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October 28, 1998


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Madhuri in Kannada

Madhuri Dixit. Click for bigger pic!
The floodgates, it would seem, have been opened.

Madhuri Dixit, who capped the Mollywood migration of Bollywood belles when she signed up for Engineer opposite Arvind Swamy, is at it again. This time in a Kannada movie, or more accurately, a bilingual, with Tamil being the other language. The film, to be directed by stuntman Raam Shetty debuting with the megaphone, is tentatively titled Ram -- and given that its star is 'Gentleman' Arjun, action could be the keynote.

Act your age, AB told

Amitabh Bachchan. Click for bigger pic!
That 'supreme star' (well, we did warn you of the Tamil penchant for sobriquets) Sharath Kumar's Suryavamsam was a megahit, and that Amitabh Bachchan will star in its Hindi remake, is news that is as stale as yesterday's sandwich.

The clincher though is this -- after the debacle of Major Saab, the producers of the Hindi remake are having second thoughts. Suryavamsam has Sharath Kumar playing the double role, of father and son. However, producers are none too sure that Amitabh has, any longer, what it takes to carry off a young role -- so the thinking now is for Amitabh to play only the elder role, while his real life son, Abhishek, plays the son.

When love grows where Di died

Isha Koppikar. Click for bigger pic!
If Shekhar Kapur turned to British history for inspiration, then director Agathian is looking to more modern history, from the same country.

Or, to put this one differently, the spot in Paris where Diana and Dodi Al Fayed met with a fatal accident provides, for the director, the spark for an unusual romance.

The storyline revolves around a classical dancer who, while touring Europe, visits the site. Browsing through the various messages left by the public, she comes across one in Tamil -- a poetic, poignant epistle that captivates her and impels her to scribble a response.

Returning a few days later, she finds the author of that note has left another one -- addressed, as if you need telling, to her. And that forms the platform on which the director builds a most unusual tale.

Kaadhal Kavidhai, the film in question, is from Metro Films, helmed by Dr Murli Manohar -- the same outfit that produced the Prashant-Aishwarya Rai starrer Jeans. Agathian, meanwhile, is familiar to Tamil film buffs as the man who directed the box office blockbuster Kaadhal Kottai -- a national award winner in Tamil, and, like this more recent film, a very unusual love story.

This latest outing, meanwhile, has Prashant again in the lead, paired opposite Isha Koppikar. Meanwhile, Agathian is also remaking Kaadhal Kottai in Hindi, for Boney Kapoor, with Sanjay Kapoor and Priya Gill in the lead credits.

Prashant makes his point

Prashant. Click for bigger pic!
And while on Prashant, here's another one -- now who was it who said that the biggest handicap of Jeans was that Prashant was not hero material?

Geetha Krishna, director of Kokila, disagrees. In fact, he disagrees so violently that he has cast Prashant as the lead in the under-production Time -- a film being made in Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and Hindi simultaneously.

Apparently the director figured that Prashant was the only hero who would be acceptable to audiences in all four languages -- so there. While on the film, it is now being shot in Kodaikanal, and will shift to foreign locales later next month.

And just to round this one off, Kannedhire Thondrinaal is one of the films doing very well in Tamil Nadu theatres just now -- and it stars, guess who? Prashant is who -- opposite Simran.

The multilingual trip

Sai Kumar. Click for bigger pic!
Making languages in one film just won't cut it any more, apparently -- multilinguals are all the rage, down south. Like Indian Independence Day -- being made in Tamil, Kannada and Telugu with the likes of Sai Kumar, Roja, Arun Pandyan and Ranjitha sharing the lead credits.

Patriotism is the keynote -- if you don't mind us stating the obvious. And an investigative journalist, a police officer and an autorickshaw driver are prime characters in a story that, according to its producers, merges sentiment, action and, how could we forget, love.


T Rajendar, for Tamil buffs, is the celluloid all-rounder (he routinely writes the scripts and stories for his films, acts in them, directs them, wields the camera, writes lyrics and tunes them as well) with a penchant for rhyming dialogues. In fact, journalists unused to his ways have been startled when, in course of routine interviews, the man responds to any and every query in perfect, albeit impromptu, rhyme.

Another characteristic, of course, is garish extravagance -- but this time, Rajendar seems set to outdo even his own past record. Check out the Tamil-Telugu-Hindi extravaganza, Monisha, now under production, you'll see what we mean.

The film is being budgeted at Rs 100 million. And it contains a typically Rajendar-esque dream sequence, featuring Cleopatra and other beauties of legend and song, which alone weighs in at a whopping Rs 10 million.

Rajendar says that for the song, he drew inspiration from the legendary S S Vasan, credited with the first-ever song and dance extravaganza when he shot the famous 'drum dance' for Chandralekha.

The idea, says the producer-director-star-cinematographer-lyricist-music director, is to wow Bollywood, where he is making his debut. Given the few glimpses we've had at what's heading our way, it would seem that "impress" is not quite the right word -- audiences in all three states are liable to be left with a stunned feeling, like someone clubbed them on the back of their collective heads with a baseball bat.

And it's not just Bollywood he wants to wow -- the filmmaker is specially targeting the younger, MTV generation. How? By making his hero a pop singer, is how.

Now, if life were only that simple! Meanwhile, Rahul Saxena, Ravi Kiran, Kunika, and Kalpana Iyer play roles big and small in the film, while Rajendar himself plays a little cameo -- the crucial role, of the guy who unites the lovers. Raman Trikha, familiar to small screen buffs as a star of the serial Campus, will feature prominently in the cast of the film, which marks the debut of a newbie lass name of Mumtaz.


Suman in Annamayya. Click for bigger pic!
Now here's a turnaround for the books -- S P Balasubramaniam, one of the premier playbacks of our time, is himself going lipsync to a playback in Sri Mudhina Maava.

In the film SPB plays Yama, god of death -- but the voice you hear will be that of the legendary Dr Rajkumar, who has recorded a song that will be picturised on SPB. The film, by the way, is a picturisation of the Satyavan-Savitri legend -- ideal Indian womanhood and all that kind of jazz.

By way of trivia, earlier, SPB himself playbacked for actor Suman, playing the character of Balaji, reigning deity of Telugu-land, in the Nagarjuna-starrer Annamayya. And for their efforts, both Suman and SPB bagged awards for the film -- as did music director M M Kreem. Making it a clean sweep, the film itself bagged a national award as well.

Interestingly, director K L Swame ofSri Mudhina Maava is also doing a bit of playbacking -- lending his voice to the guy who plays Yama's assistant.

Gods, apparently, have mouthpieces these days.

Shalini succumbs to the lure of Tamil

Shalini. Click for bigger pic!
'Baby' Shalini was introduced to Malayalam films by director Fazil in the award-winning Ente Mammaatikuttiammaku. That's history.

Fazil then re-introduced Shalini, now grown to nubile womanhood, in Anyathipraavu and scored huge at the box office, then repeated it with the Tamil remake, Kaadhalukku Maryaadhai, which paired her with Vijay, who, if you recall from earlier items, is the hottest thing on the Tamil scene just now -- earning the sobriquet of Ilaya Superstar, which makes him heir apparent to THE Superstar, Rajnikanth himself.

However, Shalini, despite her success in Mollywood, has been resisting Tamil film offers -- before finally succumbing, now, to an offer from K T Gentleman Kunjumon, who is casting her in En Idhayathil Nee, opposite his own son Aby.

Who, if you recall, will make his debut in the upcoming film mega-budget film Koteeswaran, opposite Simran -- one of the highlights of which is Karishma Kapoor making a one-dance appearance all dolled up as a desirable alien.

Bong goes Rama Naidu

Producer Rama Naidu, looking for new worlds to conquer, is now targeting the Bengali audience with Asukh. It will be scripted and directed by Rituporno Ghosh, maker of critically acclaimed films like Uneeshe April and Dahan.

The film, about the conflict between a mother and her celebrity daughter, has Debashree Roy in the lead.

Naidu, of course, is also simultaneously producing a film in Hindi --Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehte Hain, with Anil Kapoor, Kajol, Anupam Kher, Parmeet Sethi and Sudha Chandran leading the credits and Satish Kaushik at the helm.

And to round off southern spice with some more Bengali doi, Shilpa Shetty -- whose career seems to be looking up after her engagement to Akshay Kumar (or is that just a coincidence?) -- will star in an Indo-Bangladesh joint venture to be directed by Sohan-Rahman of Bangladesh, with music by Bollywood's Dilip Sen-Sameer Sen duo.

-- Rajitha

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