Tag Archive for 'Shah Rukh Khan'

Smash-and-grab Crony League

The IPL is bad for capitalism, democracy and cricket, writes Ramachandra Guha in The Hindu

I live in Bangalore, down the road from the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA). I am a member of the KSCA, which means that I can watch all the matches played in its stadium for free, and from a comfortable seat next to the pavilion. I exercise the privilege always during a Test match, often during a one-day international, and sometimes during a Ranji Trophy match. However, I have not yet watched an Indian Premier League (IPL) game played at the KSCA, nor do I intend to in the future.

My original reasons for boycotting the Indian Premier League were aesthetic. 20-20 lacks the subtlety of the longer form; no one can build an innings, no one bowls a probing spell. I didn’t much care either for the way the game was packaged, while the man who owned the local Bangalore team was — as seen by someone whose day job is studying the legacy of Ambedkar, Gandhiji, Nehru — somewhat on the loud side. more

Why the Khans can

In the Indian Express Sunday magazine Eye, Shubhra Gupta on Bollywood’s three superstars: Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan:

It’s not like there haven’t been others, some who have held their own, some who have retired hurt but only temporarily, some who are coming up so fast that they could be serious challengers to the Khandom. Kyonki har ek star zaroori hota hai. Amitabh Bachchan is the formidable carryover from the era before theirs, but is clearly a senior statesman. Saif Ali Khan has charm, and the rare ability to be both star and actor. Akshay Kumar is biding his time, to forget his bad run, and to get into a fresh sprint to the top. Hrithik Roshan is clear superstar material, whose presence in a pretty road movie makes it top drawer. Ajay Devgn has all three crucial sectors — comedy-drama-action — under his belt. And Ranbir Kapoor is fast reaching that stage where he’s slated to become the stickiest youth magnet.

So what is it about the Khans that sets them on top of the A-list? In the last five years, the Salman-Shah Rukh-Aamir trio has battered all opposition into submission. They no longer just act. They produce. They control almost every aspect of their films. When they come to the table, and that in itself is a prize they bestow like visiting deity upon waiting masses, they bring with them the triple-barrelled power of influential star, all-pervasive brand, and industry maven. They are to the left of you, to the right of you, all around you. There is no escape. As a young SRK once sang: jaata hai tu kahaan?

A true-blue industry maven himself, with his 42 years in the trenches as lyricist and filmmaker, now chairman of Reliance Entertainment, Amit Khanna has a calming yet definitive perspective. “We’ve always had superstars,” he says, “right from Ashok Kumar to Dev-Dilip-Raj, Rajesh, Amitabh, and now the three Khans — they all have had the ability to endear and endure.” More:

[Image: Eye magazine cover]

Lunch with Shah Rukh Khan

From The Financial Times:

I wait to meet Khan in the coffee shop at the Courthouse Hotel, off Regent Street in central London. A former magistrates’ court, its grey façade and quiet lobby feel too restrained for a Bollywood superstar.

I had been warned earlier in the day that the star was feeling unwell and that lunch would be delayed. Eventually, after a three-hour wait, I am ushered up to the star’s suite on an upper floor, where Khan, looking tired, greets me warmly.

He is wearing a slim-fitting black suit, a sky-blue shirt with open-necked white collar and shiny black shoes. He plays with his glasses as we talk.

We go into the sitting room of Khan’s suite, a wood-floored, wood-panelled room with armchairs grouped around a coffee table and windows overlooking the street below. The hotel has set up a small buffet table, and a waiter puts rice and chicken curry on a plate for Khan, who normally spurns carbs to maintain his six-pack. He has made an exception for this lunch.

I ask the waiter for chicken and rice with extra lentils and salad on the side. We eat with our plates in our laps, until Khan breaks off to light a cigarette. More:

Shah Rukh Khan vs Shiv Sena

Update: Mumbai calls Sena bluff as movie opens to full house


Multiplex chains in Mumbai will have only a limited release of Shah Rukh Khan’s new film “My Name Is Khan” following threats of violence by the ultra Hindu-nationalist Shiv Sena party. As things stood on Friday noon, single-screen theatres will not show the movie.

Bal Thackeray, the leader of the party, has warned that he will not allow the movie to be released unless the actor apologises for opposing the party’s call to boycott Pakistani cricket players.

Shah Rukh Khan is the owner of the Kolkata Knight Riders Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket team. He had said Pakistani stars should be included in the Indian Premier League teams. Shiv Sena supporters say that Pakistani players are not welcome in the city after the 2008 terror attacks.

Thousands of police were guarding Mumbai’s cinemas on Friday.

The movie is a classic love story set in the US after the 11 September 2001 attacks, and the Times of India’s critic has given it a rare five-star rating:

Ok, let’s get this straight from the very beginning. It’s Khan, from the epiglotis (read deep, inner recesses), not `kaan’ from the any-which-way, upper surface. In other words, it’s the K-factor — Karan (Johar) and Khan (Shah Rukh) — like you’ve never seen, sampled and savoured before. My Name is Khan is indubitably one of the most meaningful and moving films to be rolled out from the Bollywood mills in recent times. It completely reinvents both the actor and the film maker and creates a new bench mark for the duo who has given India some of the crunchiest popcorn flicks.

King of Bollywood dreams of global hit — in Hindi

S. Mitra Kalita in the Wall Street Journal:

Since this film is about a Muslim man married to a Hindu woman, something you might know about, can we talk about the role of religion in your life?

I’m a Muslim. I’ve been brought up by an amazing set of parents who taught me all that I know. I’m married to a Hindu girl. I’ve never tried to explain my religion to her and she’s never tried to explain her religion to me. We don’t make a big deal of it. I go celebrate Eid or might give her a gift on Diwali. Our kids know the prayers of both religions. The bottom line is that they’re thinking of God.

The modern Indian should be moving toward nonradicalism. It’s okay to be idealistic but one should be realistically idealistic. I’ve led my life that like. I am God-fearing. I am a proud Indian. I am a capitalist. More:

The case of the cricket snub

Salil Tripathi in the Wall Street Journal:

Call it the curious incident of the forgotten cricketers. After nearly two hours of a keenly watched auction on Jan. 19, the Indian Premier League’s eight cricket teams bought 11 of the 66 players from 11 countries on offer. But not one Pakistani player was picked.

India and Pakistan have long been enemies on the pitch, but such a public rejection of some of Pakistan’s best players (who are also some of the region’s best players) represents a dangerous new low. The auction process is an important part of the Premier League’s “Twenty20 cricket,” an entertaining, made-for-television, abbreviated form of the sport played in 16 countries.

Twenty20 cricket is not the traditional, seemingly endless version where men in white take a break for tea. Here a match lasts around three hours, with each team playing only 20 overs, trying to amass as many runs as possible and using unconventional techniques. Busty cheerleaders encourage them. And international players are traded just like they are in Major League Baseball or the English Premier League. The changes have drawn new, younger crowds and attracted millions of dollars of television advertising and a recent deal with YouTube. More:

Inside SRK’s world

Discovery Travel & Living trailed Shah Rukh Khan for over a year to put together a special ten-part series on the superstar. A glimpse into the first two episodes in Hindustan Times:

Much as I love Mumbai and Delhi and India, I think London would be my next favourite place on earth. I like the weather, the greenness, the cold. Normally I come here for work and holidays but I love coming here. There were two places in the world which my mom wanted me to see, one was Madame Tussauds in London and the other was the Louvre in Paris. So it’s the greatest moment and achievement of my life that I am in Madame Tussauds. She would have been very proud.

When I’m in London, I go to Hyde Park to play soccer with my kids and their friends. I don’t play unfair. Aryan will cheat a bit but he should not. Since he’s playing against the girls, maybe he wants to win but I think he does that in school also which is not good. I think this is his one bad habit that I need to change. You don’t cheat and win. You don’t lie and win.

You can tell the difference between boys and girls when they are playing. You can spend 20 minutes with the boys and 20 minutes with the girls. You may have fun with the boys but you realise life is best with the women and so I like to be with girls. And I want them to be really tough. At least the girls whom I know, they should be tough and should kick all these idiots around. Guys are a little dumb. I am sorry, I may lose some male fans but the girls rock! More:

Questioning a Bollywood VIP named Khan

shahrukhIndia has asked the US to explain why a leading Bollywood film star, Shah Rukh Khan, was allegedly detained for two hours at Newark airport. The actor, who was released after India’s embassy in the US intervened, said he felt angry and humiliated. But US customs officials denied that Mr Khan had been detained, saying he was questioned for 66 minutes. Read more here.

And below, from the New York Times news blog the Lede:

Even if United States officials were simply following procedures when they held Shah Rukh Khan, an Indian actor, at Newark Liberty International Airport on Friday evening, they are certainly guilty of bad timing.

For one thing, the Bollywood megastar was on his way to Chicago for a parade celebrating India’s Independence Day on Saturday. But to make matters worse, Mr. Khan is also working on a new film, “My Name Is Khan,” about racial profiling of Indian Muslims living in the United States after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Many in India initially reacted to Mr. Khan’s experience at the airport with outrage, but throughout the day on Saturday, a debate among Indians about their own attitudes and security procedures has emerged. More:

Dr Shah Rukh Khan

Shah Rukh receiving a letter informing him of his doctorate from members of Routes to Roots

Shah Rukh receiving a letter informing him of his doctorate from members of Routes to Roots

Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan will be receiving an honorary doctorate in arts and culture from the University of Bedfordshire in Britain. This is Shah Rukh’s first doctorate — last year he was bestowed the title of datuk (akin to a British knighthood) by the Malaysian government. Also last year, Shah Rukh was conferred with the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government for his ‘exceptional’ career.

According to a press release, Shah Rukh was nominated for his doctorate by an NGO called Routes to Roots, a member of the world association of NGOs. Patrons of R2R include Juhi Chawla and Mahesh Bhatt from Shah Rukh’s film fraternity.

For more details click here, here and here.

Clash of the titans

In Tehelka, Shantanu Guha Ray looks at the deteriorating relationship between Shah Rukh Khan and Sourav Ganguly and says this is the reason why Shah Rukh dropped the word Kolkata from his Knight Riders’ team.

souravA FORTNIGHT AGO, as he stepped onto the tarmac of Mumbai airport after his meeting with Shah Rukh Khan, Sourav Ganguly picked up his Blackberry and whispered “I do not trust anyone, really, I do not trust anyone!” The former Indian skipper, on a high barely a month before because of his involvement in the selection of the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) team and the cheer leaders, had a premonition of what would happen once the team landed in Cape Town for the trial matches before the start of the second edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). A week before the crucial meeting at Mannat, home of KKR owner and Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, Ganguly had skirmished with coach John Buchanan over the latter’s multiple captaincy theory and had set Kolkata afire by first disagreeing with, and then agreeing to the format.


‘Insider’ spills beans on SRK’s Knight Riders

From the Times of India:

knight-ridersShah Rukh Khan has spent a lot of money building up PR for Kolkata Knight Riders. He’s hired the right firms, been out there in the public just about all the time; there’ve been parties, press conferences, cheerleaders, music and almost all the right kind of bytes given by the superstar himself.

Yet, he’s a troubled man. That’s not just because KKR got off to bad start or that relations between ex-captain Sourav Ganguly and coach John Buchanan continue to be strained. It’s mainly got to do with an unknown blogger – who claims to be a KKR team member – bent on letting the cat out of the bag all the time.

The blogger – calling himself Fake IPL Player – is sure he’ll never be a part of the playing XI. “But, there’s one thing I do very well. Serve drinks. And that’s what I am expecting do in South Africa,” he writes. Read the rest of the story:

And here’s the ink to the blog fakeiplplayer.blogspot.com

40 years of Amitabh Bachchan

Mint-Lounge commemorates the actor’s remarkable journey with an essay by Rachel Dwyer, professor of Indian cultures and cinema at the School of Oriental and African studies, University of London, and author, most recently, of What do Hindus Believe? What makes the Big B legacy, she asks. And what does it say about us?

bachchan2Bachchan is more than just a highly successful film star. How did he come to represent India itself on the world stage in the last decade of his 40-year-old career? What does this tell us about him, the nature of stardom, Hindi films and the vision that new India has of itself?

Dwyer says the other Bollywood icon, Shah Rukh Khan, “may be the current top box-office star, someone who is likely to enjoy many more years of stardom, he is not yet half way to Bachchan’s 40 years in cinema.” Click here to read the full essay, One-man show

When Sanjukta Sharma of Mint-Lounge asked Bachchan how he would assess his own body of work, he said, “Mediocre! I have had the privilege though to have been in the company of some of the great directors and actors of my profession, who have truly been masters. I doubt I ever lived up to their expectations. It was their generosity to have tolerated my incompetence.” Click here to read the full interview

‘I’m charmed by SRK’

Bollywood star Aamir Khan on being a marketing monster, feeling powerful, doing bench presses, ganging up with Salman Khan on Shah Rukh Khan and handling flops. From the Sunday Express:

aamirWhat was it about Ghajini that made you do it?
I found the Tamil version extremely engaging and entertaining. It intrigued me but I made up my mind when I met the director, AR Murugadoss. Frankly, I was completely taken in by his infectious positive energy and childlike excitement.

Has Ghajini been your physically most demanding film-more than Mangal Pandey or Lagaan?
Every film has its demands but yes, Ghajini was physically daunting as I had to train very hard. I had to keep at it and not lose patience. I had an athletic body but the director wanted me to bulk up with eight packs which was a challenge because I didn’t know if I could achieve it. Ghajini made me resilient.

Post 26/11, isn’t the timing of its release unfavourable, keeping in view its violent content?
Personally, the attack is far greater and serious an issue for me than the release of my film. That said, I was very clear that if the film is good, it’ll work. The collections prove it.


On Newsweek’s Power List

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, Buddhist spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and Pakistan army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who controls the the country’s nuclear weapons,have been ranked among the 50 most powerful people in the world by Newsweek.

sonia-gandhi kayani shah-rukh-khan

From the magazine’s cover story by Jon Meacham headlined “The Story of Power”:

In the popular imagination, power tends to be viewed in one of two ways, both extreme. The first is totemic and tactical (how to get ahead at the office, to win friends and influence people). The other is epic and amorphous (the fate of markets, of vast global events and forces that seem beyond anyone’s control, but especially yours).

Power is both these things, and more. At heart, it is best understood in terms of command and control. It is either the capacity to make others do as you wish (the command function) or to reorder the environment around you (the control function).

No. 1 on the power list is Barack Obama, followed by Chinese President Hu Jintao, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, German Chancellor Angela Markel and powerful Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Sonia Gandhi is at No. 17. “In the world’s largest democracy, she is the queen,” says Newsweek. Gen. Kayani is at No. 20 and ‘King of Bollywood’ Shah Rukh Khan at No.41.

Click here for Newsweek‘s full and list and for their profiles.

Bollywood’s boys bulk up, add brawn to brooding

An AFP report at the Smart Set:

starsBollywood’s leading actors are hitting the gym as never before, adding brawn and biceps to their on-screen repertoires and winning a legion of new fans in the process – including other men.

The latest weight-training convert is Aamir Khan, who enlisted the help of physical trainer Satyajit Chourasia two years ago to get in shape for the film “Ghajini”, which is released on December 25.

His daily four-hour regime appears to have paid off.

Giant advertising hoardings show a shaven-headed Khan, who plays a man with memory loss who tattoos himself and takes Polaroid pictures to remember people and places, stripped to the waist, exposing a finely-ripped torso.


Shah Rukh Khan has his say on 26/11

Shah Rukh Khan talks to journalist and editor Rajdeep Sardesai on being liberal, Muslim and an Indian [via Hindustan Times]

interview_srkRajdeep: These are tough times for Mumbai. How does 26/11 affect you as a Mumbaikar? If I can call you that today because you are very much a part of this city, this city has made you.

Shah Rukh: I am from Delhi. I have seen riots in Delhi and when I came to Mumbai in 1993 then there were these bomb blasts and now I have seen it through 26/11. More than as a Mumbaikar, I have started feeling even more Indian than I felt before and specifically also because I like to believe that I am an educated, liberal Muslim who has a Hindu wife and two kids. More I have seen these kinds of things over the years, more it makes me realise two things very-very clearly – one the vulnerability of life and the second part is that how important it is for me, I say a very small thing which I always think now that I need to spend time with my loved ones. When I think of my loved ones now, that circle is increasing. It is not got to do with only my wife, my children and couple of friends. It is now increasing, I want to spend time with all the people I thought that I can like or love and slowly I believe this is going to make everyone in the country do the same. We are going to spread this circle of love. I think tragedy has strange sense of uniting people so it is making me feel that I need to spend every living hour of my life, which can go off like this, with people who matter a lot.


And he tells Barkha Dutt on NDTV that ‘constructive aggression’ is a good thing.

Shah Rukh Khan has finally come out to speak his heart out against the Mumbai terror attacks and its aftermath. In an interview with Barkha Dutt on NDTV, the Bollywood superstar gave his views on the attacks, the importance of using anger in a constructive way. He also spoke on Islam as a practising Muslim, India’s handling of Pakistan and about changing the system.
Shah Rukh Khan has finally come out to speak his heart out against the Mumbai terror attacks and its aftermath. In an interview with Barkha Dutt on NDTV, the Bollywood superstar gave his views on the attacks, the importance of using anger in a constructive way. He also spoke on Islam as a practising Muslim, India’s handling of Pakistan and about changing the system.

Thackeray & Thackeray vs Bachchan & Khan

[Updated September 11]

Posted by Namita Bhandare:

First my column in the Hindustan Times, ‘Thuggery means always having to say sorry’

Hum UP ke log hain, hume Hindi mein baat karni chahiye
- Jaya Bachchan at the promotion of Drona in Mumbai.


If you are from Delhi, then why have you come to Maharashtra?
- Bal Thackeray to Shah Rukh Khan in an editorial in Saamna

Actress and Rajya Sabha MP (Samajwadi Party) Jaya Bachchan’s apparently casual remark sparked off a furore, with Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) declaring a boycott of all Bachchan films unless the actress apologised for ‘insulting’ the people of Maharashtra. With three Bachchan films due to be released over the next few weeks, Jaya Bachchan lost no time in saying how very sorry she was. No good, said Raj. The apology would have to be at a public forum in the presence of the Marathi media. It’s over to Mrs Bachchan now.


Now, for the Dramatis Personae

1. Bal Thackeray: cartoonist and founder of the Shiv Sena party that made much of Marathi asmita in the 1960s, chiefly targeting South Indians as the evil outsiders who had no business to be in the state. Now an ageing patriarch, he lives in a house calleed Matoshri (in Bandra) surrounded by armed guards and his son, Uddhav Thackeray. Also, edits a newspaper called Saamna where front-page editorials written by him are treated like the gospel. Latest target:  Shah Rukh Khan, who he says is a Delhi boy (“If you are from Delhi then why have you come to Maharashtra?”).

2. Raj Thackeray: nephew of Bal Thackeray, once very close, but once the uncle made it clear that his son, Uddhav was the true inheritor of the SS, Raj walked out of the party and of Matoshri to launch his own party called the Maharashtra Navanirman Sena. Now, Raj makes headlines by talking of Marathi asmita, but he is targetting North Indians (like Amitabh Bachchan) as the evil outsiders who have no business in the state.

3. Amitabh Bachchan: Bollywood’s icon-in-chief and, more recently, Big Blogger, was born in Allahabad (in Uttar Pradesh), stood for an election from there and, more recently, starred in a TV ad promoting the state (under his close friend, the then chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party). Recently said UP was his janmabhoomi while Mumbai was his karmabhoomi. Attacked by Raj in February for promoting UP; AB responded by saying the Constitution gave him the right to live where he chose. Very close to Thackeray senior who has defended him saying he is a big star who belongs to the entire nation, not to any particular state (unlike Shah Rukh who is merely a Dilliwala!).

4. Jaya Bachchan: Actress and Rajya Sabha member for the Samajwadi Party headed by Mulayam Singh Yadav (please see above). In February she clarified that she did not know any Raj Thackeray but that Bal Thackeray was like a father to her (and Uddhav, a son). Recently, sparked off an outrage by remarking, “Hum UP ke log hai, hume Hindi mein baat karni chahiye (we are from Uttar Pradesh and should speak in Hindi),” at a promotion for the film Drona, which stars her son, Abhishek. Raj Thackeray now wants all Bachchan films banned unless Jaya B apologies. With three Bachchan films scheduled for release, including The Last Lear this Friday (plans for its premiere are on hold), Jaya B was quick to say she was very sorry. Not good enough, says Raj. He wants a public apology.

5. Shah Rukh Khan: Bollywood’s other big icon (also called the Badshah of Bollywood) who, it is widely rumoured, has a long-standing rivalry with Amitabh Bachchan (roundly denied by both). He’s a Delhi boy who made good in Mumbai. Said to be also be close to the Congress party and to the Gandhi clan (with whom the Bachchans are katti, following Amitabh Bachchan’s growing proximity to Mulayam and the Samajwadi Party parivaar, with whom the Congress currently has an electoral understanding). Targeted by Bal Thackeray for coming to Maharashtra from Delhi to earn fame and wealth. (Read what BalT said here).

The Plot

The Uttar Pradesh-Maharashtra sons of the soil debate just got messier after an apparently off-the-cuff remark made by Jaya Bachchan, actress and Rajya Sabha MP (Samajwadi Party) on the sidelines of a film promotion.

That remark has united the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navanirman Sena (MNS), the parties headed by Bal and Raj Thackeray respectively. The uncle and nephew have not been seeing eye to eye and in a move seen as a direct revolt against Thackeray senior, Raj stormed out of the Shiv Sena and launched his MNS party in 2006.

Ever since, Raj has been an angry young man (a role played to perfection by Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya’s husband) in search of a just cause. But why reinvent the wheel? Raj merely picked up where his uncle had left off, taking on the role of messiah for Marathi asmita (pride) and the Marathi manoos.

So, while Bal Thackeray cut his political teeth in Maharashtra by attacking such undesirable ‘outsiders’ as Tamilians and other South Indians, Raj has concentrated on North Indian ‘bhaiyya and bania’ outsiders.

In February this year, Raj managed to provoke responses from Lalu Yadav, the rail minister from Bihar and Nitish Kumar, the chief minister of Bihar (who called Raj a shaitan) with his remarks on North Indians who celebrate festivals like chhat puja in Maharashtra.

At around the same time, he also managed to draw Amitabh Bachchan into his little soap opera by claiming that Bachchan — Indian cinema’s biggest icon ever — seemed more concerned about Uttar Pradesh (he was born in Allahabad, stood for a Lok Sabha election from there and is currently very close to Mulayam Singh Yadav, the former chief minister whose party has given his wife a ticket in the Upper House).

Amitabh responded by declaring loftily that the Constitution granted him the right to live and work wherever he chose in India. Jaya went a step further by declaring that she did not know any Raj Thackeray. “I know Bal Thackeray who is like a father to me and his son, Uddhav who is like my son,” she said, dismissing the ousted nephew.

Now, the nephew is on the rampage saying no film starring any Bachchan will be allowed to be released unless Jaya apologises for her language remark and for ’insulting’ the Marathi people. Incidentally, Drona stars both Abhishek and Jaya Bachchan, while Amitabh Bachchan’s The Last Lear is scheduled for a Friday, September 12 release. Plans for its premiere have been put on hold.

Amitabh Bachchan has chosen to respond to this particular controversy on his blog (see response here). But the stand-off remains.

But in a strange twist of events, the Shiv Sena has also got drawn into the controversy with a party spokesman declaring that Jaya should go to states like Tamil Nadu and Kerala and propagate Hindi there. Having said that, Bal Thackeray has now clarified that Amitabh Bachchan is a star who belongs to all of India, while Shah Rukh Khan — Bachchan’s chief rival who is close to the Congress party and the younger Gandhis– is a Dilliwala who basically has no business to be in Mumbai.

For the full story on Reuters click here.

Safe to say, you haven’t heard the last word on this one.

Pappu can fight, saala

In The Indian Express, Harneet Singh on the Bollywood ‘fight of the year’ between Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan. Are the gloves really off? Is politically correct Bollywood finally coming into its own?

Bollywood scribes are already terming the recent spat between superstars Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan as the ‘story of the year.’ For the uninitiated (though with 24X7 electronic media carpet-bombing, they’re a rarity), it all happened at Katrina Kaif’s birthday bash in a suburban Mumbai hotspot. Apparently banter between the two Khans turned ugly when professional comparisons regarding their television shows cropped up — the numbers of SRK’s Kya Aap Paanchvi Paas Se Tez Hain have not met expectations, while Salman’s 10 Ka Dum has got a favourable response. Tabloids tell us that the heated discussion took a turn for the worse when SRK allegedly made an inappropriate comment about Salman’s ex-girlfriend, Aishwarya Rai.

But it’s not just the two warring Khans — the normally reticent Amitabh Bachchan recently blogged about “being privy personally to a design by certain sections of the media and the fraternity to bring down” his world tour, The Unforgettables. Meanwhile, in an unprecedented fiery tone, Akshay recently claimed to a Mumbai newspaper that negative stories about his personal life are being circulated by certain “back-stabbing, insecure people that try and ruin me.” He goes on to say that he’d “never knight them, but I’d definitely hire them for Friday night entertainment,” and that it amazes him to see how “low some of those dogs will go when they feel I’m too hot for them professionally.” Ahem, please note the knight and the dog dig. If you recollect, Aamir Khan had kicked off a storm with his (in)famous dog blog post where he said that he owns a dog called Shah Rukh who among other things, also “licks my feet.”


Bollywood stars on Forbes list: stars and cellphones

Three Bollywood actors make it to one of Forbes’s lists, a place where you’d usually find the likes of Lakshmi Mittal or the Ambani brothers. The list — powerful celebrities who endorse cellphones — features Shah Rukh Khan (Nokia), Abhishek Bachchan (Motorola) and Aamir Khan (Samsung). India, says the article by Elizabeth Woyke, is the global capital of celebrity cellphone promotions, thanks to the fact that it is the world’s fastest growing cellphone market and that it is rich with a plethora of homegrown superstars. Read the full story here.

For the story in pictures:


Occupation: Actor

Region/territory: India

Brand ambassador for: Nokia phones

The world’s largest phone manufacturer doesn’t work with many celebrities but makes an exception for Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, who says he has used Nokia phones for more than a decade. After pairing on a popular commercial last December, the company began sponsoring Khan’s cricket team this spring.


Shah Rukh Khan — on childhood, family, religion and fame

Shah Rukh Khan is the biggest draw in Bollywood and the world’s most popular film actor. He is also co-owner of the Kolkata Knight Riders, a cricket team. He talks to CNN:

CNN: When you were growing up in Delhi did you always aspire to be the star you are today?

SRK: No I never thought of being a movie star. I dabbled in theatre, but I did a lot of things when I was young. Sports, I was into anything. I liked to keep myself busy. Theatre or drama was a part of that. I did a bit semi-professionally in Delhi, and then TV came to India in a big way. Suddenly every actor was called upon to act on TV. So with that I joined TV and became popular. I came down to Mumbai to shoot a TV series but I wasn’t that keen on Indian movies. I didn’t think I was cut out for it, I didn’t think I was good enough. I still don’t. So I came for a year to give it a shot. My parents died early so I was sad in Delhi. I said to myself: Ok, come here for a change of scene. Maybe I’ll enjoy myself for a year and get over my depression of my parents death. But I just I couldn’t go back. I came for a year and I couldn’t go back. I was never trying to be a movie star, I became one by chance.



Also on CNN: The king of Bollywood

‘I would put Shah Rukh Khan in a situation in which he was the underdog…vulnerable’

Filmmaker and scriptwriter Manoj Night Shyamalan in an interview with The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta about his connection to India, the influence of politics on his movie-making, the origin of his middle name.

You’re 1970 born, I think.

1970. So ET was in 1982, and Jaws was 1975. Then Raiders of the Lost Ark, which was huge for me, in 1983. Spielberg was doing his thing right when I was a little kid. And when I saw those movies I said, ‘You know, that’s what I want to do!’

And how did your parents figure it? Because in an Indian household, for a kid who’s eight, it’s the parents who figure things.

(Laughs) When I was eight, they didn’t think anything of it. They just thought it was a kind of funny thing that I did. So they just let me do it and then they would watch the movies and then they would giggle with the family and I would take the cousins and the neighbours and we’d make these movies and they would be terrible. They would be just absolutely horrible and everyone would just sit and laugh at them and they thought it was just funny. And then I would go and do my school work, and I was fairly good at school work, so they thought, ‘OK, he’ll become a doctor, and it’ll be just fine.’ But when I became a teenager, I got more and more serious into the filmmaking of it, and they knew I really liked it as a hobby, and I went one summer when I was 16 to go to study film, just to see what it was like and I think my parents hoped that I would come back and say ‘Not for me’.

This sucks!

Well, it did suck (laughs) but still I came back and said, ‘It’s still for me.’ And they were like, ‘Ugh!’ And then I went to a film school and they’ve been worried ever since, and I think only until this week, when we came for the Padma Shri, that they are a little bit more relaxed about it all.


Night Shyamalan comes to India, and the press goes ga-ga

Posted by Namita Bhandare, exclusively for AW

Going by press reports, it was hard to judge whether M Night Shyamalan (MNS) was in India — after a gap of nine-and-a-half years — to pick up his Padma Shri award or to promote his new movie, The Happening, which will be distributed by UTV in India and is scheduled for a Friday, 13 June release (read the details of that business report here).

The India-born, US-based Shyamalan has almost never shown an affinity for India but that didn’t stop a mostly adoring press from flocking to his press conference at Mumbai’s Taj Mahal hotel. Here’s a sample of questions and answers:

1. His favourite Indian actor:

MNS:  ”What’s that guy’s name, we were talking about him at lunch, Shah Rukh Khan, yeah.”

2. On his favourite Indian movies:

MNS: [He's seen a total of three] “What was the name of that movie, Kabhi something… [UTV CEO Ronnie Screwvala, co-producer of Night's upcoming film, helpfully supplied Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham]… right, that one; that was kind of cool. And I remember there was an old one, it was supposed to be very salacious at the time, wait, Shivam something? [Satyam Sivam Sundaram, supplied the ever helpful Screwvala]… right, that one, right there, that was smokin’, that one. I don’t remember the name of the third one — wait, Devdas, there you go.”

3. On what he thinks of Indian cinema, based on his three-film viewing experience:

MNS: “I think it is a very powerful art form. I am just starting to learn about it, I find it very powerful — the very heightened vocabulary, the close ups, the loud music, it all adds up to a very powerful form. At first you giggle when you watch it, but then you get acclimated to that vocabulary, and you begin to feel the same sort of heightened emotions.”

4. On winning the Padma Shri:

MNS:  “Honestly at first I didn’t get what it was. I’ve been getting calls for awards, asking me to come to Sri Lanka, Singapore.. but I can’t go to all the events due to work, family. So when my office got the call about the Padma Shri, my staff was like, ‘Oh, you’ve won an award.’ But when there were too many congratulatory calls, I was like, ‘what happened?’ It was only after my family and friends from India told me about the Padma Shri that I looked it up to find more details about it.”

So, was Night Shyamalan savaged by the press? Doff your hat to the power of PR, the morning’s stories were full of such glowing descriptions as ‘consummate performer’ (Rediff.com), ‘the man behind gargantuan films’ (Times of India) and ‘India’s best known Hollywood director’ (Khabrein.info).

Read some complete Shyamalan interviews here, here and here.

No cheerleaders, please. We’re Indians

[Updated on May 2]

Namita Bhandare in Mint

Why do I have a sneaking suspicion that the moral grandstanding on the Indian Premier League, or IPL, cheerleader controversy has the elements of a pre-written script with the dramatis personae mouthing predictable lines? First, the cast of characters: Siddharam Mehetre is Maharashtra’s minister of state for home. He finds cheerleaders and their performance “absolutely obscene” and out of place in a country where “womanhood is worshipped”.


Maharashtra’s moral police wants to ban cheereaders from IPL matches played in the state for their ‘vulgar’ and ‘obscene’ performance. Some conservative politicians would not like these girls to perform at the Indian Premier League’s upcoming matches in the state’s capital city, Bombay (Mumbai).

Many IPL franchisees have brought in foreign cheerleaders to add a bit of US-style glitz to the popular game. While cricket fans are not complaining, these politicians are not amused. They say that in a country where “womanhood is worshipped,” cheerleaders are “an affront” to Indian culture. And they ask: “How can anything obscene like this be allowed?”

Result? The state government gives in to the moral police. The franchisees will have to apply for permits before cheerleaders can be allowed to perform in Mumbai. If the cheerleaders “indulge in obscenity,” the franchisees will be fined.

However, Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, who owns the IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders, does not find anything vulgar about cheerleaders. “I am also a family person, I do not see anything negative in it,” he said

National Commission for Women Girija Vyas said “we should promote our culture by bringing folk dancers and musicians in these matches.”

More here, here, here and here

And as for the cheerleaders themselves, they have some harrowing stories: “It’s been horrendous,” Tabitha, a cheerleader from Uzbekistan, told the Hindustan Times. “Wherever we go we do expect people to pass lewd, snide remarks but I’m shocked by the nature and magnitude of the comments people pass here.” Another cheerleader, Christy, told The Telegraph, Calcutta, “If they want us to be fully clad, we don’t mind.”

More here:

Body politics: bahu okay, others bawdy

From The Telegraph, Calcutta:

From the Indian Politician’s Dictionary, edited by Amar Singh, Amitabh Bachchan’s “younger brother”:

Single standards: If Mumbai bar girls are banned, so should be the Indian Premier League’s pom-pom girls.

Obscene: What the Washington Redskins wear, but not what “bahu” Aishwarya Rai wore in Dhoom:2

[Photos: Left, a cheerleader at an IPL match in Bangalore; right, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in the movie Dhoom:2]


Sony goes to Bollywood — and learns a lesson

From Financial Times:

It was a visit to India a few years ago that convinced Michael Lynton, head of Sony Pictures Entertainment, that it was time to tackle Bollywood, one of the last great frontiers for Hollywood in the world movie business.

Sony had been embedded in India’s television industry for more than a decade but no Hollywood studio had tried its hand at that great Indian film tradition – the three-hour song-and-dance extravaganza aimed at the sub-continent’s movie-crazy audiences. Mr Lynton was impressed by the growth of the film industry in India.

The result was Hollywood’s first attempt at a Bollywood film – the Hindi-language Saawariya, a moody romance about unrequited love.


Age catches up with Brand B

In an era where youth drives consumerism, Amitabh Bachchan’s endorsement crown is slowly slipping to younger stars. Today his brand worth equals that of actors like Saif Ali Khan and Akshay Kumar while Shah Rukh Khan rules the roost, write Sonali Krishna and Ratna Bhushan in The Economic Times

The original Don of Bollywood seems to be losing his grip over the endorsement space as a result of what some industry watchers are calling the Twenty20 effect. In an era where youth is driving consumerism, Amitabh Bachchan’s endorsement charisma is clearly showing cracks. Box-office failures and the many political rows too seem to have hurt Brand Bachchan’s career. 
Sample this: Mr Bachchan today commands the same value as Saif Ali Khan and Akshay Kumar, which stands at nearly Rs 3-4 crore per ad deal. Bollywood Badshah Shah Rukh Khan, who seems to have snatched Big B’s crown in the last one year, garners as much as Rs 5.5-6 crore per ad.


India’s most powerful people


In its annual power list, India Today mixes new names with old to come up with a list of those who matter most in the creation of a new India. Some of the names, Ratan Tata (at #1) and Mukesh Ambani (#2) are now standard bearers on the list. Anil Ambani inches his way up to #3.


Media barons continue to matter. Brothers Samir and Vineet Jain (#9) of the Times of India group, Raghav Bahl (#18) of TV18 and Prannoy and Radhika Roy (#22) of NDTV continue to be on The List, while Ronnie Screwvala (#24) of UTV is the new entrant.

Other names debuting on the list include former President APJ Abdul Kalam (#7), K.V. Kamath (#13), managing director of India’s largest private bank ICICI and Lalit Modi (#29), BCCI’s powerful vice president and the creator of the Indian Premier League.

Film stars continue to make the list with Shah Rukh Khan (#6) way ahead of Amitabh Bachchan (#16), Rajnikant (#28) and Aamir Khan (#38). And cricket, the other religion of India along with films, rules with Sachin Tendulkar (#25) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (#35).

For a complete look at who’s on the list, and why, click here.

SRK index soars in Berlin

Shah Rukh Khan sweeps Berlin, reports N.S. Ramnath in The Economic Times

The King was inside while his subordinates waited patiently outside. They were young and old, fat and thin, men and women. But, for this King, there were more women than men and more young than old. They love him because “he is so flirtatious”. As one of them said: “He can even flirt with a pillar”. They waited for hours to catch a glimpse of their new King, one who has begun to rule their hearts from several thousand miles away. Many of them carried his photograph, DVDs of his latest blockbuster, and a few carried books – the story from his film or his biography. A woman had even carried a small stool with her, to get a better view. At regular intervals they all shouted – in unison – Shah… Rukh, Shah… Rukh. It could have been at any place in India.