Gautaman Bhaskaran
an indian journalist
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INDIAN CINEMA

Cinema In General

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Pans & Tilts…Akbar’s controversial wife, Jodhaa Akbar in Tamil, Priyanka Chopra, Mira Nair’s new film…

Sometimes I wonder whether the Indian film fraternity has a tacit arrangement with “trouble-shooters” to rake up a controversy when a movie is about to screen. The current hullabaloo over Ashutosh Gowariker’s “Jodhaa Akbar” reminds me of similar of similar incidents earlier. Mani Ratnam’s “Guru” got excellent pre-release publicity when Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan kept loudly debating whether they should exchange the engagement rings. Her strip-down seductiveness and her passionate kiss to her co-star Hrithik Roshan in “Dhoom 2” heightened people’s curiosity so much that when “Guru” opened, the box-office could not stop ringing.

“Jab We Met’s” release was preceded by a similar controversy: the movie’s lead pair, Shahid Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor spilt after a long love affair, and everybody wanted to see how the two had performed as a couple on the screen. I could see no trace of any pain or rancour in their performances. Either they were excellent actors or had just got so tired of each other that they were bore and quite fed up. There was really no sorrow to speak of.

Now, “Jodhaa Akbar” has been cleared by the Madhya Pradesh High Court, and the film can be screened in the State.

May I add, all this fuss was really unnecessary. For, “Jodhaa Akbar’ is a very ordinary movie. It is not a classic like “Mughal-e-Azam”, where Prithviraj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Madhubala turned a great love story into a timeless epic. Rai and Roshan have not been able to do that with “Jodhaa Akbar”, a romance between Akbar and Jodhaa.

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UTV, the producer of “Jodhaa Akbar”, is all set to release the film in a dubbed Tamil version. Rai and Roshan lisping chaste Tamil would be seen on the screens of Tamil Nadu from March 6. In the State, “Jodhaa Akbar”, netted Rs 65 lakhs from seven screens in 10 days.

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Now for another star tantrum, only this time she is no great star to begin with. Priyanka Chopra has been pressing director Madhur Bhandarkar to change the climax in his new movie, “Fashion”. After having slept around with several men, she gets pregnant in the story, and it is this part that she wants to be changed. She feels it could hurt her image. I never seem to understand how a screen image could rub off on a man or woman. But so feel they, who want to project a squeaky clean image on the screen, however terrible it may be outside that. Well, then this is private.

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Tailpiece: Mira Nair has roped in Irrfan Khan and Natalie Portman for her new venture, “Kosher Vegetarian”. He plays a Gujarati, and she a Jewess. It is a love story, and Khan’s earlier work with Nair in “The Namesake” was superb. Undoubtedly, he is a great performer, and I am glad that Nair has come to rely on him, as Aparna Sen has on Rahul Bose, and as Satyajit Ray did on Soumitra Chatterjee.

(Webposted February 28 2008)