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  Bollywood Previews

Aamir Khan and Kajol are paired together for the first time in �Fanaa.�
�Fanaa�: Starring Aamir Khan, Kajol; directed by Kunal Kohli; music by Jatin-Lalit.

After the superhit �Hum Tum,� director Kunal Kohli and Yash Raj Films follow up with a casting coup in one of the most anticipated movies of the year. Set in the Kashmir valley and Delhi, Kajol, making a comeback after the birth of her daughter, plays Zooni, a blind girl, who wants to live a full life cherishing the beauty of her motherland. She sets out on her own after receiving the following advice from her father: �What defines one�s life is the choice between the greater of two goods or the lesser of two evils.� Aamir Khan plays Rehan Qadri, a traveling tour guide who is a charmer and flirt by nature.

Rehan is fascinated by Zooni. Choosing to ignore warnings from her friends, Zooni feels he is the one who can show her what she wants in life. However, there are facets to Rehan�s character that Zooni is not aware of. These secrets when uncovered will change her life and lead to the decision once mentioned by her father. This film was extensively shot in Poland, Kulu Manali and Kashmir and pairs Kajol and Aamir Khan together for the first time.

�36 China Town�: Starring Akshaye Khanna, Kareena Kapoor, Shahid Kapur, Isha Koppikar, Paresh Rawal, Johnny Lever; directed by Abbas-Mastan; music by Himesh Reshammiya.

Kareena Kapoor and Shahid Kapur are on the run in �36 China Town.�

Famous for exciting entertainers such as �Baazigar,� �Ajnabee� and �Soldier,� the directing duo Abbas-Mastan stick to their successful genre with �36 China Town.� A wealthy Bangkok casino owner named Madam Sushmita is distraught after her young son disappears. She offers a huge reward for his return. Two strangers, Raj and Priya, played by Shahid Kapur and Kareena Kapoor, struggling to make a living, find the child, become friends and decide to split the reward money.

When they reach Madam Sushmita�s mansion to return the child, they find her dead. They flee the premises, leaving their suitcases behind. Soon they are prime suspects in the murder and Inspector Akshay, played by Akshaye Khanna, discovers there are more suspects and motives in this complicated case, including the proverbial house butler played by Paresh Rawal. What follows is a series of unexpected turns and twists with Raj and Priya on the run in this romantic thriller.

�Water�: Starring Seema Biswas, John Abraham, Lisa Ray, Sarala; directed by Deepa Mehta; music by A.R. Rahman.

Lisa Ray and John Abraham star in Deepa Mehta�s controversial �Water.�
After seven years in the making with much controversy, U.S. audiences will now have the chance to see �Water,� the final film in provocative director Deepa Mehta�s trilogy on the elements, after �Fire� and �Earth.� The story unfolds in 1938 India after 8-year-old Chuyia, played by Sarala, has just been widowed.

Observing the requirements of ancient customs, her father sends her away to a widow ashram where the rest of her life is to be spent in renunciation. However, the feisty, disbelieving Chuyia affects the lives of the other residents with her rebellious spark, especially Kalyani, played by Lisa Ray and the devout Shakuntala, played by Seema Biswas. Encouraged by Chuyia, Kalyani meets Narayan, played by John Abraham, an alluring Gandhi nationalist. Despite the taboo, Kalyani falls in love. What happens next forces the widows to question their future and faith. �Water� made its debut as the opening film at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival.

Jyothi Venkatesh
Bollywood Buzz


Umrao Jaan will be Aishwarya Rai�s 23rd film as an actor. In this free-wheeling interview recently, Aishwarya whose forthcoming releases this year are �Provoked,� �Dhoom II� and �Umrao Jaan� tells JYOTHI VENKATESH that working in �Umrao Jaan� with director J.P. Dutta was an eye-opener.

Aishwarya Rai is thrilled with the way her career is taking shape. Though she doesn�t want to sign too many films and let fatigue set in as an actor, she admits that she approaches each film for what it is. She is happy to have worked with directors such as Mani Ratnam, Shankar, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Gurinder Chaddha, Rajkumar Santoshi and David Dhawan in a career spanning more than a decade or so.

Aishwarya Rai stars in �Mistress of Spices.�
As an actor, Rai does not want to get stagnated by doing stereotyped roles. �I do not want to get slot in a particular mold,� she says. �You will see a different Ash in different films. I constantly am in the process of reinventing myself as an actor. As an actor, I am truthful, sincere and committed to my director�s character. The responsibility of projecting me at my best rests on the director�s shoulders.�

Rai cites the examples of �Bride and Prejudice,� �Choker Bali� and �Devdas� to prove that each film of his belongs to an altogether different genre. � �Bride And Prejudice� was set in a British country and revolved around their ethos whereas Devdas was Sanjay Leela Bhansali�s version. I had not seen any of the various versions of �Devdas� or read any book on �Devdas� earlier,� Ash confesses frankly.

I ask Rai whether she has any intention of quitting acting on Indian shores and settle down abroad working in Hollywood as well as Britain after the release of �Mistress of Spices.� �Take it from me, I love India and am proud of being an Indian. I will never go away, leaving Indian filmmakers in the lurch however lucrative and meaty offers I may get abroad.

Aishwarya Rai and Anupam Kher in �Mistress of Spices.�
Ash admits that initially she had no choice as a newcomer but to work in many films at the same time because she couldn�t revolt against the system as such. �If I worked in many projects at that time, it does not mean that I was greedy then,� she says. �It was Aamir who drilled into my head the need to do just one film at a time and try to concentrate on quality than quantity. I could learn a lot from Aamir Khan with whom I did two world tours. He told me that it took him not one or two but six years to bring about some sort of discipline as far as his career was concerned. It is my 12th year as an actor. Considering that I have had just two releases every year, I do not have reasons for regret. Isn�t it?�

Has she been approached to do the Bond project? Will she be comfortable to shed clothes if the producers want you to project glamour? �The guys connected with the Bond film had come some time back,� replies Rai. �I couldn�t meet them at that stage because there was a lot of confusion about the requirements for the role. They told us that they were scripting the project and would get in touch with us once they were through with the script but did not. I have my own reservations about exposure and hence I�d be game to do a Bond film only if there is going to be some celluloid dignity in what I set out to do.�

Rai is excited that Percept has approached her to work in a film they are planning to co-produce with a big Hollywood banner in which none other than Michael Douglas is likely to be working with her. She hastens to add that it is far too early to divulge more details of the project, which is likely to roll by next year.

In the meanwhile, Rai is waiting with bated breath and crossed fingers for the release of �Provoked� and �Mistress of Spices.� Rai is confident of hitting the bull�s eye with both the films at the box office.


Viveik Anand Oberoi, left, and Fardeen Khan are all smiles in �Pyare Mohan.�

�Pyare Mohan� is one film that Viveik Anand Oberoi (Vivek Oberoi prefers you to refer to him with this name now) looks forward to eagerly because, �it is a fun, young vibrant film full of energy. Contrary to the conception about the handicapped guys, �Pyare Mohan� is a celebration about the virtues of two handicapped guys � one blind and the other deaf � who do not give a damn. It is the story of two people who go beyond what normal people can and thus become heroes. It is all about the power of resilience of human spirit.�

Oberoi play the role of Mohan, who is emotional, confused and always over-reacts. �Mohan is always loud and excitable whereas Pyare played by Fardeen Khan is mature and handles him with the gloves of a kid,� he says. �Director Indra Kumar, with whom I had earlier acted in �Masti,� organized a workshop prior to the commencement of the shooting because Fardeen and I had to develop a certain amount of bonding since we had never worked together. It took me just 30 seconds to hit it off with Fardeen.�

Oberoi is equally excited about his role in Vishal Bharadwaj�s �Issaq,� an adaptation of Othello, in which his co-stars are Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor. �I play Kesu Phirangi, the Casio of Othello,� he reveals. �I had to work harder on the language and my characterization because the film is about the emotional journey of my character, a sensuous flirt with his own intense moments of intensity. I know it is sacrilegious to tell so but I feel that Vishal�s adaptation is more relevant to me because it is connected to the Indian context and every one of us would be able to react to it.�

Oberoi doesn�t miss his erstwhile girlfriend Aishwarya Rai or regret having turned down Mani Ratnam�s offer to cast him in �Guru� with Abhishek and Ash. �Right now, I am too busy with �Pyare Mohan� and my mantra in life is to look forward. I do not look back.�

Jyothi Venkatesh is a veteran film journalist, friend and former colleague of Khaas Baat. He is based in Mumbai, the cradle of Bollywood.


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