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Cinema: Cast, Humour Make It Worthwhile

2 Jul

Saif Ali Khan with Rani Mukerji and Amisha Patel in Thoda Pyar Thoda Magic.
Saif Ali Khan with Rani Mukerji and Amisha Patel in Thoda Pyar Thoda Magic.

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Directed by Kunal Kohli
Starring Saif Ali Khan, Rani Mukerji, Amisha Patel, Rishi Kapoor, Akshat Chopra

JUST like Bhootnath (with Amitabh Bachchan taking the role of a ghost), this movie is aimed at the young ones.

But this movie is better than Bhootnath not only because it has a better cast but because of the seamless use of graphics to make the story more interesting. And the cinematography (Sudeep Chatterjee) is fantastic.

And there’s none of the melancholy that pervaded Bhootnath.

This is surprising since the story deals with four children who are orphaned after their parents are killed in an accident.

The car driver, Ranbir (Saif Ali Khan) is ordered by the courts to take care of them until they are 18.

Saif, who has never in his life bothered about anyone except his business, suddenly finds his life in turmoil.

The children are rebellious and only have one intention, to bring misery to the person who took away their parents.

What Ranbir needs is a miracle. An angel Geetha (Rani Mukerji) is sent by Bhagavan (Rishi Kapoor) from the heavens to help the children.

The song sequences are a bit far-fetched (including a trip to the museum where everything, including a dinosaur, comes alive) but you can easily forgive the producers as they are few in between.

You also get a wonderful free ride through Universal Studios and San Diego Zoo in the United States.

Don’t miss out the sexy song scene involving Amisha Patel at the poolside. She and Saif even managed to duet underwater!

This is a feel-good movie with plenty of humour.

Kunal Kohli, who had winners with Fanaa and Hum Tum, may have struck gold again, even if this is more of a children’s movie.

Yash Raj Films seem to have yet another winner on their hands.

Saif’s stars are brighter than ever. The heavens seem to be showering their blessings on him.


New Straits Times

Between Love And Magic

27 Jun

Between love and magic


Kunal Kohli’s “Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic” releases this Friday.

I like to make films on different people in different environments


LITTLE MAKES IT BIG Kunal Kohli says he has a way with kids.

“It’s not after Yashraj’s ‘Jhoom Barabar Jhoom’ and ‘Tashan’ but my film after ‘Hum Tum’ and ‘Fanaa’…” That is Kunal Kohli’s first reaction about “Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic”, his fourth film releasing this Friday – with which he has also turned a co-producer.

This time “the double responsibility” of being a producer and director besides handling four kids “had been quite a task”,” he admits. The film that talks of love, affection and relationships “among people with different outlook and attitude in life” has Saif Ali Khan and Rani Mukerji in the lead.

Hot song

Saif plays Ranbeer Talwar, a man who becomes a tyrant because he always loses in love, while Rani is an angel sent to earth by God to help four orphaned kids (played by Akshat Chopra, Shriya Sharma, Rachit Sidana and Ayushi Berman). Amisha Patel as Saif’s love interest has a cameo “with a hot song underwater despite which we got a ‘U’ certificate,” laughs Kunal, adding quickly, “It’s sensuous, not vulgar, as the film would be seen by families with kids. I have taken care…”

The audiences know Kunal as a filmmaker whose films have a ‘feel good’ factor as they try to unravel the intricacies of relationships. “That’s right. I never feel like making a film in which a machine talks, limbs break and calamity occurs. There is so much of this in our daily news. I like to make films on different people in different environments,” shares Kunal.

And he assures us that “Thoda Pyaar …” has more magic than his earlier films because of the four child actors whom he finalised after auditioning 3000 kids in various cities. One of them, Shriya, is seen in several ads and “Paanchvi Pass”, the quiz programme on television.

On working with children, he says “Kids amaze you with their reactions. They think very differently from adults, and react differently to a scene. They are not method actors. They modulate their voices, add some ‘tashan’ and use the frame fully to their advantage. They are very smart and competitive in nature. I wanted kids with a Delhi accent in this film so I finalised three kids from Delhi.”

One wonders if the film has some story connection with the old Shammi Kapoor-starrer “Brahamchari” or “Mr. India” which also featured orphans.

“No, it hasn’t,” asserts Kunal, adding. “This film is actually an outcome of some desperate moments I had undergone in the early parts of my life. How much did I wish then that an angel would come and solve all my problems. The idea germinated from there.”

And as for handling kids, he knows it too well. “I never push kids too hard. They have a nice time on my sets. They had milkshakes, chocolates, and meals on time. Even the five-year-old in ‘Fanaa’ was happy with me. I become their friend and don’t try to unnecessarily discipline them.”

This former film critic is now just on the opposite side of the fence, where he is being written on and off by film writers. He had also directed music videos in 1990s as Bally Sagoo’s “Mera Laung Gawacha”, Bali Brahmabhatt’s “Tere Bin Jeena Nahin”, Shiamak Davar’s “Jaane Kisne’”, and Rajshri Music’s “Yeh Hai Prem”, a song for Alisha Chinoy with Milind Soman, and so on.

He recalls, “I have often been a target for many film writers. They had been unfair to me. I wouldn’t like to fathom the reason but it really hurt me those days. I don’t belong to a film family. My learning of the filmmaking has been through repeated watching of Raj Kapoor, Yash Chopra, Manoj Kumar and Raj Khosla’s films. I started the trend of story telling Indian music videos which were a hit. So, film producers kept observing my work and it was Karan Johar who introduced me to Yash Chopra.”

Back to “Thoda Pyaar…” , shot mostly in Delhi’s farm houses for 75 days, the film, says Kunal, is being released in June for it’s holiday time for children.

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Trip The Light Fantastic

30 Nov

Trip the light fantastic


Madhuri Dixit insists it is by chance and not design that her big comeback jive, Aaja Nachle, is a dance film

Dance with me Madhuri Dixit is on familiar ground in Aaja Nachle

In this day and age of reinvention — look at Madonna who went from pop tart and disco queen to earth mother and retro revival goddess — it is a tad surprising that Madhuri Dixit who had the world and then some more dance to her tunes in t
he Eighties and Nineties chose Anil Mehta’s “Aaja Nachle” to announce her return to tinsel town.

“I did not go looking for a dance film you know,” Madhuri says with a hearty laugh.

“It all just came together. The film has a lot of layers and is not only about dancing. ‘Nachle’ is also about the triumph of the human spirit.”

Madhuri says the fact that “Nachle” is produced by the Yash Raj banner was a big plus. “Yashji has worked with married actors before and is mindful of our needs and commitments.”

The “ek do teen” girl’s first thought on being offered the role of Dia was “is the public still interested in seeing me. That was my immediate reaction. No, I did not say ‘yes’ right away. I thought about it, discussed it with my family. I was not sure if it would all pan out you know. I took four to five days to make up my mind.”

Madhuri says it was no walk in the park there after.

“Of course I was nervous! But then when I stood in front of the camera, it was like I had never gone away. Everything miraculously fell in place.”

Talking about her role, the 42-year-old mum of two says: “I play Dia, who leaves her small town, Shamili, to go to New York where she makes a name for herself as a choreographer.

She returns to Shamili when her guru calls her, as his theatre, Ajanta, is under threat from builders who want to tear it down.” One of the things one remembers about Madhuri in the eighties and nineties apart from nimble dance routines are the truly hideous costumes! Who can forget the frizzy hair topped with gaudy ribbons, the garish make up and the huge, tacky accessories?

All that changed in 1997 with Yash Chopra’s “Dil to Pagal Hai”. Haute couturier Manish Malhotra stepped in and turned Madhuri into a sexy swan. The matte look coupled with flowing chiffons and nude make up created a serendipity of style.

No prizes for guessing who is doing Madhuri’s clothes for “Nachle.” “Manish has designed for me. Since the movie is set in a small town, and I am a working woman, my clothes are not very glamorous. They are all about comfort.” Anil Mehta has already spoken of the burden of expectations for what is being touted as Madhuri’s comeback film—it is not like she has been away forever. Sanjay Leela Bansali’s paean to retinal fatigue, “Devdas”, was released just five years ago.

Different strokes

Talking about expectations, the good doctor Nene’s missus says: “Expectations are so varied. Each person would be looking for something else, so the best thing to do is believe in the film and everything else will fall in place.”

In the five years she has been away being wife and mum in the US of A, Madhuri says of the changes in tinsel town: “Corporates and multiplexes have changed the map of the movies. Now we have access to the best of everything — from technical support to writers, music, everything. There is greater discipline and everything is planned to the last little detail. This has made working in the movies very easy for actors.”

Madhuri feels audiences and filmmakers have matured and are more accepting of married actors now. “Kajol did a wonderful job in ‘Fanaa.’ You may say these roles are few and far between but at least it is a start and people are attempting something different.”

And to all of us who moan the mindless monotony of every actor, la Dixit says: “You mean every actor has the same make up and straight hair? Well, that is because some one in Paris decides the look of the season and everyone blindly follows it. But the soul of a film is created by the actor and that will come through irrespective of the styling!” While it is easy for us as audience to pick our preferred Madhuri Dixit film, Ms. Twinkle Toes finds it a tough task to pick her favourite.

“It is hard to say. Every film is special in its own way. I learnt something from each of my films. As of now my favourite film is “Nachle’ as I had so much fun. It was great working with all these talented young actors.”

Mehta has said how working with Madhuri was very easy as she is very down to earth. “That is the way I am. It does not require any particular effort.”

Madhuri does not want to commit about whether she would take up other acting assignments in the future. “I don’t want to compromise on my boys,” the yummy mummy signs off with suitable maternal flourish.

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Arre O’ Samba!

31 Aug

Arre O’ Samba!


‘Aag’ hits the screens today, but without all of the immortal lines of ‘Sholay’. We take a look at dialogues that have outlived their films in the recent times – from Mumbaiyya one-liners to Urdu couplets.

Smart talk Stills from &#8216’Aag’

Aag, what Ram Gopal Varma calls as his “interpretation of Sholay,” releases today. When Amitabh Bachchan takes centre stage as Babban Singh, the audience will pitch him against late Amjad Khan’s character of Gabbar.

For many, watching Sholay is a karaoke experience. Having memorised the dialogues (Salim-Javed), the Sholay faithfuls would join Dharmendra in echoing “Kuttey mein tera koon peejaoonga,” or Amjad Khan in “Kitne Aadmi The?” Varma’s Aag, on the other hand, will tear away from the original and according to Varma, will not replicate all of the immortal lines. “My film is a tribute to Sholay and not a remake. Babban is an exotic looking, larger-than-life villain and is as dangerous as Gabbar. But the way he speaks will be different,” reasons Varma.

Don – the chase begins

Keep it short

Munna Bhai MBBS

“Which film’s dialogues have stayed in public memory in the last 15 years?” asks Amitabh Bachchan, talking to Friday Review. If Shah Rukh Khan as Don is widely heard on ringtones and ringback ton
es of mobile phone users declaring “Don ko pakhadna mushkil hi nahin, namumkin hai,” that too cuts back to Amitabh Bachchan’s original Don (dialogues by Salim-Javed again) in 1978. Amitabh reasons t
hat the emphasis on dialogues has changed over the years. “This is the age of fast food; everything has to be precise and concise. If your laptop takes a few minutes to boot, you want to replace the hard disk. There’s no time for redundancy and rhetoric. We have to cater to this generation of youngsters. On the other hand, films in the 50s to the 80s emphasised on the written word,” he says.

The written word still rules, and blends to suit different contexts. Mumbaiyya language saw a revival thanks to Munna Bhai and Arshad Warsi. “Even today, many people on the streets call me ‘maamu.’ Mu
nna Bhai MBBS
and Lage Raho Munna Bhai spoke in a language that people could relate to. It’s needless to add that only when the story, the concept and the film succeed, people remember the dialogues,” points out actor
Bomman Irani.

A stark departure from Don, Aag and Munna Bhai are films like Fanaa and Rang De Basanti. An easy blend of Urdu and Hindi hooked the younger lot to Fanaa. An
d Rang De Basanti (dialogues by Prasoon Joshi and Rensi D’Silva) made both ‘masti ki pathshaala’ and ‘Sarfaroshi ki Tamanna’ anthems for many a revolution across colle
ges. “Before RDB, I had planned to make another film on freedom fighters who preferred the sword to the pen. We got groups of youngsters in Delhi and Mumbai and discussed at length about the freedom movement and what they thought of the country. It was clear that they weren’t interested. I understood that I had to juxtapose the old with the new. This reflects in every aspect of the film – from the screen play to the dialogues and lyrics in songs. We needed Sarfaroshi ki tamanna as much as Roobaroo and Masti ki paathshala,” says Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra.

In the film, Su, the Brit youngster, watches in dismay as Siddharth and his friends read lines from her script – Azadi meri dulhan hai – and chuckle “what’s his (Bhagat Singh) problem? Who speaks like this?” Of course, the brat pack undergoes a sea change and get into the spirit of the roles of the freedom fighters. Lines from the Bhagvad Gita echo in the background as the freedom fighters endure their days of torment in prison.

Rang De Basanti

Fanaa, meanwhile, is a throw back to the days of the shayari. Among the many quoted in the film, “Tere dil mein meri saason ko panaah mil jaye, tere ishq mein meri jaan fanaa ho jaye,”
remains the most popular. In Shaan’s voice, Subhanallah also became an anthem.

Lyricist and writer Javed Akhtar explains, “Don and Sholay captured the youngsters with smart one-liners. The other films presented couplets that were easy for the younger lot to understand. Many youngsters
cannot differentiate between Hindi and Urdu. They assume that what they can understand easily is Hindi and what takes them some time to decipher is Urdu. There is no clear boundary between spoken Urdu and Hindi. In many films and songs, what is used is neither pure Hindi nor Urdu. It’s Hindustani.”

And we’ll get to see more of this blend when Ashutosh Gowarikar’s Akbar-Jodha opens later this year with Hrithik and Aishwarya Rai.

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Carra Mia Well Prepared

22 Dec

Carra Mia well prepared

BANGALORE: Carra Mia, who has been well prepared, is expected to score in the Ashoka Chakra Cup (1,400m), the main event of the races to be held here on Friday (Dec. 22).

False rails (width about 4m from 1,600m to 1,000m and 6.5m from 1,000m to the winning post) will be in position.

1 KENTUCKY PLATE (Div. II), (1,100m) — maiden 2-y-o only (Terms) — 2-00 p.m: 1. Samrat Ashok (Puttanna) 4 Krishnan 55, 2. Char Chand (Samar) 2 Jagadeesh 55, 3. Maahi Ve (Arjun) 10 Suraj Narredu 53.5, 4. Renascent (Darius) 6 Appu 53.5, 5. Cimarron (Dhariwal) 5 Gallagher 53.5, 6. Adorabella (I. Ghatala) 7 Harish 53.5, 7. Beauty Dancer (Karan) 8 S. Babu 53.5, 8. Precious Angel (Manohar) 9 B. Prakash 53.5, 9. Queen Of Speed (S. Narredu) 3 Biramne 53.5 and 10. Lush Foliage (Neil) 1 Rajesh Babu 53.5.

CHAR CHAND: After a forward run finished a good fourth to Secret Song over 1,100m; has improved since. MAAHI VE: First run; sharpened up well. CIMARRON: Systematically prepared. PRECIOUS ANGEL: Had a lung-opener in Supreme Quest’s 1,200m; looks very fit.

1. Precious Angel, 2. Cimarron,

3. Char Chand

2 KENTUCKY PLATE (Div. I), (1,100m) — maiden 2-y-o only (Terms) — 2-30: 1. Milford (Eshwer) 8 Appu 55, 2. Double Elite (Nityanand) 9 Chandrashekar 55, 3. Tactical (Ganapathy) 3 Raja Rao 55, 4. Royal Hero (Inayathulla) 2 Rajesh Babu 55, 5. Badge Of Gold (Karan) 4 S. Babu 55, 6. Desert Hero (Prithviraj) 6 Arun Rao 55, 7. Give Me The Money (Amit) 1 A. Velu 53.5, 8. Lightnin Blues (Darius) 5 Shobhan 53.5 and 9. Fanna (Sirajuddin) 7 Suraj Narredu 53.5.

MILFORD: Fit for the fray. DOUBLE ELITE: Track movements impressive. LIGHTNIN BLUES: Looks fit and well. FANAA: An impressive third to Supreme Quest over 1,200m; in fine condition.

1. Milford, 2. Fanaa,

3. Double Elite

3 KRISHNARAJAPURAM PLATE (1,400m) — rated 00 to 30, 4 & 5-y-o — 3-00: 1. Apollo Storm (Samar) 8 A. Velu 62, 2. Keep Guessing (Sirajuddin) 4 Rajesh Babu 61.5, 3. Princess Emily (S. Narredu) 12 B. V. Krishnan 61.5, 4. Queen’s Glory (Ganapathy) 5 B. Prakash 59.5, 5. Famous For Free (Sriram) 3 Chandrashekar 59, 6. Kandalla (Md. Khan) 9 Amarpreet 58, 7. Brave Soldier (Byramji) 11 Appu 57, 8. Maha Rani (Pradeep) 6 Shobhan 56.5, 9. New Pastures (Lokanath) 1 Jagadeesh 56, 10. Divine Force (Dominic) 10 Mahendran 54, 11. Algebra (Habib Khan) 2 Mark 53.5 and 12. Young Indian (Puttanna) 7 Krishnan 48.5.

QUEEN’S GLORY: In fine fettle. FAMOUS FOR FREE: A noteworthy second to Kilspindie over 1,200m; in fine trim. ALGEBRA: A fair third to Cashfirsttiketnext over 1,400m; shaping well in the trials. YOUNG INDIAN: Comes into the reckoning on his fourth to Cashfirsttiketnext.

1. Queen’s Glory,

2. Famous For Free,

3. Young Indian

4 SOVEREIGN CROWN PLATE (1,200m) — rated 20 to 50 — 3-30: 1. Estrella (Sharat) 6 Biramne 60, 2. Regal Music (Prithviraj) 9 Arun Rao 58, 3. Worth A Diamond (Warren) 4 Appu 57.5, 4. Alonso (Arjun) 2 Harish 55, 5. Flashy Phantom (Karan) 8 S. Babu 54, 6. Indian Arcelor (S. Singh) 1 Vivek 54, 7. Azazel (Lokanath) 5 Shukla 53.5, 8. Fashion Statement (Puttanna) 3 Mark 53.5, 9. Rhapsidion Snow (Padmanabhan) 7 Asgar 53.5, 10. Sugar Blaze (I. Ghatala) 12 Suraj Narredu 53.5, 11. Star News (Puttanna) 10 Krishnan 50 and 12. Brothers In Arms (Neil) 11 Ranjeet 49.5.

ALONSO: As a favourite finished fifth to Hollywood Girl over 1,200m; might have needed that run. INDIAN ARCELOR: Ran off the board in Precede’s 1,400m; that run is best ignored. AZAZEL: Runs with an upsetting chance. SUGAR BLAZE: Failed as a favourite in Classical Dancer’s 1,400m; may make amends.

1. Indian Arcelor, 2. Alonso,

3. Sugar Blaze

5 ASHOKA CHAKRA CUP (1,400m) — 3-y-o only (Terms) — 4-00: 1. Diamond Hunter (Eshwer) 1 M. Narredu 57, 2. Bountiful Heights (Byramji) 8 Appu 55.5, 3. Carra Mia (Dhariwal) 4 Gallagher 55.5, 4. Alekona (Arjun) 2 Suraj Narredu 54, 5. Precede (Ganapathy) 7 B. Prakash 54, 6. Generous Lad (Karan) 3 S. Babu 54, 7. Kodava Fire (Ponnappa) 5 Harish 52.5 and 8. Fearless Spirit (Ganapathy) 6 Raja Rao 50.

DIAMOND HUNTER: Found Le Reve too good in his last start over 1,200m; should be given another chance. CARRA MIA: A close third in Appeasing’s second win over 1,600m; in fine shape. ALEKONA: Came out of the maiden ranks in a gutsy manner over 1,200m during summer; moving impressively in the morning trials. PRECEDE: An impressive winner of his last start over 1,400m; maintains form.

1. Carra Mia, 2. Diamond Hunter, 3. Precede

6 SAPTHARISHI CUP (1,400m) — rated 60 to 90 — 4-30: 1. Diomedes (Puttanna) 5 Vivek 60, 2. Storm Regent (Ganapathy) 1 S. Babu 58, 3. Asiaticus (Dhariwal) 4 Gallagher 57.5, 4. Mesmerising (Ganapathy) 8 B. Prakash 57, 5. Seis Corona (Ponnappa) 7 Harish 57, 6. Mucho (I. Ghatala) 6 B. Paswan 55, 7. Antenor (Arjun) 9 Suraj Narredu 53.5, 8. Chief’s Dream (Eshwer) 3 Appu 53 and 9. Kartikerri (Darashah) 2 Ranjeet 53.

ASIATICUS: A comfortable winner of his last start over 1,200m; retains form. MESMERISING: As a favourite finished third to Shelly Green in the Golconda 1000 Guineas (1,600m) at Malakpet; well tuned. ANTENOR: Track movements pleasing. CHIEF’S DREAM: Won a 1,400m impressively in his last start; may defy the penalty.

1. Mesmerising, 2. Antenor,

3. Chief’s Dream

7 VIDURASHWATHA PLATE (2,000m) — rated 20 to 50 — 5-00: 1. Ace Of The Race (Arjun) 5 Appu 60.5, 2. Rosefinch (Ex: Amazing Gem) (S. Narredu) 3 B. V. Krishnan 60.5, 3. She’s Big (I. Ghatala) 7 B. Paswan 59.5, 4. Pret A Porte (Byramji) 8 Rajesh 58, 5. Compton Star (Darius) 10 Mark 57, 6. Cherika (Dhariwal) 11 Gallagher 55, 7. Cindy Girl (Ponnappa) 2 Harish 55, 8. Only Royale (Ganapathy) 4 B. Prakash 53, 9. Air Warrior (Habib Khan) 6 Shobhan 52.5, 10. Mister Trooper (Md. Khan) 9 Jagadeesh 52.5, 11. Ravininski (Mangalorkar) 1 Ranjeet 50 and 12. Superdash (Mahaesh) 12 Chandrashekar 48.5.

ACE OF THE RACE: Won a 1,600m in a gutsy manner in his last start; may score again. SHE’S BIG: A facile winner of her last start over 1,600m in the lower class; may defy the penalty. CHERIKA: A short neck second to Ace Of The Race in her last start; warrants another chance. ONLY ROYALE: A good third to Algiers over 1,600m; in fine trim.

1. Ace Of The Race, 2. Cherika,

3. She’s Big

8 DR. P. PARAMASHIVAIAH MEMORIAL PLATE (1,200m) — rated 40 to 70, 5-y-o only — 5-30: 1. Mount Royale (Sriram) 10 Vivek 61.5, 2. Fashion Verdict (Lokanath) 11 Shukla 60, 3. Alagi (Dominic) 4 Mahendran 58, 4. Power Of Dreams (Hidayat) 1 S. Ramesh 57, 5. Bravo Bedford (Neil) 9 A. Velu 56.5, 6. Missedent (Darashah) 6 Gnaneshwar 56.5, 7. Black Berry (Eshwer) 7 Rajesh Babu 55.5, 8. Wizzy Noise (S. Narredu) 8 Suraj Narredu 55.5, 9. Roda Rosen (Nityanand) 5 Harish 55, 10. Mid Summer Star (Pradeep) 3 Appu 54.5, 11. Proud Tradition (Padmanabhan) 2 Ranjeet 53 and 12. Janasheen (S. Narredu) 12 Koch 49.5.

MOUNT ROYALE: Seen finishing on well in Ashwaraaj’s 1,400m; may upset. BLACK BERRY: Judiciously prepared. RODA ROSEN: Has stripped fitter after her two race gallops at Mysore. MID SUMMER STAR: A consistent runner at Mysore; continues to shine in the trials here.

1. Black Berry,

2. Mid Summer Star,

3. Mount Royale

Day’s best: Mesmerising

Double: Milford

— Ace Of The Race

Jkt: 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8; Mini Jkt: 2, 4, 5 & 6; Tr: 6, 7 & 8; Exacta: 3, 5, 7 & 8.

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