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June 24, 1999


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Rising star

Aishwarya Rai. Click for bigger pic!
Aishwarya Rai's acting potential may not have surfaced yet in Hindi films, but down south appears to be a different matter.

The brandy-eyed beauty was supposed to be cast opposite her Jeans co-star Prashanth in Jodi, to be directed by Pravin Gandhi (who incidentally has renamed himself Pravinkanth).

That fell through. Simran took the lead role instead and the film is now nearing completion. And guess what Ash has to do? She appears in a guest role, all of 20 minutes long -- and the word in trade circles is that she has completely stolen the show.

Meanwhile, A R Rahman has notched up another hit with his music for this film -- wherein he reprises his Doli Sajake Rakhna (the Priyadarshan-directed film with Nagma's sister Jyotika in the lead opposite Akshaye Khanna) tunes with some modifications. Said modifications appear to have worked big time, because the cassettes are selling faster than they can churn them out.

And while on the theme of guest appearances, Pooja Batra appears in a small role in Rajiv Menon's Kandu Kondane Kandu Kondane. The unit is just back after shooting a song sequence in Scotland on Abbas and Aishwarya and judging by the stills coming through, there is some spectacular visuals in offing.

Pooja, though, is playing the full length female lead opposite Sharat Kumar -- 'Supreme Star' as sobriquet-crazy Tamils have dubbed him -- in Oruvan, under Suresh Krishna's direction.

They meet again

Khushboo. Click for bigger pic!
The teaming of Prabhu, Sivaji Ganesan's son, and Khusbhoo would normally make it to lead item status, but the two veterans have some personal baggage, don't they?

The two made it to hit pair status earlier this decade and, despite the minor matter of Prabhu being already married, ended up in a romantic liaison that culminated in marriage.

Suddenly, inexplicably, they split. Prabhu went back to his wife, Khusbhoo back to her work. And in time, fell into another romantic liaison -- this time with director Sundar C, who she is supposed to be marrying anytime now.

Director P Vasu has now brought the Prabhu-Khusbhoo pair together as a settled couple with whom the young lovers in the film take refuge. The movie is a remake of the Hindi original Hogi Pyaar Ki Jeet, which again was helmed by P Vasu with Ajay Devgan and Neha heading the credits.

And since we started off with romance, here's a bit more on the same lines. While the industry waits for director R K Selvamani and leading heroine Roja to make it all official, Priya Raman and Ranjit have taken the plunge.

The two were paired in Nesam Puthithu, and their respective parents got into the act and arranged for the reel-life pairing to become a real-life thing.

The 'Gentleman' scores again

K T Kunjumon.
K T Kunjumon's -- 'Gentleman' Kunjumon, as he dubs himself --Kodeeswaran, where son Ebbie was slated to make his debut, seems to be one of those perenially delayed projects.

On the plus side, though, Kunjumon has reason to smile -- recently, the organisation Friends of Canada felicitated him for his contributions to cinema, no less.

The function, organised by the Canadian chapter of the Tamil Sangham, was attended by, among others, Canada's PM, minister for culture, Ontario's chief minister and India's deputy high commissioner to Canada.

Another feather in the 'Gentleman's' cap.

Classified romance

Simran. Click for bigger pic!
IT'S the simplest of matrimonial ads -- says just that the advertiser is a painter, likes music, has a loving heart, not much of a bank balance but would like to get married.

Simran is taken by the simplicity of the advertisement, and responds. She and Prabhu Deva begin corresponding, and in time decide to marry.

When, on cue, comes the twist -- his marriage is fixed with a Singapore-based girl who, just incidentally, happens to be Simran's best friend.

How the tangle is resolved forms the crux of Time, being directed by Geethakrishna.

Prabhu Deva, besides playing the lead role, has choreographed some spectacular dance sequences, and the film, fully ready, is due for release now that the World Cup is over and done with.

Setting the screen on fire

Shankar. Click for bigger pic!
Shankar, never one to do things by halves, has gone and burnt four hills for his upcoming movie, Mudalvan -- without, the movie-makers insist, causing any damage to the environment.

The idea came about because lyricist -- and Tamil Nadu's poet laureate -- Vairamuthu portrays Manisha as fiery, incendiary. Agni Rakshasi, in fact. And that inspired what the makers say is a spectacular song sequence -- and remember, this is the guy who has turned in quite a few of those, from the Muqabala Muqabala number in Kadhalan, through the songs of Indian, the Chikku Bukku Raile number in Gentleman and the seven wonders song sequence in Jeans.

Shankar has a penchant for doing things on a lavish scale. So when it was realised that he wasn't taking his lead stars, Arjun and Manisha, and the support acts abroad for one of his trademark song sequences, the industry buzzed with criticism that while the movie-maker was happy enough to splurge when someone else was picking up the tab, he was being tightfisted when it came to his own production.

Not a hope, says Shankar. Apparently they didn't set out to spend X amount of money, at the outset. But Shankar just went ahead and made the movie his way, and now, totting up the balance sheet, they find a good 150 million rupees put into the film and it is not yet over.

Scrooge? Who me? pretty much sums up Shankar's response to that one.

Back on foreign soil

Karthik. Click for bigger pic!
Kavithalaya, the K Balachander banner, is back to foreign soil for its next film.

Which qualifies as news, simply because the banner has made a USP, in recent times, of keeping its storyline firmly rooted in Indian soil.

Kavithalaya had, earlier, come up with some great films set on foreign soil. 47 Natkal is an example. The title refers to the 47 days a marriage between Chiranjeevi and Jayaprada, the film's lead stars, lasts.

Based on a novel by Sivashankari, the film deals with an NRI who comes to India, marries this beauty, takes her with him and then ill-treats her so badly she returns a complete mess, physically and mentally.

The same banner also produced Ninaithale Innikkum, a Kamal Hassan-Rajnikanth- Jayaprada starrer shot entirely in Singapore.

The latest foray, Rojavanam, sees the production house teaming Karthik with director Selva who, again under the Kavithalaya banner, recently came up with the huge hit Pooveli. Alongside Karthik are Malavika and Laila in the credits. A love triangle in the offing, you think?

Mammootty spouts Telugu now

Mammootty. Click for bigger pic!
Mammootty, who has on his curriculum vitae huge successes in Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu, now goes for the one South Indian language he hasn't acted in yet.

Anil Barve's Marathi play, Thank You Mr Glad, will form the subject of Naa Hogi Baruve to be directed by D Rajendra Babu. Mammootty heads a star cast that includes Roja and Saikumar. Ambarish was the original choice, apparently, but then the producers decided to go with the Malayalam superstar instead.

While his Malayalam and Tamil films are well known, it is not as well remembered that he had done Swathikiranam in Telugu, co-starring Radhika and Manjunath, the latter a tad grown since his Malgudi Days avtaar.

Sooryavamsham in a new tongue

Sooryavamsham, after being a huge hit in Tamil for Sharat Kumar, and an even bigger hit in its Telugu avtaar for Venkatesh, is now ready for its Kannada release.

Not surprisingly, the only language it flopped in was Hindi, mainly because the makers weren't successful in recreating the milieu.

The Kannada version meanwhile is being produced by H D Kumaraswamy -- son of former prime minister H D Deve Gowda. Isha Koppikar plays the female lead.

-- Rajitha

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