Television turns extravagant
By A. L. Chougule
Gone are the days when TV shows were shot on a shoe string budget.ῠῠ Today shows with their grand sets and exotic locales cost anywhere between Rs 60 and Rs 80 lakhs. And when it comes to reality shows, where the presence of Bollywood biggies is a trend, then sky is the limit for the budget. Channels are going all out toῠ woo the audiences and moolah is no constraint for them.ῠῠῠRamanand Sagar’s grandson isῠῠ remaking Ramayan in a grander way on a huge set in Baroda. The sets of Ekta Kapoor’s Kahani Hamaray Mahabharat Ki is spread over 1.5 acres at the Film City in Mumbai. Besides the huge Hastinapur set, the show also has two smaller sets each spread over half acre.ῠ Apart from Ramayan and Mahabharat, today, every serial runs into lakh of rupees.
Besides lavish sets, channels also pay actors huge monthly pay packets. That’s not all; reality shows bring in the best of Bollywood actors as anchors and members of the jury panels. Why is so much money being poured into fiction and reality shows?ῠ “Television shows of the 90s were shot in bungalows because they were closer to reality,” says producer Asit Modi who has made Saarthi for Star Plus and is currently making a daily comedy Taarak Mehta Ka Ultah Chashma. For Saarthi which ran for three and half years and had 725 episodes, Asit had erected a huge set costing around Rs 70 lakh, which he renovated twice at the cost of Rs 20 lakhs each. Such expenses were unheard of in the 90s but are pass
today. For his daily comedy Asit has again built a huge set resembling a housing society and Film City.
According to television director Sanjay Upadhyay, Sony’s creative head (fiction), who has shot Saaya, Aatish and supervised the making of Kumkum says, “With dailies, television moved from reality to larger than life dream. With dreams being sold to viewers, things changed completely – be it the story, sets, costumes, jewellery or the look of actors. A set can be explored in many ways for visual beauty, charm, opulence and location variety,” he explains adding further, “Sets are also a necessity because dailies are shot for at least 25 days in a month compared to weeklies which require just about eight to nine days.”ῠ
Apart from Lavish sets beautiful and authentic locales are also an integral part of serials. Sony’s new daily Hum Ladkiyan is set in Benaras and the unit explored the city in detail for this. Producer Sunjoy Wadhwa shot many scenes of Balika Vadhu in Rajasthan and currently the show is being shot at a grand set in Vasai spread over 9,000 square feet. “Sets are done as per the requirement of story. We needed a haveli to shoot different story tracks,” says Wadhwa. Money is not an issue today. “Because of the competition, television spend has increased. When the emphasis is on upscale making, grandeur and opulence are a must,” adds Wadhwa.ῠῠ
Reality shows are monotonous: Asha Parekh
By A. L. Chougule
After she quit acting in films in the early 80s, veteran actress Asha Parekh switched to production and direction on television. She may not have made many successful shows but she did make a mark as a successful producer-director with shows like Jyoti, Palaash Ke Phool, Baje Payal, Daal Mein Kala and Kora Kagaz.ῠ One of the finest and graceful dancers of Hindi cinema, the veteran actress had done a dance show for DD Baje Payal in the late 80s. It was not a dance reality show but explored the multi-dimensional facets of dance in Hindi cinema. In recent years, dance has metamorphosed into a new programming genre in the form of competition where television celebrities battle it out for prize booty.
In fact, television has changed completely from the days when the veteran actress made some of her successful shows. “Television was vibrant in the 90s. Today it’s monotonous and lacks substance. Technically too it is faulty,” she says. In her view there is monotony in reality genre too. “Too many reality shows are happening,” she adds. If that’s the case then what prompted her to be a judge on Tyohaar Dhamaka? “Well, it is different and exciting. It has good dancers,” she says.
She adds, “Tyohaar Dhamaka is about celebration of our festivals and hence it has only Indian dances. The emphasis is more on graceful dancing.” When the show was offered to her Asha says she didn’t take too long to say yes. She explains, “It’s a carnival of Indian dances and culture and it’s so beautiful and enjoyable to watch and judge performances. Also, it’s a SOL production which has a lot of young and positive women on its staff. I couldn’t have said no to them.”
How is she going to judge the contestants? “I will judge them for their performance, synchronization, energy, style, expression, choreography and lip sync. Also, how graceful is their dance and whether it is in sync with the theme,” she reveals.ῠ Being a solo judge on the show, Asha says her job is quite difficult, “It’s really tough for me to see everything in every performance and mark it. But I am doing my job fairly and honestly,” she adds.
Strange are the ways of Tellydom
One year back Rajshree Thakur also known as Saloni of Saath Pheren was the most popular TV star on screen. However, the serial had seriously lost its focus and turned ridiculously convoluted. Looks like the melodrama continues with Saloni’s husband Nahar now being diagnosed with a life-threatening disease and predictably he has only two months to live. Now, under these circumstances, wouldn’t the most obvious thing be to confide in one’s family? But our TV characters believe in hiding such serious issues from their family members to protect them. And thus begins a web of deceit and suspicion. And the wife of course always discovers the truth, in this case through a pre-recorded message that Nahar had saved for his wife to listen to on his birthday, which falls two months after his death.
Now, any normal wife would obviously be mad at her spouse for hiding something so shocking. But not our on screen sati-savitris, who believes in weeping in silence and driving us batty with their simpering act while the onscreen fa‧ade continues. Strange are the ways of our Tellydom.
Delving deeper into the world of melodrama, a new serial on Sony, Hum Ladkiyaan, focuses on the life of four young girls who also happen to be good friends.ῠ The four friends have diverse characters – one is a singer, the second a dreamer, the third a loner and the fourth a simpleton but they all have their personal desires that over a period time don’t really materialise.ῠ The serial has begun on a fairly interesting note although one has toῠ really be cautious before getting carried away as most new serials loose their initial spark after a few weeks if not months.ῠ
Moving on from the fictional world of serials to reality television, the drama continues on Bigg Boss as Rahul Mahajan desperately tries to woo an uninterested Monica Bedi, from making early morning chai for her to singing her praises and even pouring his heart out to his colleagues. The love sick, Rahulῠ is openly wearing his heart on his sleeve.ῠ However, knowing his penchant for grabbing the eyeballs, this could well be a well-orchestrated publicity stunt by the channel to increase TRPs. Somehow after the exit of the loud-mouthed Sambhavana, the serial sure seems to have lost its spark. The funniest bit though is when guys like Zulfi and Debojit insist on referring to Monica as bhabhi, much to her amusement. But our lady thankfully has not bitten the bait.ῠ But with still a few more weeks to go, anything is possible on this show.
Credit crunch monster now after Bollywood
By Shama Bhagat
The bankruptcy of leading banks in the US has created a financial crunch in the market leaving a big vacuum. Nations are desperately trying to brace themselves against the threat of a collapse of the global financial system. With many international production houses collaborating with the big Indian production houses, Bollywood has also been hit hard.
Take the case of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank, which were trying to raise $1billion to finance films for MGM, withdrew their offer to underwrite the deal. Many major film releases have been pushed back.
There’s the Akshay Kumar and Deepika Padukone-starrer Chandni Chowk to China, a Warner Bros presentation all set for a Diwali release. It is produced by Ramesh Sippy. Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions’ Dostana stars Priyanka Chopra, Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham with Shilpa Shetty and Shah Rukh Khan making special appearances. Karan’s erstwhile assistant Tarun Mansukhani is directing the film is on the anvil. Rohit Shetty’s Golmaal Returns produced by Dhillin Mehta under Shree Ashtavinayak Cine Vision Ltd slated for an October 17 release. There’s Yash Raj Productions’ Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, a Shah Rukh-starrer being directed by Aditya Chopra. Indian Film Company’s Ghajini, an Aamir Khan-starrer, is slated for December.
Trade analyst Taran Adarsh feels that it won’t take much for the Indian audience to go out and watch movies. “This huge crunch is not going to affect the Hindi film industry. In India people seek entertainment all the time. Whatever the crunch, they will eventually go to theatres for entertainment. Though the market has hit the pockets of the average Indian who has invested in these companies, he will still spare money to buy a ticket at the cinema windows.
Siddharth Roy Kapoor, COO, UTV Motion Pictures, says that the market condition will only affect the business of cinema and not the way the Indian audience watches movies. “It is natural that the crunch will have an effect on the industry. As an entertainment industry, I think we will be able to sustain this. The funding can be affected but people will still buy tickets to watch a film. I am sure the budgets and star prices will come down if the crunch hits it.”
Manish Mathur, COO Percept Picture Company, believes that there is going to be no direct effect on the film industry. “Any private company doesn’t come down because of some market crunch. If it’s a public company, the dynamics can be affected to some extent. But production houses have a great way of recovering their costs. The box office is just one way. There are satellite deals and also the DVD and home video marketing, which are booming right now. The domestic market contributes to 85 per cent of the profit; the rest comes from overseas market,” he says.
Sandeep Bhargava of Indian Films says, “It is too early to predict the cascading effects that the industry will face. However, all the companies who look at the bottom line and are conservative in their approach will not face an issue. Certain unrealistic budgets and prices are floating around and will get rationalised.”
Whatever said and done, the makers are still pushing the release of their films to next year. Eros Multimedia has now postponed the release of their film Aladdin to next year. Shah Rukh’s Red Chilli Entertainment’s Billoo Barber, which was slated for a Diwali release has also been postponed to February 2009.
Shahid’s upset over Sania
All’s not well with Shahid. The actor seems to have been caught in a cycle of relationship – being dumped and then dumping his girlfriends before being dumped again. This time apparently, Sania Mirza has had enough of Shahid’s constant messaging and calls. She has asked him to back off for the time being as she is working seriously on her career.ῠ According to the unit hands on the sets of his upcoming Yash Raj film in Chandigarh, “Shahid has taken Sania’s remarks as a break up and wake up call, and he is very hurt.” Maybe that’s the reason why he had his best friend from Mumbai flown down to the location to help him get over his disappointment.
‘His best friend, who is a corporate CEO took a week off and left for Chandigarh to console Shahid and engage in some male bonding. The two were seen playing cricket (not tennis) on the sets and then would hang out at their hotel bars till the wee hours of the morning discussing things. Now isn’t that a refreshing change!
Amisha, Manyata bond well
Amisha Patel and Manyata seem to be bonding big time. The two are more often than not seen together at events. However, observers feel that Amisha hangs out with Mrs Dutt only to get into the good books of Sanjay and his collaborated production house with Suneil Shetty, but Manyata is overwhelmed by her classy friend giving her sociable tips.ῠ Whenever Manyata is hosting a party or is going out for a social do, she turns to Amisha for advice. And in return Manyata has been doling out gifts to the actress. But Amisha too has revealed her generous side by surprising Manyata.
Since Manyata ends up spending a lot of time alone when Sanjay is away, Amisha decided to give her a pup to keep her company.ῠ Manyata tried to appreciate Amisha’s gesture, but the moment she turned her back, the pup was packed off to Khandala, where Dutt’s farmhouse is located. The adage every dog has its day didn’t quite work in this case.
Priyanka surprises Gauri Khan
Priyanka Chopra can be generous when she wants to be. She was recently invited to a bash that Gauri Khan had hosted for a select group of gal pals at Mannat.ῠ It was an informal gathering and no one walked in with presents for the hostess. But Msῠ Chopra entered the party with driver in tow, who was carrying a big gift neatly wrapped for Gauri. To Ms Khan’s utter surprise the gift was a painting she had seen and liked last year when the Khans were traveling in London with Priyanka for some shows. Priyanka had remembered the art gallery and had picked the painting for Gauri.ῠ The hostess was touched by the gesture and has given the painting the place of pride in her house.
Ghai miffed with Katrina
Katrina Kaif is getting rave reviews for her new looks in Subhash Ghai’s upcoming Yuvraj and so you’d expect her to be gung ho about the film and jump into the publicity campaign for the film headlong.ῠ But far from it, Kats has been inaccessible to Ghai and his publicity managers who are trying to cash in on her pairing with Salman in the film as it’s USP. Katrina had clearly told Ghai that she would like the film to be promoted on its merit and not on the basis of it’s casting.
Her relationship with Salman being in doldrums, according to insiders, Katrina is doing all she can to stay away from the angry Khan.ῠ She has asked her agents to arrange press meets for her away from Sallu’s domain, as she doesn’t want another public spectacle to be made out of her. But since Ghai is adamant that she promotes the film on his terms, she has refused to oblige even if it means staying away from the blitz completely. It’s not Ghai but Sallu who might be feeling left out in the bargain.
A romantic, witty comedy
DVD review: 27 DRESSES
CAST: Katherine Heigal, James Marsden
Director: Anne Fletcher
Genre: Romantic Comedy
It is a wonderful thing to go to a movie and come out smiling. It is even better to be thrown into fits of giggling laughter and say wow “with all the movie goers in the theatre. It has a slightly predictable plot, but the witty comedy and sweet touches of romance keeps the big grin on your face from beginning to end credits.
The story is simple enough, as befits an entry into a genre where dense plots are few and far between. Jane (Heigl) is an amateur wedding planner. She loves weddings, relishing the fairy tale atmosphere. Her favorite thing is to watch the groom’s face as he gazes upon his bride approaching him at the altar. Jane’s day job is as an assistant to an advertising executive, George (Edward Burns), but her real passion lies in helping all her friends and colleagues arrange perfect ceremonies. She’ll do anything to help, from standing in for a busy bride at the gown fitting (if she happens to be the same size) to negotiating with the cake baker. She has been a bridesmaid 27 times and hopes that some day her prince will come. She’s in love (the unrequited kind) with George but lacks the courage to tell him.
Enter her fun-loving, globe-trotting slut of a sister, Tess (Malin Akerman), who sweeps George off his feet. After a whirlwind courtship, the two are engaged and Jane is faced with the bittersweet prospect of planning her sister’s wedding to the man she loves.
Complicating matters, Kevin (James Marsden), the Wedding Announcements writer for the New York Journal, who is intrigued by Jane’s history and wants to write a piece about her (without her knowledge). The two are like oil and water which, of course, means the attraction will eventually become too strong to deny. That moment happens when they both have a little too much to drink and sing Elton John’s “Benny and the Jets.” Jane begins to re-examine her “always-a-bridesmaid…” lifestyle. With a brilliant cast and just the right amount of comic relief, this is a must see chick flick.
Urmila turns down Yash Raj
It’s not very often that Yash Raj offers a film to an actress, that too, one who is not in her prime, and she turns down the film. But Urmila Matondkar did just that when she refused to be a part of Rani Mukherjee-Shahid Kapoor starrer.ῠ She was offered a cameo in the film. A key role of one who brings the lead pair together in the climax, despite their differences. Substantial or not, it wasn’t expected of Urmila to turn down a Yash Raj film. But Urmila who has no love lost for Rani, after a slight tiff in the past, is said to have told her friends that she wouldn’t mind playing second lead to any actress but not to Rani.
So that was it, there was no trying to convince her on that count. So Chopras have gone back to their favourite cameo girl, the gifted Tabu, who has readily agreed to do it. Now seeing Tabu and Rani Mukherjee in the same frame matching their acting prowess, will be a treat for the eyes. And losing Urmila in the bargain might not seem like a bad deal, after all.
Co-judges unhappy with Rakhi
Call it a status issue or a result of the dubious Bollywood standards, the fact remains that in showbiz no one is your friend. Diplomacy is the way to go. That’s indeed the case with the jury of Chota Packet Bada Dhamaka. Though on camera, Kunal Kohli, Annu Kapoor and Rakhi Sawant appear to be more than happy sitting on the same panel, the truth is completely different. Kunal and Anuu dont seem to be happy in the company of their co-judge Rakhi. They keep whispering in each other’s ears whenever Rakhi speaks. Of course, Rakhi feels hurt but she is not showing it. Probably Kunal and Annu think Rakhi, a contestant of reality shows and an item song dancer, is not qualified enough to sit in the jury’s chair.
Rupali goes job hunting
After winning the dance reality show Zara Nachke Dikha popular TV actress Rupali Ganguly is now job hunting. It’s not that the actress is not getting offers but the actress is not getting work that interests her. Ask the pretty lady who has shows like Sanjeevani and Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai to her credit, what next after winning Zara Nachke Dikha and she says, “I want to do something different that I haven’t done before.” The actress has played negative roles with elan. But she is not interested in taking up such roles again. “I am looking for interesting and new roles,” says the actress.
Rupali who was also seen in NDTV Imagine’s Ek Packet Umeed seems upset about the show going off air. At present the actress doesn’t have any shows in her kitty. But she is in no hurry to take up a new project, she has been rejecting a lot of offers coming her way. Rupali, however, started her career with films. Though film offers kept pouring in she decided to pursue a career in television. So is she mulling over returning to films? Pat comes her reply, “If I get something different, will do it.”
Pranksters lighten the mood on Raakhi’s sets
The daily soap Raakhi on Zee TV has a multitude of tear jerking scenes The shooting, however, is not so stress filled. Karthik who plays the role of the prince and Faisal who plays his brother-in-law are big time pranksters.ῠ Ayub Khan, better known as bhairaja in Raakhi, says, “Karthik and Faisal are crazy. They do something at the spur of the moment and the people on the sets burst out laughing. At times Karthik and Faisal imitate the scenes being shot or crack situational jokes. They are very funny. This, however, agitates the director, who refuses to resume shooting unless everybody on the sets are back to serious working,” reveals Ayub.
With the kind of stress that the people work under, brief spells of fun filled interactions are a welcome respite. “When you work in a daily soap and spend more time with your team members than you do with your family, you invariably develop a strong bond with them. There is a lot of pressure that you have to deal with and it becomes extremely difficult without their support,” says Ayub.
Humour revs up Sean’s soulful
By Shruti Badyal
Being a Punjabi I ‘obviously’ have many names. Kamaljeet is my birth name, Nikki is my nickname, Jay is my name on stage which comes from my second name ‘Jhooti’,” laughs Kamaljeet Singh Jhooti better-known as Jay Sean. He is uninterrupted, an uncompromising musician, a Punjabi food lover, and a passionate lyricist. Well, that’s Jay Sean for you.
The RnB singer who left the crowd screaming for more with his exhilarating performance at Elevate recently, is a traditional Indian at heart. “Being Indians outside India, we tend to hold on to our Indian roots more than anyone else because we don’t want to lose them. So, whenever I’m at home, my family and I make a conscious effort to speak in Punjabi. I enjoy Punjabi food, especially when my dadi (grandmother) cooks. We even visit gurudwaras every Sunday,” says Nikki (his name at home).
Vh1 and Rayban, have jointly organised India’s biggest music initiative called “Rayban Vh1 Global Music Xpress”. They will bring down artistes and musicians from around the globe for “Live” performances every two months, andῠ could not have thought of a better way to start that with this “popular British RnB artiste” Jay Sean. And his connection with India dates back to the days when he came here for pilgrimage. He reveals that those are some of the best childhood memories he can recollect. Shares Sean, “I first came to India when I was two years old. But the one I really remember the most is when I was 13, and was takenῠ for yatras around India.”
He adds, “This pilgrimage included many religious places like Hemkund Sahib, Hazur Sahib, and popular temples also.” For this songwriter and singer, who is best known for his hits like Stolen, Eyes On You, Ride It, Maybe and Stay, among many others, writing a song comes “straight from the heart” and playful lyrics are his forte. “It’s very easy to write those clich
d songs about ‘I love you and you love me’, but I want to write songs which are different than just that,” quips Sean. “I like to write songs where love is a challenge and it hurts. For instance, Stolen is a hurtful song and people loved it. When the lyrics are real, the songs stay in the minds of the people,” smiles Sean.
So how was the experience of writing the very “witty” Me against myself? He laughs, “That song was my way of telling everyone that I don’t take myself too seriously. Me against myself is a song where I allowed my sense of humour to come in. For an RnB singer, it’s difficult to come up with a funny song because RnB is smooth.”ῠ Interestingly, out of the many soulful lyrics Jay Sean has gripped his fans with, Maybe and Stay are based on real stories connected with Sean’s life. “Stay is about how love canῠ hurt. When you’re in a relationship and you love each other, yet circumstances don’t let you stay together, it kills you from within. And that’s when it hurts the most, when you know it’s the world that’s ripping you apart. And the song shows how you try to make it work,” he adds.
Lyrics with wit and humour
By Shruti Badyal
Iῠ can’t write serious lyrics. I love all that innuendo filled ‘carry on’ kind of humour. Though some might say it’s not very sophisticated, but it still makes you giggle,” quips Liz, the lyricist of the Delhi-based all girls band, Wotshelike. Recently, the group gripped the audience by putting together a hilarious comedy act called Hardship Posting, at the Raga, in the capital. The band which started with a broader repertoire, has always been appreciated for its bulk of original songs. And Liz is an expert in coming up with funny lyrics. “I have been writing these fun-filled lyrics for about 15 years now,” laughs Liz.
This “full of life” band performs on original songs, all based on comical themes. Amusingly, their songs are written on topics like mothers-in-law, relationships, husbands, expatriate life in Delhi, and others, which most people can easily relate with. The band incorporated these ‘naughty lyrics, sweet harmony’ songs into a 40-minute act. The lively band surely knows the tricks to keep the audience engaged. They include dialogue in between the songs, involving the audience too.
The band with three aspiring musicians, of which two are foreigners share a deep bonding. Shares Sumana Bhasin, “With Liz and Irit I have a connection, which I feel is reflected in our performances. The three of us are all different but strong-minded individuals and that’s what makes us stick together. We respect each other’s cultures and perspectives.”
I’m fond of seafood
Chow ‘n’ tell: Bhargavi, singerῠ
I’m a foodie who is equally at ease with roadside eateries as well as five-star hotels as long as I enjoy the taste of the food. I’m also adventurous when it comes to food and I am planning to try out a weird combination, which I heard tastes yummy. In a TV show, an anchor demonstrated a recipe, where he topped the bread with chocolate sauce, Colgate paste and polo mint!
I’m an out an out non-vegetarian. So, whenever I feel stressed out, I pick up some non-vegetarian munchies and listen to music. It quickly lifts my mood. While cooking (that’s if I’m in the mood), I experiment with chicken and prawn dishes. My mom makes excellent pudina chicken and jeera roti. Among other unforgettable homemade recipes, I want to mention the lavish meal I ate at a friend’s place, who is now settled abroad. She used to make the best keema masala, shir khorma and biryani. There was magic in her hands.
Similarly, I felt the chief chef of Touch knew magic. He used to chop vegetables in equal size and correct proportion. So, even the stuffed omelette prepared by himῠῠῠ tasted unique.
I’ve eaten at almost all the restaurants in Hyderabad. My favourites include erstwhile Lagoona (now Nirvana), Kakatiya, the buffet at Ista, Singapore prawns in Chinese Pavilion and Aromas of China, Grill and Fusion 9. I’m fond of seafood. Pondicherry and Mahabalipuram are great places to try lobsters, squids and tiger prawns. At Chennai’s Fishermen’s Fare restaurant, I ate the most amazing crab curry.
In Kerala, I was delighted to eat the fish fry and prawns. But there, I didn’t quite appreciate the sweet biryani (with pineapple and raisins). I feel, biryani should always be hot and spicy as we get in Hyderabad. Moreover, the potato-substitute tapioca and the scrambled egg prepared in coconut oil that I had stumbled upon in Kerala had put me off. Chennai’s Murugan idli and other South Indian fare in Sarvana Bhavan and the Punjabi food I ate in Amritsar prepared from homemade butter were tantalising. I forgot all about calories while indulging.
Among global cuisine, the shawarma in Dubai, a preparation of mixed vegetarian and non-vegetarian rice on the cruise from Melbourne to Tasmania, the spicy Thai cuisine, kottu paratha stuffed with minced seafood, chicken and veg) in Colombo are some of my favourites.ῠ I still relish the taste of cheese, ice creams and honey in Tasmania. I ate honey with chilli flakes from a honey factory andῠ blue cheese from a cheese factory. There, the choco mousse and ice creams are so different. The bright blue, pink and sea green ice creams looked extremely tempting unlike the common vanilla-chocolate-pista ice creams one gets here. So, being a big foodie as I’m, I don’t hesitate to try out any food, I don’t crib about calorie while holidaying. After all, there’s only one life and what can give you more satisfaction than a hearty meal?
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