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|February 12, 1999||
Do not disturb
Which being? Again, buzz is that after his trilogy centering around terrorism, the director is essaying a titillating subject this time, borrowing his theme from the real-life drama surrounding U S President Bill Clinton and erstwhile White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
And -- wait for this -- the real clincher is that Mani is likely to cast no less than Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol in the lead, for this new venture. Which, if it happens, will be strange on many counts. For one, Mani is averse to repeating his heroes, and hasn't given even the likes of Kamal Haasan, Rajnikanth, Nagarjuna and Mammootty a second innings under his direction.
The only star he did repeat was Arvind Swamy who, after playing a supporting role in Dalapathy, went on to become the star of Roja and Bombay. Karthik appeared in Mouna Raagam in a stand-out cameo, and then in leading role, alongside Prabhu in Agni Nakshatram.
Another strike that goes against Shah Rukh is the recent failure of Uyire (Dil Se in Hindi). The film bombed among Tamil audiences, the consensus being that Shah Rukh speaking Tamil did not go down too well with the audiences there. And Mani did say, post-Dil Se, that he would never again make a film in Hindi. As in a film originally in Hindi.
So, judging by indications, we have a Tamil film coming up from the mega-director -- with Shah Rukh leading the star parade. But, do remember, official confirmation is still lacking on this one.
Shilpa to do a Shankar film
Regulars of this column will recall that the star cast of what appears to be a political thriller is headed by Arjun, hero of Shankar's debut directorial venture, Gentleman, and Manisha Koirala, who, along with Urmila Matondkar, was paired opposite Kamal Haasan in Indian. Shilpa Shetty now joins the team, and as per last reports, work on the film is proceeding apace.
And still on Bollywood belles, Manisha is also slated to make an appearance on the Kannada marquee -- opposite Shivrajkumar, son of the legendary Dr Rajkumar,, in Surya.
From Tulu to Telugu
However, flops don't appear to have hampered her career noticeably -- the Tulu beauty has just signed on opposite Nagarjuna and will be seen mouthing Telugu for the first time, in this film.
Interestingly, while Jeans, that paired her opposite Prashant under Shankar's direction, did only average business in Tamil, the dubbed version, in Telugu, was a huge hit.
Nagarjuna, meanwhile, will now be the first of the big stars to have paired both the former Miss World and the former Miss Universe -- you will recall that Nagarjuna earlier paired with Sushmita Sen in the K T Kunjumon production Rakshakan (Rakshudu in Telugu) which bombed big time.
The new one, pairing him with Ash, is billed as a musical romance, and will be produced by Aswani Dutt, who not so long ago shepherded the Chiranjeevi-starrer Chudalani Vundi to superhit status.
Billy the Bard does seem to be back in favour, doesn't he?
While Hollywood is abuzz with the news that Shakespeare in Love has bagged a near-record 13 Oscar nominations, the dramatist's works appear to be finding increasing favour with Indian film-makers as well.
Thus, Malayalam director Jayarajbased his Kaliyattam on Othello -- and won Suresh Gopi a national award for acting.
And now it is Macbeth -- the tale of greed and treachery that is being reprised in Telugu under the direction of Mohan Koda.
Koda appears to have centered his story on Lady Macbeth -- or Yellamma, as the film, and the character, are called. The director, whose credits include cinematography for Gautam Ghosh films like Paar and Antarjali, begins shooting in March and will wrap by May.
The film is to be shot in the Warangal and Karimnagar regions, and the characters will speak in the Telengana dialect. The folk style Jaanapadam will be used for four of the songs, with Pandit Santi Kumar providing the score.
The 'supreme star' scores again
Interesting, that -- if Rajnikanth is the 'superstar', then sobriquet-crazy Tamils have dubbed Sharat Kumar the 'supreme star'.
The film will be produced by Lakshmi Movie Makers, which in the recent past has had hits like Unnidathil Ennai Koduthen and Gokulathil Seethai to their credit. Opposite Sharat Kumar is none other than Pooja Batra (chalk up another one on the board for the Bollywood brigade), while Raghuvaran and Mannivannan play prominent characters.
An interesting sidelight here relates to Mannivannan. Himself a director of no mean repute, the bearded Mannivannan is now one of Tamil cinema's busiest character actors, his combination of wry, sarcastic humour and acting ability helping him displace the Goundamani-Senthil combine as the most in-demand comedic character in Tamil cinema.
And while still on Suresh Krishna, his Sangamam is nearing completion. The film stars debutant Vindhya opposite Rehman, in a story of two lovers with a passion for dancing -- and how their shared passion, which brings them together in the first place, proves to be the biggest hindrance to their romance.
The music is by A R Rehman -- and thereby hangs a tale, for Rehman the actor and Rehman the music director are related by marriage, composer Rehman having married the sister of actor Rehman's wife.
Rama Naidu thinks big!
Star producer Rama Naidu's Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehte Hain is out, and doing its stuff on the Bollywood marquee. Meanwhile, the producer is busy with Napoleonic visions of entering other Indian languages, such as Gujarati and Marathi.
And, wait for this, he is also putting together a project that will see an English film being made in this country -- and, he avers, the result will match Hollywood in terms of standards.
Naidu, meanwhile, is poised to enter the Guinness Book, as the man who has produced the most number of films -- but more of that later.
Now a multi-lingual multi-starrer
The film will -- hold your breath here -- be made simultaneously in Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and Hindi, Menon apparently covering all bases in a bid to come up trumps at the turnstiles in his second outing as director.
Kaama has 'em waiting
Cinematographer Ashok Kumar's Kaama, being billed as a film of unabashedly erotic content, continues to make waves even before its release, with pre-release publicity drumming up a heck of a lot of anticipation among the audience.
Producer Jegadeswara Reddy has, in fact, added Kaama before his name, and is now being referred to as Kaama Jegadeswara Reddy. And while on Reddy, he has announced his next film. Kaamini, the film in question, will star (the chalk with which we are marking up the Bollywood brigade's forays down south is getting worn down to a stub, here) Shilpa Shetty.
Isha does it again
Isha, in fact, has grabbed all the attention, and acclaim, for a standout performance in her debut film, and is being billed as the girl to watch out for on the Tamil marquee. Ahathiyan, meanwhile, is busy planning his next film, which will have Karthik in the lead.
With which, adios till the next time round...
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