Marvellous moves
Akshat Raj Saluja, along with three other promising youngsters, has given every bit of his energy to liven up the telly show Shake It Up...

You are my part, I am yours. I believe in selfless, unconditional loving, giving and serving mankind…the words come from a cool dude in red tee and jeans! Well, this is Akshat Raj Saluja, all set to become a superstar (that's his worldly aim) so that he can have a global chain of wellness centres (most problems of mankind today are related to the mind). Right now apart from being the face of Sprite, Bru, Titan, Tata Sky; anchoring, acting and dancing, Akshat, in his twenties, is trying to set up a school for Babar Ali (famous as the youngest headmaster in the world) in Murshidabad, West Bengal.

Akshat started dancing at four, joined a dance group much to the dislike of his parents; set up Astra, a dance school rather early to earn money and reached Mumbai! Zara Nachke Dikha and Zee Cinestar Ki Khoj got him some spotlight and in no time, more work followed. His recent show, Shake It Up on Disney Channel, exposed his hidden skill — that of an anchor — and now that's part of his ever-expanding portfolio!

So is he is a dancer or actor? "Actor for sure," says a confident Akshat adding, "even in dance I got noticed for expressions." He has signed his first Bollywood movie as well. "All comes your way if you add the highest value to your work. I gave my best to Shake it Up; was not sure if I would do television as my heart is all set on the big screen. Soon after the show was aired I got the film and also many offers for anchoring!" Dancing has got him where he is today, "I am good at folk and Bollywood dance," he says.

In Shake It Up Mumbai he plays anchor. "The character I offered is close to Jim Carrey. I had huge fun preparing and enacting Shekhar."

All positive, he is inching towards stardom and we wish him luck. And, yes, the principle of 'oneness', he looks up to Ratanjit Sondhe!

Reality meets drama

Neel (Sparsh Shrivastava) and his best friend Yash (Ojas Godatwar) are all set to try their luck at becoming professional dancers by participating in the show Shake It Up Mumbai. A show that recently went on air on Disney Channel meant three months of fun for Sparsh and Ojas, who have become the best of buddies.

"Mumbai to alag hi duniya hai…," says Sparsh Shrivastava, class 10 student from Agra. Winner of Chak Dhoom Dhoom, till sometime back he intended to be an international choreographer; He is looking forward to Shake It Up Season 2 and the film Fighter, helmed by Kabir Khan. The affectionate, chirpy boy now looks forward to finishing his class 10, 12 and graduation along with acting to faydemand hai hi.

His mother, who is a choreographer, gives him company on shoots, and happy he is juggling his school life with his moments of fame on the screen. Ojas Godatwar, class IX student, has it all chalked out — software engineer first. "If I join the industry now, I wouldn't be able to do anything else," he says. Ojas loved playing Yash in Shake It Up (and scored well in class XIII too), but his onscreen persona is quite different than his real self. "Yash dances, I don't. He is very intelligent (95 per cent types); I am not (I go up to 80-85 per cent only," he says.

Young guns

As the four youngsters from the recent show Shake It Up create magic on makeshift dance floor in Chandigarh on Wednesday noon, their unbridled energy and verve for life finds a true vent. Preet Rajput plays Jai in the show, which he rather got accidentally. Having been part of youth shows, this boy from Gujarat is concentrating on advertising first, while dancing, composing music and singing are hobbies that help him relax!

An act in time
From Yaar Anmulle to Daddy Cool Munde Fool, actor Harish Verma has come a long way while cementing his place in the world of Punjabi cinema…
Manpriya Singh

Harish Verma
screen shot: Harish Verma Photo: Pradeep Tewari

Making a mark in the Punjabi film industry sans a microphone can be safely called a Herculean task. "It's only as difficult as stepping on the moon," laughs the Chandigarh brought-up and Mumbai-based actor Harish Verma. There is an inclination to mince no words, in between the attempts at making politically correct statements.

The journey so far

Currently on home turf on a promotional visit for Daddy Cool Munde Fool, he's actually on the moon while reveling in the glory of "three back-to-back" hit films. It's been quite a long journey from the days of theatre and rehearsals. He shares, "I did theatre for seven years in Chandigarh, before I moved onto other mediums." A move that, perhaps, has done him good than delayed his innings! "I so want that we should have good actors in the industry. Especially, in the case of Punjabi cinema, there should be good actors and good scripts for the industry to survive and grow."

His brush with recognition may have started with Na Aana Is Des Laado, but the tide turned with the adorable and rustic Sher Singh of Yaar Anmulle — the character that got him recognition; the movie that redefined his career graph. "I share a few traits with Sher Singh. For instance, I try to be truthful and honest, don't open up easily and am quite shy by nature, especially in front of girls." He adds, "I met the director through common friends and auditioned for the role. After the movie became a hit, people told me that they associated with my character the most."

In the pipeline

That was it; having to share the screen space with others or doing an ensemble cast projects wasn't a problem. He nods, "I go by the script. That's what matters the most to me. I think I can credit my background in theatre for that." Till the dream project on Shiv Kumar Batalvi happens, a character that he would "love to play in his lifetime" there is a line up comprising two romantic comedies that deserve a mention.

"There's one titled Vyah 70 kilometer, opposite Aarti Chhabria. The movie releases in June and the best part is that Mr Ranjeet plays my grandfather in the film." He adds, "He asked me to visit Hoshiarpurian Di Hatti on the way here. I picked up sweets for him and he highly appreciated that." Meanwhile, there's yet another untitled project, to be out in October. "It's a solo hero project opposite Neeru Bajwa."

While films may not leave him enough time to revert to theatre, there's a lot happening on the creative front. "I have been writing lately. It's basically poetry on various emotions like grief, happiness, love etc." Singing doesn't seem far either. "I do sing and don't mind trying my hand at one song or so in the movie." He laughs, "If a singer can become an actor then why can't an actor become a singer?" He's not new to difficulties!

Now, Punjabi turf for Shahbaz
Once a craze on the small screen, actor Shahbaz Khan of Tipu Sultan fame, who is set to make his debut in Punjabi movies, opines that daily soaps lack creativity...
Gurvinder Singh

Shahbaz Khan
telly tale: Shahbaz Khan

Sporting a white baggy-cap and a black t-shirt with a sling bag, it was only his baritone voice that was reminiscent of the famed Haider Ali of Tipu Sultan and the memorable roles he essayed in Yug as well as Chandrakanta. Keeping fingers crossed for his debut in Punjabi cinema, versatile actor Shahbaz Khan says that the experience of working in his first film here was fun. "I wanted to do a Punjabi film for long because I like the culture and traditions here. I got offers to do Punjabi films earlier as well, but I liked the script of Bikkar Bai so I took up the project," he says. Thanks to this experience, he is doing two more Punjabi movies now!

Despite not being able to speak Punjabi language fluently, it was not difficult because he understood it well. "Punjabi is not that difficult to understand because of its closeness to Hindi and Urdu. So it was not that arduous a task, but I am learning the language for future projects," says Shahbaz.

Despite having done serials, he has stopped watching television since the era of daily soaps began because, according to him, these lack good content and creativity. "There is a limit to what one can write for daily series," he says. "Weekly serials were much better as the quality was good," he adds.

Having done many roles as the lead protagonist in television serials, he has done many negative characters in movies. "At the time when I entered the film industry, 'cute-looking' and 'boyish' heroes started getting preference rather than tall and deep-voiced ones. So, I got all the negative roles," he quips.

Dismissing terms like 'Bollywood' and 'Pollywood', Shahbaz says more people from Hindi Cinema doing Punjabi movies means more creative interaction between the two industries. "People from relatively evolved Hindi film industry would bring in more ideas and professionalism to Punjabi cinema," he says.

Frozen moments
On her canvas, artist Priyanka Dua captures various facets of life...
Amarjot Kaur

Time is an illusion; you only realise its value when the moment is gone. There are a few who savour that very moment, live it and then frame it in a painting, in which it lives forever. Priyanka Dua, Delhi-based artist who showcases her works in a solo exhibition Living in a moment for the first time in Chandigarh at Art Portfolio, believes in capturing moments.

While she experiments with medium in most of her paintings, one cannot stop but notice her stark inclination towards pitching the blood red colour amidst the shades of grey and black. And just when you are about to conceive a perception about the same, Priyanka interrupts your frenzied thoughts with a smile as she says, “I perceive relations to be the most dominating aspect of one's life, perhaps that is the reason why I was working on phases of life earlier. However, these paintings are recent and epitomise the significance of relationships, suggested by the red colour that is contradicted with the use of greys and black, which suggests the absence of human bond."

Priyanka, who is working as a senior visiting faculty member in various colleges across Delhi, has exhibited her works in both group and solo exhibitions in India as well as abroad. “I have also worked as an embroidery designer and a wrought iron gate grill designer. Nevertheless, I feel that working with graphics and canvas gives one more avenues to explore." She explains while pointing at one of her paintings titled Being Beautiful, “I have used acrylic with charcoal and fixed it with a fixer, else charcoal has a tendency of getting smudged at the slightest touch. I had written a poem about being beautiful and this painting is inspired by the same." She uses round canvas with red backdrop along with zebra print background for this painting.

Meanwhile, Priyanka also fancies working with the digital print media and her paintings, Presence, Yellow Coconut, Enlightenment, Green Sky, Colours and Image, reflect strongly upon her talent and calibre. “All these paintings have been inspired by my first-hand experience of a moment, which leaves a lasting impression. Although each painting has a different story to tell, I love the one that has been titled the Unidentical Identities," she says while pointing towards a diptych, the contents of which are two thumbprints. “I have dedicated this painting to my twins, while one is a boy and the other is a girl, they were born at the same time and they just reason my concept of being unidentically identical," she quips.

Also, her paintings titled Red Salvation, Tana Bana (installation of eight canvas), Dreams, Embrace and Red Wave, radiate Priyanka's vibrant persona that deepens with every layer of her creative talent.

Say goodbye to stress!
A five-day workshop of Art of Living Foundation for people in the corporate sector in Chandigarh focuses on spiritual, professional and personal aspects...
Tanya Malhotra

It all started when the founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, through his guidance and grace, transformed many lives. Now, with 5,000 centres across 157 countries, the Art of Living Foundation is working in collaboration with the United Nations and the World Health Organization and linked to more than 300 million people. At JW Marriott, Chandigarh, on Tuesday, the Foundation launched a workshop especially for people in the corporate sector.

The guru

The workshop is being held under the guidance of Rishi Nitya Pragya, who has travelled to sixty countries and reached out to students in seventy universities. Interestingly, he is a chemical engineer and a motorcycle racer by hobby as also a singer, “We go through much stress in life everyday and no matter what we do, we can't really control our internal emotions. Here, people from all walks of life and backgrounds have come together as one big family to usher in a change." He adds, “Its curious how our breathing is directly in proportion to our emotions. Using this idea, the technique we use in our workshops can pep up our energy and make us feel happy and relaxed. With time, these become even more effective.” As for the city, he says, “The specialty of Chandigarh is that the people have maintained a balance of intellect and open mind, which is quite a unique combination."

Sudarshan Kriya

Santosh Sharma, volunteer, says, “Well, it is a rhythmic breathing technique that helps in de-stressing. It can cure as many as 150 diseases like diabetes, blood pressure and asthma." He adds, “Apart from the kriya, those attending the workshop will also be taught various pranayams."

Youth initiative

The youngsters have been deeply involved with this initiative as volunteers across the world. In Delhi, the youngsters made a difference. Paulopmi Mujherjee, another volunteer, says, “In a way it optimises their talent while channelising the energy. We have brought more that a thousand issues in this initiative. We are planning to reach out to more than 600 colleges in the region and gather up at the Panjab University. This will go a long way in curing the problem of drug-addiction in the area.”

Classy charm

Sahil Kanwar

He has modelled for many renowned designers. He loves to cook, go on long drives and explore the world. While everyday is a new adventure for him, gymming for a healthy lifestyle is a part of his daily routine. Sahil Kanwar has his own way of charming others and highlighting his own style statement.

Your sense of style

Classy; I make sure my styling sense shows who I am.

Latest addition to your treasure of clothing or accessories

I recently bought a pair of chinos from Gant.

Brand crazy or street pick-up?

Definitely brand crazy! But if I like something extremely striking from the street, I add it to my wardrobe.

Who would be your style icon?

Ryan Gosling. I feel I resemble him quite a lot.

Who do you think is the worst-dressed celebrity?

Vidya Balan, need I say anything more?

Which look would your prefer - sporty, chic or glamorous?


One fashion trend that goes beyond your comprehension…

Emporio Armani Jacket and Gucci Shoes - the combination doesn't work.

Your take on accessories

I love classy shades. They complete a man.

Given a choice, which designer would you like to be dressed by?

Donatella Versace. She is incredible.

What gives you a high on the confidence level?

My styling gives me the confidence.

— As told to Tanya Malhotra

Shining bright

Jewellery enthusiasts have reason to rejoice now, as Mool Ji Diamonds has opened a studio at Elante Mall, Chandigarh. The studio is a treasuretrove of sparkling and resplendent gold, diamond and platinum jewellery range. Says Tarun Singla of Mool Ji, “Apart from our showrooms at Sector 26 and Manimajra we wanted to bring out an exquisite international range here."

Mool Ji has brought an original Italian jewellery range — Almas — which is 18-karat gold jewellery from Italy. Also there are 22-karat ORO gold bangles and chains from Dubai, which have added to the charm. In addition, the Nazrana brand of diamonds from Rio Trinto, Australia, spell sheer elegance and style. The jewellery starts at the nominal range of Rs 5,000 onwards. With the addition of easy installments plans, there is something for everyone. Says Tarun, “We also act as advisors, which gives a personal touch to the buying process. We will showcase certified gemstones along with a free consultation." — TNS

Amritsari tadka

CITCO's Amritsari Food Festival that will be held at Baithak, Kalagram, Chandigarh, from April 19-22 provides an opportunity to savour the best of Punjabi delicacies, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. At the festival, you can choose from an assortment of Punjabi dishes that have the flavour of well-known dhabas of Amritsar.

Every food connoisseur knows that Amritsar is not just known for religious tourism, but also for its lip-smacking delicacies such as Dal Makhani, Amritsari Fish, Mutton or even scrumptious desserts like Kesri Kheer, Jalebi and Rabri etc. Amritsar is also famous for its butter chicken, which is a delight for foodies. While the traditional dishes will be prepared by the renowned chefs from Amritsar, the food lovers can also enjoy live performances by Punjabi cultural troupes. — TNS

tune in
Desi beats
Manpriya Singh

Bally Sagoo
Bally Sagoo

Malkit Singh
Malkit Singh

It's a typical Bathinda to Birmingham story. The second-generation Punjabi diasporas decided to draw in the best of both worlds, by combining songs of the soil with the styles of the West. Bhangra music has long taken its steps towards mainstream credibility. To cut the long story short, today Bhangra music is big, really big; courtesy the British-Asians who transformed the genre into a vibrant dance music with equally catchy lyrics. Originally meant to be the music for celebration of the harvest, it's now come to signify the urban British Asians having a good time in Southall Clubs. It's the genre that brought the 'large wooden-barrel drum' that is the dhol, to the fore.

Hall of fame

Some tag Alaap's Bhabiye ni Bhabiye as the first Bhangra single ever. The genre cannot be summed up or rather started without ringing in Malkit Singh. Not just for the recognition that came his way in the form of an MBE by Queen Elizabeth II but for countless tracks like Jind Mahi, Gur Naalo Ishq Mitha, Tootak Tootak Tutiya, among others.

Moving on, Bally Sagoo goes down the hall of fame. The British Indian music producer can be credited with several hits and also for launching the reggae/bhangra trend known as bhangramuffin. With each famous artist came a revolution and a revelation of the fact as to how a dhol beat could be submerged with any Western musical style or instrument.

The nineties ended but not the popularity of Bhangra music. Increasingly, some of the top artists were playing big venues and their efforts at popularising the genre were further bearing fruits.

Then come some of the other instrumental names like Punjabi By Nature, Punjabi MC, Rishi Rich, Rhythm Dhol, Sahotas, Sukshinder Shinda, Bombay Talkie, Daler Mehndi.

Youngsters' take

Today the genre exists in different forms and styles all over the globe and appeals to youngsters for equally different reasons. “Bally Sagoo and Punjabi MC remain my eternal favourites. I like not just the compositions rendered by them but the fact that their music truly symbolises effortless fusion of Bhangra music with Western styles," says Ramanpreet Bawa, arts student, government college, while adding how, “Mirza by Punjabi MC is always on repeat mode in his playlist." The fact that no wedding is complete without them, is a given. The fact that most DJs complain of being forced to play only Bhangra music is also a given! Opines Harry Sidhu, B.Com student, “If not hardcore lyrics then at least, dhol and balle balle are common parlance.”

star track
Shruti is a foodie

Shruti Pathak Ace singer Shruti Pathak has recently wowed us with hit songs like Shubhaarambh from Kai Po Che. She usually sings for Amit Trivedi and is busy travelling around the world for shows. She is a big foodie. She talks about her favourite — food.

Gujarati girl

I am a total foodie from Ahmedabad or Amdavad! I have a small appetite and I am a vegetarian but I love eating, especially food cooked by my mom. When I travel, I sometimes survive on salads and I miss my home food even more! I love Indian and Mexican food the most.

Experimenting with flavours

I like experimenting with food the way I experiment with music. So many flavours and spice make or change a dish. Similarly, trying different ways of singing and new instruments enhance music and give us something new and refreshing. I like spontaneity. I try vegetarian varieties in different cuisines. Once I made a big mistake. I put something on the gas and forgot about it.
Food fundas: Shruti Pathak

Work over fun

Salman Khan can compromise anything for work. As we all know Sallu has a big family and all live together under the same roof and there is a strong bonding between them. 

Another most important facet of Salman’s family is that they celebrate festivals of all religion. The way they celebrate Eid, they celebrate Diwali.

The entire family celebrated Gudi Padwa recently and her mother Salma asked Salman to celebrate the occasion with his family but the mama’s boy rejected the plea of his mother.

Salman KhanSalman is shooting for Sohail Khan’s movie Mental in Lavasa, Pune and the Dabangg star is giving everything to the movie to make it another blockbuster. He does not want to take one day leave for the celebration and said no to his mother who wanted her son to stay back home and celebrate.

“This Gudi Padwa, Sallu’s mom Salma had asked the actor to be home to spend the day with his family. However, due to his recent ill health, work on brother Sohail Khan’s film Mental is already running late. He decided to stay back at Lavasa to continue shooting,” a source said.

Unlike every year, this year Salman Khan will not have a Eid release as the shooting of his film is running slow. 

Mental stars Tabu, Naseeruddin Shah, Daisy Shah, Sana Khan apart from Salman. The movie is slated to release in January 2014.
Tight schedule: Salman Khan

Priyanka’s assistant found dead in LA

Priyanka Chopra’s assistant was found dead in Los Angeles. It was been a week since her assistant was found dead in his Beverley Hills hotel room but there has been no fund to bring her assistant back to India to his family for the last rites.

Priyanka ChopraJiban Patra, 41 was one of Priyanka’s assistant who accompanied her to Los Angeles and to Vancouver. Jiban stayed in his hotel and did not accompany Piggy Chops to Vancouver as he did not get the visa. The Los Angeles police department is investigating the case and concluded that it was an unnatural death.

A source from the US said, "Jiban has two kids and a wife back in Mumbai and they have been in constant touch with Priyanka Chopra's office to arrange for his body to be brought back home. But nothing has worked out so far. The death was also hush-hush till the Indian community took it up strongly and put pressure on Priyanka to arrange for Jiban's passage to India. It is a tragic case as he is the only earning member of the family and lost his father to heart attack last year."

A source from the US confirmed that all necessary paperwork and legal authorization has been worked out and the body will be transported to India soon.
wrong turn: Priyanka Chopra

Life is good

Rajkumar Yadav has usually played the grey or bad guy. He is a terrific actor and recently wowed us in Kai Po Che. He talks about his passion for acting, dreams and his girlfriend Anvita.

Dream girls

I am a die-hard fan of Sridevi and Madhuri. It is my dream to work with Penelope Cruz because she is such a diva and yet very sweet. My parents are big fans of Amitabh Bachchan and Sanjeev Kumar. They were very supportive of my acting dreams and even confident that I would make it. So we are happy.

International favourites

I am in complete awe of Daniel Day Lewis. If I have to compare or rate myself before him, I would be on the minus side of the scale. I am nothing before him. I completely believe in preparation. I also admire Robert De Niro and particularly loved Taxi Driver.

Filmy partner

My girlfriend Anvita and I have been dating for almost 20 months now. She is just starting out in her career and is my biggest critic along with my friends Dev and Vinod. We discuss our characters, films and aspirations. We understand each other. She loved my work in Kai Po Che and felt she could only see Govind during the film, not me. I am in a happy personal space too.

Training time

I knew from an early age that I wanted to act because I acted in school plays and I loved dancing. I did theatre after my graduation and went to FTII, Pune. I had a great time there. At that time, I was ‘living in’ with acting and now I am ‘married’ to acting. I feel training in acting is important as it polishes what you have. Yet,Anvita with Rajkumar Yadav spontaneity is also important. So it is good to have a mix of both.

Good luck

I am a hard-working guy but I take 3-4 days off after working for a month. I have a life beyond acting and work. I love reading, travelling and these experiences help me in my acting. I have not had to struggle much and I have had a variety of films consistently and they all look good on my resume.
happy space: Anvita with Rajkumar Yadav

New collaboration Shahid Kapur

Shahid Kapur and Vishal Bhardwaj are collaborating once again after Kaminey and we are thrilled about it! They are doing an adaptation of a Shakespearean play, either Hamlet or King Lear.  We think this movie will be great. Neither of them has had a major critical or commercial success since Kaminey, in which they worked together.

Shakespearean ACT: Shahid Kapur

Centenary moment

To commemorate the 100-year-anniversary of Indian cinema, a magazine brought together Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan on its cover. It is once-in-a-lifetime feat!

Vidya’s crazy video Vidya Balan

Vidya Balan is going to shoot a video for her upcoming movie Ghanchakkar which will be a tribute to all the husbands, boyfriends and fiancés of the world. The song is composed by Amit Trivedi and will portray Vidya's crazy character in the movie. A lot of planning is happening around the song.

Tribute to men: Vidya Balan

Getting through the act

Arjun Kapoor was nervous about acting with Rishi Kapoor in Aurangzeb. The young actor is very close to the senior actor so it was difficult for him to hate him and be rude to him as demanded by the script. Rishi came to his rescue and helped him get through his scenes.

Decent collections

Commando stars Both Commando and Nautanki Saala made more than Rs eleven crore in their first weekend. They both got mixed to positive reviews. The trade is yet to decide the fate of the movies and we will get to know the complete picture later this week. Ek Thi Daayan releases on 19 April to compete with them.

Decent opening: Commando stars

Friendly praise Nargis Fakhri

Nargis Fakhri has posed in bikinis and swimsuits for a magazine and she looks sizzling in them. Her "good friend" Uday Chopra re-tweeted the pictures and said: "How hot is this woman!" We are saying he is very lucky to be involved with such a beautiful woman and with him, she can live luxuriously without working for a day in her life. It is a good thing she likes modelling.
hot babe: Nargis Fakhri

chatter box
Romantic pursuit

Karishma & Vishal Post Bigg Boss Season 7, Vishal Karwal announced that he had nothing to do with Sana Khan, who he supposedly liked during the show. Now, the buzz is that he is dating another hottie from the show, Karishma Kotak. Apparently, the couple was spotted hanging out together, which led to the rumour.

Visibly together: Karishma & Vishal

Channel wars

Grey's Anatomy After telecasting as many as 6 Seasons of Grey's Anatomy on Star World, the channel will soon air the series of the show yet again, starting from April 15, Monday to Friday at 7pm. Meanwhile, Zee café is gearing up while taking the competition a notch higher as it has decided to telecast the latest seasons of the show, including the seventh, eighth and the ninth season. Zee café will air the show from May 1, Monday to Friday at 10pm.

Beating competition: Grey's Anatomy

The drama queen finds her Akbar

The undisputed queen of television, Ekta Kapoor, who is known to have stirred a revolution when it came to making soap operas, has finally decided to move out of her comfort zone. Ekta is all set to bring the historical saga of Jodha Akbar to the small screen in collaboration with Zee TV. The show will capture the intriguing journey of the royal couple's love for each other and how a marriage based on political power-play evolved into a strong and meaningful bond!

Being extremely particular about the intricacies of her projects, Ekta has been travelling across India personally to handpick the right actors for the roles of Mughal emperor, Akbar and his Hindu wife, Jodha Bai. A source informed, "Ekta has been actively involved in the auditions, which were held in Mumbai, Bhopal, Kolkata and Pune. She closely examined every participant to get the exact look that she conceived for Jodha and Akbar."

She was even reported to have changed her Facebook status saying that she is looking for fresh faces for Jodha and Akbar. When contacted, Ekta confirmed the news, saying, "It's tough to cast faces, which had the enigma and charm of that era, I did not want anything synthetic. I wanted a raw look, not plastic. While casting for an era that's dated and existed over 500 years ago, you realise that every face has to be looked at carefully."

Meanwhile, her search for Akbar has finally ended with the young and handsome Rajat Tokas, who, according to Ekta, has the ideal blend of boyish innocence and rugged manliness required of Akbar.Rajat Tokas

Ekta says, "Although Rajat has the innocence of a 19-year-old, he is well-seasoned in terms of maturity. Akbar was someone who became a soldier and a king at the age of 14 and he had already won a battle on his own when he was only 17. Rajat is an expert in martial arts and horse riding. He is perfect for the role."

While an elaborate two-month long shoot schedule for the show has already begun in Jaipur to bring alive the authenticity of the historical era, Ekta's hunt for Jodha continues. "My casting of Jodha is extremely crucial. I will settle for nothing less than an out-and-out winner!"

In its previous attempt of bringing alive the journey of a historical figure, Zee TV has tasted extraordinary success with Jhansi Ki Rani. The channel's partnership with Ekta has also been a successful one with Pavitra Rishta being the first serial on Zee TV that recently completed 3 years and over 1,000 episodes. Without a doubt, there are enormous expectations riding on a project like Jodha Akbar!
Great expectations: Rajat Tokas

Vacating the sinking ship Shama Sikander

When Karishma Tanna and Shama Sikander signed the new show, Baal Veer that is telecast on Sab TV, it made for big news. However, Karishma quit the show because it could not garner much TRPs. Now, the buzz is that Shama quit the show too. Meanwhile, the channel is planning to loop in another actor, who could take her place.

Bidding adieu: Shama Sikander

Shot and dropped

Amar Upadhyay Sony Entertainment Television will soon launch a historical drama series, Bharat Ka Veer Putra-Maharana Pratap. The buzz is that a while ago, Amar Upadhyay shot a pilot for the show where he played the role of Maharana's father, Uday Singh. However, the part is not a part of the show anymore. We wonder what went wrong.

Missing act: Amar Upadhyay

Astro turf
P Khurrana

ARIES: The day will be somewhat tricky for relationships, so avoid confrontations. Keep your finances in order. Your hard work will increase your confidence and self-respect. Tarot message: Don’t do anything at the cost of health. Lucky colour: Red. Lucky number: 41

TAURUS: Changes in the work scene will have a positive influence on your career. Make yourself available for an elderly relative, friend or colleague. Spend some time with your spouse or partner. Tarot message: Lack of persistence can be disastrous. Lucky colour: Cream. Lucky number: 53

GEMINI: The stress and strain of work and relationships will catch up with you. Being tactful will be helpful. Talk about your feelings with the right person at the right time. Tarot message: Don’t be rash or impulsive. Lucky colour: Green. Lucky number: 27

CANCER: Today you will be overpowered by your past, especially, your relationships with family or a situation at home. You will feel drained by their demands. However, stay calm. Tarot message: Keep your eyes on the future. Lucky colour: White. Lucky number: 30

LEO: The assignments at work will be more interesting than usual. But, ensure that you understand everything before commencing work. Financially, you will be advised to ensure that everything is in order. Tarot message: Take care of your health. Lucky colour: Aqua. Lucky number: 37

VIRGO: You need to change the way you react to situations. Even in personal relationships, let go off grudges and move forward. Socially, you will remain quite popular and busy. Tarot message: Time will heal all wounds. Lucky colour: Turquoise. Lucky number: 32

LIBRA: It is important that you remain calm and balanced, since your future growth depends on your attitude. You will have to be flexible and adaptive, especially at work. Tarot message: Be positive and stay calm. Lucky colour: Lotus-pink. Lucky number: 26

SCORPIO: Relationships with loved ones will be quite demanding. You will have to work hard at balancing home and professional lives. At work, you will be appreciated. Tarot message: Do not spend extravagantly. Lucky colour: Purple. Lucky number: 43

SAGITTARIUS: You will be calm and content with your life. Meeting old friends and loved ones will amplify this feeling. Keep an open mind at work. The day will spark a new romance. Tarot message: Spend time meeting experienced people. Lucky colour: Saffron. Lucky number: 57

CAPRICORN: Your confidence and energy will rise today and as a result, you will be able to shine brilliantly in everything that you do. You will be able to influence people at work and make new friends. Tarot message: Do not be rash or impulsive. Lucky colour: Peach. Lucky number: 65

AQUARIUS: Most of you will be domineering, reckless and strong-willed at work and at home. This will lead to some difficulties in relationships. Use your innate charm to win over people. Tarot message: Do not let trivial problems haunt you. Lucky colour: Orange. Lucky number: 50

PISCES: Though the beginning of the day will seem strenuous and emotionally exhausting, you will be able to learn a great deal from it. The festivity will bring out the shopper in you. Tarot message: Capitalize on your strength and do not trust others. Lucky colour: Black. Lucky number: 41

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