Amrita Raocan't believe her luck.
After a surprise hit withIshq Vishk, she has bagged two biggies -- Gaurang Doshi's Deewar: Let's Bring Our Heroes Home (Amitabh Bachchan) and Farah Khan's Main Hoon Na (Shah Rukh Khan, Zayed Khan).
Now the actress cannot stop gushing about King Khan. "I play a spunky college kid in Main Hoon Na. My designer Sanjeev Mulchandani has tried to give me a Christina Aguilera look and I love it. My first shot with Shah Rukh was an emotional scene and I was quite apprehensive. Deewar, on the other hand, has a very different, more serious approach," she says.
Though shooting with Khan was stalled after his recent surgery the actress says, "I have all my scenes with Shah Rukh. He is so much fun to act with. Also, on the sets, he just acts. He does not interfere with our scenes. Farah is the director in charge."
Despite the delay in the release of Boom! (Amitabh Bachchan, Jackie Shroff, Padma Lakshmi, Katrina Kaif, Madhu Sapre, Bo Derek), the relationship between producer Ayesha Shroff and director Kaizad Gustad seems perfect. "Kaizad is a maniac," quips Ayesha. "At least, he works like one. He knows exactly what he wants so no time is wasted on the sets." The film is scheduled for release August 1.
Ayesha claims the most colourful character in the film is Gulshan Grover, even though hubby Jackie sports trendsetting glares and only black outfits throughout the film. "He [Grover] is the one who gets to wear all the colourful outfits!" she laughs.
New Kapoor on the block
Model Kunal Kapoor was discovered when he played Amitabh Bachchan's part during the rehearsals of
The 27-year-old assistant to director Rakesh Omprakash Mehra, Kapoor took up Mehra's recommendation to get serious about acting -- he took up courses with Barry John, workshops at the Prithvi Theatre and Namit Kishore Kapoor, Mumbai.
Now, he has two films on hand -- M F Husain's Meenaxi: A Tale Of Two Cities (Tabu) and Mehra's next film, Rang De (Vivek Oberoi, Atul Kulkarni).
"When I read the script," Kunal says of the latter film, "I loved the role. I read it as an assistant director, not as an actor, and still felt drawn towards the character. When Mehra offered it to me, I was over the moon."
Apparently, he auditioned thrice for the role. "The third time I screen tested with a small scene with Atul. Mehra came to me with this deadpan look and said, 'Unfortunately, now you are such a good actor that I will have to sign you on!"
"I have always felt he belonged in front of the camera, not behind it," says Mehra. :Besides being good-looking, he is a sensitive actor. What struck me at the screen tests was his immediate grasp of the story and character."
Taj Mahal marches ahead
Lavish sets depicting a Meena Bazaar in the Mughal era have been erected at the Mehrangarh Fort and Nagod, to shoot scenes when Prince Khurram (the later Shah Jahan) and Princess Anjuman Bano's (the later Mumtaz Mahal) first meet and romance each other. Around 500 junior artistes, including dancers, participated in this schedule, which also included a song sequence.
While Zulfikar Syed and Sonya Jehan are introduced as Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal, the film also stars Manisha Koirala (Jahan Ara), Kabir Bedi (the older Shah Jahan), Pooja Batra (Noorjahan), Arbaaz Khan (Aurangzeb), Arbaaz Ali (Jehangir) and Kim Sharma (Laadili Begum).
The film, which is financed by Bank of Baroda, is scheduled for an October release.
War Or Peace does the festival rounds
After Cannes, Ritesh Sinha's one-minute film, War Or Peace, has been invited to the Kerry Film Festival in Ireland.
One of the most prestigious film fests in Ireland, War Or Peace will compete in the Best Film and Best Director categories. The film has also been invited to the Dances With Films festival in Los Angeles.
One of the main benefits of being invited at Dances With Films is that the film may win an Oscar nomination. Says producer Samir Sheth, "At Cannes, there was a quite a response, since the film revolved around a global theme."
The film has a message about the futility of violence and war. It shows a young mother (Rhea Pillai Dutt) in the throes of labour, being rushed to the hospital by her husband (Ashish Kapoor). But the husband gets killed in a blast, while the wife delivers a healthy baby.