feel stuck for ideas you can focus on the main categories of your life, it could be wellness, school, family, household or just about anything concerned with your life.

For example ''toleration'' could include a messy desk, a cluttered inbox, a co- worker who saps your energy or a less than ideal family situation. You can count on the fact that these are energy drains and deal with them accordingly.

Ask your friends what they feel your main tolerations are. Once you have identified and made a list of all the factors that drain your energy it becomes very easy to deal with them. Stress has a habit of accumulating because we have a habit of brushing things under the carpet. Learn to accept and deal with your stressors. Make toleration an attitude of the past and live your life in conscious awareness. This is one of the best stress management techniques in life. Try it as the comfortable route to happiness.

(Singh is a Chandigarh-based psychotherapist)

Master Chef
Make some noise!
Ranjan Dibya

If you think that green veggies are boring then you have not tried out something innovative. Spinach, an extremely nutritive offering can be cooked in umpteen ways. One caution though, while cooking spinach never overcook or soak after chopping for it for it will lose it 's useful vitamins . Try this 'crackling recipe' and savour the crunchy bite of this vegetable.

Crackling spinach
(Crisp fried spinach tossed with sesame, garlic and chilli flakes)


* 1 Bunch of fresh spinach leaves

* 2 Tsp chopped garlic

* 2 Tbsp corn flour

* ½ Tsp sesame seeds

* ½ Tsp red chilli flakes

* 1 Tsp sesame oil

* ½ Tsp sugar

* 1 Tbsp spring onion chopped

* Salt to taste

* Refined oil for frying


Wash the spinach leaves, drain the water and dry. Cut the leaves into thick strips. Heat the oil in a pan. In a bowl, add the corn flour and spinach leaves. Mix them well thoroughly. Deep fry till they are crisp. Remove and drain on a paper immediately. Heat sesame oil in a pan. Add chopped garlic and stir till golden brown. Add the red chilli flakes along with fried spinach. Sprinkle salt to taste. Add sugar and sesame seeds and toss it well to mix. Serve hot.

Cooking Tips: Since the water content in spinach is high, add a small quantity of spinach first to check the temperature of the oil before adding the entire content. Gently toss the spinach leaves in order to avoid mashing up.

(Dibya is an executive visiting Goan Chef) — As told to Poonam Bindra 

chatter box
Romantic affair

Aarti Singh Aarti Singh and Ayaz Khan, who play the role of a married couple in Parichay, are rumoured to be dating. Ayaz comforted Aarti, who broke up recently. It could possibly be the reason that triggered the rumour about them seeing each other. However, Aarti maintains that they both are good friends.

Lovestruck: Aarti Singh

Fuming over rumour mills
Buzz is that Jay Bhanushali and Mahhi Vij are fuming over the rumour that they have hired people, who vote for them. The talented couple has been touted among the favourites, who are expected to win this year. Mahhi has denied all the rumours while stating that the fans vote for them out of love. 

Leena Jumani Signing a new role
Leena Jumani, who has been a popular face on TV will now play the lead role in the show Piya Ka Ghar Pyaara Lage, which is telecast on Sahara One. Sanjeeda Sheikh, who was playing the role earlier, has quit the show, because of which Leena was signed. She has been seen in shows like Bandini, Punar Vivah and Kairee.

Dushyant Yadav Neither shaken, nor stirred
Dushyant Yadav was not crestfallen on being rejected for the lead role of Amit, in Amita Ka Amit that is telecast on Sony TV. The reason for his rejection stood justified because the role demanded an ordinary looking protagonist, while Dushyant was too good looking. "If someone appreciates me while saying that I'm way too good looking, it means that better roles await me. Since I am a model, Amit's role just didn't fit me," He laughs. Dushyant was crime reporter with a TV channel before he won MTV Splitsvilla 4 and made a debut in the glamour world. Also, he walked the ramp for the Lakme Fashion Week and was a print model. He decided to get into acting this year and promptly bagged a role as Amit's friend, Sanjay, in Amita Ka Amit. Dushyant avers that Sanjay will not just be a side kick and that the sequences are in the pipeline.

Mohit Malhotra Love game

Mohit Malhotra, who is seen in Kyaa Hua Tera Vaada, has signed a new show, Mentals that is telecast on Bindaas. The show is about young guys and girls, who try to woo each other and guess if their partner's feelings were real or fake.

Retake: Mohit Malhotra

Aishwarya Sakhuja False alarm
The rumours of Saas Bina Sasural 2, have turned out to be false. The buzz began when Aishwarya Sakhuja was seen discussing a show with a production company, Optimystix. It seems that they are planning to venture upon another light-hearted drama that will be telecast on Sony.

Role reloaded: Aishwarya Sakhuja


The year ahead
Madan Gupta Spatu

If your birthday is March 4...

Things are easy at work. You can look forward to enjoying financial gains. There will be peace and harmony in personal life. Health will remain good. Joining an art group enhances your creativity. You have been blessed with a wonderful imagination. Sometimes, you push your artistic impulses aside for the sake of work. Developing stories, playing or writing music or enjoying handicrafts seems frivolous when there are responsibilities to be met. Let your friends convince you that your creative side is just as important as your diligent one. Make time for your favourite activities, so you will have more energy for the other things in your life. Taking a short trip will give you an added perspective on a family matter. One of your relatives has been acting strangely, neglecting certain duties. It's possible your loved one is working on a secret project. The reason they're being so mysterious is that they don't want to be discouraged from realising a dream. Give your family member some little space. You might think their plans are foolish, but the two of you have different needs.

Mood: Straight and clear

Compatible Signs: Sagittarius, Scorpio

Lucky colours: Red, Antique White

Lucky days: Tuesday and Saturday.

Lucky numbers: 4, 8, 20, 24, 28

Kunal Deshmukh Kunal Deshmukh ( March 4, 1982,Mumbai) made his debut with Jannat in 2008, starring Imran Hashmi. He started hi career as an assistant director in Zeher (2005), Kalyug and Woh Lamhe (2006). Kunal will do well in his directorial and script writing fields. He made a film in 2009 Tum Mile, starring Emraan Hashmi and Soha Ali Khan. In 2012 Jannat 2, a sequel to Jannat was released and it got a huge success.

Astro Turf
P Khurrana

ARIES: Do not jump to any conclusion in haste. Ventures may fail when associates withdraw support. Try to look at a problem from a new angle, so do not apply your own superior brainpower to an old problem. 

Tarot message: You must learn to accept responsibility.

Lucky colour: Mauve.

Magic number: 25.

TAURUS: A few people could be making waves today. You will not be able to have things your way. Marital difficulties can be eased through a mutual friend, who may put the issue into perspective .

Tarot message: Your determination to succeed will pay dividends.

Lucky colour: Saffron.

Magic number: 44.

GEMINI: Do what you can to improve your relationship with your spouse. A personal project may have to be put aside for the sake of a social commitment. Cooperation is the only way. 

Tarot message: Use your instinct to get into the top circle of power.

Lucky colour: Peach.

Magic number: 30.

CANCER: Keep calm even if people around you loose their heads. Check if you are making progress toward achieving your goals or dreams. Rethink about your tactics and strategies.

Tarot message: Do not divest assets in uncertain matters.

Lucky colour: Orange.

Magic number: 47.

LEO: Students suffer due to lack of activities. Start making changes that you keep talking about, a new diet, an exercise regimen, or dating a new type of person. An unsatisfactory relationship can come to an end. Try not to blame others. 

Tarot message: Emphasis on spiritual needs. 

Lucky colour: Yellow. 

Magic number: 51.

VIRGO: The card "The Lovers" suggests a friendly and helpful atmosphere. Shop for new clothes to accentuate your beauty. You may fight with a friend over a difference of opinion.

Tarot message: You gain by being practical; don't be emotional.

Lucky colour: Black.

Magic number: 63.

LIBRA: Use your connections today. A romance might have reached the stage of moving in together, merging your assets and discussing marriage.

Tarot message: You will be happier if you retain the fruit of your hard work.

Lucky colour: Metallic grey.

Magic number: 52.

SCORPIO: You are in danger of blowing your budget if you don't practice restraint. Colleagues can sound knowledgeable, though they may only have half the picture. 

Tarot message: Don't waste an opportunity by not exploiting a contact even if it is from your past.

Lucky colour: Red.

Magic number: 50.

SAGITTARIUS: Check all information regarding legal matters. Watch your thinking as it can easily spin you into a depression.

Tarot message: Consolidate your gains instead of throwing security to the winds.

Lucky colour: Brown.

Magic number: 56.

CAPRICORN: You may hear something you would rather not want to. Your popularity is on the rise and a leadership position could be offered to you.

Tarot message: Frankness and ability to state the truth are your strong points.

Lucky colour: Crimson.

Magic number: 33.

AQUARIUS: Be compassionate. You may bow out of a social event to spend more time with your loved ones. Take a moment to be grateful for those small things that make everyday life so full and rewarding.

Tarot message: Avoid friction with business partners.

Lucky colour: Pink.

Magic number: 41.

PISCES: Enemies continue to work behind your back. Do not take people on face value. Once you settle down, the reality won't be so bad. You should focus on your home and family.

Tarot message: Your own aims, ideas, opinion matter a lot.

Lucky colour: Peach.

Magic number: 30.

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