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March 16, 1999


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Madhuri Dixit. Click for bigger pic!
It isn't often a man gets turned down by both Madhuri Dixit and Karisma Kapoor. It should be some solace for Akshay Kumar that he moves in the right circles to be shown the door by them...

Madhuri snubbed Akshay Kumar initially by refusing to complete Arzoo with him before finally getting back in most grudgingly, making it clear that this was one heck of a favour. Now it's Karisma's turn. She walked out of two films opposite Akshay and was replaced by Rani Mukherjee and Priety Zinta respectively.

Akshay may not have even figured in Karisma's calculations really. She may have backed of the films, made under the Bhatt banner, because Mahesh Bhatt has sworn off direction if nothing else. Without Bhatt in the saddle, she might have decided that the film is going nowhere.

Anyway, Karisma's last film with Akshay Kumar was Lahoo Ke Do Rang and who knows what happened to that one?

Karisma has been particularly choosy about her films after that national award found its way into her kitty. But recently, Karisma did accept a role that Juhi Chawla had shed, to help out old friend Sunil Darshan. Sunil, you see, is the younger brother of Dharmesh Darshan, who gave Karisma a new lease of professional life with Raja Hindustani.

Packed schedule and nowhere to go

Akshay Kumar. Click for bigger pic!
Oh, we did digress a bit from the issue of Akki, didn't we? Anyway, he appears to have found some semblance of a refuge in the Bhatt camp. Two of their films, Dhadkan and Arzoo are releasing soon.

Technically speaking, he has a lot of films pending.

Hmmm, let's see. There's Zulmi, International Khiladi with Twinkle Khanna, Jaanwar with Karisma -- oh yeah, forgot that. So they still have roles together -- and Vidroh opposite ol' flame Raveena Tandon. Besides there are a lot of hung films like Lashkaraa opposite Varsha Usgaonkar, Raftaar withSunil Shetty, Purab Ki Laila Paschim Ka Chaila with Namrata Shirodkar and Sunil Shetty, and Meri Biwi Ka Jawab Nahin with -- Sridevi ?!

The Bhatt films are Vikram Bhatt's Mulakat -- that's the one opposite Rani -- and Tanuja Chandra's Sanghursh with Preity.

And getting back to the issue of replacements, Akshay had himself replaced Aamir Khan in Mulakat and Ajay Devgan in Sanghursh.

New script for Vishal

Vishal Bharadwaj. Click for bigger pic!
With that successful score in Ram Gopal Varma's Satya, Vishal Bharadwaj has squashed the myth that he can only provide good music in a Gulzar film. And no one will dare repeat it after seeing the success of numbers like Sapne mein milti hai and Kallu mama.

But Bharadwaj still has a heavy Gulzar hangover and yearns to work with his favourite director again.

And this time, he plans to do it by getting into writing. We hear he's scripting and producing a film that Gulzar is slated to direct.

If that is indeed true, Bharadwaj really aims to into the big league now...

Aziz comes through

Juhi Chawla. Click for bigger pic!
Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani. That's the new Aziz Mirza film starring Juhi and Shah Rukh Khan.

The last two films from the same team, Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman and Yes Boss were hits or nearabouts there.

Mirza has some trouble recently when the Sena workers union, the Bharatiya Kamgar Sena, smashed up the sets of the film and disrupted shooting at Film City over some issue of who should work for Mirza and who shouldn't.

But not being quite one to buckle under, the director's got the shooting going fine again and, to boot, got the BKS booted off the Film City premises. So there.

That indefatigable movie machine

Mithun Chakraborthy.
Mithun Chakraborthy is one movie machine. He comes up with those Z+ graders that make a little money and fizzle out. But they do it fast and satisfy the producers, who had no plans to enter the Bharat Shah league anyway.

And so it is that Mithun isn't really very anxious about another anxious film, Aaag Hi Aaag which releases this week. He has 25 more films under preparation and, maybe just to keep the writing hand flexible, has signed on another 29.

The Chakraborthy factory keeps churning out films by the dozen and every producer is reputed to get a profit of at least 2.5 million bluebacks each time. That, within six months flat.

If you are particularly fond of Mithun films, here is the list of the 25 films he's doing:Akhiri Pratigya, Aaya Toofan, Arjun Raaj, Ganga Ki Kasam, Heeralal Pannalal, Hum To Jaate Apne Gaon, Jai Bolo Beimaan Ki, Lahoopath, Ma Kasam, Meri Adalat, Phandebaaz, Sanyasi Mera Naam, Sautela, Sabse Badkar Hum, Qatl -e-Aam, Tabaahi -- The Destroyer, Zahreela, Agniputra, Bhagaawat- Ek Jung, Balidaan, Benaam, Dada, Kali Topi Lal Rumal, Kahani Kismat Ki and, Phool Aur Aag are 25 movies being readied for release.

This isn't confirmed, but he's also believed to have smashed to bits Rishi Kapoor's record for starring opposite the maximum number of heroines and newcomers.

Gee Swiss

Yash Chopra.
The Swiss consulate, Screen and the Swiss tourism felicitated film-makers Shakti Samanta and Yash Chopra at a do at the Leela Kempinski in Bombay recently. The Swiss bestowed their highest honour on the duo, dubbing them honorary citizens of Switzerland.

Of course, we can't say how official that was since the party was more of an effort to invite more Indian film-makers to shoot in Switzerland than a formal felicitation of those who did their bit to keep the Swiss economy going.

The invitation became imperative after producers started shifting to other venues, like Australia, New Zealand, Seychelles and some European countries.

The Swiss, of course, are singularly fond of Chopra, who has already shot seven films in their mountains, with Samanta a close second because he was the second man to shoot a film, An Evening in Paris, in Switzerland. Samanta also shot his last film, Aankhon Mein Tum Ho, in the Swiss Alps.

And, hey, before we close up, news of the brand new Swiss citizen's Indian offspring. According to Papa Chopra, son Uday "is readying himself for acting on his own." That's Bollyspeak, and it implies the young one hopes to strike off on his own and have himself launched by another banner.

We wish him well -- and a future Swiss citizenship.

-- V S Srinivasan

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