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Happy Birthday, Manisha Koirala..And Stay Healthy…..

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She is back smiling laughing enjoying life. Last year  when  reports of Manisha Koirala’s ill-health filtered in, I prayed they are not true. One of the loveliest women I’ve ever met,Manisha came to my home once with her boyfriend ,a kind considerate cultured man named Cecil. We all could see the love in his eyes for her.

Who wouldn’t fall in love with Manisha?She carries a sense of cheerful bonhomie wherever she goes. I’ve heard stories of her moodiness and temper tantrums. But with me Manisha is always a doll. A dreamily beautiful woman with a smile that can light up the darkest night.

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She has so far been singularly unlucky in love

As an actress she was at one time way ahead of her colleagues and peers ,regarded more resplendently than even the dazzling Tabu. From the time she came to Mumbaifrom Nepal  in 1991 every major filmmaker in Mumbai wanted to work with Manisha .

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Manisha had no idea how to tell a Mani Ratnam apart from an Indra Kumar.She just picked whatever came her way.

About her early-days in Bollywood Manisha once confided in me, “I was immature. I was so young  when I came into the film industry. I had hardly watched a handful of Hindi films in my life. I had no choice but to do what other people said . A lot of people told me  playing the role of a growing children’s mother  in Mani Ratnam’s Bombay would be suicidal  to  my career. I wouldn’t name them , but a lot of  my colleagues criticized me  playing a mother, and that too in a South Indian film, blah blah blah.  They were happy doing teenybopper roles . I didn’t mind playing ANYTHING as long as I had something substantial to do in the plot. Fortunately I got the chance to  work with the best directors in the country from Shekhar Kapur and Mansoor Khan to  Mani Ratnam and SanjayBhansali. I learnt a lot from them.”

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Her career began to flounder and there were many failed relationships.  But Manishacould actually laugh about her mistakes. “Experience is the best teacher. I feel I’ve evolved as a person. I’ve never followed the rules. I’ve made my own rules by trial and error. I’m not Ms Perfect. I do make mistakes. But I’m not ashamed of them.I got major bad-press even back then when I was just starting out. 5 –6  years back I was an outspoken girl. Today my beliefs haven’t changed. But I’ve learnt to keep my mouth shut.”

After her dream innings as an actress  her career began to fall apart and so do did her personal relationships. If doing the game-show Sawaal Dus Crore Ka was a blunder, so were some of the men in her life.Manisha turned down films with Deepa Mehta, Mira Nair and Shyam Benegal for the flimsiest of reasons.

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When stories of her drinking became unbearable I boldly broached the subject bracing myself for a taste of the infamous Koirala temper.

She took the accusation of alcoholism surprisingly well and said, “I do enjoy my drinks. But I’m not an alcoholic. I don’t drink everyday. Most of my colleagues drink. Those who claim not to  are the   ones who probably drink the hardest.”

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A true realist she could stare unflinchingly at her own mistakes. Once when I lightly chided her about the wrong choices in matters of the heart Manisha turned around and said, “I don’t think I would have been the person that I am if I hadn’t been honest.  If I had to hide any aspect of my life, I would look back and  feel terribly guilty  . I  want to achieve my  goals in life and career without playing lying games. If I have to lie to be successful, then I’d rather not have success. I would rather die  than be dishonest about my basic values. Yes,I’ve had some bad relationships. My family and friends saw it. But I didn’t. Even my brother is far cleverer about such things  than I am. See, I’ve to fall before picking myself up. Luckily for me now things are okay.”

I haven’t seen any woman make such an effort to make her marriage work. In spite of those failed relationships she genuinely thought her marriage was for keeps because she wanted it to be.

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“I really want it to work.Pray for me,” she had pleaded.

Failed marriage and a floundering career lately gravitated Manisha towards spiritualism.

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Manisha told me, “All my life  I’ve been a seeker . I’ve  been trying to find inner peace through travel and books.  The Oneness course  solved all the  questions on  life and existence.I wanted to focus  on  other aspects of life.  The  Oneness course has changed my life completely. I’ve become so much calmer and  more focused.

Manisha  also intends to direct a  film soon. Two years ago she went  to New York  University  to learn editing  and direction . “I  know I have it in  me. Some day soon I’ll direct a film. But  it has to be a natural process.I won’t persuade myself  to  do anything I don’t believe in. I never have.I’ve been  approached  by  some responsible  producers.  And I just may  take  the  plunge,” she confided in me.

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This beautiful creature of caprice has many moons to conquer. There is no one quite likeManisha.

Stay well,my lovely one.

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Jamuna Had A Love-Hate Relationship With  Bollywood

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Jamuna

Veteran  Telugu  actress  Jamuna who passed away on Friday, shared an uneasy relationship with  the Hindi film industry.She did eleven Hindi films including the iconic Milan in  1967 where Jamuna  agreed to play the  second lead, or the  supporting role if you will, to Nutan.

 Jamuna as Gauri was the Other Woman who craved for the hero Sunil Dutt’s attention whereas  he had  eyes and devotion  only for Nutan. In later  years  Aruna Irani played a similar  role in  Caravan.

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 In Milan Jamuna  was not keen to  do a supporting role. Producer L V Prasad tempted her with three chartbusting songs. Besides, Jamuna had played the same role in Mooga Manasulu, the  Telugu original  of  Milan. But it  was the songs composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal  which convinced  Jamuna to  take up the second lead in Milan.

 While  Nutan had no solo songs  in Milan, she did have the chartbuster duet  Sawan  ka mahina . Jamuna on the  other hand,  had two  splendid Lata Mangeshkar solos: Tohey saawariya naahin khabariya  and   the magnificent Ghazal Aaj dil pe koi  zor chalta nahin.Not only  these, Jamuna  also had a  hit duet  with Mukesh  based on her character  Gauri:  Bol Gauri  bol tera kaun piya.

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But  then, fate  intervened. After the film released  one of Jamuna’s solos, the poignant and memorable  Aaj dil pe koi zor chalta nahin was  snipped  out of the film.

Here is what  happened:  the  Ghazal , one of Lataji’s all-time greats, was very much a part of Milan when  it released on 17 March 1967. But then  it was seen to hamper the  flow of the  film and  edited  out. The  beautiful song occurred right after intermission. Producer  Prasad, a shrewd  filmmaker, got to know that audiences prolonged their  loo breaks as there was  a song after the break. Hence the sacrifice  of  a seriously  sonorous melody.

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Jamuna hardly did  Hindi films after Milan. Her last  Bollywood appearance  was in  Raj Kumar  Kohli’s Raj Tilak  where she  was lost in a multistarrer as  the royal  queen.

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Karan Johar Moves Alia Song From Switzerland To Kashmir

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Rocky Aur Rani  Ki Prem Kahaani

The  romantic duet in  Karan Johar’s Rocky Aur Rani  Ki Prem Kahaani  which was to be  shot in Switzerland and which was  delayed  due to the film’s leading lady Alia Bhatt’s motherhood, is now being relocated to  Kashmir.

Purely out of  the  love for  new mom Alia.

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Says a source in the know, “Karan loves Alia  like his own daughter. He would do anything for her. He postponed  the  release of Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani as the love duet could not be shot before Alia’s maternity leave. Karan had decided to shoot the song in Switzerland  after Alia’s maternity love. But now he has relocated the song to Kashmir  as Alia doesn’t want to leave her  baby girl behind for  long stretches.”

And as Karan Johar argued, snow is  snow. How does it matter whether it is  Switzerland or Kashmir?

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This  song would be Karan Johar’s tribute to  his  idol Yash Chopra. Alia would be dressed in chiffon sarees while  Ranveer, for  a change, would be seen in  formals.

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Bobby Deol’s Switchover To Villainous Roles

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Bobby Deol

After  Prakash Jha’s webseries Ashram where Bobby  played a sleazy  godman, and Love Hostel  where  he was a ruthless assassin,   he is playing the villain to Ranbir Kapoor in  Sandeep Vanga’s  Animal.

Bobby says it is not conscious career decision to play negative characters  but a conscious  decision to play interesting characters. “ I don’t look at  characters as positive or negative.When I watch  films there is always  one character  that stays  with you. I want to play that  character.”

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Prakash Jha’s Ashram proved a gamechanger for Bobby.  He admits finding  challenging roles is tough.  “I am trying. I  am doing Sandeep Vanga’s Animal with Ranbir  Kapoor , Parineeti Chopra. Then I am doing the family film Apne  2 which I am  very excited  about.”

 In an  earlier  interview with  this writer Bobby spoke  about his   long absence  from screen  before Prakash Jha’s Ashram.  “My fans   would ask why I wasn’t being seen on the screen.And I couldn’t tell them it was  because  I wasn’t getting good roles. But my fans  stood by me. They gave me  the strength  to  keep looking for the right roles. Thankfully I found the roles I liked. My new  films have given  me  some new fans. I am  thankful  I am still here. Yeah , I am in a good space right now.”

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Undekhi A Dark Compelling  Thriller Set In The Heartland

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Undekhi A Dark Compelling  Thriller Set In The Heartland 4

Undekhi  the  forthcoming webseries  from Applause Entertainment  and Sony LIV which  starts  streaming from July 10,   looks  like  the  kind  of   thriller  that  won’t let  us rest  easy until we see  the last episode. It is mounted  with  a  stress on growing pressure.

One  promo shows  a rotund  cop investigating  a gruesome  murder  in  a dense tribal area.The other promo  shows a politician gunning  down a dancer on stage  in front of  the public and  the  press.

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Wild  West  comes to the North. Undekhi is a thriller set in Manali, Himachal created for Applause by Siddharth Sengupta. It’s a gripping story that sees Harsh Chhaya making an  impressive comeback as a drunk Papaji in a super-rich amoral Punjabi  family. And Surya Sharma (Prince from Hostages) really shines as Rinku ,  the main bad guy and Papaji’s nephew. It’s got a terrific cast of other characters, many of whom we  all  recognize as names .

The talented  Harsh Chhaya  makes a debut of sorts  on the  digital medium  with Undekhi.

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Says Harsh, “I  have never played anything so wild and mad. I am looking forward to Undekhi, hope it works for the audience too.This is a debut in a sense that this is the first one I shot for the OTT  platform.But the other two I shot for after this was  streamed   before this one Out Of Love and  Rangbaaz, Phir Se.

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