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June 30, 2000


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A dearth of dates

Much is expected of Piriyadha Varam Vendum, the Tamil remake of the Malayalam romantic thriller Niram (which had Shalini and Kunjacko Bobban heading the cast). But it would seem that the film is stricken by a case of terminal delay.

Kamal, the director, is known for his quick pace of working, but the Tamil version of his Malayalam original is stuck for want of dates. Initially, Prashant, the male lead, was caught up with work on Appu, the recently released remake of the Sanjay Dutt-starrer Sadak.

Since Prashant had to sport a stubble for his role in Appu, he decided to concentrate on just that one film, shelving Piriyada Varam Vendum for the time being.

Now he has the time -- but co-star Shalini doesn't. Shalini had planned to finish the movie before her marriage to Ajit, so that she could retire after the wedding, but the lack of Prashant's dates spoilt that plan. Now, she is back from her honeymoon, but completely disinclined to go on the floors.

With the result that the movie is stuck in limbo, and Prashant, who, after the bombing of Appu, badly needs to get his career back on track, is trying to persuade Ajit to persuade his wife (that is persuasion twice removed) to get back to work.

Prashant turns singer

Prashant, meanwhile, does his own playback for the upcoming Paarthein Rasithen. In fact, there seems to be an epidemic of singing stars these days -- Shalini, you will recall, had sung in her own voice for Amarkalam. And now Meena, the child-star-turned-leading-lady, joins Bharati Raja's son Manoj (who made his debut in Taj Mahal opposite Riya Sen) in singing for an album.

The album is titled Pathinaaru Vayithinile, the title obviously taken from one of Bharati Raja's landmark movies.

Bhatnagar rallies

While on Prashant, you will recall that his film co-starring Moon Moon Sen's nubile daughter Riya flopped big time. 'Sank like the Titanic' might be a better analogy, given that a bulk of the film, Good Luck, was shot on a luxury liner.

That bomb hit Manoj Bhatnagar -- music director, director, producer -- where it hurts. Unfazed, Bhatnagar has announced his next production, and followed up with three more projects, one of which will have R Madhavan, male lead of Mani Rathnam's latest outing, Alai Paayudhe, heading the cast.

Sameera's debut

Big sister is busy on the small screen, but kid sister has bigger plans -- on the big screen. Thus, Sameera, Meghna Reddy's sister, is slated to star opposite Ajit in Citizen, the film that is slated to go on the floors soon.

You might recall Sameera as the girl who appeared in the video of a Pankaj Udhas number, where the storyboard was adapted from that O Henry classic, The Gift of the Magi. In the video, Sameera -- who, in real life, counts her luxurious tresses as one of her main attributes -- snips her hair off to buy her impoverished boyfriend a helmet, only to find that the guy has sold his bike to buy her a gift.

Ajit, meanwhile, has a lot riding on Citizen. His recent movies have marked him out as a capable actor, and the soon-to-roll film could underline that ability. The film has Ajit doing seven different roles, one of them featuring him completely bald. In the interests of realism, Ajit is, in fact, shaving his head to do that bit, and was only waiting for his honeymoon to get over before letting the barber take the razor to his head.

A costly mistake

Strange, how real life can sometimes parallel reel life. In the Kamal Haasan-starrer Satya, Anand plays one of Kamal's friends, and an early sequence in the film has Kamal, Anand and the rest of the gang chasing down a hit-and-run driver and bashing the stuffing out of him.

Many years later, Anand now finds himself at the other end. Recently, Anand drove his car a touch too rashly and ended up driving over a cop at a police checkpoint. The cop, Ramachandran, went into a coma and died without recovering consciousness.

The remorse-stricken Anand has given the bereaved family a large sum of money. And is, we learn, very depressed by the entire episode.

Anand's last outing of any note was in Mani Rathnam's Thiruda Thiruda. His co-star Prashant has since moved on to bigger things, but Anand's career failed to take off, and he is now reduced to doing itsy-bitsy roles on the big screen, plus the occasional appearance in teleserials.

Govinda plays dumb

Sollamalae is one of those offbeat romances that proved to be a sleeper hit on the Tamil Nadu marquee. The makers then did a Telugu version, with Venkatesh pairing Twinkle Khanna. Now it is the turn of Hindi -- with no less than Govinda in the lead.

Casting Govinda seems a touch iffy, given that the Sollamallae storyline is the antithesis of the kind of films the 'Virar ka chokra' specialises in. The original had Livingstone playing a man very conscious of the fact that he is not a good looker. That creates in him a complex, and he becomes very diffident, very shy.

During a chance meeting with a girl, Livingstone pretends to be mute. That casual meeting turns into friendship which then turns into love -- but Livingstone is caught in a trap of his own making, and has to pretend to be mute throughout.

How the situation resolves itself is the rest of the story. Question being, will Govinda be comfortable deliberately underplaying his larger-than-life screen image, in order to do justice to the role? That is the question -- and the risk -- that faces R B Choudhury, who will produce the Hindi remake.

Suman of the CBI

It's been a while since Suman was heard from, but word is that he is slated to play a CBI officer in February 14, Necklace Road.

The film is based on a true-life gang rape that occurred on Valentine's Day on Hyderabad's Necklace Road. The film reprises the incident and focuses on the liberty given to the children of rich parents, and how these liberties are often misused, to disastrous effect.

Baddies' reunion

Rajkumar Santoshi lined up every baddie he could sign on, for his China-Gate. Now comes a Malayalam version, only it's titled Gang.

As in Hindi, the Malayalam film is overpopulated by the bad boys of the southern screen, all of whom have a penchant for florid screen names. Check out this cast -- Rockie, Kazan Khan, Bobraj, Ponnambalam (who, incidentally, is the husband of Sharanya, the erstwhile leading lady who, among other roles, played Kamal's wife in the Mani Rathnam-helmed Nayagan), Mafia Sasi, Dalapathi Dinesh, Abu Salim, Spadikam George, Hemant Ravan, Bombay Shetty...

Same name. Same idea of lining up a host of bad boys. Similar action orientation. But there, we are told, the similarities end -- the Malayalam film is slated to have a storyline completely different from Santoshi's.

-- Rajitha

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