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Happy Birthday, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

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It’s   amazing how Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s grand daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s career  keeps falling  into place at  an even  pace without  her   trying to.  

Just when we thought she was fully into motherhood Aishwarya is back wowing us with her svelte and sensuous avatar as a Urdu poetess in  Karan Johar’a Ae Dil Hai Mushkil.

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There’s no denying Aishwarya’s iconic  star power  and her  ability to transcend the screen space   time after  time  to make  a place among the living icons  .

Aishwarya  is no  longer  just an individual. She’s  a metaphor. When an amateur tries her hand at singing we say, “Listen,she’s trying to be Lata Mangeshkar.” When  a  girl makes a  great attempt to  prettify herself we  turn around say, “Look!Who does she  think she  is? Aishwarya Rai?”

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That wonderfully  articulate man Javed Akhtar who is one of  our entertainment  industry’s most erudite and entertaining intellectuals  once told me , perfection suits  only  two people Lata Mangeshkar and  Aishwarya Rai.

So perfectly  beautiful  is Aishwarya that people tend  to  impose all sorts  of deceptive attributes   on her  character.

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Or,  as  Javed Saab  put it so  eloquently people look at  her  face and say, “Chal  jhoothi,  koi  itna khubsoorat  kahin ho saktabhala?” Which  roughly and  rudely  translated  means, “Oh come on, Liar ,who can ever be so  beautiful?”

It’s a  sad fact of  our  existence. We make  the beautiful  pay for their  beauty. The entertainment  business is suffused with examples of  beautiful  people who are made to  suffer because  of  their  talent and beauty. It’s  like the  rich who have to suffer inglorious blows  to their selfesteem  because the non-privileged classes can’t bear them.

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Meena  Kumari passed away  at  40 uncared . They  made her  pay for her  beauty and talent and most importantly for her tragic grandeur.

Guests recall  visiting the magnificent Meena  in her final days.There she lay bedridden   in  the  servants room of  a bungalow owned by her once, but gifted to her sister and brother-in-law Mehmood. Penniless and  dying they had  relegated her to the status of a no one in her own  home.

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I am not comparing Aishwarya  to  Meena  Kumari. Good  Lord, no! This one is  too  free-spirited and  happily placed  in her very special world . And always eager to  fill the space around her with  positivity. I’ve seen her in her  two homes, as she calls them, her  parent’s place  before marriage and  at her in-laws’ place after marriage.

There was no change   in her  attitude. When I had met her in La Mer(the highrise  where she lived with her parents) Aishwarya wasn’t even seeing  Abhishek. I  never  thought  she would  fall in  love with him, let alone spend her life with him.

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I  knew Abhishek was besotted by Aishwarya from the  time  they   did  Kuch Na  Kaho together.  Once a long time ago  when I  was sitting with him Abhishek got an sms from ‘HER’. Boy, he  was so excited !  His expression melted and his face broke into a  gentle smile.

I should have  guessed what was  coming. After marriage  it was a  while  before I saw them together.  “Come na, you  haven’t seen us together,” Aishwarya  would  urge. When I finally met them together for the  first  time Aishwarya blushed and  laughed with the  joy of  having discovered true love.

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It’s amazing how domesticated and simple she is at  heart. Almost  like Sridevi. At home you’ll find  her makeup-less  in  a simple salwar-kameez  or a   pair of  jeans.

“Tu apne aapko samajhti kya ho? Aishwarya Rai?” I  tell her  whenever we meet. And we both  burst  out  laughing.It’s  a standing joke between us. Another  matter  of mutual understanding between  us is that we  sing  Happy Birthday to one another , our birthdays being separated by a day.

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Not a single actress  in our industry has managed what Aishwarya  has.Even  after  marriage she  continues to be  inundated with the best  offers that Mani (Ratnam) can’t  buy.

    One of  Great Britain’s most revered critics Chris Tookey of Daily Mail  compared Aishwarya Rai in  Bride & Prejudice to Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday and Julia Roberts in  Pretty Woman.

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Aishwarya Rai is perfectionist.  In a  world where actresses generally believe in a chalta-hai attitude and run for marriage the minute the opportunity shows up, she strives to be the first real female superstar from Bollywood . What’s wrong with that?

It could be  because the Mumbai media  genuinely find her plastic and artificial as they love to remind readers. But the reason for the severe hostility could be entirely self motivated.

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Aishwarya doesn’t talk to  the press as freely as some of her colleagues who love to spread  themselves out thinly.  Many of the most powerful stars in Mumbai have eaten  crow and patched  up with the very magazines  which have  hurt them and their images the most.

Not Aishwarya Rai. The magazines and papers which have been the nastiest to her are still smarting under the snub she has so effectively delivered them.  They ‘ve tried every trick  in  the book to make her speak. When they’ve failed to move her into submission they’ve damned her dreams .

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It isn’t easy  wearing the crown.  For Aishwarya Rai the climb has been  specially steep and tough.  It’s said , the more the fruits on a tree, the more it’s liable to be stoned by passersby.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali who created magic on celluloid with Aishwarya  in Hum Dil De Chuke  Sanam and Devdasrecalls their visit to Cannes last May. “Everywhere she went the French people chanted, “Aishwarya Aishwarya!” No doubt she’s an international star.”

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Now as she sits over a volcano of praise for her captivating cameo in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil  she can afford to smile. “This whole beauty thing is so redundant. It’s the people around me   who have a problem  with my looks. It’s they who allow ‘it’   to come in the way of assessing my performances sincerely.”

Everyone knows about her bitter parting with Salman Khan. Only close friends know why  she  issued a press statement regarding why she would never  work with  him again. It  was after  Salman Khan’s brother Arbaazwent on a television channel with  a sarcastic comment on how she ‘d work  with a man on a film(BajiraoMastani) for  months if she had  decided to sever all relations with him.

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No  one knows what pain such public sneering  caused  Aishwarya Rai whose magic mantra in life is, “I’ll never do anything to compromise my family and my principles.”  No  one knows about the threats and humiliations she was subjected to just because she said no to  a certain relationship.

In the face of crippling assault on her dignity , Aishwarya Rai remained  calm and in control.

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Happy Birthday, Mrs Bachchan. We are proud of you.

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Why On  Earth Is Sushmita Sen Smoking A Cigar In Aarya’s First  Look?

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Aarya

Season 3  of Aarya is being shot as  you read this, and naturally Sushmita Sen is  super-kicked about it, so kicked that she has put  out a  video where she is seen  in the  best Lady Boss version of herself.

Alarmingly, she is seen puffing away at a  cigar, to  complete her Badass Lady Boss image.

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 There was a  time when women smoking  cigarettes  in Hindi cinema signaled vampishness. If a female actor was  shown smoking it meant she had evil designs  over the  hero, and life in general.

 Sushmita being Sushmita, a cigarette won’t do. A  cigar it is, to go with her formidable image. The last Bollywood actor I saw smoking a cigar  on screen was Premnath in the 1970s. Back then so  many  people didn’t die of cancer  by smoking.

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 These are  different far more dangerous  and deadly times.

Sushmita is an iconic  actor.She  needs to be more careful about the image  she projects . Smoking  a  cigar doesn’t  enhance a woman’s(or a  man’s) muscle power. Nor does it make her look cool.

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About shooting for the third season of Aarya  Sushmita says, “Aarya is synonymous with my name.  I have lived as Aarya for two whole seasons and the love received by the audiences has only encouraged me to do more. Walking on the sets of Aarya Season 3 makes me feel at home and gives me  a sense of empowerment. I’m grateful to the entire team at Disney+ Hotstar, Ram Madhvani Films and Endemol Shine India for the vision of creating Aarya and taking it to newer heights with every season.”

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Shah Rukh, Deepika, John Will Meet The Media  On Monday At 4 pm(But There’s  A Catch)

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Pathaan

Pathaan has effectually discredited the  efficacy  of media interactions to promote  a  film. The  film’s lead actors Shah Rukh  Khan, Deepika Padukone  and John Abraham did not conduct any  press or portal interviews  to  promote the  film.

And  yet Pathaan  is  a blockbuster.

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 This  weekend  the Pathaan producer Aditya  Chopra  of  Yash Raj Films  took a call on behalf  of  the Pathaan team  to do one media  meet at the Taj Land’s End in Mumbai  on Monday January 30 at 4 pm.

The  three principal actors  and  director Siddharth Malhotra  will address  the  media.

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 But  here’s the catch: the media will not be allowed to ask any questions. There will be no  Q& A s or  one-on-one  interactions.This  basically means that the  Pathaan  team will  have an opportunity to  say what it wants  to the media. But the  media will have no say.

Make what  you will of this  one-way traffic.

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A  source close  to Yash Raj informs  me that this is  the   pattern  regarding the media that  Yash Raj will follow for  future  releases: no  press meets  no promotional  engagements.

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Fake Projects of Pathaan Director Being Planted In Media

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Siddharth Anand Denies Considering  Any Project With  Deepak Mukut

A  word of caution to those marketing and publicity wizkids  who think  it’s okay to  plant fake stories  on (fake) projects  with the Pathaan director.

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 It is  not.

Such baseless announcements  are meant only to  raise  the equity  of the  producers  with whom Siddharth   Anand’s name is  linked. One  such  producer whose name  has cropped up after the  spectacular success of  Pathaan is  Deepak Mukut.

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There were  reports  everywhere that Siddharth Anand’s next would  be with Mukut.

Turned out to be a false rumour.

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A  source in the  know informs, “Siddharth now has to complete Fighter  starring Hrithik Roshan and  Deepika Padukone  for Yash Raj.Then  he  is   committed to direct the sequel to War 2 for  Yash Raj films.  They will then start  work on the  next film in the Pathaan  franchise. There is no scope  or  room for any outside  projects  for Siddharth Anand. So every announcement  that  you read of a  new film  to be  directed by Siddharth Anand  for an  outside  producer is likely to  be  a hundred  percent fake.”

When I asked Siddharth Anand  about the  supposed project  with  producer Deepak Mukut he promptly replied,  “NOT AT ALL.”

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Pink Director’s Next  Featuring Yami As A Crime Reporter To Stream From February 16

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Yami

Anniruddha Roy  Chowdhury whose  Pink  featuring Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu was one of  the  most important  films of  2016, is all set to  release his  next  Hindi film.

Entitled LostAnniruddha’s film , based on true  events, will see Yami Gautam Dhar(that’s  what the actress calls herself after her marriage)  as a crime journalist. LOST is an emotional social thriller that represents a higher quest, a search for lost values of empathy and integrity.

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Inspired by true events, Lost is a story of a bright young woman crime reporter in her relentless search for the truth behind the sudden disappearance of a young theatre activist.

Lost

Lost

Says Aniruddha  “The shoot of LOST has been an incredible journey. I have been eager for the release of our hard-worked venture. The film is a realistic highlight of media in a social context and I am sure that it will give the audience a compelling watch. I am curious about its release and see the responses it shall get. I hope they will welcome it with open hearts.”

Yami Gautam Dhar  who plays  the lead  of  the  crime reporter  says,   “I can’t be happier and more proud of the film’s selection for the opening night at CSAFF. I feel like its one that the people will connect to and will be the one that you cannot miss, especially in the current age and time. I have loved playing this role because it was such a special experience, it allowed me to explore so many layers of emotions as an actor and the entire team has worked really hard on it. I genuinely cannot wait for the film’s release, especially to see the reactions of the audience to it.”

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The crime investigation  drama boasts a stellar cast. Along with Yami, the film will feature Pankaj Kapur, Rahul Khanna, and an ensemble of younger talent, including Neil Bhoopalam, Pia Bajpai, and Tushar Pandey, in pivotal roles.

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