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Subhash K Jha

Ramu's K Sera Sera Ram Gopal Varma

Ram Gopal Varma recently announced a tie-up between his production house, Varma Productions, and a group of NRI businessmen. The new partnership is called K Sera Sera.

Explains Varma, "These NRIs are interested in putting money in idea-based film projects. Projects where every component, including the budget and cast, is determined by the plot rather than the other way around. For instance, if we are making a film about a child lost in a forest, everything else in the project will be decided by the location and child actor. These three NRIs -- from Hong Kong and New York -- function according to the same corporate discipline that I believe in. So we are having a new love affair with films," he laughs.

This is the second international group to tie up with Varma, the first being 20th Century Fox. While the latter signed a three-film deal, K Sera Sera will make four films. Ab Tak Chappan, to be directed by Shimit Amin, is based on police encounters in Mumbai. Nimmi, to be directed by Taufeeq Ahmed (who earlier directed the shelved Urmila Matondkar starrer Aankh Micholi for Varma), is about a child trapped in a forest. The third film is an episodic supernatural thriller Darna Manaa Hai. It will be directed by Prabal Pandey. Chala Vinod Tiwari Film Banane is about a small-town man who comes to Mumbai with a script, hoping to make the kind of films he loves watching. It will be directed by Rajneesh Thakur with Jugal Hansraj playing the title role.

Besides these, three more projects to be directed by newcomers will keep Varma busy through the year. Since he starts filming his international venture Ek in mid-2003, he will not personally supervise the other projects. Says he, "It's for the best. I feel my last production Road would have been a better film if I had not interfered and that's the truth. I should not interfere with the director's vision because that only results in a khichdi!"

Meanwhile, his supernatural thriller Bhoot is complete. "In all my films, I feel I could have done a lot more. But Bhoot has left me with no room to be dissatisfied. It's my most complete film to date. Urmila has given the most brilliant performance by any actor in my films." Bhoot is scheduled for release in April.

Sizzling UrmilaUrmila

At the Screen-Videocon Awards, Urmila stole the show. And to think she was a last-minute replacement for Aishwarya Rai when the deal with the latter fell through.

"I hardly had time to rehearse," says the actress who will start shooting for Khalid Mohamed's Tehzeeb this week.

Zayed Khan in Aitbaar?Zayed Khan

A year ago when Vikram Bhatt planned a remake of the Hollywood thriller Fear, he wanted to cast filmmaker Sanjay Khan's son Zayed in the pivotal role of the seedy suitor who fools his girlfriend into believing he's an angel. Zayed backed out because the dates clashed with another film which never got made.

The role went to John Abraham. "Not only do I get to play such a challenging role so early in my career, I also get to share screen space with Amitabh Bachchan," he says. The model-turned-actor is not in awe of the Big B. He chats him up between shots and even jokes with him.

All quiet at PrateekshaAmitabh Bachchan

After poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan passed away on January 18, there was a calm at Prateeksha where Amitabh Bachchan's parents lived together. Visitors continued to pour in but there wasn't much conversation. The star sat quietly with son Abhishek. Bachchan's grief at his father's funeral was so palpable, many members of his family and friends broke down.

"Due to his illness, he suffered a lot," he whispered. His mother Teji too is severely ill.

Tusshar-Esha get jitteryEsha Deol

As January 24 approaches, Tusshar Kapoor and Esha Deol get more nervous. Their Kucch To Hai releases that day.

Says Esha, "Kucch To Hai is important for both of us since our last film together Kya Dil Ne Kahaa did not do well." She has started working with different designers. "I want to try a different look for all my characters." Kareena Kapoor is also taking a break from favourite designer Manish Malhotra in her forthcoming films and trying out different designers.

Satta in troubleMadhur Bhandarkar

The release date of Madhur Bhandarkar's Satta keeps getting postponed. The date is now shifted to February 7. While the exhibitors blame the glut of pre-World Cup releases for the delay, the truth is the film's producers Metalight and exhibitors Shringar Films are locked in financial conflict.

Bhandarkar confirms the date. "It's definitely on February 7. One thing is for sure. Nobody would be disappointed," he promises. Vikram Bhatt's blockbuster Raaz was released on the same day last year.

Mahesh Manjrekar to make films only in EnglishMahesh Manjrekar

Mahesh Manjrekar has decided to make films only in English. "If a Hindi version emanates from the English film, I don't mind. Of course, a localised subject like Padmashri Laloo Prasad Yadav can only be made in Hindi. But I want to target all my films at an international audience."

The first in Manjrekar's experiments in English is the English-Bengali bilingual It Rained That Night, a remake of his Astitva. The English version will have Sushmita Sen in the lead. Manjrekar has just returned from the US where he has finalised American actresses to play Sushmita's friend and her son's girlfriend.

He is also keen about his second project. Manjrekar wants Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi to play an old couple who lose their only son in a shoot-out. He is also keen to begin his long-cherished love story about two blind people with Sanjay Dutt and Kareena Kapoor. "She has got so much untapped talent. I can just see her in my film. She'd be perfect," enthuses the director.

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